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Umbrella plant, SEVERELY root bound! Help!

Posted by Meezer42 Pa (My Page) on
Wed, Apr 3, 13 at 18:07

I wish I could post a picture, but I can't right this moment. I'm hoping I could still get some advice. Easter weekend I brought home an umbrella plant in need from a relative's house, but I have absolutely no experience with them nor do I know what kind it is. It is about 2.5 feet tall. It has two long, main branches with perhaps five bunches of leaves on the end of each branch. It is not variegated. I think it is probably the most commonly seen umbrella plant inside of a household. Otherwise, the branches are completely bare and the plant is leaning and quite top heavy. Apparently, all of the leaves but those bunches at the very top fell of recently and quite abruptly. I suspect it was underwatered, but I don't think that is what the main problem is. I looked in the pot and the soil is literally pulled inches away from the side because it is all tied up in this cake of root bound soil. I have never seen a more root bound plant! The bottom of the plant has thicker roots which wrap all around the bottom and are many inches in density. You can't even poke your finger through. The rest of the soil is literally all made of roots. There is virtually no soil. I bought a new pot. I would like to repot this plant and start raising it anew if I can. How much of the root system should I prune? Can I cut back the two main branches up to an inch or two of the soil level and not kill the plant? Any other suggestions? Also, from what I understand it is important to prune and shape your plant to what you want aesthetically? Are there any resources available to read about that? Thank you in advance for your help!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Umbrella plant, SEVERELY root bound! Help!

I also "inheritted" a schefflera (I am assuming this is what you mean by umbrella plant). Mine is schefflera arboricola, not variegated. The plant was severely root bound, was in the same pot for 10 years. In the spring 3 years ago, i repotted it. What i did was prune a lot of the outer roots off and teased the soil a lot to loosen up the tightly wound roots. I tried replacing as much soil as i could. I had some leaf drop afterwards, but this could also be because it was trying to become acclimated to my home. The following year i also severely pruned it because it was leggy, it responded pretty well. I plan on pruning it even further to make it more compact. I think this plant can handle a wide range of stress and responds nicely to repotting and root/trunk pruning. The plant was about 6' tall and 7' wide at first, it is now 5' tall and 4' wide, going to make it 3'x3' or 4'x4' when i prune soon.


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RE: Umbrella plant, SEVERELY root bound! Help!

So you think if I cut off the only two trunks almost entirely the plant will regrow, and quite happily? I guess I really need to bite the bullet and start messing with the roots. And yes, I do mean a schefflera plant. Thank you very much! I really needed a little bit of a second opinion (and a confidence boost) before I cut off to much of the plant. From what I understand, legginess is caused by not enough light, so I'll also make sure it has enough light.


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RE: Umbrella plant, SEVERELY root bound! Help!

Meezer,

Slow down! :) Don't do both right away. Take care of the roots situation first and then.....wait. The plant needs to acclimate a bit before you throw all this new attention it's way! Hopefully, Al will chime in with some advice...he's done wonders with this very plant.

Nancy


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RE: Umbrella plant, SEVERELY root bound! Help!

Okay okay. Holding my horses. Taking care of these roots first!


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RE: Umbrella plant, SEVERELY root bound! Help!

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 3, 13 at 23:09

I had just mentioned on another thread that I talked to a MG group tonight about maintaining houseplants for the long term. Part of the talk was a demo on root pruning, and I had bought a really root bound 3 gallon scheff to use in the demo. I pruned it back hard too, even though that's not the best thing to do NOW, or at the same time you do the root pruning. They drew tickets for the repotted tree.

There's a thread you guys can look at that will give you some idea about where you can go with your trees - how hard you'll be able to prune - above and below the soil. I'll leave a link & then stop back tomo to see if there are some specific questions.

Al

 photo schefflera006.jpg
 photo schefflera002.jpg

Here is a link that might be useful: Scheff thread


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RE: Umbrella plant, SEVERELY root bound! Help!

Forgive me, i did not mean to imply that you should do both root pruning and tree pruning in the same year. The first year i only focused on root pruning and repot, the following i heavily pruned. If your plant is not very healthy looking, i would do the root pruning first and next year prune the tree. Also, i used a cactus/palm/citrus soil from miracle grow. I was too lazy to mix my own at the time :/ But i think it likes it. I'm sure your plant will survive and turn out to be a wonderful plant. Good luck :)


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RE: Umbrella plant, SEVERELY root bound! Help!

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 4, 13 at 16:32

If a plant is healthy, there is no reason you can't prune roots and the canopy in the same year. I usually prune the roots in June, allow them to recover to the point the plant has resumed pushing new growth (usually about 2 weeks), then prune the top as hard as I want.

Al


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RE: Umbrella plant, SEVERELY root bound! Help!

Thank you all for your help! I appreciate it so much! If I am able to take some pictures I may keep you update so that you may help others :)


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RE: Umbrella plant, SEVERELY root bound! Help!

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 5, 13 at 8:17

I really enjoy helping others get as much as they can from the growing experience with a minimum of frustration. Nurturing people who nurture plants is pretty close to as much fun as nurturing plants. For me, the experiences differ in that working with plants is something that I can get caught up in so thoroughly that it feels like I'm lost in what I'm doing - almost oblivious to everything but what I'm doing ..... even though I'm often not concentrating on what I'm doing (talking mainly about the bonsai apps and manipulation of plants I work with.. It's difficult to explain, because on one hand I'm thoroughly engrossed in the task at hand, yet my mind is completely relaxed and free to wander. Helping people requires more attention, but IMO the rewards outweigh having to put on the thinking cap. ;-)

Pics would be great.

Al


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