Want to add a tropical look to your home? Scheffleras (Schefflera arboricola) might be the ticket. These large, graceful plants are native to the tropics and make evocative, long-lived houseplants. Their common name is umbrella plant.
If you are in the market for an umbrella plant, rooting cuttings is a great idea. Scheffleras root easily and grow fast.
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Meet the Schefflera
The Schefflera arboricola makes a superb houseplant and is grown for the appealing patterns formed by its leaves as well as its interesting growth pattern. The shiny, forest-green leaflets grow in an umbrella spoke pattern on the top of a tall stem. As the plants mature, the leaflets reach 12 inches long. They can be toxic, however, so keep them away from pets.
The leaves are not the only part of the plant that grows fast. These plants are usually 2 to 3 feet tall when you bring them home from the garden store, but they quickly grow taller than you are. They can top out at 8 feet or more in height. If given sufficient sun, the plant produces compound panicles of small red flowers. These develop into drupes in autumn.
Propagate the Schefflera
Umbrella plants root quickly, which means that it's easy to propagate one from a stem cutting. The best time to take umbrella tree cuttings is spring. You'll need sharp, clean pruners, rooting hormone, and small pots filled with moist potting soil.
Clip off one or two stem cuttings from a healthy plant. The cuttings should be about 6 inches long and the cut should be made at a 45-degree angle. Prune off all of the lower leaves from a cutting; then dip the cut end in rooting hormone. Poke a hole in the potting soil with the back of a pencil and plant it in the container. Repeat for the second cutting.
Cover the pots with clear plastic bags to hold in the moisture; then place them in bright, indirect light. Mist the plants daily. Roots should form within three weeks. At that point, remove the bag and allow the little plants to grow.
Care for the Schefflera
Umbrella plants love bright light, but they prefer to not get direct sun rays on their leaves. They are easy to take care of if you give them an appropriately warm site with adequate sunlight and sufficient water.
Water is a little tricky for the schefflera. It likes weekly watering through the growing season, but it's best to let the soil dry out before watering again. During winter, cut back on water. This is important since they need less water in winter and can be killed through overwatering.