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Schefflera

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  • Indoor Plants
Schefflera actinophylla
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Normand Fleury)

Onglets

Botany

Origin and description

Schefflera is a tree that can reach up to 10 metres in the wild. It grows in porous soils rich in organic matter in the tropical regions of Australia and Asia. It is grown as a houseplant because of its digitate leaves made up of five to seven oblong leaflets. This hardy plant can grow to two to three metres and thrive for many years as a houseplant.

Species, cultivars and related plants

Schefflera arboricola is a species similar to Schefflera actinophylla. It is popular for its dense, shrub-like shape along with its smaller and narrower dark green leaves. It can tolerate lower light levels than Schefflera actinophylla. Variegated cultivars generally require bright light and a minimum temperature of 16 to 18ºC.

Toxicity

This plant is toxic so be careful to keep it out of the reach of children and pets.

Common name

Schefflera / Australian umbrella tree

Latin name (genus)

Schefflera actinophylla (syn. Brassaia actinophylla)

French common name

Botanical family

  • Araliaceae
Horticulture

Growing conditions

Schefflera tolerates low light but does best in bright indirect light. Place it in a west- or east-facing window. This plant adapts well to normal household temperatures (18 to 21°C). Slightly cooler temperatures (16 to 18ºC) are tolerated, especially in winter, but leaf drop will occur below 13°C. Schefflera will tolerate higher temperatures provided the humidity is also high. In summer, you can move it outdoors to a sheltered spot out of direct sunlight and wind.

Easy to grow?

Schefflera is relatively easy to grow. It adapts well as a houseplant. It is mostly sensitive to sudden changes in temperature, and flowers indoors only exceptionally.

Watering and fertilizer

In summer, water well to thoroughly moisten the rootball without drenching it, then allow the soil surface to dry out between waterings. In winter, water sparingly and let the soil dry out more deeply. Fertilize Schefflera three or four times a year, during the growing period, with a balanced indoor plant food or an all-purpose fertilizer like 20-20-20.

Pruning and maintenance

Shower off dusty leaves with lukewarm water. Regularly turn the pot a few degrees to keep the plant symmetrical.  Pinch back new shoots in spring to encourage ramification and keep the plant compact, or cut back overgrown plants.

Repotting

Schefflera requires a rich, light, slightly acidic soil that drains well. Repot young plants every year. Repot mature plants every two years or when the plant is obviously potbound. A potting mix of peat moss, potting soil and perlite (or coarse sand) or a good potting mix for indoor plants is generally suitable.

Propagation

Pests and diseases
Physiological disorders

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