Guest Author - Lisa Beth Voldeck
There are several types of Scheffleras that make great houseplants. Brassaia Actinophylla is the standard Schefflera known as the Umbrella Plant. This version of the Schefflera is a large one, and may have to be kept in line with regular prunings. Outdoors, Scheffleras can grow up to 20 feet tall! It can be very satisfying to purchase a little plant and watch it grow into something big, green, and leafy.
In order to be successful getting that little plant to grow into something big and impressive, you need to know a few simple things about it. For starters, Scheffleras love light! Some can handle full sun, but it is best to go with bright but indirect light. They can handle less than this, but for the best results, more is better. Lower light levels can cause your Schefflera to get “leggy” and thin.
Like most other houseplants, Scheffleras hate to be left sitting in water. Do not over-water this plant. Let it go fairly dry in between waterings, and then give it plenty of water. The soil should be dry about an inch down when you water. After you have watered leave the pot in its tray to soak up water for about an hour and then dump any remaining liquid. If you have your Schefflera in a pot without drainage, you will have to be more cautious about how much water you use, and how often you water. Trial and error will have to suffice here, so err on the side of caution.
Scheffleras are somewhat sensitive to temperature and humidity. They are native to regions that are warm and wet, so it is good to try and replicate this for your plant. It is best if temperatures stay around 70F during the day and don’t go below 60F at night. Keep the plant away from drafty areas like doorways and radiator vents. Humidity can be supplemented my misting or by using a humidity tray. You can also try grouping several plants together.
You won’t need to fertilize your Schefflera often, as they are not usually meant to flower indoors. You can fertilize once a month with a water soluble fertilizer and your plant will be perfectly happy. If you’d like to use a slow release fertilizer go light on the application.
Scheffleras need pruning from time to time. This will help keep them looking healthy and vigorous while keeping their size in check. Scheffleras can be propagated from stem cuttings, so a pruning session is the perfect time to start some new plants.
Spider mites are fond of Schefflera, so check for them before you purchase one and examine the plant on a regular basis to see if they have turned up. You will probably need a magnifying glass to see them, but their damage is hard to miss. Leaves will begin to turn yellow and then brown, and will have a stippled pattern all over them. There will also be webbing under the leaves and where the leaves meet their stems. Use a systemic pesticide to ward off potential invaders, or you can treat the plant when an infestation occurs. Wash the plant with soapy water or an insecticidal soap. There are lots of great options when it comes to pest control.
Having a Schefflera can be very rewarding, especially when you’ve grown it from a very small plant. Pay attention to it, and it will pay you back many times over. Good luck!