Schefflera – Care, Growing, Watering, Requirements, Propagation
Schefflera plants are evergreen tropical plants that are available in many varieties including some dwarf varieties. Due to the shape of its leaves, the plant is also known as the ‘Umbrella Tree’.
The plant is easy to grow indoors, although you will miss out on its beautiful blooms as the plant is known not to flower indoors.
Plant care itself is not difficult, scheffleras aren’t high-maintenance but they do have a susceptibility to pest attacks, so you may need to watch out for signs of pest-related diseases.
Occasional pruning may also be on the table, but this is a common requirement for many other houseplants.
All in all, these plants are popular for their vibrant green foliage and tropical vibe that will set the tone in any room or workplace.
Schefflera Plant Care Tips
Read my schefflera plant guide below to learn about the growing conditions and other plant care related tips to help you grow healthy schefflera plants.
Once the plant reaches maturity, its size will be somewhere between 12 to 15 feet. Clearly this is a few sizes too big to fit comfortably in most homes, so periodically pruning and trimming will be required to keep the plant at a manageable size.
If the plant is getting to a size where it’s stretching too far, cut back on the plant to a size that you feel is more manageable. Don’t worry about hurting the plant this way, they bounce back easily and grow even lusher than before.
While schefflera plants need bright light to prevent them from being leggy and floppy, placing them under direct light is not beneficial to them. The plant’s leaves can get easily burned if the plant is exposed to direct sunlight.
If grown outside, you can position your schefflera plant under a shady overhang. Indoors, the plant is usually more likely to suffer from lack of enough light, so place it in a brightly lit room.
If your plant is leggy and leaves are floppy, you may need to change its position for it to get more light to see if things improve.
A good watering schedule is crucial to keep your schefflera plants healthy. This is a drought-tolerant plant, so when watering, make sure the soil is dry. With this plant, you need to watch out to avoid overwatering.
In fact, it’s much better to slightly under-water than to drown the plant in too much water and let it stay in soggy soil.
Start by watering the plant once every week keeping in mind that the soil needs to dry out before your next watering. In winter, you should water less frequently.
When watering, soak the dried-out soil thoroughly, making sure the water drains well. Empty the saucer of the excess water.
If you pay attention to your plant, you may notice the signs of overwatering, which will cause the leaves to yellow and fall off.
Temperature & Humidity
Schefflera plants thrive in tropical climates with lots of humidity and warmth. Different varieties have different temperature requirements and keeping them in temperatures above 60 F is recommended. Temperatures lower than this will damage the plant.
Schefflera are also sensitive to cold drafts and shouldn’t be kept close to heating vents either.
The plant appreciates humidity so occasionally misting it will help increase humidity around the plant if your apartment or home is too dry for them.
Whether planting in a container or outdoors, soil that retains too much water is not good for this plant. So, if planting outdoors, pick a location where the soil doesn’t become waterlogged.
If you’re keeping the plant in a container indoors, you can either choose a loose and rich soil with moist compost or you can use well-draining sandy loam soil. Check the soil’s acidity, making sure that it’s only slightly alkaline.
Schefflera are not heavy feeders, but fertilizing can help drive nutrients to the plant should it need some stimulus. A biweekly feeding schedule with liquid fertilizer will be beneficial in the growing season. Alternatively, you can use slow-release pellets.
Potting & Repotting
Schefflera plants can grow into veritable trees, but indoors they tend to stay smaller. Even so, a sturdy pot is needed to prevent the plant from tipping over. Replant periodically as needed. One way to slow the growth of the plant is to prolong repotting.
Schefflera Plant Propagation
Technically, scheffleras can be propagated with stem cuttings, but be prepared that it may take you a few tries before you’re successful. Using rooting hormone will help the cutting root. Give the soil a good watering, place it in a warm location out of direct sunlight.
Another way of propagating schefflera is through air layering. The idea behind this method is to allow roots to form along the stem and basically create two plants.
For this method you must remove the bark in a ring around the stem. Pick a flexible stem and remove the bark near the end just below the leaves.
You must force the stem into a nearby planter so bend it down and hold it in place with bent wire. Keep the soil moist and wait for roots to form, the clip of the new plant from the mother plant.
As you can see, propagation is a bit difficult in schefflera plants, but with a little determination and patience, you can accomplish it.
Different Types of Schefflera Plants
Here are some Schefflera plant varieties that you may want to check out:
Schefflera arboricola ‘Trinette’
This variety is a truly elegant and impressive variety that has hand-shaped leaves that are variegated with golden yellow. It’s a seemingly delicate looking variety, but it’s easy to care for.
Schefflera arboricola ‘Sun Burst’
A dwarf Schefflera variety, this plant has golden yellow variegated leaves, hence their evocative name. The plant stays small, so it’s ideal for places where a tall-growing Schefflera would not be comfortable.
If you’re looking for a variety that you can grow outdoors, I recommend the Alpine Schefflera because of its better tolerance to cold compared to other varieties. Plus, this is a tall-growing variety.
This is the generic dwarf Schefflera with dark green, hand-shaped leaves. The plant doesn’t get taller than 4 feet, however, it can reach the same width as its height, so trimming and pruning may be needed.
Schefflera arboricola Luseane Moondrop
This another variegated variety that features small leaves variegated with ivory white.
These are a few of the varieties that I enjoy seeing most, but there are others too like the Schefflera arboricola Luseane Ivory or the Schefflera arboricola ‘Janine’ that feature different levels of variegation and interestingly shaped leaves.
Do make sure to check whether the variety of your choice has any special requirements beyond those that I discussed in this article.
Schefflera Plant FAQs
Here are some more things that might interest you about these popular houseplants:
Are Schefflera Plants Toxic to Humans and/or Pets?
Yes, the Schefflera plant is toxic to cats and dogs and may cause irritation, vomiting, excessive drooling, and difficulty in swallowing. The plant is also mildly toxic to humans. Best to keep these plants away from pets and children.
What is the Lifespan of Schefflera Plants?
Schefflera plants can live for decades in optimal conditions. Grown indoors, these plants can live up to 25 years even.
Are Schefflera Plants Prone to Diseases and Pests?
Unfortunately, pests do have a taste for this particular type of plant, so you may encounter some pest issues while caring for your Schefflera. Things to look out for include:
- Fungus gnats, which you’ll notice because they’re annoying little flies that will fly around near your plants. The best way to get rid of them is to allow the soil to dry out completely since moist soil is what they’re attracted to.
- Spider mites, which you may notice as webbing on the areas where the leaves and stems come together. Pale dots may also appear. Commercial metacide will get rid of the problem. Spider mites usually appear when the air is too dry, so humidifying the air around the plant will help prevent them next time.
- Aphid or scale infestation, which usually presents as dark powdery residue that resembles mold. Neem oil or other insecticide can help solve this problem.
- Leaf spot disease, which appears as big, dark or brown spots on the leaves. Clear diseased leaves and use a fungicide solution to treat the plant.
Don’t get discouraged by these issues, especially if you meet all the plant’s keeping requirements. Spotting the disease early and administering treatment will usually clear these issues in a matter of days.
The Schefflera genus has a lot of interesting plant varieties, most of which are suitable for indoor cultivation. These plants aren’t very finicky, but their basic requirements must be met for them to thrive.
Whichever Schefflera variety you choose, make sure you know what type of soil it needs and whether it has any supplemental requirements you should know about.