Schefflera Guide: How to Take Care of a Schefflera Plant
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Schefflera Guide: How to Take Care of a Schefflera Plant

Schefflera plants are known for their gorgeous foliage, resilience, and easy care. It’s no wonder that they are one of the most popular house plant types out there.

A lot of incredible house plant varieties fall under the “Schefflera” umbrella including, of course, umbrella trees, which have a stunning, tropical look and unusual leave shapes.

This guide includes everything you need to know about how to grow Schefflera plants, with detailed care instructions, pro tips, and helpful buying information.

Schefflera Details

Schefflera branches with white background.

  • Name: Schefflera
  • AKA: umbrella plant, Australian ivy palm, octopus tree, and StarLeaf
  • Light: Bright, indirect light
  • Water: Let the soil dry out between soaks
  • Temperature: 65 – 75 °F
  • Size: 12 – 15 feet tall
  • Pests: Spider mites, mealybugs
  • Disease: Root rot
  • Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pests

Schefflera Benefits

Schefflera plants purify the air in your home, filtering out pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde, and toluene from the air. They are particularly good at removing toxins released into the air as a result of cigarette smoke, so if you are or live with a smoker, this is a great house plant to have.

Schefflera plants don’t just improve your physical health, they also can help your mental health, brightening up interior spaces with their gorgeous green foliage, and improving your mood when you successfully care for them by giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Schefflera Plant Care

Schefflera plants make excellent house plants because they have very few care requirements, only needing bright, indirect light, high humidity, adequate waterings, and warm temperatures to flourish.

Below are Schefflera plant care instructions.

Light

Place your Schefflera somewhere with bright, indirect light. If your plant isn’t exposed to enough light then it will start to become leggy and its leaves may sag. If your plant is exposed to too much light then the leaves will become burnt.

Choose a spot near a windowsill with either filtered light that hits the plant, or direct light that doesn’t. You can move your plant outside to a shady spot in the summer.

Temperature/ Humidity

The best temperature range for Schefflera plants is between 65 – 75 °F. There is some wiggle room with that range, but if your plant is exposed to temperatures below 60 °F its leaves will start to droop.

This is a tropical plant so it needs humidity. You can provide it with humidity by either placing a humidifier near it, misting it each week, or putting it on a humidity tray.

Water

To correctly water your Schefflera plant, wait until the soil in your plant’s pot has fully dried out. Then, thoroughly soak it, taking care to really douse the plant but not leave any standing water behind on its soil. During the growing season, you should water your plant weekly, but cut back in the wintertime.

If you overwater your plant it will tell you through its leaves turning yellow and falling off.

Container/ Soil

Your Schefflera’s soil should be well-draining, sandy, and slightly acidic. You can use normal potting soil and mix sand and an acidic fertilizer into it.

To help with draining your container should have adequate drainage holes. Schefflera’s grow slowly so no need to pick out a ginormous pot size.

Fertilizer

Your Schefflera does not require fertilization, however, if you want to you can feed it a water-soluble fertilizer, diluted to half-strength, once a year. Plants in shadier conditions will require less fertilizer than those exposed to more sunlight.

Repotting

Hand holding up a Schefflera with exposed root ball.

You should repot your Schefflera every one or two years. These plants can grow to be over 10 feet tall, so if you want to slow your indoor plant’s growth, hold off on repotting. However, if the container becomes too crowded to the point that the roots are visibly overgrown, for the plant’s health you should repot.

Remove it from its old container and gently untangle its roots. This can be a tough job, especially if the roots have become too convoluted, in which case you can place the root ball in a bucket of water which should help you with untangling.

Feel free to prune roots that have become too long, especially if you don’t think the untangled roots will be able to fit in their new pot. Then, plant your Schefflera in a new pot with new potting soil that is chock-full of nutrients.

Schefflera Pruning

If your Schefflera plant becomes too leggy, has outgrown its pot, or is flopping over, it’s pruning time! Using a pair of sharp, clean pruners cut off dead or dying parts of the plant and parts that have become too overgrown and leggy.

If you want to trim your Schefflera, cut an inch off of the plant’s tallest stalk, above where the next leaf is attached. If your plant has become too leggy you can cut up to five inches off of branches and the plant’s main stem.

Feel free to cut back a lot, Schefflera plants rebound quickly from pruning. It may feel drastic at the time, but trust me, your plant will bounce back quickly, and look notably fuller and lusher.

Schefflera Propagation

Schefflera plants are fairly easy to propagate from cuttings as long as you know what you are doing. Which, thanks to this helpful guide, you do. Below are two propagation strategies for making a new Schefflera plant.

Leaf Cuttings

This is the most popular method for propagating Schefflera plants.

Using a clean, sharp knife cut off a piece of stem near the plant’s base and wrap it in a moist paper towel.

Then cut each leaf in half horizontally. This will help the cutting cope with the amount of moisture it loses while rooting.

This is not one of those plants where the use of rooting hormone is advised but optional. Without it, you will have a very high failure rate on rooting your cuttings.

Fill small pots, around six inches wide, with potting soil. Poke a hole in the middle and place your cutting, which should be brushed with rooting hormone at this point, in it.

Secure the cutting in the soil and place it in a spot with bright, direct sunlight.

Keep the soil moist and consider placing a bag over the cutting to trap in humidity.

In a few weeks, your cutting should begin to root.

Layering

You can also propagate your Schefflera by using a technique called “layering.” Layering involves creating new roots along the plant’s stem while it is still attached to the parent plant.

Remove the bark around the end of a piece of stem, below the leaves. It’s important that the piece is flexible because you are going to need it to bend it downwards, into the soil of a planter nearby.

Bury the part you cut but leave the leafy end of the plant above the soil.

It’s a good idea to use a piece of wire to hold the stem in place so it does not flip up.

Keep the soil around the bark moist, and in a few weeks, roots will form.

When new growth pops up, clip it away from the original tree.

Schefflera Varieties

There are two main varieties of Schefflera plants: Schefflera actinophylla and Schefflera arboricola.

S. Actinophylla

Schefflera Actinophylla

This is the most common Schefflera variety. It has oval-shaped, glossy leaves that can grow to up to ten inches long. These plants tend to grow into full-blown trees that can reach as high as 15 feet tall when grown outside. When planted in pots, they tend to have a bushier look to them.

This is the fastest-growing Schefflera variety. How fast? So fast that in tropical and subtropical regions it’s classified as invasive because of its uncontrollable growth.

S. Arboricola

Schefflera Arboricola (Hayata)

S. abricola trees are the little brothers of S. actinophylla trees.

They are much smaller, sprouting leaves that only grow to be one to four inches long. These trees tend to have a bushier look with leaves that grow in tight clusters. The leaves are beautiful, with an unusual variegated pattern of cream and bright green.

These dwarf plants make excellent house plants because of their compact size and easy care requirements. They also look beautiful, adding an accent of gorgeous greenery to interior spaces.

Where to Buy Schefflera

You know you want a Schefflera but the question is: Where do you get one of these incredible plants?

They are quite common so you should be able to find one at your local garden center, or you can order this house plant right to your home.

An excellent online option is Bloomscape’s Potted Schefflera Arboricola. This fun house plant features leaves in an umbrella-shaped formation and a braided trunk. It’s around four feet tall when shipped, but because of its slow-growth rate, can easily fit in compact spaces. It’s shipped carefully in an 11.8-inch eco pot, with premium potting soil.

Another excellent online option is The Sill’s Schefflera. This umbrella plant has a bushy shape, and beautiful, glossy, bright-green leaves. It is shipped with care in a custom planter you get to pick out.

Common Schefflera Growing Questions

Still unsure about Schefflera plants?

Check out the answers below to the most common Schefflera growing questions.

What Is the Growth Rate of Schefflera?

Schefflera plants aren’t particularly fast growers when grown as house plants, however, they grow fast and tall when planted outside. A Schefflera that’s grown outside in a warm climate typically grows to be 10 – 15 feet tall.

Healthy Schefflera plants can grow as much as three feet a year. Of course, the dwarf varieties will grow to be far shorter and grow much slower.

What are Common Schefflera Pests and Diseases?

Close-up of Schefflera leaves harboring pests.

If you keep your Schefflera plant healthy and grow it in the right conditions, it should not have any pest or disease problems. They will only prey on your plant when it is weak.

The most common disease that Schefflera plants suffer from is root rot. To avoid your plant getting root rot, don’t ever overwater it! I cannot repeat this enough because root rot can easily kill your precious plant.

Let it fully dry out between waterings and when you do water it, make sure that the water effectively drains through the soil. There should be no standing water left behind.

The most common pests to plague Schefflera plants are spider mites and mealybugs.

If your plant is infested try using insecticides and miticides to ward off the pest. You can even dip a cloth in alcohol and push the mealybugs off of your schefflera.

If your plant is suffering from a heavy infestation you may want to cover it in neem oil. Keep in mind that spider mites often bury their eggs in the soil of plants so you may have to retreat your plant a couple of weeks after you ward off the first infestation.

Are Schefflera Plants Toxic?

Schefflera plants are toxic to pets, like dogs and cats, and humans. They contain calcium oxalate crystals that irritate the mouth, throat, and stomach causing burning, pain, drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.

They can do serious damage to humans and pets, so keep them away from individuals and animals who may munch on them by placing them out of reach. If you have a pet, seriously consider Schefflera’s toxicity before purchasing.

The Schefflera Bottom Line

Schefflera is one of the best indoor trees that you can grow.

It’s an absolutely delightful tropical plant, that has numerous house health benefits, and easy-to-follow care requirements.

If you want to add some greenery to indoor spaces in your home, be sure to get a Schefflera.

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