arborrelli
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Encouraging Secondary Branching in Schefflera

Does anyone have any experience doing this? I've got two right now that I want to develop as Bonsai, but they've just got the skinny branches so far.

I know it is probably not the best time to try to get them to branch, but I'd like to know how for future reference.

Thanks!

maveriiick
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I read somewhere that complete defoliation will cause branching. However, I've never done it and don't know where on the petiole to defoliate? Near the leaves or near the base?

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Gnome
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arborrelli,

Our Mod bonsaiboy suggests a total defoliation along with the removal of all terminal buds. By doing this you will force a bud to break at the locations of many leaf stems. Cut through the stem leaving the stub in place, it will fall off later. This is probably best done during a period of active growth. Following this advice I have had some success with one.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=52047#52047

Norm

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djlen
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Gnome wrote:arborrelli,

Our Mod bonsaiboy suggests a total defoliation along with the removal of all terminal buds. By doing this you will force a bud to break at the locations of many leaf stems. Cut through the stem leaving the stub in place, it will fall off later. This is probably best done during a period of active growth. Following this advice I have had some success with one.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=52047#52047

Norm
Norm, what does he mean by, " The solution to this is often overlooked. What one must do to get a schefflera to branch, is defoilate it before you trim it."
Does he mean to defoliate it before cutting off the top? Or something else?
I'm just not clear on this.
Regards,
Len

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Gnome
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Len,

I believe the point is that defoliation without removing the terminal bud may not be effective in inducing back budding. If the terminal bud is left in place, hormones (auxins?) inhibit latent buds from emerging and new growth will emerge from the tip only.

By removing the terminal bud, and therefore the inhibitory hormone, you stand a better chance of getting buds to break further back on the branch.

Bonsaiboy also makes the point that this is best done on the entire tree. The problem, as I understand his remarks, is that if done locally (one branch), that the given branch may simply fail. But if done globally (the entire tree) then it will have no choice but to break new buds, hopefully over the whole tree.

So to sum things up; defoliate and prune at the same time.

Bonsaiboy, how did I do?

Norm

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djlen
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Please excuse me while I go chop off the tops of several of my Scheffs.!!!!


I thought you might like this shot of a slightly well developed multitrunk Port. forest:
[url=https://s26.photobucket.com/albums/c145/djlen/?action=view&current=PORTULACARIA_125.jpg][img]https://i26.photobucket.com/albums/c145/djlen/th_PORTULACARIA_125.jpg[/img][/url]
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
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"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
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arborrelli
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Gnome wrote:So to sum things up; defoliate and prune at the same time.
1. Defoliate
2. Prune
3. ???
4. Profit!

So technically couldn't this all be done with one cut per stalk? Or is it necessary to do it in two steps?

A cut like this would suffice? Or would I have to cut down to the little stub?
[img]https://i88.photobucket.com/albums/k192/demongirl12000/scheffcut.jpg[/img]

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Gnome
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arborrelli,

The red line you show is where to cut to defoliate. Since Schefflera have compound leaves what you call a 'stalk' is actually the leaf stem (petiole) not an actual branch. Leave the stub in place, it will loosen and fall off in due time. If your tree is not yet truly branched remove all the leaves as shown and also cut the terminal bud (growing point) out as well. If your tree is branched follow the same procedure on each branch, defoliate and remove the terminal bud from each branch. But again, now may not be the optimal time of year.

Norm

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bonsaiboy
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Bonsaiboy, how did I do?
Couldn't have said it better myself!
Norm, what does he mean by, " The solution to this is often overlooked.
I am saying that many people complain that they cannot get a Schefflera to branch well. However, it is also well known that defoilating and pruning it will yield more branches. Yet for some reason people have seemingly failed to put the two together, as far as I know. When this is done, the plant will branch an average of 3-5 sub-branches on each branch. This is what happened to mine. Unfortunately, it has since died, and I was unable to photograph it.
הדמיון הוא יותר חשוב מאשר ידע

artisanoo
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Just wanted to add (not sure if this has been said already but i read the read and did not see it, unless i missed it..) that these trees are generally pretty tough. not to say that they can't be killed, but a healthy one can be severely cut back and come back just fine.


For example, I have/had one that was about 2 feet tall, and having the same branching issue (or rather, non-branching issue). Its fall/winter here (nyc), but I cut it back to a 6/7 inch trunk with no leaves at all. At the same time i lifted it out of the pot and cut the bottom half of the rootball off (granted though, most of the roots were in the top half) and also took out some pie wedges out the remaining rootball. put it back in the pot with new soil in place of what was removed, and a few weeks later (now) its starting back with 10 buds at least. don't know if they will all fully extend yet but a bunch already are.

Not saying you should/shouldnt do it too, but the purpose of this post is jut to drive home the point that with these trees, don't worry so much and if you can dish it, it can (within reason! :) ) take it

arborrelli
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So far, my brown thumb hasn't killed off these plants. I actually did extensive root cutting of the Schefflera when I got it to actually fit it into the pot the way I wanted. I took a largish pot and stuck a drainage tray in upside down, planting it on there (there have been no drainage issues either, on average it needs water maybe every two to three days). I haven't noticed any new growth on it though :?

I did cut a bit of the trunk/leaves off to compensate for the loss of root, and I am currently trying to root it.

tadrinth
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Well, I've got a schefflera cutting in my hydroponics system that has been getting due for a trim-back. Inspired by this post and the Sumo-scheff post, I decided to go for broke. It had two active growth points before. I just cut it back to this:

[img]https://img41.yfrog.com/img41/7121/img2037s.jpg[/img]

It had extended about 6 internodes on the left and right, and was getting a bit rootbound. I managed to pry it out of the pot (took some work!), added some more perlite under the bottom, and stuck it back in. Then after about a week to recover, I chopped the heck out of it: complete defoliation, and reduced the left and right branches back to just a couple internodes each. I'm going for a Sumo-style Scheff.

We'll see if this rough treatment encourages it to branch out a bit more. The knobbly middle is from repeatedly nipping buds back when this was attached to another plant before i cut it and rooted it.

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Gnome
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tadrinth,

Thanks for posting this, make sure to follow up on it so we can follow your progress. Perhaps you can start your own thread later. I'll leave this here now as it illustrates exactly what the OP was asking about.

Welcome to The Helpful Gardener.

Norm

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Big Vine
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This is all right up my alley, and I'd love to see tadrinth's progress with this Schefflera dedicated to a thread of its own. Can't wait to see how the Scheff. responds!

And I generally agree with what has been said with respect to the OP.
Best way to encourage branching in Schefflera is to chop back---exactly 'what' and 'how much' to chop (and 'when' to chop, for that matter) depends on a number of factors, including styling goals and the health of the plant in question.

'Chopping' or 'trimming' or 'reducing' (substitute whatever word you prefer!) can range from a number of possibilities, such as:
-a simple 'pinch-back' of the primary growth tip(s)
-'pinch-back' of primary growth tip(s) coupled with defoliation
-severe reduction chop (plus defoliation) such as that shown in tadrinth's photo

Again, exactly which way to proceed and which type(s) of reduction to use depends on the specific plant in question---namely its health and the overall styling goals of its trainer.
BV
Sean
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Schefflera arboricola
Ficus microcarpa 'Green Island'
Ficus salicifolia 'Willow Leaf'
Portulacaria afra
Pachira aquatica

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froggy
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Thread necromancer :P

since noone ever posted a follow-up, i figured why not...
i just did a complete defoliation with top chop on a relatively young scheff...
don't bug me about the soil, I'll fix that when repotting ;) - have learned since it plopped it in there...

ok here goes as it looks now:

[img]https://www.schoggifroeschli.com/images/scheff1.jpg[/img]

and a closer crop on the newly developing branch:

[img]https://www.schoggifroeschli.com/images/scheff2.jpg[/img]

I just got 3 scheffs with smaller leaves and closer nodes, so this one will probably remain a 'test subject'...
;)

JTred
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Ok I'll bite. This is a recent trunk chop I performed. I probably chickened out and didn't cut low enough, but oh well. Still no sign of growth but it's only been a few days.

[img]https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v144/JTsoccer59/1-2-2010008.jpg[/img]

[img]https://img.photobucket.com/albums/v144/JTsoccer59/Scheff1-28-11007.jpg[/img]

arboricola
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Whatever you do,make sure you have a healthy and well fed plant. scheffs are heavy feeders. Use a low nitrogen fertilizer each time you water. If you water less than every 3-4 days then every other watering will do.

When you cut a branch back, make the cut a 1/4 inch above a latent bud. Cut at an angle with the cut facing up. A dab of vasoline on the cut wouldn't hurt.

I have a thread in the photo section that may give you some ideas.

Phil...

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