How to Prune a Schefflera Plant : Gardening & Plant Care
How to Prune a Schefflera Plant
Schefflera, or Umbrella plants, are common houseplants that are easy to grow because they can thrive in artificial or moderately bright light conditions and are susceptible to few pests. However, they may require pruning if they get too large or scraggly.Here’s how to prune your schefflera. The process is really quite simple.
Assessing Your Plant
Examine your schefflera to see if it has a single stem or several stems.This will influence how you go about pruning your plant. Schefflera with multiple stalks usually give you more options when pruning. They can grow in fuller and bushier, as they just have more places for leaves to grow. Schefflera with only one stalk may be more suitable for developing a tall thin plant.
- Keep the natural shape of your plant in mind when trimming. Fighting the natural growth pattern of your plant will be more difficult than simply shaping and trimming it as it grows.
- This is especially important to look at when you are buying a new plant. If you want a full, bushy plant, be sure to pick a schefflera that has multiple stems so it will fill in and expand outward and upward. If you want a plant that will grow taller and stay relatively slim, pick a schefflera with only one stem (and trim any other stems that might pop out of the soil).
Determine how you would like the plant to look immediately and in the future.Some people want a tall and skinny plant, while others would like a short and bushy plant. It all depends on where you would like your plant to live and how much care you can give it. Part of trimming a plant is deciding how you want it to grow and helping it along that path.
- On a schefflera the growth nodes, the place on a stem where new growth can develop, are located at the point on the stems where the leaves sprout. Because the schefflera usually has abundant growth and many nodes at which to trim, thinking about how it will grow in the future when assessing where that plant needs trimming will help you to promote growth in specific directions.
- Make this decision before cutting any leaves! Have a plan before you start so that you avoid mistakes and trim too many leaves.
Check the general condition of your plant.Before trimming your plant make sure that it is suitably potted and healthy. Make sure that your plant is in good soil and that the soil is moist. Before trimming your plant you may even want to take the opportunity to repot it, if you suspect its roots are crowded and you want to promote growth.
- You should also check to make sure the leaves are healthy. If the leaves are looking discolored or getting brown spots you may need to address some problems, either with over watering or a lack of nutrients in the soil. Schefflera should not be kept in super moist soil. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. If this does not improve the condition of the plant, you may want to replace the soil it is potted in.
Get your tools ready.Always be sure to use sharp and clean tools when pruning. For schefflera plants, the tools you’ll need really depend on the plant and its size. Hand pruners, shears, and loppers will work for most small shrubs. However, schefflera can grow to be large – as tall as 40 feet (12.2 m)! For larger plants, you may need to use a pole pruner.
- Consider calling a professional pruning service if the tree is too large to handle safely with a pole pruner.
Trimming Your Plant
Reduce the height of a schefflera plant by cutting an upright stem just above a growth node.In other words, trim it right above where a leaf has sprouted. Trimming off the growing tip of a stem will prevent it from quickly gaining height and will promote a fuller appearance in the area you cut.
- Use bypass type pruning shears, the kind of pruning shears that cut with two blades, just like scissors. Other types of shears have a tendency to crush stems, as opposed to cutting cleanly through them.
- Sometimes unwanted height in a schefflera is caused by a lack of light. The plant is basically growing up to try to find more light.Keep this in mind when finding a suitable place for it to live.
Reduce the width of a schefflera by cutting any horizontal branches back to just above a leaf node.Keep in mind that you will get renewed growth at the node where you cut, so you may want to cut the plant back further than you currently desire, in anticipation of it filling in in the future. Schefflera can really handle some aggressive pruning, so don't be afraid to give it a good haircut!
- Once again, use bypass type pruning shears so that you do not crush the stem.
Cut all stems down to 6 inches from the base to rejuvenate a bare bottomed, straggly plant.Sometimes these plants get neglected and become horribly overgrown and if you cannot figure out a way to shape the plant through gentle pruning, you can trim it all the way down. This give your plant a fresh start and it will give you the opportunity to better control how it grows in the future. Don't worry, it will grow back with a vengeance if it is given enough light, moisture, and nutrition.
- When trimming your plant back, make sure to leave 2 to 3 nodes on each stem. This will give the plant ample spots at which to form new growth.
- The large pieces you have cut off your plant would make great cuttings for propagating new plants. Place a cutting with at least two layers of leaves into moist soil for a few weeks. This will give the cutting enough growth nodes to keep growing. Roots should sprout from the bottom of the cutting and the plant can then be repotted.
QuestionAre these plants pet-friendly?
HorticulturistHorticulturistExpert AnswerNo, these plants are not pet-friendly. Schefflera are poisonous to both cats and dogs.Thanks!
QuestionWhen can I prune my schefflera plant?
HorticulturistHorticulturistExpert AnswerGenerally, pruning an indoor schefflera plant should occur when you notice an unhealthy looking stalk or damaged leaves.Thanks!
QuestionCan I grow new plants from the cuttings?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. Cuttings can simply be put straight into dirt and roots should begin to form. Rooting hormone does help speed the rooting process, though.Thanks!
QuestionCan I put the plant on my northern balcony?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAny houseplant, and the Schefflera is one, can be grown outdoors in the summer months. But do not put it in direct sunlight.Thanks!
QuestionHow resilient are schefflera plants?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThey are quite resilient. It does depend on your location, climate and the amount of watering per its location, but they are generally resilient.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do if one of the trunks seems to be dying and all the leaves on it have died?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf this happens, your plant has most likely died. However, the other trunks may be fine if you remove the dead trunk. If the dead trunk is connected to the others, use some sterilized (use rubbing alcohol) pruning shears and snip it off.Thanks!
QuestionCan I root shifferas in water?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you may root the plants in water.Thanks!
QuestionCan I root this plant after cutting a stem from it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerI have attempted this myself by sticking the cuttings in a glass of water and I have not had success propagating (growing an identical plant) from a cutting. None of them put out any roots whatsoever. On the other hand, the cuttings have not died off and it has been many many months. They are still alive and well! If you would like to try, you may have better results if you change the water often or simply stick them straight into dirt (try dipping the cut end in honey to stimulate root growth and then put it in the earth).Thanks!
QuestionCan you grow them outside?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, as long as they have moderate sun and shade.Thanks!
QuestionAre these plants poisonous to small dogs if they eat leaves?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAs stated at the end of the article, "eating the leaves of a schefflera plant can be poisonous to dogs and cats. Make sure they are out of reach for your pet's health and safety."Thanks!
My Schleffera has lots of small leafless stems growing out of the soil. Will they grow and sprout leaves?
When should I prune the leaves of my schefflera bonsai?
How do I prune an old schefflera plant?
How do I prune a schefflera plant?
Can I prune the schedulers in late summer?
To prune a schefflera plant, use pruning shears to trim the stem right above a growth node where a leaf has sprouted. Then, to reduce the width of the plant, cut back the horizontal branches just above a growth node so that new growth will be fuller and healthier. If your plant has become very scraggly and unhealthy, trim the stems and branches back so they’re very short, leaving only 2 or 3 nodes on each stem.
- Schefflera plants don’t go completely dormant but do rest in winter. It’s best to trim them in the late winter, then, before the plant sends out new growth in the spring.
- It is normal for a schefflera to lose leaves along the bottom part of its trunk as it ages. Just trim away dead foliage as it dies.
- If you want your schefflera to become full all around, don't forget to rotate it so all sides get a good amount of light. Otherwise, one side may become barren, while the other side grows in with a thick amount of leaves.
- Pinch the growth tip out of young schefflera plants with your fingers occasionally to promote branching and a full appearance. By pinching the spot where a stem is growing from, you are forcing the plant to grow out instead of up.
- If a schefflera has several stems when it is a small plant, you can braid them into an interesting trunk that will remain braided as it grows. When braiding the stems, remember to leave all the stems rooted in the soil.
- If you become an expert at pruning your schefflera, consider taking your skills to the next level and making a schefflera bonsai plant!
- Eating the leaves of a schefflera plant can be poisonous to dogs and cats. Make sure they are out of reach for your pet's health and safety.
Sources and Citations
- Hessayon, Dr.D.G., The Houseplant Expert, London, England, Expert Books, 1994, pg. 205
- Editors, Sunset Magazine, Sunset National Garden Book , Menlo Park, CA, Sunset Books, 1997 pg.491
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