Ask a Question forum: pruning a Schefflera

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Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Nov 10, 2014 7:31 PM CST
I have a Schef that is just too large to bring back inside for another winter as is. I have to either cut it down to a manageable size tomorrow or abandon it to the freezing temps. I'm choosing to cut it back. What's going to happen to it? Will it generate some new growth next spring from what is left?
Donald
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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flaflwrgrl
Nov 10, 2014 7:36 PM CST
It sure will. If you give it light in the house & some humidity as well then it won't wait for winter to show new growth.
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Nov 10, 2014 7:55 PM CST
Thanks. Winter storage is always problematic, but that gives me hope. I've had it a few years now and the container it's now in is nearly at the upper limit of my ability to move around without a forklift or something Smiling . But along with a lot of my plants, they suffer from a lot of neglect in the winter months. I think all my motivation and focus sort of goes winter dormant...or something. This one has a history of just sitting out that neglect and then responding to the spring renewal. However, I've never laid a finger on it.
Donald
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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flaflwrgrl
Nov 10, 2014 8:06 PM CST
Is this what you have Donald?


I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Nov 10, 2014 8:52 PM CST
Maybe. Or almost. I actually have two schefs. One is green like in your photo and the other is variegated. It's the variegated that I have to cut back. I'm hoping I can manage the green leaved one another year. The green is naturally a smaller plant. Here's a photo sort of showing the big one. This is the 'warehouse district' and there is a galvanized stock trough behind what is on the ground . I don't actually have a photo of just the schefs. The green one is in the trough and is what you see up by the tree trunk. The variegated is the one sticking out to the right of the photo. What you can't see is the original stem which grew parallel to the ground and is concealed in the photo. The plant has a flat side, but some of the stems just require more space than I have. Hope you can tell something from the photo. They accurately reflect my growing style, so it's messy. I've pulled it out and plan to take a photo tomorrow before I cut it back.
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Donald
[Last edited by needrain - Nov 10, 2014 9:03 PM (+)]
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Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Nov 10, 2014 9:02 PM CST
I grabbed the wrong photo. Here's the one I intended to post. Complete with a Rubbermaid stock trough waiting for me to decide how to use it Smiling .
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Donald
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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flaflwrgrl
Nov 10, 2014 9:27 PM CST
Okay, now that I'm positive of what plant we're both talking about (doesn't matter the green or the variegated) I can tell you some things about it (them).
#1) Tougher plants are hard to come by. Tough, tougher & toughest. They're hard to kill.
#2) They don't mind being super pot bound.
#3) They can successfully be grown indoors without a lot of hoo ha.
#4) They are very forgiving of "I forgot to water them".
#5) You want more of them? EASY. Sand, just moist not wet sand, stick cuttings in. New plants. They *do* take a while though before they show much growth at all but when they do, they take off!

I had one of these in a pot -- the SAME pot --- for 24 or 25 years. No kidding! I am a Fl. native but we had moved to Tn. for a few years. In south Fl. these grow outdoors in the ground or in a pot, either way. Anyway, I got one when we were in Tn. & it lived in the house quite contentedly. One of only 2 house plants that I couldn't kill. My green thumb only applies to outdoor plants. Hilarious! We moved back to south Fl. & it moved with us & stayed in it's pot. Several more moves down there & then we built a house where it had it's new home on the front porch in the very same pot. No new soil, just the same old pot, the same old soil. They can take full shade or full sun. The same plant. If you move it quickly from 1 to the other, it will lose it's leaves but the roots will still be alive & eventually it will sprout out with new foliage. You can cut these back HARD. You can cut them back so hard there are only stems left & they will grow new foliage. Did you know that if they get old enough or grow enough, they will send roots off the stems? You can actually add soil to the present pot & it won't kill it unless you keep it *too* moist until it sends roots into the newly added soil. You can cut it back as far as you wish, give it a bright spot in the house & decent water & food over winter & I'll lay odds it will have new foliage before you ever move it back outdoors. BTW, they *can* take pretty cool temps. but not freezing. It lived outdoors through a cold winter in north Fl. when we even had frost. I was as shocked as anyone that it could take those temps. & never miss a beat.
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Nov 10, 2014 9:58 PM CST
I also have those scheffleras Donald, and both in containers as well. I just keep them outdoors even during our winters. It actually seems happier since that is the time we get the much needed rain.

I prune them too, when it is getting too wide, otherwise it gets toppled by our strong winds. Such a forgiving plant..gets burnt at the tips when it is too hot here and also endures the occasional 20's of winter.
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Nov 10, 2014 11:02 PM CST
Occasional 20s? Wow! I am in agreement with everything Ann said. I've had these for a while now and they have been rewarding and agreeable plants. Quite tolerant of Texas extreme dry heat and thrive without a lot of water. Definitely a water friendly plant. The biggest reason they are in such big pots is due to the incessant wind here. They have grown well enough that the pots weren't heavy enough to keep the wind from knocking them over. It's good to know they can stay where they are for a while Smiling . Maybe I can control them toppling over by pruning. That's the one thing I've never attempted, so I didn't know what effect it was going to have on the plant. I tend to enjoy plants outside a lot, but inside plants become just a chore. That's a setup for neglect Sad
Donald
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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flaflwrgrl
Nov 11, 2014 5:44 AM CST
Donald, how about digging a hole for the pots to go in & that way the wind won't topple them. I'm not talking about a big hole for the entire pot but a hole say 6 or7" deep where you can set the bottom of the pot in it & that should hold it in place.
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Nov 11, 2014 7:56 AM CST
I can attest to everything Ann said about them being very forgiving plants -- my house plants have to be forgiving! I have a couple of scheffleras as well, and have taken cuttings and just rooted them in water several times. Thumbs up
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Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Nov 11, 2014 11:17 AM CST
Ann, digging a hole here requires a pickaxe. Also, I keep the plant under oak trees and those are the most valuable plant on the premises to me. I'd be afraid the holes would damage the roots. It would probably work, but containers with a low profile and some weight work for the most part. Tall plants and broad leaf plants are the most susceptible to being blown over. I've been surprised at the size of container that can be toppled in the wind. I'm always relieved when a pot escapes being broken or cracked because that happens too Thumbs down .
Donald
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Nov 11, 2014 11:22 AM CST
I wonder then if some rocks strategically placed around the pot. Orrrrrrrrr 4 rebar stakes????? I understand about the oak trees.
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Nov 11, 2014 11:39 AM CST
I've been known to put rocks in the pots to add weight. Especially on plants with shallow root systems like tall Sansevierias where they don't need all the pot space. I've used rebar, but then discovered I couldn't pull it up after I got it in the ground. I had to use the pick to dig it out, so it wasn't a satisfactory solution. I tend to rearrange things too often Smiling . Some people think that's funny/odd, but really some plants grow too large, or they seem to need more light or they get past their peak in a visible spot when another is reaching peak. They get switched around pretty often.
Donald
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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tarev
Nov 11, 2014 11:43 AM CST
Oh..I can understand your apprehension Donald..my schefflera container got tossed out by some strong gusts last year in late October.
Like you, I cannot bury my containers too, so I plan to put some hollow blocks later around the base, just to add some resistance. Hoping it will work. I also plan to move closer one of my heavy containers beside it for added balance hopefully.

My heavy Schefflera container, when it got tossed out, such strong winds..luckily it did not uproot the plant. My container is tapered at the base, so it was quite easy to lose its balance once the top heavy plant got blown.
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So I plan to add some hollow blocks at the base and move this other heavy blue container beside it later, for more balance, at least this blue container is more even at the base. Thanks for your thread, I think I have to do some trimming now as well.

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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Nov 11, 2014 11:53 AM CST
I make little brick walls around my pots so the wind doesn't turn them over.

Similarly to caring for a bonsai, at some point one decides, "This is the biggest pot I can bring into the house for winter." But plants don't stop growing, above or below ground. So, when repotting, you can remove the old soil, trim the roots, and put plants back in the same pot. This gives them space to grow again, but doesn't require a bigger pot. Whatever mass above the soil that doesn't fit in the house, I trim it off. (If I don't want to keep the trimmings, someone usually wants to pay the postage to get them.) Many of my plants are now in the biggest pot I plan to ever give them, but I also intend to keep them around until I can't take care of them anymore.

Regarding your particular plant with the branch leaning way out to the side, when you repot, you can tilt the root ball a bit, so that part is upright. That will keep the main mass above the pot, making it take up less space.

Trees don't mind if you dig around a bit under them, as long as you let the roots dictate where you do it. Just don't try to cut through any big ones, or add so much mulch or dirt that it raises the ground level. My Mom has a huge garden under some oak trees.

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Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Nov 11, 2014 12:00 PM CST
Are the photos from your Mom's place? That looks similar to my setup except where the lawn is green in your photos mine looks like semi-arid desert Sad . I'm wanting to increase the mulch area drastically, mainly hoping to conserve some moisture for the trees. I expect I could put a generous layer of mulch down before the impact became negative.
Donald
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Nov 11, 2014 12:03 PM CST
Yes, she put some mulch the first year, but it's just been mulched by raking the oak leaves within the borders since then. The difference between the bed area and the surrounding soil is unbelievable!! Not hard to dig around there at all, except when I hit a root and have to try somewhere else.
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☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try.
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Nov 11, 2014 12:24 PM CST
Oak leaves move around too much in the windy conditions here. They have to have something to block them from moving or something on top to keep them from blowing away. They really pile up deep in places, but some places are just bare where the wind scours the surface. They trimmed the power lines along the county roads in my area. They chopped the trimmings and just blew them back into the pastures. When they needed a secure place to park their truck, I let them use my field and in exchange got a huge pile of chopped limbs and leaves. It's still green enough that it has an odor when it gets wet, but it should be mostly free of weed seeds and has enough coarse material to keep it loose. I've been using it around some smaller trees. Armadillos love to dig in that sort of thing, so I don't know how well it's going to stay put. It's not as pretty as the pine bark chips etc., but I could always put a layer of that on top if it bothered me enough. I may use some of the pile to weigh down the oak leaves.
Donald
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Nov 11, 2014 4:38 PM CST
Here's a photo of the schef. I haven't cut anything yet. It's in the garage for the minute. Where I decide to overwinter it will probably determine how much of it gets lopped off. I like the way it is, but that's too much space taking top.
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Donald

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