Schefflera – a bright and unpretentious indoor giant-Care

Among indoor giants, it is difficult to find a plant as bright as, for example, a sheffler. And just as picky. The Shefflers are representatives of the Aralievs with a rather docile disposition. They make fewer demands on the conditions and easily cope with care slips, but they are afraid of dampness. Shefflera’s appearance is bright and outstanding. Dazzling, often variegated colors of umbrella leaves, relentless growth, flexibility of forms and the ability to fit into any environment – the plant has many advantages. And it is not surprising that the sheffler has more and more fans.

Schefflera is a bright and unpretentious indoor giant
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Description of the plant

Lush and rather large, bushy or tree-like, depending on the variety and formation, indoor shefflers can reach a height of 2 m, but most often, with proper care, they are limited to 1-1,5 m. Shefflers grow rather slowly. Today, in addition to the usual forms, bonsai-shaped shefflers are very popular.

In youth, the shoots seem too thin for huge leaves, with age they become woody, bare and elongated, but the “umbrella tree” effect is always preserved.

Sheffler leaves are not accidentally called palm-shaped or umbrella-shaped. Complicatedly finger-like, they surprise with the 8 – 12 elongated-oval, neat lobes up to 15 cm long and up to 6 cm wide, arranged like an umbrella needles. Leathery texture is combined with a glossy top and a matte light-colored back. The leaf petioles are very long and perfectly straight. The colors, depending on the species and variety, are dark and rich or bright and variegated, with uneven spots.

Despite the beauty of the greenish-white inflorescences-brushes, you will not admire them at home.

This is a poisonous plant: the juice causes irritation on the mucous membranes and on the skin.

Types of indoor sheffler

Schefflera woody (Schefflera arboricola) – compact, from 80 to 120 cm species with woody shoots, which is easily formed by pruning. The dark foliage with even, drop-shaped lobes seems to be very elegant. There are many bushy forms and varieties, with yellow, cream and white spots on the leaves.

Schefflera radiant (Schefflera actinophylla) – a fast-growing large species with seven-lobed leaves of a light green color, nicknamed the “octopus tree”.

Scheffler’s finger (Schefflera digitata) Is a large dark-leafed species with wavy lobes with a pointed edge.

Scheffler’s eight-leafed (schefflera heptaphylla) Is an interesting species with drooping leaves, lanceolate lobes with light veins, changing color from olive to dark green.

Schefflera’s most graceful (Schefflera elegantissima) Is a special heat and moisture-loving type of sheffler, formerly related to dizigotek. Narrow, palmate-divided leaves with large teeth and thin shoots up to 1,5 m long look airy and graphic.

Schefflera arboricola
Schefflera arboricola (Schefflera arboricola). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Nora Sistemich
Шеффлера лучелистная (Schefflera actinophylla)
Schefflera radiant (Schefflera actinophylla). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com PIEP
Schefflera elegantissima
Schefflera elegantissima. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com alloe.

Growing conditions for indoor shefflers

The main thing is to control the lighting and not allow too much changes in the growing conditions. Otherwise, the Scheffler is very comfortable in the living rooms.

Read also our article Aerial graphics of the most graceful shefflers.

Lighting and placement

Shefflers are light, but not sun-loving; plants must be protected from direct rays. Light shading is acceptable for non-colored varieties, but bright diffused light is still preferred. With a lack of light, the shefflers stretch, hang, deform. In the interior, plants are placed closer to the windows. Ideal lighting is similar to east and west windowsills.

From the middle of autumn, the lighting must be adjusted to maintain the usual regime. Schefflers can be moved to a lighter place or supplementary lighting can be arranged.

Schefflera requires a lot of space, it is better to place it separately from other plants. Avoid pushing pots close to walls. Schefflers need to be turned regularly for even development.

Temperature control and ventilation

From spring to autumn, sheffler is suitable for stable heat from 20 degrees. The optimal range for wintering is from 15 to 18 degrees Celsius. Some variegated varieties require wintering at a temperature of 18-20 degrees, it is better to clarify this parameter when purchasing. Schefflera sheds leaves when the temperature drops to 12 degrees and does not like heat.

Both in winter and in summer, the Schefflera does not tolerate drafts and temperature changes, even in a mild form. It is taken out to fresh air only for the summer, in protected partial shade, focusing on night temperatures (from 14 degrees).

In the interior, the shefflers are placed closer to the windows.
In the interior, the shefflers are placed closer to the windows.

Shefflera care at home

Careful watering is the basis for proper shefflera care. Since the plant does not require frequent such procedures, it is suitable even for those who often travel.

Watering and air humidity

Even in summer, the shefflera is afraid of overflows, tolerates light droughts better than even short-term dampness. It is watered sparingly, immediately draining the water released into the trays and letting the soil dry out 2-5 cm to maintain stable, but light moisture. They begin to reduce watering as soon as the daylight hours decrease, reducing the amount of water and the frequency by half. Usually for shefflers in summer, 1 watering per week is enough, in winter – in 2 weeks.

Schefflers adapt easily to the dry air of apartments, although humidity of 60-75% is considered ideal. They love spraying, especially in winter. The leaves of the plant should be regularly wiped with a damp sponge to remove dust.

Top dressing and composition of fertilizers

With normal growth, shefflers feed all year round, even in winter, only by adjusting their frequency. In summer, fertilizers are applied once every 1 weeks, in a halved dose, in winter – once every 2-1 weeks.

Scheffler is suitable only for fertilizers containing both macro- and microelements (complex universal fertilizers).

Schefflers love spraying
Schefflers love spraying

Trimming and shaping shefflers

You can form plants at will, but shefflera is good even with free growth. It is imperative that shefflers cut off only damaged, dry and strongly distorting shoots.

To grow bushy forms, it is better to immediately choose squat branching varieties or plant several plants in a pot, but you can try to stimulate growth by shortening the tops. The release of lateral branches only stimulates a sufficiently strong pruning of 5-6 internodes or more. The stems can be intertwined if desired.

It is best to prune the sheffler before the start of rapid growth, in March. Thin shoots often need to be tied to supports. Old and heavily damaged plants are rejuvenated by strong stump pruning.

Read also our article The best unpretentious plants for the office.

Transplant, containers and substrate

It is better to transplant the sheffler only when there really is a need for it. You can change containers during the entire first half of the stage of active development. The topsoil is renewed twice a year.

For this, plants use a nutritious, versatile and breathable substrate with a slightly acidic reaction and additives of loosening components (perlite, sphagnum, vermiculite). A special substrate for palm trees or roses is excellent. The containers should be large, not too high, they are increased in size by 4-5 cm.

Shefflers should be transplanted carefully, keeping an earthen lump whenever possible. A high drainage layer (from 5 cm) is required.

Schefflera grows well in hydroponics.

Shefflers often turn yellow when dry, overheated, lack of light
Shefflers often turn yellow when dry, overheated, lack of light

Diseases, pests and problems in the cultivation of shefflers

With improper care, in heat and low humidity, this plant is not resistant to pests. Felts, thrips, scale insects, spider mites spread very quickly, damage not only leaves, but also shoots, they are usually clearly visible with the naked eye. At the first suspicion, the plant should be isolated and treated with insecticides (for example, “Aktara” or “Aktellik”, biological agents).

When waterlogged, stagnant water, especially in autumn and winter, roots and shoots are quickly affected by rot. If hypothermia also occurs, shefflers are threatened with spotting. Quick correction of care, drying of the soil, preventive watering with a solution of fungicides will save the sheffler. Emergency transplant is an extreme and often disastrous measure.

Schefflera easily sheds leaves – both in the cold and in the heat, and during overflows. The plant points to the latter by itself – by bubbles on the back of the leaves. Schefflers are often deformed, discolored, yellow and dry when dry, overheating, lack of light.

Breeding shefflers

Self-raising sheffler offspring requires patience. The easiest way is grafting. Shefflers root apical and stem cuttings from non-lignified shoots, immersing them in a light, breathable or inert substrate under a hood, controlling the stability of soil and air moisture. Bottom heating is desirable. Rooting takes several months; young plants must be handled very carefully.

With the sheffler, air layers can also be rooted by cutting the shoot vertically and wrapping it with moist moss, foil or film to form roots).

Plants are grown less often from seeds, because the characteristics of the variety are not preserved this way. Sowing is carried out in spring or summer, under glass or film, maintaining a constant temperature of 20 to 25 degrees using the bottom heating.

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Schefflera - a bright and unpretentious indoor giant-Care
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Anna Evans

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