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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Schefflera arboricola

Scientific Classification

Kingdom Plantae
Division Magnoliophyta
Class Magnoliopsida
Order Apiales
Family Araliaceae
Genus Schefflera
Species S. arboricola

Schefflera arboricola (synonymy Heptapleurum arboricolum) is a flowering plant in the family Araliaceae, native to Taiwan and Hainan. It is an evergreen shrub growing to 3-4 m tall, with weak, often trailing stems scrambling over other vegetation. The leaves are palmately compound, with 7-9 leaflets, the leaflets 9-20 cm long and 4-10 cm broad (though often smaller in cultivation). The flowers are produced in a 20 cm panicle of small umbels, each umbel 7-10 mm diameter with 5-10 flowers.

Cultivation And Uses

It is commonly grown as a houseplant, popular for its tolerance of neglect and poor growing conditions. Numerous cultivars have been selected for variations in leaf colour and pattern, often variegated with creamy -white to yellow edges or centres, and dwarf forms. It is also used for bonsai.

Schefflera arboricola

Special Care

Arboricola is started from seed, cuttings and air-layers, and then grown in full sun to produce thick full plants. Usually the arb's you'll find in the garden center will be of the bush form. These bushes are full, round and thick with leaves which measure 4 6 inches across forming a "fingered umbrella". The dwarf scheff is also grown in tree forms, bonsai and braided just like Ficus trees.

Whichever form you get remember that when the plant moves inside it is going to go through a period of acclimating. Expect the plant to thin out and loose some leaves.

The arboricola can adapt to a wide variety of light levels but prefers higher light if possible. If left alone the plant can stretch and grow "out of shape". It's easy to keep them in shape with occasional selective pruning. Fortunately, just like a Ficus the dwarf Schefflera can also handle some radical pruning and come back strongly. So don't be afraid to prune the plant when needed.

Dwarf umbrella plant (Araliaceae)

If you see leaves turning black and dropping off it's a good signal that the soil is staying too wet or moist. On the flip side the leaf tips wrinkle if they are too dry.

These plants have a pretty extensive root system and can even grow climbing a tree. They also seek water when being grown outside. As with most plants used indoors, arboricola does not like to sit in water.

The Schefflera is in the Aralia family and like many of the plants from this family spider mites like this plant. Clean the plant regularly and don't forget the undersides where the mites like to hang out.

Remember when caring for your dwarf schefflera

  • Don't keep the plant wet
  • Place the plant in as bright an area as you can
  • Watch out for mites
  • Don't be afraid to prune when needed


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