The larger of the two species, Schefflera actinophylla, whose common name is umbrella plant or umbrella tree, is a particularly popular houseplant valued for its size and unique beauty. The long, drooping leaves that grow from a central stalk give it the appearance of an umbrella, hence the name.
Adding to the popularity of Schefflera plants is the fact that they grow quickly, are low maintenance, and can live happily with little attention as long as they’re in the right spot. And they’re easy to propagate, meaning you can create your own indoor forest or create new plants for sharing.
Step-By-Step Instructions For Propagating Umbrella Plant
Umbrella plant propagation is relatively easy if you have the proper tools and follow instructions.
Tools you need
Rooting hormone (optional, but recommended and easily purchased at a local nursery or from online retailers like Amazon)
When to propagate your umbrella plant
Spring and summer are the best times to propagate your umbrella plant. This will give your new plants time over the growing season to become established and allow the parent plant to heal.
How to propagate an umbrella plant
Propagating your umbrella plant should be done with some forethought and planning. Even regular plant care through pruning can cause distress to a plant as it heals, so ensure recovery and healing by starting with a healthy plant. This means that before pruning or taking cuttings from the parent plant, you must ensure it’s pest and disease free, fertilized, and strong.
When you’re ready, the easiest propagation method is through stem cuttings. Follow the steps below for the best result.
Have the transplant container and soil ready. The best way to encourage root growth from a stem cutting is by placing the cutting directly into potting soil. A regular potting mix with perlite is sufficient.
The container should have several drainage holes to ensure well-drained soil, so the plant doesn’t sit in water. Soggy roots will result in root rot and kill your plant.
Choose the right spot to cut. When cutting your umbrella plant, it's about location, location, location. Cut above a leaf node, including it and part of the stem.
Check and clean your tools. Sterilized tools are crucial for preventing the spread of bacteria to the new plant and mother plant. Avoid using scissors and opt for a sharp knife cleaned with isopropyl alcohol.
Take a clean cutting. Cut from above the leaf node straight down, removing a 4-6 inch section of node and stem.
Repot and water. If using rooting hormone, coat the cut end before planting, then place the cutting directly into the soil and firmly pack it around it.
Note: If you cannot plant right after cutting, wrap the cutting in a wet paper towel to keep it damp. The cutting should always be kept from drying out.
Place in the appropriate area to encourage growth. Schefflera cuttings need to live in just the right spot to root and grow. This spot will have a lot of indirect light and high humidity.
Because there are no roots at this early stage, moisture loss is a big concern. High humidity can help minimize the loss of moisture.
A clear plastic cover or plastic bag can also be placed over the cutting to help reduce moisture loss. Just ensure the plastic isn’t actually touching the plant itself.
Be sure not to place it in direct sunlight, as this will stimulate transpiration and harm the plant.
Schefflera likes moist soil - not wet. Overwatering will kill not only new plants but also established umbrella plants.
You can expect the rooting process for your umbrella plant cutting to take about a month. To check for root growth, you can pull lightly on the plant. Resistance indicates roots. These new roots are delicate, however, so don’t pull hard.
Alternate methods for propagation
Umbrella plant cuttings can also be placed in water and left until roots appear or propagated through air layering.
Water rooting will produce a large number of delicate roots called water roots that won’t grow well in soil. Therefore this method isn’t as successful in creating strong new plants.
Air layering is a method of propagation that is time-consuming but, when successful, produces an identical clone of the parent plant.
To air layer your umbrella plant, follow the steps below:
Using a clean, sharp knife, scrape the outer bark from a 3-4 inch area of the parent plant’s stem. You’re looking for the white layer (cambium) that’s just beneath the darker outside bark. No need to go very deep.
Treat the exposed area with rooting hormone.
Wrap the exposed area with sphagnum moss or peat moss.
Wrap the moss with clear plastic and seal it at the top and bottom to preserve moisture.
Check each week to ensure the moss is still moist, and mist with water if needed. Note: this process can take several weeks, so patience and attentiveness to the moisture level are essential.
As roots emerge, they will grow through the moss. Once a healthy number of roots appear and fill the plastic around the moss, you can remove the root ball of the daughter plant from the parent.
Place the new plant in its own prepared container.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the parent plant need to be a specific size before taking cuttings?
No, any healthy plant with foliage can be propagated through cuttings. Just ensure there are enough leaves left to keep the plant healthy.
How do I know when it’s time to transplant my cuttings into their own container?
Generally speaking, once there are several roots on the cutting, it’s time to transplant. New leaves are also a sign that it’s time to transplant, as the new growth will need additional nutrients.
Should I fertilize the newly propagated umbrella plant?
Liquid fertilizer is recommended every three months to encourage the most vigorous growth and health of the plant.
What kind of pests bother umbrella plants?
Umbrella plants can become infested with mealy bugs, spider mites, or scale.
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