How To Train Schefflera Bonsai
Gardening takes many forms.
Perhaps you have no outside space and want to grow something striking in your house instead. Maybe you have a large yard but also want some greenery around while you relax on the couch.
The Japanese have grown trees restricted in containers for more than a thousand years and the intricate bonsai is always an impressive sight.
We’ll look today at how to train the Schefflera bonsai along with some general information about cultivating this tree indoors.
Double Dose of Schefflera
There are two related plants known as Schefflera:
- Dwarf Schefflera (Schefflera arboricola)
- Full-sized Schefflera (Brassaia actinophylla)
The larger tree favors tropical climates and can soar to thirty feet or more. With enormous leaves like an umbrella and clumps of bright red flowers, the Brassaia is highly attractive.
The dwarf version grows anywhere from 6 to 12 feet if left unfettered. It has smaller leaves and branches a bit more freely than its big brother.
Schefflera For Bonsai Trees
Schefflera trees have a compound leaf. This means that each stalk or petiole has more than a single leaflet. As a result, the leaf seems to be larger than it really is.
The fairly sizeable leaf on both types of Schefflera makes cultivating really tiny bonsai tough.
Unlike most trees, Schefflera don’t really have growth rings as such. They are not a particularly woody tree and the bark formed isn’t especially tough.
It’s quite hard to form serious bends with this tree even using wiring. You need to cut the branch to get any real movement.
One significant bonus of the Schefflera is that you can easily form aerial roots. Making a banyan tree form or any other form with drastically exposed roots is satisfying with these dramatic trees.
Many trees cope badly with dim light and low humidity but the Schefflera thrives in these conditions even though it hails from tropical climes.
With effort, both types of Schefflera can be turned into fairly small bonsai to stunning effect.
How To Cultivate Schefflera Indoors
Soil and Moisture
The two different species require different levels of moisture in the soil.
- Dwarf Schefflera: Moist and never let it get bone dry
- Schefflera: Water profusely then allow roots to dry almost completely
They also prefer different soil mixes…
- Dwarf Schefflera: Half bark, half inorganic material
- Schefflera: One-third organic material to two-thirds inorganic material
These are rough guides but you should always fine-tune your mix according to your individual tree, general growing conditions and micro-environment.
Both Schefflera will tolerate extremely dim lighting. This means that the leaves will be quite large, reduced in number and shaping will be a tall order.
In order to see your tree truly flourish, try to give it as much light as possible. This will lead to smaller leaves and improved growth. It’s much easier to shape and form bonsais when the tree is in a period of active growth.
With thick and waxy leaves, Schefflera deal well with lower humidity levels.
You can get by without the need for any kind of humidifier and this tree will survive in even the driest indoor environment.
Bringing these trees on from seed is straightforward. That said, they are so readily available at garden centers that few would bother.
Propagating from cuttings will be stress-free. Pop the cuttings into a container with some granular soil mix then cover with a plastic bag. After a month, they’ll have set root and you can remove them from the bag. Don’t make the soil too wet or the stem might rot and fail to root.
A normal houseplant fertilizer diluted by half is ideal. Adding this weekly should give your bonsai all the nutrients it needs. You can cut back to monthly feeding over the winter or any times when the tree is not actively growing.
Water your tree thoroughly before fertilizing.
Schefflera are seldom menaced by insects which is welcoming news.
From time to time they may suffer from scale infestation. Treat this by spraying dormant oil weekly taking care to spray all surfaces of the tree.
How To Train Schefflera Bonsai
Pots and Repotting
Repot your bonsai every two years. Make sure that the container is not too big. This way, you’ll showcase the tree’s canopy to full effect and prevent the soil from getting too soaked.
Take your time and separate all the old soil from the root ball. You can easily wreak havoc on the delicate roots if you undertake this too roughly.
Oval or round pots work best with Schefflera.
The lack of woody trunk means Schefflera can be challenging to wire.
Try to get started when the branches are young. Apply the wire a little more loosely than you would with some other bonsai. Shoot for gentle bends and avoid extreme changes in direction.
Prune above the leaves for perfect results.
As with any large-leaved tree, you can wire individual leaves for added shaping. Do this when they are mature and full-size.
Hacking Back: Reduction
Often, people come across their Schefflera by taking away a bedraggled specimen from a friend’s house.
You can cut back tall examples with abandon and get rid of the leaves.
Take no prisoners when shortening the stem. If you don’t do the job properly, you risk needing to return to reduce your Schefflera later on. This will cost you time and result in needing to cut the stem back even further.
If you do take on a severe hacking back, wait a few months afterwards before repotting your Schefflera.
We hope you’ve found this glance at bonsai trees and how to train the Schefflera bonsai informative.
Why not try growing one to supplement your indoor garden?
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