About the Schefflera plant
The elongated leaves of the Schefflera plant liken its shape to that of an umbrella. Thus its nickname, the Umbrella Tree, makes a lot of visual sense. Originating in Taiwan in South China, the Schefflera plant can grow to be approximately 13 feet tall but averages only 1 to 6 feet in height. Popular Schefflera plant species include Schefflera amate and Schefflera arboricola. Schefflera arboricola has larger leaves than other species and is native to Australia.
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about this plant is the fact that it acts as a natural air freshener and detoxifier. The leaves expectedly release oxygen, but they also absorb pollutants from the air.
The combination of its attractive leaves and detoxifying powers makes the Schefflera plant a very popular indoor plant.
How to care for a Schefflera plant
Like many other plants, Schefflera plants do not like it too wet or too dry. During the growing season, April to September, the plant requires more water than when the plant is not growing. Only water the plant until the first drops begin to drain and do so with lukewarm water. On the other side, feel the soil to ensure that it does not dry out. Over-dry soil may also be indicated by brown leaves.
Schefflera plants prefer medium-light, meaning they should be kept in bright light, but the light should not be direct.
The Schefflera plant should be fertilized in the spring and fall, 1-2 times per week. After repotting, wait approximately eight weeks to begin fertilization. From the late summer into the fall, small flowers may form on the plant, but it is very rare!
Is the Schefflera plant poisonous?
The Schefflera plant’s sap contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause minor skin irritation if you come in contact with the leaves. When handling the plant, you may want to wear gloves to prevent irritation. Ingesting the Schefflera plant is not wise, as it can cause vomiting, mouth numbness, and other side effects.
The Schefflera plant is toxic to dogs and cats. Signs that your pet might have ingested the plant are mouth, lip, and tongue irritation, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting. If you ingest the plant or suspect your pet has done so, please contact a medical professional.
How to propagate a Schefflera plant
There are a couple of different ways to propagate a schefflera plant. You can use seeds or leaf and stem cuttings. If conditions are right, rooting should take place relatively quickly, more so with the cuttings method.
To use leaves for propagation, pick leaves that are healthy and strong. Make sure to keep the leafstalk, as this is the part of the leaf from which roots form. Once the leaf is removed from the mother plant, place it one centimeter into the soil, and it will soon take root.
Cuttings should be 4-6 inches, cut some time from the late spring to the early summer, right below a knot. Plant the cutting ⅓ to ½ of its length into the soil and keep it in indirect light.
Once the new plants have grown to be approximately 10 centimeters, they can be fertilized.
Schefflera plant pruning
It is best to prune Schefflera plants in the spring, but you should always keep an eye on the plant to promptly remove diseased or drooping parts. Occasional and strategic shoot tip trims will help new shoots to develop. Shorten long shoots by up to two-thirds, but make sure to cut above leaf buds when trimming.
Why is my Schefflera plant losing its leaves?
If your Schefflera plant is losing its leaves, the soil may be too wet, or conversely, too dry. Additionally, if you frequently move your plant around or expose it to extreme cold or hot, it may also drop its leaves.
Schefflera plant problems and pests
Other than dropping its leaves, Schefflera plants may face other problems. Over-watering may lead to root rot, indicated by yellow leaves, a rotten smell, or black roots. If your plant does contract root rot, remove the rotting roots and repot the plant in fresh soil.
Pests may also present problems for Schefflera plants. Scale insects feed on the Schefflera sap, leaving behind a sticky substance called “Honeydew.” These tiny, round pests can stunt the growth of Schefflera plants and cause the leaves to yellow.
Aphids and mealybugs may appear as a result of defective growing. Spraying them with water or wiping the leaves with an alcohol wipe will rid your plant of these pests.
Water deficiency can lead to a spider mite infestation. Spider mites hide under the leaves and often spin small webs between Schefflera shoots. You can eliminate these tiny, oval spider mites by spraying soapy water onto the plant.
If the air is warm and dry, a thrip infestation may develop. Thrips leave suction marks on Schefflera leaves after sucking nutrition from the plant, which stunts growth. Isolate any infected plant and shower it with warm water multiple times.
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