The plant genus Schefflera comes from tropical and subtropical Asia and Australia. Depending on the species, the areas of origin are somewhat limited - the most important species for the local indoor culture, the Schefflera arboricola, is particularly common in Taiwan. From there it has very low maintenance requirements - it is therefore ideal as a houseplant for beginners.
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As a beginner's houseplant, the Schefflera is primarily predestined because, as a tropical plant, it primarily needs warm temperatures throughout - and this can be provided automatically in a heated room. Thanks to its tall, slender growth and less branching, it does not take up much space, and yet its broadly fingered, nicely variegated leaves are attractive to look at with beautiful volume.
From an ornamental horticultural point of view, the leaves are the most important thing in the ray aralia. With their wide-fingered arrangement and the light green to cream-colored variegation on a dark green background, they can set a great structural accent in groups of houseplants on the windowsill. The single leaves of the alternately attached finger arrangements are oval to obovate, evergreen and mostly with entire margins, in some species they are also sawn.
The flower plays a rather subordinate role in the room culture in the case of radiation aralia - on the one hand because it is not necessarily particularly spectacular. But above all because a specimen kept in the room rarely produces them. So you can count yourself lucky if your Schefflera brings you one - this is especially possible with an older plant.
The flowers of a Schefflera are grape-like umbels in a greenish to yellowish tone with small, hairy bracts. Their fine flaky appearance creates a nice contrast to the smooth, dark foliage. In the wild, the flowering period lasts from July to October, in indoor culture only until August.
The flower characteristics at a glance:
- Schefflera in indoor culture rarely produces them
- grape-like umbels in inconspicuous color with fine, downy bract hair
- Flowering period around July to August
The fruits that develop after blooming are also very attractive: the mustard-yellow to orange-red, small berries on the dark flower stalks create a nice splash of color in the foliage.
Which location is suitable?
Like so many tropical plants, the Schefflera needs a relatively bright, but not full sun location. But it can also thrive quite well in a darker corner. In summer you can put it outside for a while - but it shouldn't be exposed to temperatures below 10 ° C. In general, it can be kept in a heated room all year round, because it can also cope with dry air. What she likes less, however, is drafts.
The water requirement of the ray aralia is moderate. Only water when the substrate has become completely dry again after the last watering. If the bale is permanently wet, there is a risk of root rot. The Schefflera is also ideal for convenient hydroponics with a soilless substrate made of expanded clay (€ 17.50 at Amazon *) that you place in a water-nutrient solution in a planter. Then you don't need to water at all.
Cut Schefflera properly
The Schefflera arboricola grows into a stately tree in the wild. Of course, that doesn't work in the room. A regular shape cut is therefore essential, especially since the ray aralia is very vigorous. Basically it can be cut just like other woody plants. Too long shoots are best removed directly over a fork of a branch. Even after a lot of leaf loss after wintering, a cut has a rejuvenating effect with vital new shoots.
In order to keep the height in check and at the same time to promote a compact, shrubby growth, the side and main shoots should be trimmed regularly. It is best to shorten it in early spring.
Due to its rapid growth, the Schefflera is also well suited for bonsai culture. However, the design freedom is limited - because the branches of the ray aralia break relatively easily, so that wiring can only be done with great care. What you can experiment with a lot, however, is the design by cutting back. If you behead a young specimen at the top when you buy it and regularly prune back over the newly emerging buds, the result is an umbrella-like crown.
It is even possible to modify the leaves by regular shape cutting and give them an artistic look.
- Schefflera is well suited for bonsai culture due to its fast growth
- Deformation, however, if possible only by cutting and not by wire
- Sheets can also be individually shaped by cutting
You should repot a young Schefflera relatively often, about once a year. It has a rejuvenating and revitalizing effect on the plant if you shorten its roots a little. If you discover rotten areas, you can remove them at the same time before you put the Schefflera in a new, slightly larger pot.
If the leaves of your Schefflera turn yellow, it could be different green. The most likely are:
- too wet substrate / root rot
- too sunny / too dark location
If you've watered the Schefflera too much and left it too wet, the roots may have rotten. Take the plant out of the pot and check the root ball for rotten spots. If they are still isolated, you can remove them and put the bale in fresh soil - in the worst case scenario
If there is too much direct sunlight or in a corner that is too dark, the Schefflera can also react with yellow leaves. Try a different location with moderate lighting conditions.
Brown leaves usually indicate drought. Possible causes for this are:
- not enough water
- too much direct sunlight and heat
- sudden temperature change from warm to cold
Lack of water?
Although the Schefflera does not need a lot of water compared to some other tropical plants, too little is of course not good either. Check the root ball for dehydration and water regularly from now on.
Sun exposure and heat?
Brown leaves can also simply be sunburn. Keep your Schefflera out of direct sunlight and strong heat.
If you want to put the Schefflera outside in summer, you can do so as long as it is not much cooler outside than in the heated room. A too violent temperature change from warm to cold can be acknowledged by the Schefflera with brown leaves.
If the leaves of the Schefflera change color, it usually sheds them after a while. If she loses a lot of sheets without color notice, it can indicate the following:
- too dark and too cold location
- abrupt change in light due to change of location
- too wet substrate
Too dark and too cold?
If the Schefflera is too dark, it can shed its leaves. It shouldn't be too cold either - in summer your ambient temperature should not fall below 18 ° C, in winter 10 ° C.
Abrupt change in light?
If you move your Schefflera to another location, for example in winter, this can also affect it. Do not expect the light to change too much - it is best to simply leave it in a window seat all year round.
When the leaves are shed, too wet a substrate and root rot can be the trigger. Replacing the top layer of soil and removing any rotten roots can be helpful here.
Fortunately, the Schefflera is quite robust against diseases. Actually, it only shows unhealthy reactions in the event of certain care errors - for example yellow and falling leaves if there is too much water and root rot or if there is a lack of light, brown and burnt leaves in drought and heat. However, these maintenance errors can usually be corrected easily.
Pests, on the other hand, are occasionally an issue. Sometimes the Schefflera can be attacked by the following pests:
- Spider mites
- Scale insects
You can easily recognize the mealybugs by the typical woolly webs on the leaves. The best way to spray the mealybugs is with a mixture of water, some alcohol and some curd soap.
Spider mites also reveal themselves clearly, through thread-like webs. It is best to rinse them off with water first and then wrap the plant under foil. The mites cannot tolerate moist air and also suffocate under the foil seal.
Scale insects can attack almost any houseplant once. They prefer to settle on the twigs and shoots, the stems and the undersides of the leaves. If the infestation is still weak (check regularly!), The parasites can simply be wiped off with a damp cloth. If the infestation is more severe, spraying with a water and nettle broth or an oily preparation is suitable.
These partly winged insects feel particularly comfortable in dry heat. So there is an increased risk, especially in summer, that they will infect your ray aralea. They can best be combated in a similar way to scale insects: first shower with water and, if the infestation is more persistent, attack them with a water-nettle broth or water-tansy broth. Preparations based on neem tree oil have also proven themselves.
Radiated aralia can be propagated relatively easily by cuttings. To do this, you cut a not yet lignified shoot and simply let it take root in a glass of water. You can also sow a Schefflera. At a warm soil temperature of 18-20 ° C, a seed germinates after about 2 to 3 weeks. A warm, even growing climate under foil is also recommended.
In addition to the water glass, you can also let the cuttings root in potting soil. A floor temperature of around 18 ° C should be guaranteed. You also have to keep the substrate evenly moist, of course.
Toxic to cats
Radiated aralia are quite slightly poisonous - they contain oxalate crystals in all parts of the plant, which, however, are only harmful when taken in larger amounts. Skin contact with the leaves is usually not critical, but can also lead to slight irritation. Oral intake, on the other hand, is not to be taken lightly, especially in cats, who are known to like to have an intimate relationship with indoor plants.
The problem is that cats cannot break down the oxalic crystals in the intestine and only partially excrete them. However, this can lead to the formation of kidney stones, damage the bladder and trigger arthritis. If you have a cat in the house, you should rather refrain from a ray aralia as a new roommate.
It is of course anything but advisable for humans to nibble on the pretty leaves of the ray aralia. Of course, this is especially true for small children, in whom even small amounts of ingested oxalate can make themselves felt - through irritation of the mucous membranes, vomiting and diarrhea. If small children live in the household, keep a radiation aralia only at a height that is unattainable for the juniors.
With the varieties of Schefflera arboricola, a distinction can first be made between the green and the variegated. Which of these two groups you tend to belong to is a matter of taste. On the other hand, the associated varieties each have slightly different location requirements.
The pure green varieties generally need less light than the light variegated ones. They are therefore also suitable for a less light-flooded corner of a room that needs to be filled with attractively structured foliage.
This variety has dark, deep green finger leaves and, according to its name, compact growth. This makes it particularly suitable for bonsai culture. In the room it is about 1.30 to 1.50 m high. Like all green rays, it gets by with relatively little light.
The Schefflera Amate is notable for its large, dark green and very shiny leaves. It tolerates a partially shaded location well and is generally easy to care for - also an ideal office plant. Overall, it will be almost as high as the Schefflera Compacta.
With variegation, the Schefflera's finger leaves naturally exude a special color and structure aesthetic and can be a real eye-catcher in the room. The variegated varieties have to be a bit lighter, but are otherwise not very maintenance-intensive.
Schefflera Gold Capella
As its name suggests, the variegation of this variety is yellowish-golden, which gives it a special charm. It is also one of the classics among room items and can often be found in offices. The variegation can vary considerably within the foliage, as it only spreads over a wider area with larger leaves. The young shoots create a fine, dark green contrast. The Schefflera Gold Capella needs a relatively bright location, but like all radiation aralia it must be protected from direct sunlight.
This variety, like the Schefflera Diane, is characterized by leaves slit at the tips. This gives the foliage a further structural accent in addition to the light variegation. The Schefflera Renate should also stand relatively light, otherwise it is easy to care for and only needs moderate watering.