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How to Propagate Umbrella Plants

How to Propagate Umbrella Plants

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Umbrella Plant Propagation: First Things First

The Umbrella tree (Schefflera Arboricola) is a small flowering plant species – with elongated, pointed, and shiny-like leaves. It’s native to Taiwan and Hainan Province, China. Many people grow it as a houseplant.

Some also grow Umbrella plants as “bonsai” or for indoor ornamental purposes. Usually, this process involves resources such as patio containers. The plant grows best in USDA conditions of between 9b to 11.

You don’t need any seeds for its propagation. But, in natural ecosystems, the plant grows through seeds. You also have other propagation methods. Experts refer to the process of using cuttings as asexual propagation. It involves using cuttings from the mother plant. It’s the most straightforward and reliable propagation technique for Schefflera Arboricola

The other option involves the air layering technique. Even though air layering is practical for propagating umbrella plants, it’s also an exhaustive process. The other option involves using umbrella seeds, which are most common among professional gardeners.

So, why aren’t seeds ideal for umbrella plant propagation?

Even if you can find umbrella plant seeds, they are challenging to grow. The seeds have to be fresh if you want the best yield. But, finding fresh seeds isn’t an easy process. Growing umbrella plants using seeds involves various unique procedures (identified below). These seed-growing procedures are challenging to track.

Air Layering Technique

Using the air layering technique shares almost the same steps as using cuttings. The variation is that this process involves leaving the cuttings on the parent plant. You must do this until they root before removing them once again.

How does this work?

Steps

1.     Make well-measured cuts on the stems of plants. Doing this stops nutrients from getting to all sections of the plant.

2.     Place damp moss around the cut to prevent it from closing again. Secure the covering with a cling film. The film helps maintain the moisture of your setup. The nutrients collect at the point you make the cut. The presence of the cut and collected nutrients encourages the creation of new roots.

3.     You can lop off the stem below as the roots grow to create a new plant. The best time to use the air layering technique is during the autumn and fall seasons.

4.     Check your plant setup after a few weeks for root development progress. You might have to moisten the moss to help improve the root production process.

PRO TIP: The ideal temperature for umbrella root formation is between 16 to 25 °C.

Take Cuttings

Using cuttings is a reliable technique for propagating umbrella plants. It works well during the mid-winter or autumn seasons. Here are the steps involved in using this approach:

1.     Start by preparing pots with compost and water. Doing this makes them ready for setting the cuttings.

2.     Try to take the cuttings early in the day when the stems of the plants contain lots of water. Set the cuttings in a plastic bag. Doing this helps ensure they don’t dry out. Remember also to use these cuttings as soon as possible.

3.     The best cut to take is the strong shoot side that doesn’t contain any flowers. The ideal shoot measurement is between 5- 15cm long. Consider cutting below the leaf joint.

4.     Cut all the leaves that are on the lower half of your cutting. Then, detach the growing tip.

5.     Place the bottom section of the cutting in hormone rooting powder. It’s a chemical that encourages the production of roots. It also helps reduce bacterial infection issues.

6.     After potting all your cuttings, consider placing them in a propagator. The alternative involves using a clear plastic bag to cover each pot. Doing this helps safeguard the health and development of your plants. The ideal temperature for each plant set up should be 16 – 25ºC.

7.     Next, place your set up in an area that gets enough sunlight. Open your propagator or the plastic cover after a few hours for ventilation.

8.      Water the plant to help maintain the correct moisture levels. Cuttings can take up to three weeks to root as required. Be keen on the presence of roots that develop in the drainage holes of your pots.

9.     After the cuttings undergo the rooting process, start exposing them to the outdoors. Do this by placing the pots outdoors during the day and setting the set up indoors at night. Gardening experts refer to this as the plant hardening process.10.  Once the cuttings go through this process, move them to bigger pots.

How to Propagate Umbrella Plants in Water

This process involves almost the same steps as soil propagation. The variance involves using a transparent container. You have to fill it with water so that the remaining 50% of the stem sits submerged.

Be sure to set the plantlet vertically, and the leaves sit on the container’s rim. You can also use a string to help hoist the plant.

Like the soil propagation method, expect a 30-day development period for the roots. The difference is that you don’t have to worry about humidity issues. You also get to watch the roots develop. Ensure you add water to the setup as required. Be on the lookout for when the water turns cloudy. Transplant to a new pot after they surpass the 2inch size.

Propagating Umbrella Plants Using Seeds

While propagating umbrella plants using seeds is possible, you must consider critical factors. These include:

1. Selecting The Seeds

When buying seeds, select seeds for Schefflera Abbricola. Avoid mistaking it for other similar plant species like Magnolia. Remember that fresh dwarf umbrella seeds have an excellent germination rate. It’s much better than  the plants that have undergone storage.

2. Potting Mix

Prepare a commercial potting mix, and set your plants inside this setup. Consider adding ½ teaspoon of limestone and ½ teaspoon of 5-1-5 fertilizer.

3. Soak the Seeds

The other suggestion is to soak the seeds in hot water for a few hours before sowing. Try using up to three times as much water as the number of seeds. The water temperature shouldn’t surpass the 130 degrees Fahrenheit mark. Soaking the seeds in warm water helps improve their likelihood of growing.

4. Planting the Seeds

Dwarf umbrella seeds fall in the mid-size seed category. You have to sow them at least 10cm deep in the soil for the best results. You must maintain the water quality and place the setup in indirect sunlight.

Preparation and Timing

Regardless of the propagation techniques you use, preparation and timing are crucial. Key things to consider include:

Tools

Ensure you sterilize and sharpen your tools before working on umbrella plants.

The best product for plant sterilization is isopropyl alcohol. Dipping your tools in this chemical while handling the plants is crucial. Doing this helps reduce the spread of plant diseases and infections.

Inspect

Be sure to check your Schefflera Plant for issues like illness and infestation. The infestation can originate from aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. Deal with these issues before harvesting the cuttings and planting seeds. Remember to use healthy plants that are free from disease.

Soil and Water

The best water for plant propagation is distilled or natural rainwater. Tap water often has a nutrient imbalance, which can hamper plant growth.

For the potting methods above, ensure you use the right soil quality. The soil should be loamy, well-drained, and have the right nutritional balance. The soil should also have a slightly acidic characteristic.

The Right Position

Ensure you set your plants in a location with enough bright and indirect light. It should also be free from issues like wind drafts or significant temperature changes. If you plan on setting the plant in a garden, work on the soil first.

Remember to remove any weeds in your plant’s new setting. If you plan on leaving it inside the pot, make sure it has sufficient drainage holes. Keep track of the plant’s growth and the structure of the pot frequently.

Caring for Propagated Umbrella Plants

Once the cuttings have developed, consider relocating them to new pots. You must check when the plant forms new leaves because it indicates when to perform the transplant. Be sure to also develop a drainage section in the new pot. Do this before you set the potting soil.

The soil should be nutrient-rich to help support the development of cuttings. Also maintain the proper soil consistency. Many plant growers have enjoyed success by using peat-free purpose compost products.

Remember to introduce your plants to the new growth conditions gradually. Doing this helps to avoid the transplant issue. Maintain the correct humidity levels for your plant, even after the roots develop.

You can also try pruning the plant once you notice more leaves forming. If you want lush growth, consider fertilizing the plant for up to 12 weeks. Liquid fertilizers work best in well-drained soils.

Are There Any Umbrella Plant Varieties That are Simple to Propagate?

There are various Schefflera varieties. But, the dwarf species of the Umbrella Plant is the most popular type because it’s easy to manage. The variegated species have colorful leaf patterns, including yellow or green colors. All these plants pose the same challenging levels in propagation.

One challenge of propagating the variegated umbrella plants involves checking the leaves’ health. Any changes in the color of umbrella leaves could indicate health issues. So, you have to be cautious in checking them. Avoid settling for umbrella plants that have undergone complete variegation.

Why? Newly propagated plants require as many leaves as possible to produce energy and grow.

Can You Propagate Unhealthy Umbrella Plants?

While this is possible, the best alternative is to go for healthy plants. You might have the temptation to propagate diseased plants as a loss prevention measure. But, it’s always likely to lead to failure, and it won’t be helpful for the plant in the long run.Stem cuttings possess the same characteristics as the primary parent. Thus, any disease or deficiencies will also be present in the plants. Instead of propagating unhealthy plants, visit a local garden store and buy grown plants. Fortunately, buying grown umbrella plants is affordable. Expect to spend between $30 to $60 for a single plant.

Do Propagate Umbrella Plants Share the Same Properties as the Mother Plant?

Stem cutting propagation involves the use of asexual reproduction methods. The new specimen will share the same genetics as the parent plant. (It also applies when you want to use the air layering method.)

Remember that plants with identical genes won’t have the same appearance if you grow them in different settings. Seeds produced by sexual reproduction will have the same features as the parents. If you want to increase the proliferation of Schefflera, consider using stem cuttings.

Common Umbrella Plant Propagation Problems

While umbrella plants are generally hardy, you still have to watch their development. The common complication that can affect stem cuttings is a fungal infection.

It can also include pathogens that develop due to moisture. Some people also tend to set their cuttings in a humidity dome to improve the humidity levels.

High humidity levels help to decrease the occurrence of rot. The cuttings will become less prone to death, and it also helps maintain plant health.

The average moisture of the soil will also improve. Remember that umbrella propagation is not always successful.  Eliminate any dying or unhealthy plants to avoid spreading diseases.

You have three options for propagating umbrella plants. You can grow them through seed, cuttings, and the air layering technique. The cuttings approach is the most reliable, followed by the air layering and seed methods. Remember to give your new cuttings the correct growth and development conditions.

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