The Schefflera, also known as the umbrella plant, is an exotic tropical plant that adds vibrance to any living space. But many growers remain confused about the right way to propagate a Schefflera so they can enjoy more of them.
To propagate a Schefflera:
- Choose a healthy cutting from a mature plant.
- Take a sharp and sterilized pruner and cut it off.
- Apply some rooting hormone to the end of the cutting. (Optional)
- Place the cutting in a small pot with a suitable potting mix or a glass jar filled with water.
- Provide enough moisture and wait for the roots to come out.
- Once you notice new roots or leaves, you can move to a big pot.
In this article, we will discuss the right way to propagate your Schefflera and the different conditions required for the propagation to work successfully.
Table Of Contents
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Why should you propagate a Schefflera?
Here are some reasons why you should propagate your Schefflera plant:
- Propagation is an easy way to get new plants without spending any money.
- Propagation is also an efficient way to utilize the discarded healthy stem cut after pruning the plant.
- Baby Scheffleras can be great gifts for friends and families.
- You can prune the leggy growth of the Schefflera and utilize those cuttings for new plants.
- You can also propagate a healthy stem from your dying plant if you feel the plant might not survive.
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What is the best time to propagate Schefflera?
The ideal time to propagate the Schefflera plant is during spring and early summer.
This is the growing phase for Schefflera, and the cuttings find it easier to recover the stress and root and establish themselves during this season as the temperatures are milder.
Do not propagate your cuttings during scorching summer or winters, as the plant finds it more stressful and unsuitable for rooting.
In harsh winters, Scheffleras get dormant because they are tropical plants that cannot tolerate cold weather, so trying to propagate in winters can result in the loss of the plant.
How to propagate a Schefflera plant?
Schefflera are not the easiest plant to propagate, and if done correctly, their chances of successful propagation are quite high.
Schefflera plants have a single stem growth pattern, so you cannot propagate them by the dividing method, but there are other effective methods of propagation that we will now discuss.
To propagate the Schefflera plant, you have to make sure the plant is healthy and disease-free.
We often propagate from a sick plant hoping not to lose it and have a specimen, but in most cases, the propagations are not successful.
Remember, propagated plants share the same internal features as the mother plant, so if the mother plant is not healthy, the diseases will show up quickly in the younger plant.
Do not propagate from an already stressed plant.
Give it time to bounce back and then propagate.
There are different ways of propagation, and you can use whichever suits your convenience.
- Stem cutting
- Grow a new plant from the seed
- Air layering
Now let’s discuss each propagation method in detail.
Schefflera plants are tricky plants to propagate through stem cuttings, but you will succeed if you put your attention and time to it.
This is also the most common and easy way to propagate.
You must include a part of the healthy large stem and a growth node in the cutting.
Do not propagate from a weak, wilted, or discolored stem.
You can propagate the stem cutting in two ways:
- Soil propagation
- Water propagation
Let us first understand how you can propagate stem cutting in soil.
The most common way to propagate is by soil propagation.
Here you put the cutting directly into the soil and wait for the roots to come out.
Supplies required for propagating in soil:
Before beginning the propagating process, you need to arrange all the equipment in a place so that you do not have to look for them midway.
- Pruners: Ensure the pruners are sharp and not blunt because the cut should be clean.
- Disinfectant: Before using the pruner, do not forget to sterilize it.
- A small pot: You will need a small pot for planting the cutting.
- Potting mix: You can make a light potting mix for planting the cutting.
- Pencil/chopstick: You will need this to poke a hole in the soil to plant the stem cutting.
- Plastic bag: This is an optional step. If you want to trap the moisture in the cutting to prevent it from drying up, plastic bags help to create a humid greenhouse effect for the plant.
- Rooting hormone: Though this is optional, rooting hormone results in faster root development and reduces the chances of fungal infection in the cutting.
Now, we will discuss the steps to propagate the stem cutting in soil:
1. Prepare a potting mix for propagation
You can use a good quality potting mix and add vermiculite to make it lose, airy, and well-draining.
2. Choosing a healthy stem
First, you must select a healthy stem from your existing mature umbrella plant for propagation.
Remember, the stem you choose to propagate should be at least around 5-6 inches long and must have 4-5 leaves on it.
3. Take the cutting
You have to make the cut once you have examined and chosen the stem you wish to propagate.
First, disinfect the pruner with rubbing alcohol to prevent the spread of pathogens.
Then cut a 5-6 inches section at a 45-degree angle cut.
The pruner must be sharp so that the cut is clean.
Trim off the lower leaves from the stem and leave one complete leaf set.
4. Put the cutting in the soil
You can dip this cutting in root hormone to encourage root growth faster; however, this step is optional.
In the small pot, fill the potting mix you have prepared for the propagation and make a hole at the center of the soil and plant this cutting in it.
5. Provide moisture
Propagation of a Schefflera cutting requires a lot of moisture but never wet soil.
So it is important to keep the soil slightly moist at times.
After potting the cutting, water it thoroughly and then leave it on its own to grow.
6. Post propagation care
Keep this cutting at a spot that receives moderate light but not direct sun.
The lower level of sunlight helps to lower the rate of transpiration which encourages root growth.
It is important that the cutting gets high humidity, decreasing the water loss from the leaves and increasing the plant’s system to work efficiently.
One way to increase the humidity near the cutting can be to cover the cutting with clear plastic to resemble a greenhouse effect.
The plastic locks the moisture from evaporating, thus creating a humid environment.
Or you can also mist the soil whenever it gets dry.
However, you should remove the plastic every 2-3 days to air the cuttings out.
If the propagation technique is successful, the cutting will start showing signs of rooting in about a month.
However, do not repot it right then but wait for another month until you see new growth at the top to repot the cutting.
7. Repot the cutting
Once you see new leaf growth at the top, you can repot your plant to a larger pot.
However, you must not use too big a pot to repot the cutting as that would risk the survival of the cutting.
Use a pot 2 inches larger than the existing pot and fill it with light and well-draining potting mix and plant the cutting into it.
Keep the pot in a bright area without direct sunlight and sufficient humidity.
Let us first discuss the supplies required:
- Glass container: You need a container to grow the cuttings. Glass containers are preferred because you can easily see the progress of the roots.
- Distilled water: Use only filtered water or distilled water and not tap water because they contain minerals and chlorine harmful to the stem cuttings.
- Pruners: You will need a pair of sharp pruners to cut the stem.
- Disinfectant: Do not forget to sterilize the pruner before cutting the stem.
Also read: Can Schefflera Grow In Water? (+How To)
Here are the steps of propagating a Schefflera in water:
1. Select a healthy cutting
Getting a healthy cutting is again the most important part.
Do not choose a stem that is pest-eaten or diseased.
2. Make the cut
Make a clean cut with a sharp and sterilized pruner.
Remember, the stem should be around 6 inches long and have one complete leaf set.
3. Insert the stem into the water
Use a clear glass container to propagate to see the progress of the roots easily.
Fill the glass with filtered water and insert the cutting into this.
4. Take proper care
Keep the container away from direct sunlight and provide moderate to bright light.
Change the water every few days to keep it clean and prevent insects from breeding.
5. Check the roots
It is easy to check the rooting system in water propagation as you do not have to take the cuttings out, so keep an eye on it.
Roots should develop within 4-6 weeks.
Wait for the roots to get a little long before transplanting them to the soil.
6. Repot in soil
Once the roots are long and mature, you must repot them in a small pot with a light and well-draining potting mix.
Keep it at a spot with bright indirect light and good humidity.
Propagating from the seeds
Along with stem cutting, Schefflera plants can be propagated from seeds, though it is a more time-consuming process.
The real challenge and most important step are finding fresh and good-quality seeds.
If the quality of the seeds is not good, propagation might not be successful.
Schefflera seeds are tricky to germinate, so superior quality seeds can increase the germination rate.
- Good-quality seeds: Make sure to get fresh quality seeds, as poor quality seeds reduce the chances of germination.
- Germination tray or pot: Use a germination tray or a small pot to plant the seeds.
- Potting mix: Use a light potting mix to sow the seeds.
- Water: Filtered water is recommended to water the seeds after planting them.
Let us now discuss the steps of Schefflera propagation from seeds:
- First, you have to prepare a setup to germinate the seeds. You can prepare a germination tray or get 2 inches-4 inches nursery pots.
- Experts have found that soaking the seeds in hot water of 140°F for 12 hours before planting them boosts the germination rate up to 97%.
- Sow each seed in a depth that is twice its size.
- Water very lightly after planting. The soil should be moist and not soggy.
- Give the seeds a temperature between 75°F and 86°F.
- Place the germination tray at a place that receives bright but indirect light away from the direct sun.
- This seed germination technique usually takes 2-3 months to show results.
- Once you see the seedlings have reached a height of 1-2 inches and have begun to sprout, you have to transplant them into different pots.
Propagating the umbrella plant through the air layering method is yet another effective method, but it takes quite a lot of effort.
However, this is a reliable method of propagation for Schefflera.
- Sharp knife: You need a sharp knife to cut the stem. Do not forget to sterilize the knife before using it.
- Sphagnum moss: This is required in air layering to wrap the cutting on the stem.
- Plastic: clean plastic is needed to seal the moss to lock moisture.
- Tapes: You will need this to stick the plastic in place.
Let us discuss the steps of propagating your Schefflera through air layering below:
- Identify an open spot on the plant’s stem with leaves attached both above and below the point.
- Remove the outer layer of the plant in a ring that is around one inch around the stem or just cut about halfway through the stem.
- Wrap that area in moist sphagnum moss by making a clump the size of a baseball and wrapping the wound completely.
- Now seal the moss with plastic wrap and stick the ends with tapes to make it completely airtight.
- In one or two months, root development inside the moss should begin.
- Once the roots have developed, you can cut the stem below the moss wrapping and plant the cutting in the soil in a small pot.
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Care tips for successful Schefflera propagation
- Schefflera propagation benefits from tenting or plastic covering because it locks up the moisture inside. You can do away with the covering once the roots develop.
- Do not repot until the root system becomes over 2 months old.
- Pruning the top shoots of the stems encourages branching of the plant.
- Schefflera plants need bright indirect light to keep the plat away from direct sunlight after repotting it.
- Be careful with watering because these plants tend to get overwatered and root rot.
- Remember, they like moist soil but never wet and soggy soil.
- Preparing the correct soil mix for the Schefflera plant is vital. A wrong potting mix can ruin your every effort for successful propagation.
- The soil for your Schefflera has to be extremely well-draining, light, and loamy. Add sand, perlite/vermiculite, compost, pine bark, etc., that keeps the soil aerated.
- After repotting, the plant will need to be fed but do not over-fertilize the plant. Remember that the plant is at a delicate point. Over-fertilization can burn the roots. Extra nutrients will not help the baby plant much and damage its tender roots.
- Maintain high humidity around the young plant with the help of a humidifier or any other method for increasing the humidity level.
Schefflera plants are not the easiest to propagate however that does not make them impossible to propagate either. Knowledge about the correct technique to propagate, time, and patience is needed to make this process a success.
You can use whichever technique you seem the most appropriate, but you must do it correctly.
The propagation method does not end with rooting the cuttings but is successful only when the repotting is successful and the young plant begins to thrive on its own. For that, giving the plant the perfect growing condition is vital.
Give the young plant sufficient humidity, bright indirect light, and light, well-draining soil. Most importantly, have patience and give attention to the baby plant to root and grow.
Reference: Wikipedia, Sciencedirect, Britannica, American Society for Horticultural Science, Schefflera taxonomic history.
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