The Schefflera is a popular houseplant that comes in many varieties. Each of which vary in shape and size. So, whether you’re looking for a small or larger plant, you’ll be able to find one that suits your preference.
In addition to its lovely looks, it’s also well-liked by homeowners and growers because it is easy to care for. That said, you do still need to do some of the work.
Here’s how to care for Schefflera plants.
About the Schefflera Plant
The Schefflera is one of the reasons why plants have scientific (botanical) names. That’s because this common name refers to two very different plants.
While the two may have many similarities, they’re still two distinct plants. Thus, it can somewhat be confusing when someone mentions Schefflera.
That said, the most striking difference between the two Schefflera plants is their size.
- The Umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla) is the larger Schefflera It’s a large tree that grows to over 40 feet tall outside. It gets its name from the fact that its large, green leaflets droop down to form something similar to an umbrella.
- The Dwarf Schefflera (Schefflera arboricola) is the smaller plant that you’ll see in homes. While it still grows to over 10-15 feet tall outside, it’s size is much more manageable indoors (5 to 6 feet). Its leaves are much shorter too getting to about 4 inches in length. However, the biggest downside is that they don’t bloom when grown indoors. As such, you won’t see it’s colorful flowers.
That said, this evergreen shrub is fairly easy to grow and care for, even if it has a few preferences. As long as it gets warm temperature, high humidity and bright, indirect sunlight, it will be happy and live long.
As a tropical plant, it doesn’t like the cold. Even blasts of air from vents and drafts are enough to bother it.
It is likewise susceptible to a few pests. Although, this is less of a problem indoors. Nevertheless, you want to keep an eye out for aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs, especially in your garden.
Finally, make sure to use wide, heavy pots. This will help balance them as they grow to prevent them from tipping over as they get top-heavy.
Schefflera Plant Care
Schefflera Light Needs
Schefflera plants like medium light. That is, they prefer bright, indirect light or filtered light.
In fact, it’s a good idea to keep them away from full, direct sunlight because it will burn their leaves. Thus, you’ll often see them under some kind of shade during the hot summer months or during afternoons in areas with warm climates.
That said, too little light can also negatively affect your Schefflera plant. But this time, causing it to look floppy and leggy.
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Schefflera Temperature & Humidity
The Schefflera plant is native to Taiwan. As such, it enjoys the tropical climate that Southeast Asian country has. This is why they bloom during summertime.
This makes it ideal for USDA zones 10 and 11, as it prefers moderately warm temperatures of between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit during daytime and up to as low as 65 degrees during night time.
However, once temperatures dip below 60 degrees, it starts to become unhappy, dropping its leaves.
Additionally, it likes a lot of humidity. And, it doesn’t like wind, including drafts from windows or vents.
Like most houseplants, overwatering happens more likely than underwatering. But, while it can tolerate lack of water better than too much if it, you’ll still notice its leaves drop if it stays too dry for too long.
In general, your Schefflera plant will enjoy weekly watering during the growing season, less so during wintertime.
Thus, it’s a good idea to wait until the soil dries out before watering again. Otherwise, you may run the risk of waterlogging.
When that happens, your Schefflera will show you there’s a problem as its leaves will turn yellow before eventually falling off.
Your dwarf Schefflera does best in moist, rich soil that’s acidic to slightly alkaline pH. Make sure to choose something that drains well like sandy loam since the plant doesn’t appreciate waterlogged soil.
Dwarf Schefflera are heavy feeders. Thus, it’s a good idea to feed them monthly all year round. You can use a balanced houseplant liquid fertilizer or time-released granular ones.
Do choose the ones with micronutrients since they’ll benefit from it.
Due to its size, you’ll need to prune it occasionally. This helps keep it manageable. And, it helps create fuller, more lush foliage.
That said, one of the most common reasons for pruning your Schefflera is to get rid of stalks that have gotten too leggy or long, usually caused by lack of light.
The good news is, its quite a resilient plant. So you’ll see it come back fairly quickly looking better.
Given the proper care, you can expect these mini tree-like plants to be in your home for many years to come.
And, you can likewise propagate it as well.
Like many houseplants, you can propagate Schefflera plants with stem and leaf cuttings. But, the odds of success aren’t as good at most other indoor plants.
In fact, the best way to do so is by air layering. Unfortunately, this method is a bit more complex which is why not too many home growers do it.
You can expect to repot annually during the first few years as the plant grows. After about year 5, you’ll only need to do so every 2 or 3 years.
Keeping them indoors also limits their size to around 5-6 feet, which helps slow the growth. And, the longer you hold back on repotting likewise helps.
Outdoors, they will grow up to 15 feet. So, there’s more repotting involved.
Because of the size of this houseplant, it will likely be sitting on the ground. Thus, it’s important to be aware that it’s toxic to humans and pets.
This means you don’t want young children or your cats and dogs to be ingesting it. Otherwise, they can experience irritation, vomiting, drooling and other unpleasant symptoms caused by the calcium oxalate crystals.
The good news is, the plant does grow to about 5 to 6 feet in height. This helps keep it out of reach of smaller kids and pets. Nevertheless, it’s worth taking extra precautions.