Schefflera Plant Care Guide: How to Grow and Propagate Dwarf Umbrella Trees (Schefflera Arboricola)

Schefflera plants are known for their lush green foliage and attractive shape. They’re very forgiving of neglect, making them a great choice for beginner gardeners. This guide will cover all aspects of schefflera plant care – watering, propagation, and more!
Mia Clark
schefflera plant care

Schefflera Species, Origins and Traits – What Is Schefflera?

The dwarf umbrella tree (Schefflera arboricola) is an evergreen shrub native to Taiwan and other parts of East Asia. Because schefflera plant care is very easy, it’s popular as a houseplant in temperate regions. It can grow up to 20 feet tall in its natural habitat, but when grown indoors, it only reaches about 6 feet tall.

The schefflera plant has leathery, shiny green leaves that are divided into 7 to 11 leaflets. These leaflets give it a palm-like appearance. The schefflera plant produces small, yellow flowers that are followed by bright red berries.

Schefflera Plant Care – Soil Type and Fertilizer

The first step in schefflera plant care is to choose the right potting mix. Dwarf umbrella trees prefer a well-draining, slightly acidic soil consisting of sand and loam. You can either make your own potting mix or buy a commercial one that’s specially formulated for scheffleras.

As a general rule of thumb, if you want to boost your plant’s growth, use a balanced liquid fertilizer 1-2 times a month during the growing season. Alternatively, you can fertilize with slow-release pellets twice a year.

Schefflera Plant Care – Watering

Dwarf umbrella trees are drought-tolerant, so you don’t need to water them very often. Allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. During the winter months, scheffleras will need even less water. Overwatering leads to root rot and leaf drop, so it’s important to err on the side of too little rather than too much.

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How Much Light Schefflera Plants Need

Scheffleras thrive in bright, indirect light. If you live in an especially hot climate, it’s best to give them some afternoon shade to prevent leaf scorch. For example, you can keep them under a patio cover during the summer.

If your schefflera isn’t getting enough light, you’ll notice the plant growing leggy or droopy. The leaves will also be smaller than they should be. On the other hand, if your schefflera is getting too much direct sunlight, the leaves will start to turn yellow.

Ideal Temperatures and Humidity for Schefflera Plants

As tropical plants, dwarf umbrella trees prefer average room temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. They can tolerate brief periods of cooler weather, but prolonged exposure to drafts will damage the leaves.

As far as humidity goes, these plants prefer a moist environment. If your home is particularly dry, you can increase the humidity around your schefflera by placing it on a pebble and water tray or misting it with water.

Pruning Schefflera Plants

Pruning is an optional part of schefflera plant care – you can do it as needed. Regular pruning encourages the plant to branch out and become fuller. It also keeps the plant from getting too big for its pot.

To prune a schefflera, first remove any dead or damaged leaves. Next, cut back leggy or overgrown stems to the desired length. When cutting back scheffleras, always use sharp, clean pruning shears to avoid damaging the plant.

How to Propagate Schefflera Plants

Scheffleras can be propagated by seed, but it’s much easier to do it via stem cuttings in the spring.

  1. First, choose a 6-inch section of a healthy stem.
  2. Cut the stem just below a leaf node, at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Remove most of the leaves, leaving only 4-5 at the top of the stem.
  4. Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone.
  5. Fill a pot with fresh potting soil.
  6. Make a hole in the center of the pot, and insert the stem.
  7. Pack the soil around the stem, and water well.
  8. Place the pot in a warm, sunny spot.
  9. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy.
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In about a month, you should see new growth. Once your plant has rooted and is growing well, you can transplant it into a larger pot. Follow the normal schefflera plant care routine, and it will thrive!

Repotting Schefflera Plants

Dwarf umbrella trees will need to be repotted every year or less frequently, depending on how fast they’re growing. You’ll know it’s time to repot when you see roots coming out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. On the other hand, you might choose to keep an indoor plant root-bound to prevent it from growing even larger.

When repotting scheffleras, choose a pot that’s only slightly larger than the previous one. This will help to prevent root rot, as larger containers will retain more water. Be sure to use fresh potting soil, and water well after repotting.

Common Problems with Schefflera Plants

Schefflera plant care is generally easy and pests are uncommon, but there are a few problems you may encounter. One of the most common is leaf drop. This can be caused by too much or too little water, drafts, low humidity, or temperature fluctuations. If you notice your schefflera starting to drop leaves, check the plant’s environment and make necessary adjustments.

Another common problem is root rot, which is caused by overwatering. If you think your schefflera has root rot, take it out of the pot and inspect the roots. If they’re black and mushy, you’ll need to start over with a new plant.

Schefflera Plant Toxicity

One last thing to keep in mind with scheffleras is that these plants are toxic to pets and humans. If ingested, they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other serious symptoms. So if you have young kids or pets in your home, it’s best to choose another type of plant.

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And there you have it – everything you need to know about schefflera plant care! With a little effort, you can keep your dwarf umbrella tree healthy and happy for years to come.

Do you have experience caring for umbrella plants? Share your tips in the comments below!

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