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How to care for Schefflera Arboricola

Schefflera Arboricola, commonly known as the Umbrella tree, has been used as a houseplant for many many years now I would say it’s one of the most common indoor plants out there. It is extra low maintenance and easy to grow. Not to mention the new baby leafs that look like tiny hands, they are just so adorable!

Common Schefflera Varieties

Before we jump to plant care… I want to cover some of the most common Schefflera varieties that are commonly sold as houseplants.

There are many different Schefflera varieties, but the most common ones you can find are Schefflera Arboricola and Schefflera Actinophylla (Schefflera Amate). These two are really easy to distinguish. Schefflera Actinophylla has really big glossy leaves. On the other hand, Schefflera Arboricola has much more tiny leaves, so it’s commonly called the dwarf Umbrella tree.

Schefflera Arboricola

There are even different varieties of the Schefflera Arboricola itself.

When I first got my Schefflera I wasn’t sure what variety of Schefflera it was. Was it an Arboricola or was there another type? Because it didn’t look like the Arboricola I’ve seen on Pinterest or Google. All dwarf Umbrella trees I’ve seen had rounded leaves, and mine has more pointy leaves.

Eventually I found that there are many Arboricola varieties and that mine is a Schefflera arboricola Luseane Ivory. Besides different leaf shapes, you can also find all green varieties and variegated ones.

How much light does Schefflera need? | lighting

Here’s where Schefflera shines, because it’s not a high maintenance light junkie. It will be easy for you to find a good spot for it in your home. There are just two extremes you should avoid – direct sunlight and low light areas.

Direct sunlight coming from a south facing window can damage its leaves. If this happens, you’ll notice brown spots on the leaves of your Schefflera. If you notice this, move it further away from the window or cover your window with sheer curtains that will disperse the sunlight.

I had my Schefflera all over my apartment – in a sunny room with bright indirect and medium light, and in a darker room with more of a medium to low light. What I found out by changing its position is that it was the happiest a couple meters away from a south facing window that’s covered with sheer white curtains.

There it was really thriving all year round, constantly pushing out new growth, even during winter!

When I moved it to a slightly darker spot it stopped growing so fast. Actually, it was mostly just maintaining itself.

So, if you want your Schefflera to grow faster you should place it where it’ll get bright indirect light – in front of an east or west facing window, or somewhere near a south facing window (but protecting it from harsh sun rays).

When do you need to water your Schefflera? | watering

Like most indoor trees, Schefflera doesn’t like to sit in wet soil for long periods of time. That’s why you should wait until at least the first couple of cm of soil are dried out before watering it again.

The best method is to feel the soil with your finger. If you feel like the soil is dry for at least the first 5-10 cm (2-4 inch) – water your Schefflera thoroughly and let the excess water come out of the drainage holes.

The key to a happy Schefflera is having drainage holes at the bottom of the pot so that the excess water doesn’t stay in the pot. If you don’t have drainage holes there’s a good chance you’ll overwater it. When you see leaves are turning yellow, check out the roots and see if there’s root rot.

If you have problems with an overwatered plant – read my article How to fix an overwatered plant.

On the other hand, if you feel like the soil is still moist, don’t water it. There’s not an exact amount of days that need to pass before you can water it. The watering frequency if affected by so many different factors (to read more about this check out the article – 7 factors that affect your houseplant watering frequency).

Just let the soil dry out a bit before watering and your Schefflera will be happy!

After a few watering sessions, you’ll get the hang of it and you won’t overthink too much when, how or do you need to water it, you’ll just know.

When do you need to fertilize your Schefflera | fertilizing

You can find different information about how often you should fertilize the Schefflera. When I started searching about the Schefflera care, I came across reeeealy different information about fertilizing. Ones were advising to fertilize it 2-3 times per week! I mean, I don’t even water it that often. Others said that once a year is more than enough.

Since none of this made sense to me, I decided to fertilize it like I do with almost all my other houseplants.

I fertilize it once every one to two months during the growing season (April-October), and it seems to be happy. As I mentioned earlier, my Schefflera pushes out new growth all year round, but I still back away from the fertilizer during winter.

What type of fertilizer to use? Personally, I just go with the complete liquid fertilizer for green and flowering plants. Be careful with the fertilizer and follow the instructions on the bottle. More fertilizer does not equal better. In the end, it’s better to give less, than to go overboard with the fertilizer because over-fertilizing can also hurt your plant.

Does Schefflera need high humidity?

Schefflera will be fine with you regular home humidity levels. I find that I don’t need to provide additional humidity to it, but I still like to mist it occasionally.

Schefflera has many leaves and sometimes it can be overwhelming going through every one and wipe the dust off. That’s why I like to bring it to the shower every once in a while. In that way you can also provide some additional humidity to your plant.

When do you need to repot your Schefflera?

Like with almost all your houseplants, it’s ok to let it get root bound. Once it’s root bound, take a 2-4 cm (1-2″) bigger pot and repot it in fresh soil. After you repotted it, give it a good soak and let the excess water run out the drainage holes.

It’s best to repot it in early spring so that it has room to grow the roots during the growing season.

Is Schefflera toxic? | Schefflera toxicity

Schefflera is toxic to pets and humans. It has a poisonous sap that can irritate your skin. If you are taking cuttings from your Schefflera, it’s good to use gloves. In that way you won’t come in contact with its sap.