Another nursery schefflera

fun-giJuly 13, 2011

I've been eyeing this(these) tree(S) for a couple of years at the local nursery, and I finally decided to try to make room for it on my patio. As I said in another post, I like scheffleras, and since I have limited full sun areas (I live in an apartment) the fact they will tolerate lower light may come in handy in the future.

As in the other post I would love anyone's personal opinions on the tree and also your ideas for its future.

The pictures were taken right when I got it home, and I have not done anything to it other than removing hitchhiker plants and leaf litter. I may try to save a few of the hackberry saplings that are still in the pot, but if I can't get enough of the roots out when it comes time to bare root the scheff then oh well. For reference the pot is 15" tall and about 17 1/2" inside diameter at the top.

It does have a few mealy bugs, so I will keep it away from my other plants until they are taken care of. As far as re-potting, what are opinions on that this late in the year? It is not the worst root bound I have seen, but their is definitely not much more room for new root growth. I could easily leave it in this pot until next year if necessary though. Defoliating and foliage pruning are taken quite well around now (maybe best a little earlier), but I'm not sure about root pruning.

I'm sorry the root ball pic is a little blurry, I had to have my daughter take it while I held the tree. I would take another, but my camera's battery is charging.

Any input would be appreciated, and again thank you for your time and knowledge.

Now, I'm off to remove yellowing leaves while I await responses. :)

Billy

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I would cut the bottom half of the root mass off, bare-root, and remove the largest roots, cutting them back hard to a finer secondary root. I would also completely defoliate the plant at the same time. Now is the best time to undertake extreme work on scheffs & most other tropical trees. By defoliating and placing the tree in bright light, you'll quickly get a new flush of pristine foliage.

I would also treat for insects with rasping/sucking mouth parts and give some serious consideration to getting the plant in a soil that will allow you to water properly (so at least 10-15% of the water you apply at each watering exits the pot, carrying accumulating soluble solids [salts from fertilizers and tap water] with it).

For photos of what sort of treatment scheffs will unbegrudgingly tolerate, review my posts at the thread I linked to below. Let me know if you have questions.

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: More about root work & pruning

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 9:10PM
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fun-gi

Thanks for the input Al. I knew they could take extreme foliage pruning this time of year and possibly later, but wasn't sure about root pruning. I have actually read the thread you linked to before, and found it quite informative. However, you told the original poster that the best time to re-pot was past on July 18, 2010, and since we are in the same time period this year I wasn't sure if you were referring to re-potting in her zone specifically or just in general.

So thanks for sorting that out. I had planned on defoliating anyway, as it is my favorite way of dealing with bugs. My first schefflera had scale a few years ago that I couldn't get rid of, and defoliation did the trick.

I did go ahead and root prune today as per your advice, and probably could have pruned a bit more. I re-potted in the same pot as I don't have one larger, although I do believe I could have went a couple of inches up. I did raise the trees in the pot though so that will help a bit.

Anyway here are new pics after defoliating and root pruning. I didn't remove the growing tips as I plan to let them grow and decide how I want to prune it after new growth fills it in.

Pics of the roots.

The removed root mass.

Hitchhikers:

One of about half a dozen hackberry.

A turnera or yellow buttercup plant. It was growing out of a drain hole so I had to cut it. Does anyone know if I can root the cutting this time of year?

A vine of some sort that I placed in water. Hopefully it will root and I will put it in a hanging basket.

If anyone can ID these I would appreciate it. I found them throughout the scheff root ball. Some were single with roots of their own, and others were connected in mass. One mass seems to be the cut off trunk of something woody.

I also found an old Sold tag with a name and number in the root mass below soil level. It had a root growing through it and had been there for a while. Maybe someone purchased this plant and never picked it up.

Hopefully not more information than anyone wants to read, but I rather enjoyed this experience with my largest plant to date. From talking to one of the nursery workers today when I purchased a crepe myrtle for a future bonsai, it seems that the scheff had been their for at least eight years, and maybe 12. I am going to ask the manager if she knows a more exact time when she is their next.

As always I appreciate any feedback, negative or positive, and thanks again Al.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 7:04PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The only comment I'd make is that if you want the plant to fill out & back-bud profusely so you don't have foliage just at the branch tips, you should prolly cut it back quite hard. Don't be concerned about survival - the plant will tolerate the treatment with no problem.

I find that for houseplants, trimming the branch/stem framework into a rough tepee shape will yield an attractive plant.


Al

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 4:52PM
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fun-gi

No disrespect intended (your scheffs look great), but I don't really like the bush or shrub look for scheffleras that many seem to find appealing. I want to be able to see the twisted "mess" of trunks and aerial roots this tree has formed.

I have pruned a bit here and there though, removing some growing tips, and a few ends that appear to have broken at some point in the past and not grown back very well. I want to end up with a canopy in proportion to the trunks, and if I need to prune further back next year to get better branching then that's the way I'll go. However, for now I kind of want to see where this thing wants to go while getting better care than in the nursery.

Thanks again for your advice in this post as well as the many others your have added to or created.

Billy

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 7:40PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Thanks - best luck, Al

I took this picture many years ago, thinking it was only for my library - so I could have a visual record of the tree's progress. Had I known I'd be sharing it at some point, I'd have tidied the plant up a little, but it's interesting nonetheless. I still have the tree, & the roots have now nearly covered the chunk of granite completely:

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 9:54PM
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fun-gi

Thank you for sharing the picture. It is a good looking scheff, and much more my taste for these trees.

By the roots covering the granite, do you mean that the roots in the pic have thickened so much as to cover the rock or that new aerial roots formed and they now also cover the rock?

Billy

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 11:35AM
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birdsnblooms

Billy...Your root 'mountain' is amazing..lol. I'm astonished by the amount. Wow.

The vine plant is Syngonium, common name, Arrowhead Plant.
It can be grown in a basket or upright if staked. Sygoniums can be rooted any time of year..They root fast in water. Some people root directly in soil, but im my case, I have better luck rooting most plants 'tropicals/semi-tropicals,' in water.

Can't help with the Buttercup, but its flower is very pretty.
Instead of discarding, why not try rooting. If it works, so be it, if not.............

Also, can't help with the tubers/roots. They could be a lot of plants.

Did you find the bonus plants and tag among the soil/roots of your Scheff?
A 17.5" pot is large, can collect a number of goodies. All it takes is a tiny cutting, leaf or seed to fall in the soil, and voila, a new plant is discovered. Toni

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 12:57PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The roots clinging to the rock have thickened to the point that the largest part of the rock is obscured. Adventitious roots do form readily on the trunk & branches, especially in the humidity of the summer, but I remove them as they occur so they don't obscure the feature point, which is the root-over-rock bonsai style. Have fun - good growing!! ;-)

Al

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 3:15PM
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fun-gi

Thanks for the ID Toni, and yes I found all the plants and the tag actually interwoven amongst the roots of the Scheff. At least one 1/8" or so root had grown through the hole in the Sold tag. I traced one of the hackberry saplings (about 3/8" or so in diameter) down to the Schefflera trunks, and it stopped. It was being strangled by the trunks and aerial roots. When I bare-rooted the scheff I couldn't find the back side of that hackberry.

Al, I may not be the only one that would like to see a current pic of your root-over-rock Schefflera. Of course I know you may be too busy. I have another Scheff (my first attempt at bonsai) that is a work in progress root-over-rock. It doesn't have the taper or curves that yours has, but I am keeping a bit of the form it had when I received it. It was left to me by one of my former neighbors, and the trunk I plan to retain is quite straight. If I cut it back enough to gain any form it will no longer look like her tree.

Thanks again for all the help Al,

Billy

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 6:27PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'll try to (remember to) get a picture tonight after the light softens a little.

Al

    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 4:21PM
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fun-gi

My scheff has grown out well, and is adding leaves continuously. However, one of the growing tips started growing oddly. It wasn't looking unhealthy so I began keeping an eye on it. This growth started a couple of months ago, and I decided at the end of October to start taking pictures of it. So here you will see daily progression pics and a pic of the whole plant currently.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 2:51PM
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fun-gi

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 2:56PM
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fun-gi

Of course I started taking pictures when I realized it was flowering, which I think is pretty cool.

The growth after defoliation started out slowly. It became obvious that the severe dryness and heat were to blame so I moved the scheff inside to a south facing window, and the trees have seemed happy since. I do not turn the plant, so the new growth is facing one direction. I am hoping to balance (over time) the previous old growth that all points to what I currently consider the back. Eventually I will prune all of the trunks down and start shaping a banyan or perhaps mangrove forest bonsai.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 3:08PM
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gravyboots(7B)

WOW. That Scheff is looking great!

GB

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 1:02AM
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fun-gi

Thanks GB. One of the reasons I love these plants is their vigorous growth. When I prune back next year for my future bonsai, I will have quite a few cuttings to try to root.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 9:12AM
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fun-gi

Thanks GB. One of the reasons I love these plants is their vigorous growth. When I prune back next year for my future bonsai, I will have quite a few cuttings to try to root.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 12:42PM
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gravyboots(7B)

All the tops I've lopped off have rooted without any problem, most lately in Turface/bark mixture & some SuperThrive.

Any fruit from those little flowers?

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 10:17PM
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fun-gi

Not yet on the fruit, but the last 2 are just about to open. I'm not really expecting anything viable from them, but it really is pretty awesome seeing this process on a plant that rarely does so in the confines of a container.

If they do fruit, you can bet I'll post pictures.

Billy

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 10:29AM
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