Houseplants forum: What do I do with these leggy Schefflera's?

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OKC, OK (Zone 7a)
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yougotval
Jan 6, 2013 3:40 AM CST
I was given two Schefflera Arboricola plants that have been in an office without the proper light (obviously) and very little care. If you see the photos, one of them has grown almost horizontally and out of the pot. The other seems to have started a new branch from the base of a dead/near dying stem! I wondered if anyone had any advice on how to salvage them. I know that I am going to have to cut them back to 6-8in stems, but I don't know if I should wait for warmer weather, repot them together, replant the tops, etc. I am in OK and it is 40-60degrees the past couple of months. Can anyone help?Thumb of 2013-01-06/yougotval/705d85
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[Last edited by yougotval - Jan 6, 2013 3:43 AM (+)]
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Name: Cheryl
Kingwood, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Composter Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis
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ShadyGreenThumb
Jan 6, 2013 12:48 PM CST
I have a similar situation with my Japanese schefflera, but not quite as drastic. Like you, I want it to be shorter and more dense. I understand schefflera is one of the easiest to re-root. Since my tree is outdoors on the porch, I am going to wait til warmer weather, cut it down to the size I want (or shorter) and replant the cuttings in the very same pot. 3-4 of them I am going to try to Bonsai in smaller pots. Water and fertilize as usual. Have you thought about moving your newly trimmed-back plant to a window where it will get proper light?
Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love Truly, Laugh
uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Jan 6, 2013 1:24 PM CST
Agreed, I had twin plants in this pot and cut off most of one to give away. The cut piece got mailed to PA and has rooted and is growing well. That was in October. You can see the stump leafing out like crazy now.

Thumb of 2013-01-06/purpleinopp/61ae4b

To keep plants from getting leggy like that, provide enough light, and enough wind that it has to fight resistance and hold itself up securely. Like being outside for the summer, or putting a fan on it once in a while, on low. If it's leaning toward the light, turn it regularly to maintain evenness. I have to do that even with plants outside. If it ends up looking like something from a Dr. Seuss story anyway, it's just time to make new, smaller plants. How fun is that?!
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OKC, OK (Zone 7a)
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yougotval
Jan 6, 2013 8:04 PM CST
Thank you so much for the replies. I knew these poor plants were in desperate need of some pruning and some light. They obviously want very much to live so I will do what I can to help them thrive. So it is really as simple as cutting the stem in to 6-7 in pieces and putting them in the same pot? I read somewhere that I should wrap them in a plastic sheet until they root. Also, I wondered if I needed to stake the one that has fallen and is growing horizontally. I can do this now, or should I wait until March or April.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Jan 7, 2013 9:30 AM CST
yougotval:

The plant that is leaning can be staked anytime of year. As the tree gets older it should grow a more sturdy trunk for better support. S. arboricola is a very popular landscape plant here in the south. I have the variegated type in the ground and one large solid green variety in a container that I've been talking about putting in the ground for many years and still haven't done it! Schefflera is quite easy to propagate by taking 2" - 3" cuttings and placing them in a small pot with a well draining potting medium. Nurseries sometimes pot up many little cuttings in a single pot which makes for a bushier/thicker plant for the market. Give your cuttings and plants bright light but no direct hot sun; direc intense sun will scorch the leaves. To the surprise of many folks the Schefflera arboricola does very well in 50% shade; not deep shade but a bright light situation is sufficient. If they begin to grow in the direction of the light just turn them every so often for even growth.

Here's the link to the plant database for Dwarf Schefflera (S. arboricola):

Dwarf Umbrella Tree (Schefflera arboricola)
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Jan 7, 2013 9:36 AM CST
ShadyGreenThumb:

I've never heard of Japanese Schefflera. I wonder if it's the S. elegantissima that is also sometimes called False Aralia? I love the leaves on that one and used to have a couple of very large and bushy trees but both were lost to winter freezes a couple of years ago. I still have a small one and they are very easy to propagate too. Here's the link to S. elegantissima in the ATP plant database:

False Aralia (Schefflera elegantissima)
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Cheryl
Kingwood, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Composter Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis
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ShadyGreenThumb
Jan 7, 2013 1:53 PM CST
Hi Lin, I have the s.aboricola, Dwarf Schefflera. I have seen them called Japanese or Hawaiian Schefflera here.
Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love Truly, Laugh
uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Jan 7, 2013 2:15 PM CST
Hi Cheryl: I've only known Schefflera arboricola as the "Umbrella Tree" or "Dwarf Umbrella Tree" but like so many other plants it probably has numerous common names. Smiling

By the way ... I like that plant in your avatar photo, is that an Abutilon?
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Jan 7, 2013 3:27 PM CST
I would wait for warmer weather to do the trimming, in the meantime, just put a stake to help the plant upright a bit. I have a dwarf schefflera, and I have learned growing this one that it can tolerate cold once fully established but when getting the cutting, best to wait for warm weather at least 65 to 70F , remove most of the lower leaves so it can divert its attention to making roots. I find that when weather is consistently warm already, it is easier to root directly in soil, or you can root it in water first. But in cold weather rooting in water runs the risk of rotting.

My dwarf schefflera is not such a dwarf now Big Grin but is still growing well.

The mommy plant in 2007:
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The mommy plant: photo taken today 07Jan2013
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And these ones were once cuttings from it:
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(just waiting for warmer weather so I can trim off the unbalanced sideways growth)


Thumb of 2013-01-07/tarev/f26aee
(sorry lopsided photo)
Name: Cheryl
Kingwood, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Composter Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis
Plumerias Ponds Foliage Fan Enjoys or suffers hot summers Tropicals Garden Ideas: Master Level
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ShadyGreenThumb
Jan 7, 2013 4:37 PM CST
My "dwarf" is 8 feet tall! She needs a haircut.

Thumb of 2013-01-07/ShadyGreenThumb/ccf17b

Yes Lin, ,I found that beautiful Tigers Eye in Chinatown San Francisco last fall. I hope to find one and make it bloom just as pretty. They are pretty amazing flowers.
Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love Truly, Laugh
uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Jan 7, 2013 5:24 PM CST
tarev: Very nice ... good growing with those Scheff's!

Cheryl: I really like the looks of that Scheff of yours ... it looks perfect for that spot!

The variegated variety is used a lot in landscaping here. Here's one growing in my yard ....... and I took this photo at Port Canaveral, Fl a few weeks ago.
Thumb of 2013-01-07/plantladylin/f3a8cc Thumb of 2013-01-07/plantladylin/9d8384


And, this is my large containerized plant. I've had this one for 28 years ... it was a tiny thing in a little dish garden we received on our 15th anniversary. I really need to plant it in the ground or do some major root pruning and find another pot. The bottom of it's current pot has split and roots are stretching out and wanting to take root.
Thumb of 2013-01-07/plantladylin/03612f

I have a couple of others in containers outside somewhere too. I need to go out tomorrow and find them to see how they are doing.
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Cheryl
Kingwood, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Composter Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Amaryllis
Plumerias Ponds Foliage Fan Enjoys or suffers hot summers Tropicals Garden Ideas: Master Level
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ShadyGreenThumb
Jan 7, 2013 6:17 PM CST
The scheff is good fend shui. Supposedly brings money into the home. I'm not sure about that but who am I to argue with those in The Know? I also have a water feature (an aquarium) in the entrance way and my bed is on a diagonal, head towards the...IDK LOL It's in the right place for something. Rolling on the floor laughing Anyway, I
think more money will come to my household if I cut the scheff back and make it thick and pretty..
Lin, those are some awesome schefflera! They do so great outside when in the ground. Your anniversary gift is doing spectacularly, too! Wow!
I saw an Umbrella Tree in Kauai that was so huge, it was almost unrecognizable!

Thumb of 2013-01-08/ShadyGreenThumb/10b894

Thumb of 2013-01-08/ShadyGreenThumb/145560

Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love Truly, Laugh
uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Jan 7, 2013 8:42 PM CST
Aaah, that's probably a Schefflera actinophylla, they get huge here in Florida too and can be nuisance plants at times. I learned the hard way by planting a small one in the back yard too close to the cement pool deck ... the roots cracked the deck before we finally got rid of that tree!
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~

pjefferson
May 9, 2013 11:32 PM CST
Scheffleras become "leggy" when they don't receive too much light. This is because they reach for the light. Scheffleras love bright light but not direct sun. Their leaves will burn if you exposed them to direct heat. Place them indoor where they receive enough light and don't move them if you think it's the right spot already. It's also advised to place a saucer of pebbles under it's pot. This will receive excess water and brings extra humidity to the plant.

You may take note of some signs of over watering and under watering. Wrinkled leaves may indicate poor watering while rotten roots are associated with overwatering.

Looking at your Schefflera, I think it needs to be stalked for support. :)

Hope this helps. P.J.
[Last edited by pjefferson - May 13, 2013 11:51 AM (+)]
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Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
May 10, 2013 2:28 PM CST
Here in Florida Schefflera grows in hot bright sun without any problems of leaf burn; both the solid green variety as well as the variegated variety:
Thumb of 2013-05-10/plantladylin/c96eca Thumb of 2013-05-10/plantladylin/fc343a Thumb of 2013-05-10/plantladylin/e01c3f
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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drdawg
May 14, 2013 9:47 AM CST
One can transition a schefflera from indirect light/shade to full sun by increasing the exposure to full sun an hour or so every week or two. Just start with early morning sun. Otherwise, I can assure you, the leaves will not only sunburn but drop like crazy. This sun-acclimation takes a lot of time and effort though. If you have a "leggy" plant, trim the heck out of it. New branches will grow from the cut branches and you can root the cuttings if you wish. That's the only way I know to not only keep the size of the plant in check but also to get a bushier plant. Ken
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
Bulbs Foliage Fan Tropicals Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents
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purpleinopp
May 15, 2013 8:28 AM CST
I didn't have any trouble with this plant when I put it back on the front steps, facing south, after being inside for winter. Just took this pic, the light's coming over some trees by now, and will shine on this spot until it gets dark. Plants don't become etiolated (leggy) unless they're too crowded (so that light is blocked to the lower parts) or just in insufficient light alone.

Thumb of 2013-05-15/purpleinopp/5f89d0
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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drdawg
May 15, 2013 9:19 AM CST
Nice looking plants. You actually are acclimating your plant to full sun, without realizing it. This time of year, the sun is still further south and the rays are not nearly as intense as they will be by mid-summer. I have dozens of schefflera (I propagate and sell them) and I can tell you from many years of experience, IF I have grown my plants in indirect light and then put them outside in full mid-summer sunlight, they will sunburn and drop leaves. I am in NE Mississippi, but the same would surely happen in S. Florida or the Northeast, just different sun intensity at different dates. Ken
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Tajuan
Baltimore, MD (Zone 7a)
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Teejay
Apr 14, 2016 9:33 PM CST
Last year I received a schefflera as a friendly gesture from a customer that frequents my store



Thumb of 2016-04-15/Teejay/4f9e8b

At the time it was given it was just a cutting that had been allowed to root in a red plastic party cup of water. It had thrown many roots but I just didnt know what I wanted to do with it since i was new to shall I say, all things plants 😉.

Then months after planting it in the above terracotta pot, I decided I wanted to try my hand at making it a bonsai. After all it did need a good pruning from the day it was given to me. I just didnt know much about proper pruning techniques and care. After google, plant forums, and youtube videos I got bold and pruned many leaves. Leaving some for photosynthesis to take place, a new branch began to form with leaves in very close intervals/nodules. I was so happy that the pruning went well! 😀

A few months later it was time for the next step to my schefflera bonsai. Quite hesitantly I chopped the plant in half with hopes to have the top half root 😧.



Thumb of 2016-04-15/Teejay/17aacd

At least I could start again if the blow was too much for the main plant right? For at least 3 months (maybe more) i just knew it was all over for my plan. No roots had formed but oddly enough the top remained healthy and green. Not to mention the main plant had no new growth either. Just a naked stalk/stump Crying . Then in the beginning of March (i guess it was), the main plant began to rapidly grow 2 new branches Hurray! .


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So the roots which had been buried in the terracotta I raised up in a smaller pot closer to the surface further preparing it for bonsai with hopes of aerial roots later on. Here it is just last week...

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...And again tonight...



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And just two weeks ago, the top half began rooting. Here it is last week


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And now tonight before finally being able to pot it!



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...and as it is now



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Hoping the pruned leaves too will encourage new branching for balance.

I probably should have waited for the roots to get just a bit longer but I grew impatient out of excitement. 😄

And so this is what I did with my leggy schefflera. The best part is now I have two or perhaps a gift for someone else! Thumbs up

Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
Bulbs Foliage Fan Tropicals Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents
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purpleinopp
Jul 23, 2016 11:15 AM CST
@Teejay (and @Yougotval if you might still be interested,) how are your plants doing now?

This is the same pair of plants from my last pic here, 3 yrs ago. They have been pinched/pruned, given several branches away as cuttings to be placed in other pots, and repotted a few times.
Thumb of 2016-07-23/purpleinopp/65be56

One of the propagated branches has established as its' own plant well in this pot.
Thumb of 2016-07-23/purpleinopp/eb26d2
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