Schefflera is popular all over the US as low-maintenance houseplants. They can be grown outdoors in warmer regions like Florida all year round, but in colder regions, you must bring them indoors during winters. Many owners wonder how long these plants live, which we will discuss.
A Schefflera or umbrella plant can live 25 years or more if it gets the appropriate care and the right conditions. Provide it with indirect light, water when the soil is dry, fertilize with a 20:20:20 fertilizer during the growing season and maintain suitable temperature and humidity levels.
In the article, I will discuss the seasonal growing conditions of the Schefflera plant and share tips to make your umbrella plant live long.
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Are Schefflera plants annual or perennial?
Plants that live for a fixed period or a particular season are annual.
These plants do not have a long infinite life and die soon after their season ends.
They are born, reach maturity, produce seeds and flowers, and die within that short season.
Some examples of annual plants are flowering plants that grow particularly in summers or in winters and then die when the season ends.
On the other hand, perennials plants live for many years.
They take a few months or years to reach maturity and reproduce, then stay active for a long time.
Sometimes, they may appear to be visibly dying due to harsh weather conditions, but as soon as weather conditions suit them, they return to life.
Most of these plants go into dormancy during winters due to unsuitable conditions like low light, dry air, etc., and they come back to life with spring.
Most tropical plants, including Schefflera grown as houseplants, are perennial.
They are habituated to the warm and humid season during spring and summer but are highly sensitive to harsh winters.
They must be brought indoors and protected from frost and cold air, or you might lose your life.
Will my Schefflera come back year after year?
Schefflera plants can live long and be strong and hardy if they get the right growing conditions.
If the plant faces harsh cold or is struck by frost, facing severe lighting or watering issues, your plant may seriously suffer.
In harsh winters, sometimes, the plant may appear to be dying on the soil surface, but underneath, the roots may be alive and come back to life once spring arrives.
These plants are perennials if grown in areas with milder winters and moderate temperatures.
In such areas, the plant will continue to grow its glossy foliage all year round, but its growth may be lesser than in the warmer season.
In such a climate, the plant does not go into complete dormancy in winters but continues living at a slower pace.
You must give the plant proper care because it is at a sensitive stage when they are inactive and have low strength.
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What is the lifespan of Schefflera?
Schefflera plants can go for a long time if they grow in a suitable environment with the right care.
The lifespan of umbrella plants is usually between 20-25 years.
Being native to tropical regions, these plants need a warm climate and humidity.
But they are intolerant to both harsh cold and extremely hot weather and prefer moderate temperatures between 65 to 90°F.
If the temperature goes below 50°F, it might get difficult for the plant to survive, and it will need protection from the cold.
If the plant gets struck by hard frost, it will not be good for the plant.
So it is recommended to bring the plant indoors before the first frost and give it warmth and humidity.
What are the climate requirements for Schefflera plants?
The ideal temperatures for the Schefflera plant are between 65-90°F.
In the US, they are mostly seen in Florida, Central America, and the warmer regions.
The USDA hardiness zone 10-11 can be grown all year outdoors.
But if you stay north of this region, it is recommended that you move the plant indoors during winters to prevent cold shock.
Umbrella plants thrive in warm and humid regions with moderate temperatures that are neither too low nor too high.
If the temperature goes below 50°F, the plant may show signs of stress.
Schefflera are more tolerant if you grow them outdoors under shade and give them sufficient humidity and water.
However, you must not grow them under direct scorching sunlight as they are highly sensitive to it, and it will cause the plant to get dehydrated and sunburnt.
The leaves begin to get crispy and dry and yellow.
Indoors it would help if you chose a bright spot with a lot of indirect light coming in and away from vents, air conditioners, and heaters.
These tend to suck up the plant’s moisture and cause temperature fluctuations, which is unsuitable for the plant.
What temperature can kill the Schefflera?
Schefflera plants thrive in moderate temperatures which are neither too cold nor too hot.
Extreme cold and scorching heat affect its health.
And if not protected, these can kill the plant.
Though these are tropical plants, many plant growers have the misconception that they can tolerate extremely high temperatures.
In reality, it is not at all so.
These plants are equally intolerant to very high temperatures and strong hot summers.
Extremely high heat above 90°F can kill your plant if you do not protect them from it.
If your plant stays outdoors, you have to keep it under the shade of bigger trees, a covered patio, or a big wall that would not let sunlight fall on it.
It is necessary to keep the plants cool to beat this heat.
If you keep the plants indoors, keep them a few feet away from the window or balcony where there is a lot of light, or put up a curtain to shield the plant from the sunlight.
Also, in summers, it is extremely important to give the plant adequate humidity to prevent dehydration.
For this purpose, you can install a humidifier or pebble trays or mist your plant as and when needed.
Coming from warm and humid areas, they are intolerant to cold.
Most of the tropical plants grown in our homes do not thrive in winters.
If the temperature goes below 50°F, your plant will be in problem outdoors.
If your plant gets hit by a hard frost even once, you can lose it.
You must give your Schefflera a few hours of morning sunlight during winters to warm it up.
If you live in an area where natural sunlight is really low, you must install artificial grow lights.
Keep the plant at an east-facing spot where the mild morning sunlight will fall on the plant.
Do Schefflera plants last all summer?
If you live in a region with extremely hot and melting summers, you must protect this plant very much.
They will not tolerate such high temperatures.
Too much heat will dehydrate this plant drying it up and turning it yellow or brown.
The leaves begin to turn crisp and dry, and the plant looks shriveled.
In summers, it is necessary to keep the humidity around your plant high.
Remember, these plants need at least 50% humidity around them, which is not available in most homes.
For that purpose, you have to resort to artificial means to increase the humidity, including methods like grouping the plant, using humidifiers, misting the plant daily, and using pebble trays.
Also, it is of utmost importance to shield the Schefflera against direct sunlight.
How do you keep Schefflera plants alive in summer?
If you live in an area where summers are too hot, here are a few tips you can follow to protect the plant.
- Do not keep the plant in a spot that receives direct sunlight.
- If your plant is indoors, shift it 5-6 feet away from the window or balcony so that the sunlight does not reach the plant but gets an adequate amount of indirect light. You choose a bright north-facing or east-facing window to keep the Schefflera in the summers.
- If the plant is outdoors, move it to a spot that has some shade. You can place it under the shade of a bigger tree or against a wall that will shield it from sunlight.
- Remember, you have to save it from the direct sunlight, but that does not mean you can place it in low light. Because then that will be too bad for the health of the plant.
- Do not keep the plant at a spot near air conditioners. If you have to keep the plant in the same room, keep it a few feet away from the source. This is because air conditioners suck out the moisture from the plants and dehydrate them further.
- Do not leave the plant bone dry in summers, as that can further dehydrate the plant. Always water until it runs out of the drain hole, and then wait until the soil is dry again to water.
- Be careful of overwatering as that can kill your plant by setting up root rot. Check the soil before watering ad only water when the soil is around 25% dry but do not leave it bone dry.
- You should mist your plant often in summers but always mist it in the mornings so that the leaves do not stay wet for a long time. Wet leaves can invite pests and bugs as they thrive in wet conditions.
- Summers are when the plant grows actively, so it requires feeding too. Fertilize it at the beginning of summers with a balanced NPK 20-20-20.
- Keep an eye on your plant as the warm and humid conditions in summers also invite a lot of bugs like scales, mealy bugs, thrips, spider mites, and so on. In case of any infestation, wash the plant under running water and spray it generously with Neem oil, an organic pesticide.
- You must keep your plant’s leaves clean to maximize its transpiration process.
- Mulching the soil surface with dry leaves, twigs, and branches helps protect against the soil’s moisture loss.
Can Schefflera survive the extreme cold?
Like all other tropical plants, Scheffleras are also highly sensitive to the harsh cold.
These plants need a lot of protection in winters if you live in an area with harsh cold.
If the plant is left outdoors in the harsh cold and is hit by hard frost, its survival will get tricky.
It is advisable to bring the plant indoors during winters in such regions.
If you happen to bring them inside, check the plant thoroughly for bugs and wash it with a hose to remove all bugs, then bring it inside.
In such cold weather, your plant may go into dormancy and not grow.
You have just to let the plant survive and not disturb it much.
Remember to cut down on watering and give it loads o sunlight.
However, if the region you live in does not have an extreme cold and you enjoy mild winters and good sunlight, you can leave them outdoors.
Your plant will survive the cold in these areas, but it may not push out new growth like it does in spring and summer.
Do not fret about that, as with the advancement of offspring, your plant will bounce back.
How do you keep Schefflera alive in winter?
Let us discuss a few tips to make your Schefflera live through winter.
Though its growth will reduce from spring or summer, it will not die and will come back to life in spring if you follow these tips.
- Cut down on watering in winters. The water absorption rate also decreases with the reduction in evaporation due to low light. The soil stays wet for a longer period, so if you keep watering them the same way you water during summers, it will lead to overwatering or root rot.
- Water after checking the soil’s moisture content. If you are unsure when the plant needs water, then use a moisture meter to check the soil’s moisture level.
- Give the plant a few hours of direct sunlight in winter. Though they cannot tolerate direct sunlight in summers, it is needed to get some warmth in the colder months. You can invest in artificial grow lights if your plant does not get much direct sunlight in winters. It is important to give them warmth during these months.
- Keep the plant away from heaters and fireplaces. These tend to make the soil dry up faster and lead to fluctuation in the temperature, which the plant feels difficulty adjusting to. You can keep the plant a few feet away from the heating sources so that they stay away from the direct heat but gets the warmth.
- Do not keep the plant at a spot with windows, doors, or vents for cold air to come in.
- Prune the plant’s yellow or brown dead leaves to help it utilize its energy better.
- Do not fertilize the Schefflera plant in winters. This is because, in winters, the plant remains inactive, and if you fertilize it now, it will remain unused and accumulate in the soil, which can burn the plant’s roots and leaves.
- If your Schefflera is outdoors, you can mulch the soil surface to keep it warm.
- Remember, the winters have really dry air and very low humidity around. This is why the leaves may get wrinkled and yellow due to dehydration. You must use any artificial way to increase humidity around the plant, and humidifiers are highly recommended for winters.
- You can mist the Schefflera in winters, but be careful not to keep the leaves wet for longer. You can mist in the morning so that the light makes the water evaporate faster.
- Do not disturb the plant much during this season. Its growth will be slow but just leave it on its own to adjust to the cold.
From the above discussion, it is clear that Scheffleras can be grown as perennials for a long period if you can keep the plant in a suitable environment.
In summer, keep it cool by keeping it away from direct sunlight, with frequent watering and sufficient humidity. In winters, keep them warm by giving them sunlight and keeping them in a spot where harsh cold winds do not stress them.