Schefflera from Hades

deanna_in_nh(5a/4b)December 8, 2013

This schefflera has been neglected in my husband's office. It's a dark office, northwesterly facing and plants can't be placed to get the good light that does come in those windows. On top of that I forgot that she didn't get repotted earlier, so she's been sitting in her Ikea peat moss "stuff" for over a year. I put the little Ikea pot inside the one she was supposed to go into and then promptly forgot that that nice new pot I was looking at never had the plant potted in it. And, the office isn't exactly great with watering. I wonder if that peat moss mix is dry beyond redemption, but I'm going to try. Plants sometimes seem to handle the worst stuff and still make it. She's and a really rough year, and looks it.

I've trimmed her straggly stalks down quite a bit. I've read that you can trim them to 6" but I wasn't sure about trimming off all the leaf nodes. If I trim to 6" will she just grow all brand new shoots from the roots? Opinions on what I should do to rehab her?

I have no idea why GW wants to display this picture sideways.

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

You'll spend an extraordinary amount of time trying to resuscitate that plant.

Suggest you obtain a replacement.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 12:47AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I respectfully disagree and don't know why it should cost anything besides some new 'soil' for a repot. (I would probably wait to do that until late April or May, especially since this plant doesn't look like it has any emergency issues with its' roots. You may have just done that, wasn't sure from the wording, so never mind if so.)

For now, this plant looks perfectly fine except that what's left after the trimming needs some more finesse. To begin, I'd trim the branches I indicated with the red circles to the soil level (or as close as you can get without causing unnecessary injury to other parts.) When you're finished, anything detracting from the appearance, crossing back toward the middle, especially spindly/weak should be removed. Turn it around a few times, look at it horizontally, and from the angle from which it is usually viewed where it usually sits, which may be higher or lower than 'head-on.' Less is more. Half-a-dozen trunks/stems is plenty for a full-looking plant (once it grows a new set of leaves.) New growth will come from nodes (where leaves are or were attached,) regardless of the height of what is left. Likely, most of the new growth will be at the highest node on each stem/trunk, so you may want to go a bit lower with the ones that are left. If you happen to end up with a nice flush of new growth near the soil line, you may want to end up removing all of the previous trunks. Trimming doesn't need to be so drastic and widely-spaced in time. Doing a lot less, a little more often, can give you a plant that looks great all of the time, never 'just pruned.' That looks like an awesome specimen for learning, not unhealthy or diseased/pest-afflicted like some struggling plants people try to rehab. Sure, it might not go well, but I doubt that and you'll learn some stuff for sure, and what do you have to lose at this point?

Since so much of it is suddenly missing, in conjunction with shorter days, the water use may slow way down. Dry air might mitigate that some, but be sure to not water unless/until it's fairly dry again. It can handle a little drought, but not soggy cold roots.

That's an awesome pot, BTW.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 11:41AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I don't often disagree with Jean, but I see a plant just waiting to be saved by a little TLC. I sort of breezed through what Tiffany said, and I think I'd wait until summer too, to literally tear into the plant and get it into a good soil. Your choice of soil is probably going to have the most significant influence on how fruitful your efforts will be, so I suggest learning a little about why that choice is important before you do the work.

Here's a thread that might interest you. It offers some insight into how to turn a scheff around. They are one of the easiest of all plants to grow, and are very forgiving - great confidence boosters!
This thread is about container soils. I think an understanding of the information it contains represents the largest step forward a container gardener can take at any one time. See what you think.


    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 4:34PM
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Thanks for all the help. I had already repotted it in this picture. It was sorely needed and the first thing I did. I did let it get dry before I watered again.

What you can't tell from the picture is that one whole side (the side that was against the wall and got, for all purposes, no light) has nothing green. That's where many of those woody stems are. I don't know if leaves will grow easily from woody stems, which was a concern. I chopped them all off near the soil line, but then I also did some serious chopping of the green stems to keep it from having only one side of growth. Hoping it will now sprout more evenly from all sides. It still does have some taller green stems as I was nervous to remove ALL the leaves.

Anyway, we'll see how it goes. It's driving me just a bit crazy, so I'm glad to get some more pruning done.

Glad you like the pot. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 2:26PM
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