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Joined: Fri Sep 24, 2010 6:41 pm
Location: Idaho zone 4b

Schefflera Arboricola Re-styling

Hello everyone!

I purchased this rescue "mallsai" off the Death Rack at Lowes about two months ago. After I repotted it in some orchid bark and diatomaceous earth and put it in my office, it lost quite a few leaves, assuming from stress. It was leggy to begin with, but now.... well, it's very leggy, and growing new leaves from the tips of all the branches (5-6 per new bud, it's madness!!) It also has some aerial roots that I would like to tent ( in order to make the trunk less... awkward... and to hopefully fade the nasty scar that formed from a post taped to the tree being left on too long.

My question is, which should I do first? My thoughts on this is I should probably cut the branches back, completely defoliating it, and let it grow out from there, seeing as i just barely re-potted it two months ago. (Note: Any and all restyling will not be happening right now, but in late spring, when it's growing a bit faster.) In my experiences with this type of plant (RIP first bonsai... repotted too many times in two years) I am thinking that tenting it first is going to be detrimental to it's health, seeing as i want to have the roots go into the soil instead of spreading on top of it. (I will have to make the tent go below the surface of the soil, essentially bare-rooting it again.)

Any Thoughts?
One day at a time.

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Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A


Hello and welcome. I'm not entirely sure that I understand your question, perhaps some pictures would help. Why do you need to disturb the soil in order to place the tree in a tent? Tenting, unless I am missing something, is used to raise the humidity around the planitng. Could you not simply enclose the entire arangement inside of a larger bag?

Defoliating, along with removing terminal buds, Scheffs is a proven technique used to increase branching on material that is often reluctant to branch on its own. I just did this to five well rooted cuttings that I am sure are strong. If by some chance I lose a few, they are only cuttings so I still have the donor plant.

There are several threads on Scheffs in the Bonsai Ballery section of this forum. Sorry if I have not helped much but I'm sure that with some more dialogue someone here will be able to.


Green Thumb
Posts: 469
Joined: Sat May 22, 2010 5:15 pm
Location: NJ

Scheffs have been described as indestructible by some posts I read but I've yet to have one that survived long enough for me. The longest one was from what I picked up from Lowes dead rack for 50 cents and it did fine for weeks until I started chopping the upper trunk to root as cutting. I've also had entirely healthy ones die after bringing them home. I imagine they may be having a hard time adjusting from being transported from FL to NJ and then to my home.

The only suggestion I have for you is if you do tent the plant, make sure it doesn't stay in full sun for too long or it'll get cooked.
ficus, maple, elm, juniper, pine

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