schefflera too bushy

matoad_gwNovember 5, 2010

My plant is many yrs old and happy but I have space restraints. The ht is fine but the stems to the side a quite long ending in the leaves- so plant about 4 feet wide as well as 4 feet tall. How can I make the side stems shorter? Is it OK to take the stem with leaves off the main stalk? Makes me feel so bad to do and doesn't really help because that still leaves many too long stems. What to do???

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

A picture or two would help us understand the situation.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 2:46PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Scheffs CAN be cut back very hard and they will reshoot abundantly, but there is the influence of timing to be considered (where the plant is in its growth cycle) and the plant's level of energy reserves. This is an issue normally best addressed in the summer. As Dori noted, picture would be nice.

before pruning

after pruning

after it started to back-bud

The plant just starting to bounce back. I gave it away (sent it to NY or Boston ..... I forget) after the work

Al

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 5:57PM
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jamiedolan(4/5)

Re: being able to cut back hard.
Does this apply to both mini and regular schefflera? I have a regular schef that has gotten leggy and is growing in all directions, taking up lots of room. I'd like to cut it back hard and let it re-grow. It is a indoor only plant, too large to move out in the summer.

Jamie

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 8:07PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It applies to all scheffs, but please wait until summer to do any serious pruning/repotting - late Jun/early July for you. Only cut back hard if the tree is growing robustly and you're sure it has ample energy reserves. Healthy trees will tolerate a LOT, not so much the stressed/strained 'only limping along' trees.

Al

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 9:10PM
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jamiedolan(4/5)

I rescued it a bit over a year ago and it was already leggy. It has recently gotten worse and is kind of leaning out in all directions, taking over that corner. For the most part, the leaves look good and healthy. Would it hurt to do some fairly minor pruning now, still leaving substantial amounts of foliage on it, then do the hard cut back in late June / early July as you suggested.

My feature plant there is really the Jade, which I am quite happy with how it is doing over all. I don't want to damage this schef, but as you can see it's a bit ugly right now and distracts from the beauty of that area. I'll need to bare root this and clean it up in the spring also.

Thanks again,

Jamie

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 10:50PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Check the scheff for scale and mites. If none found, my guess is the tree looks like it's suffering from a high level of soluble salts in the soil. I would move the plant to where you can flush the soil repeatedly - up to 10x with at least the volume of water the container holds. Saturate the soil and wait about 10 minutes before you start the flushing. After you're done flushing, unpot the plant & set it on newspaper to dry down a little - maybe over night, if your soil is extremely water retentive. Fertilize with a 1/2 strength dose of any fertilizer that has an NPK ratio of 3:1:2. Examples are 24-8-16, 12-4-8, 9-3-6. Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 is an excellent choice of fertilizer for your houseplants.

Unfortunately, it wouldn;t be a good thing to prune your plant now. With most of the foliage at branch tips, you would be seriously hampering your plant's ability to make food. A reasonable course would be to get the plant outdoors as soon as temps allow in spring so it can gain some energy. In late June, cut it back and repot into a quality soil that is durable and drains freely. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the results if you'll be that patient. ;o)

Al

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 12:22PM
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jamiedolan(4/5)

Thank You. It is 54 out and I'm working on re-plants right this afternoon. I think I can manage to get this outside on a dolly. It's too cold here to leave it outside over night, but I can have it outside for 5+ hours this afternoon.

I'll post some photos of how it goes.

Should I apply this line of thinking to all tropical house plants and bare root re-pot them only in late June (unless they desperately need it sooner)?

Jamie

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 3:42PM
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matoad_gw

By space restraints I meant that I have the plant on a stool in the corner of a room where it looks great. But being next to the wall on 2 side means the branches, actually the stems with leaves at end, are up against the wall and therefore are curved up or down to fit into the space. I would love to send a pic if someone would give me their email address- I don't know how to post to the forum. Thank you, Mary Ann

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 4:00PM
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jamiedolan(4/5)

Mary;

You can e-mail me a photo and I will post it here.

jamiedolan at gmail.com

Thanks
Jamie

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 4:02PM
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jamiedolan(4/5)

I do not see any evidence of scale / bugs on the plant. I attached a link to some closer up photos.
The soil is very heavy / mucky.

I am going to go start flushing it, it has had time to sit after I watered it well.

Jamie

Here is a link that might be useful: Photos of my schef close up

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 4:18PM
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jamiedolan(4/5)

I started a new thread so I don't take over the OP's conversation.

Thanks
Jamie

Here is a link that might be useful: New Thread Posted Here.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 5:28PM
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jamiedolan(4/5)

Hello;

I am posting the photos from Mary of her Schef:

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 5:30PM
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jamiedolan(4/5)

I'll make a guess here and say that the same thing Al said about my schef would apply to yours. That bringing it out in spring when you can, then pruning in late June would be best.

Can it live like this over the winter?

Jamie

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 8:19PM
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matoad_gw

Thanks, Jamie, for posting my photos. When I saw them here I realized that my scheff is doing what scheffs do and that it is beautiful! I was accused on Rcky Mt gardening forum of wanting to "poodleize" my honeysuckle bushes and maybe I am guilty here of same thing. I once pruned a fig plant severely and it never recovered. I thank you all for the help but I think I will leave well enough alone!!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 4:52PM
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socks

This is all so interesting to me. Thanks to everyone for the pictures and advice. Here's my schleffera and its story. I cut mine back when it got scale and treated the scale by wiping the backs of the leaves w/rubbing alcohol, but scale persisted. Today I took a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol to it (outside). Don't know if this is recommended or not, but I thought it would be worth a try. I don't like the sprawling "v" shape, but I don't think there is much to be done about that.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 10:11PM
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