Outdoor Schefflera Care: Can Schefflera Plants Grow Outside

Outdoor Schefflera Plant
outdoor schefflera
(Image credit: Wendy Townrow)

Schefflera is a common house and office plant. This tropical plant is native to Australia, New Guinea, and Java, where it is an understory plant. The exotic foliage and epiphytic nature of the plant make it an interesting specimen to grow in warm-season gardens. Can Schefflera plants grow outside? Sadly, the plant is not reliably hardy below United States Department of Agriculture zones 10 and 11, but it will make an interesting container specimen that can be moved indoors.

Growing Schefflera Plants Outdoors

When the sun is shining, it is tempting to mimic some of our favorite tropical vacation spots in our landscapes. Adding tropical flair to the garden evokes the sights and sounds of a sultry, humid rainforest in an exotic locale. If you live in an appropriate zone, you can grow Schefflera outdoors year-round. Outdoor Schefflera care differs somewhat from indoor plant maintenance. Plants can get bigger in the ground and may need supplemental support and nutrition as well as a regular watering schedule, but Schefflera plant care outside is low maintenance compared to many landscape plants. Choose a location with partial to full shade or even full sun when growing Schefflera plants outdoors. Incorporate plenty of well-rotted compost, leaf litter, or other organic amendments. Remember, in its native range the plant would be growing in the humus-rich soil that is nurtured by a constant supply of overstory leaves, animal droppings, and constant moisture. It is necessary to duplicate that rich soil as much as you can for the best Schefflera growth. Apparently, some Schefflera plants can tolerate zone 9b but will require a sheltered location, and in-ground plants may die back. In other zones, you can use Schefflera as an annual foliage plant or keep it in a container and move indoors if cold temperatures arrive. Schefflera plants are common in southern California, Florida, and in places like Phoenix. The plants need a high humidity environment to produce bright red flowers, so most regions cannot expect blooms, but the attractive foliage will provide a tropical foil for other plants.

Care for Outdoor Schefflera Plants

Schefflera plant care outside is not a lot different from indoor houseplant care. Over time, the tree will drop its leaves as it produces new ones. These take quite a while to break down and should be moved away from the root zone so insects and pests don't have a convenient hiding place. Plants tend to dry out more quickly and they are more exposed to pests and diseases. Keep your Schefflera moderately moist and watch for mealybugs, scale, aphids, and spider mites. Keep the leaves rinsed free of dust and debris. Staking or support may be required for good care for outdoor Schefflera plants. Be careful where you install Schefflera, as the roots are dense and strong and can damage driveways and foundations over time. For good outdoor Schefflera care, some gardeners recommend topping the plant when it grows tall. This forces it to produce a denser form and branching. If your plant gets flowers, you may want to remove them in areas such as Florida, where the plant easily naturalizes itself. Simply remove the flowers before the seed is mature. With a little protection and forethought, Schefflera can make an excellent addition to the landscape for years.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.