Jesi
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How to Care for a Schefflera Arboricola?

So I popped on my local Craigslist tonight, I live in Lockport, NY which is about 30 minutes from Buffalo. I saw an ad for a free plant, out to the road. Person said it was a tropical indoor plant... I LOVE plants, and I knew it would die. The post was 2 hours old...so at 11:30 at night I took my chances to see if I could find it. I found it, sure enough, and it was in pretty good condition! I did some serious searching and could not for the life of me find a decent website to help me identify the plant with a step by step questionaire/walkthrough. Quite annoying with all the technology we have today. Anyhow, it seems that I have a Schefflera Arboricola.

It's mostly green leaves with a few spots of a cream color in the centers of some. I'm wondering how to care of it. It is currently in a bucket, that they put it in...looks like it was either dug up from the ground, which is hard to believe in this area...it's already freezing outside here in NY...or they simply didn't want to give away whatever pot it was in. So I also need to know how big of a pot to get...

It's about 3 feet tall, and looks like it could use some serious pruning, but I have no idea how to prune this type of plant. I actually don't know how to prune any at all, but I wing it and it usually turns out ok. I usually clip off dead leaves, but this has none...it's in beautiful condition, but like I said, looks a little ragged from lack of pruning... Also looks like the top may have been damaged or cut off. I can post pictures if that helps anyone help me tend to this plant! I intend on keeping it indoors all year round, possibly putting it outside in the summer, but in a pot.

Any help is appreciated, thank you!

opabinia51
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Welcome to the forum. Try [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3724]posting some pictures[/url] as well.

However, generally speaking I will say to water the plant only when it needs water and that is to test the soil by placing your fingers in the dirt and if the soil in damp, it doesn't need to be watered.

Don't use salt based chemical fertilizers, use organic fertilizers like fish meal. liquid algae fertilizer, rock phosphate, compost and so on.

Also, if the plant is rather large it could stand to be repotted into a larger pot. Use potting soil combined with some compost as well as some mushroom manure. and the above list soil ammendments.
Feed the soil, not the plants.

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jesi,

I'm jealous of your find, I would love to find a large Schefflera. Scheffs can be pruned brutally and will respond well, in fact they are often used for indoor bonsai.
It is currently in a bucket, that they put it in...looks like it was either dug up from the ground, which is hard to believe in this area...it's already freezing outside here in NY...or they simply didn't want to give away whatever pot it was in. So I also need to know how big of a pot to get...
For now the easiest thing to do is to slip pot it. This means locating a pot marginally larger than the root ball and back filling the pot with a similar soil mix. Any plastic nursery pot of an appropriate size can be used until you decide what you intend to do with it. Alternatively, If the bucket is sized appropriately you could even keep it in that providing, and this is very important, that you create several drainage holes.

This link should give you something to think about. Even if you are not interested in bonsai it has a lot of good information about their culture in general.

https://www.bonsaihunk.us/info/ScheffleraBonsai.html

Norm

Jesi
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LOL...I never find anything good on Craigslist so this was great for me! Not only that during a move over a year ago the scumbag neighbor at the house we were moving from stole 2 of my plants and put them on her balcony. The police wouldn't get them back for me, claimed I had no proof they were mine...even though I had photographed them in front of my house and the girl was stupid enough to leave them in the same pots! She lied and said she got them from the annual garage sale the neighbor across the street had that year! He wasn't home and they refused to ask him...so that was my loss...over $80 worth of plants, pots included, stolen! I had a beautiful Yucca Cane plant and a beautiful braided hibiscus tree!

Thanks for the tips! I couldn't find an affordable pot, too late in the year, but I bought one of those giant "toy buckets" the ones with the rope handles for like $6 at Walmart, so that will do until spring when they come back in season. It definitely needed a pot, that bucket was too small, the roots were hanging out all over the place!

Jesi
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Ok...well I realized last night that I have a schefflera already! Just a small one I bought, my daughter picked it out at the local farmer's market, that one is all green and only about a foot tall...I just pruned it and it looks so good! I don't know why I didn't bother doing that sooner!

I just pruned a little bit off of my big one, the one from Craigslist, this one has some cream colored spots on the leaves here and there. This one looks like it's going to need some serious work. It had a sprout off the bottom, I cut it off, just to be sure the top gets more filled out first, kind of regretting it, because it was cute, but I'm sure new ones will form someday!

I have a couple issues with this tree...first, it looks as though the top has been cut off. Is it going to grow back there? It was ragged and dried out, so I trimmed it up a bit, now it's smooth and flat, so I'm hoping something will form there.

My other issue is, it looks like the branches grow alternatively, only on one side!!!!! The "back side" has no twigs. I'm not sure how or why this happened but is there any way to get some twigs to grow on the opposite side? I think that's part of why it doesn't look very pretty! Probably why they threw it away! It's still a living thing in my eyes, and that's why I rescued it! Some people rescue animals, which I'd love to do, but they tell a story, sometimes a very sad one. They have feeling and scars. Plants probably do too, who knows, but at least I can't tell much what trauma they went through by having them now! It's not a huge deal if I can't get stems to grow off the back, but if I can, any help would be appreciated!!!!!

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Jesi,
I have a couple issues with this tree...first, it looks as though the top has been cut off. Is it going to grow back there? It was ragged and dried out, so I trimmed it up a bit, now it's smooth and flat, so I'm hoping something will form there.
It may break a bud at a location of a previous node but which one and how many are unsure. If there are branches below the cut it may just abandon the stub entirely. You can always cut it back to an existing branch.
My other issue is, it looks like the branches grow alternatively, only on one side!!!!! The "back side" has no twigs. I'm not sure how or why this happened but is there any way to get some twigs to grow on the opposite side? I think that's part of why it doesn't look very pretty!
A hard pruning and defoliation, as outlined in the link I provided, is the best way to rejuvenate a Schefflera. Decide how tall you want it and cut it back. With a pair of scissors cut off all the leaves but leave the stems, they will fall off later. Lastly, remove every terminal bud, the ones at the ends of branches. By doing this you will force the tree to break numerous new buds lower on the trunk.

This plant has the tendency to grow taller with little branching unless it is forced to branch by periodic pruning. It might be prudent to wait a while to make sure the plant's health has not been compromised by the recent changes. Most tropicals respond better to this type of work when it is warm.

Norm

Jesi
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Yeah, I've done a little bit of pruning, as I said last night, just to give it a little better shape, but I'll wait a month or two to do anything major I think.
Now you said that will make branches grow below what's already grown...but I need more branches off the back. I'll try and take a photo today to show you what I mean, it looks so funny! I really should have taken a before photo of it before I did anything, but I didn't take off too much, just a couple snips and it looks pretty good. I have the cuttings in vases of water and wrapped in plastic to keep humidity up...seeing if they'll root. I had luck getting this to happen with a prayer plant my mom received when I was born, 24 1/2 years ago! I'm also trying to get some ivy snippings to root.

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