Schefflera, a popular houseplant also known as umbrella tree, produces large, attractively patterned leaves in an umbrella spoke pattern, hence the plant's common name. Common in office buildings, waiting rooms and shopping malls, schefflera makes an ideal addition to indoor gardens because it requires warm temperatures and moderate light levels. Schefflera reaches up to 8 feet high when fully mature, with leaves up to 12 inches long. With proper care, the plant can live for decades in a single location.
Site and Soil
Schefflera grows best at a site that receives medium to bright, indirect light. The plant performs well in brightly-lit bathrooms, due to the high humidity. A well-drained, rich, moist potting soil yields the best growth results. Amending the soil with compost before planting provides the plant with ample nutrients for growth. Schefflera requires a heavy pot, as top-heavy mature plants may topple over in small or lightweight containers.
The plant thrives in temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60 F to 65 F at night. Schefflera can survive at temperatures as low as 50 F, but suffers cold damage and leaf drop at lower temperatures. The plant should stay in a location away from vents, open windows and air conditioners that may cause a hot or cold draft. Schefflera does not adapt well to frequent changes in temperature, which can cause the plant to shed leaves.
Schefflera requires watering whenever the soil's surface dries out completely, usually about once every five to seven days. Discarding any excess water after applying prevents root rot. No standing water should ever remain around the plant's roots. Leaf drooping indicates a lack of water, and the soil should receive supplemental moisture immediately. The plant needs less frequent watering during winter, about once every 10 to 14 days.
Schefflera's fertilizer requirements depend on the amount of light it receives. Plants grown in moderate light require feeding once every three months, while those grown in high light require feeding once every two months. An all-purpose houseplant fertilizer provides proper nutrition for the plant. To avoid causing damage, never apply fertilizer to dry soil. Alternatively, a slow-release fertilizer applied once each year during spring can provide adequate nutrition.
Schefflera requires repotting about once every two or three years, or whenever the plant begins to outgrow its current container. Increasing the size of the growing container by about 3 inches at each repotting provides plenty of room for overcrowded roots. Repotting may occur any time of the year, though transplanting during winter or early spring yields the best results.