Pruning a Schleffera - Knowledgebase Question

Hayward, CA
Question by jkwahl
August 14, 2005
I'm not sure I can explain this clearly but I will do my best. I have a potted Schleffera, on a table, and about 12 inches of the bare stalk is crooked and bowed and, where it reaches the table surface, has grown straight up from there (about 5 feet). The way it is growing makes it very difficult to repot, which it desperately needs. Is it possible to cut off the 12 inches of bare stalk and just repot it without killing it? Will it regrow roots? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Answer from NGA
August 14, 2005


I'm getting the picture - your Schleffera has taken on a personality all its own. You can prune your plant back, but it will take some creative pruning. I'd recommend cutting the stalk where it starts to bend over. If the roots are healthy, the stub will produce new foliage. You can then take the remainder of the plant and try to root it. It may or may not produce roots, but at least you'll have one plant left. Since drastic pruning stresses a plant, place it in a bright spot out of direct sun for a week or so, then return it to its former home.

Since you have reduced the amount of foliage on the plant, it will probably require less water than before pruning, so adjust accordingly.

You should see new growth within a week or two. Once new shoots have two sets of leaves, pinch out growing tips to encourage branching, and continue doing this on a regular basis. This tip pruning will keep your plant bushy and not as likely to grow a snake-like main stalk.

Whenever you make drastic pruning cuts, you take a chance. Some plants will resprout even if you cut the entire plant back to its base; however, removing all the foliage is stressful to a plant. If you have just one central stem, you may need to resort to such severe pruning and hope the plant is strong enough to recover. Hope yours is!

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