Umbrella Plant Propagation: A Complete How-To Guide

Learn all the ways to accomplish umbrella plant propagation at home. It’s easy and a great money-saver to reproduce this dramatic plant yourself.

Hand Holding A Schefflera Plant Cutting Next To A Pot Full Of Soil
schefflera cuttings
(Image credit: Tatiana Gorbunova)

Umbrella Plant Propagation: Everything You Need To Know

Some plants are harder to propagate than others, but umbrella plant propagation is relatively simple. How do you propagate an umbrella plant? Vegetatively, usually; that is, without the use of seeds. Propagating an umbrella tree is a good place to begin your journey when learning to start new plants. Keep reading to learn how to propagate schefflera.

Best Time to Propagate Umbrella Plants

Umbrella plants can be grown from seed, but most of the houseplant varieties of schefflera never produce seed. So, these plants are usually started vegetatively in one of several ways. Probably the best time to attempt propagation of an umbrella plant is during the growing season, spring through summer, but they can be propagated any time of the year.

Best Ways to Propagate Umbrella Plants

The best ways to propagate umbrella plants are either by stem cutting or air layering. They can also be propagated by rooting them in water or in soil. Here are some guidelines for each.

Stem Cutting

Stem cutting just means using the tip or section of a stem including leaves and buds to produce a new plant. In order to propagate schefflera by stem cuttings, factors such as the growing medium you use, rooting hormones, potential water loss, and the correct environmental conditions need to be considered.

Take a cutting that is 3-6 inches (8-15 cm) in length that has at least two nodes. Use either stem tips or stem segments from lower on a branch. Stem cuttings can be grown in several different types of growing medium, such as perlite, sand, coarse sphagnum moss, vermiculite, peat moss or a well-draining potting soil.

The containers you use to propagate stem cuttings should be sterile with good drainage and need to be at least 2 inches (5 cm) deep. Moisten the growing medium before inserting the cuttings. Place the cutting in a warm area with bright but indirect light and high humidity. Cover them with a plastic bag to raise the humidity.

Keep an eye on your cuttings and moisten the growing medium if it becomes dry. Rooting should take place within 3-6 weeks. When the roots are an inch (2.5 cm) or so long, pot the new plants in well-draining potting soil, water them and place them in bright, indirect light.

Air Layering

Air layering is another way to propagate that’s especially suited for large, lanky plants like schefflera. Layering is a method by which a new plant is formed from stems that remain attached to the parent plant. With a sterile, sharp knife, make an up or down slanted cut 1-1 ½ inches (2.5-4 cm) long about a quarter to half through a chosen stem. Hold the slit open with a toothpick and lightly dust rooting hormone into the wound.

Remove leaves or twigs from the lower 3-4 inches (8-10 cm) of the cut stem, above the cut. Wrap the wounded stem with a couple of handfuls of moistened sphagnum moss to form a ball around the incision. Wrap this ball with plastic wrap and seal around the seams with waterproof tape.

After a month or so, you should be able to view new roots near the edge of the moss ball. Remove the plastic when a good root system has formed, and sever the ball of moss and roots from the parent plant. Pot the new plant in good quality, well-draining soil media kept moist and in bright but indirect light.

Rooting Schefflera in Soil

To root your umbrella plant in soil, remove any lower leaves and dip the cutting into rooting hormone if you choose, but this is not necessary. Put the cut end of the cutting into the soil with at least one node buried. Water the cutting and allow it to drain.

Rooting Schefflera in Water

You can also use water instead of soil media to root cuttings. The downside of this method is that roots formed in water are not as robust as those grown in a growing medium so when you transplant the rooted cuttings, they may suffer from stress.

Use a clear glass or container if possible. That way you can keep an eye on root production without removing or disturbing the cutting. If you use water to root your cuttings, be sure to keep an eye on evaporation and change the water entirely every few days. Your seedlings should be ready to transplant when the roots are around an inch (2.5 cm) in length.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Better to Propagate Schefflera in Water or Soil?

While schefflera cuttings can be rooted in either water or soil, soil is preferable. Propagation in water alone produces weak roots that often result in stress related issues when transplanted into soil.

How Long Does it Take to Propagate an Umbrella Tree?

Cuttings from umbrella plants will root within a few weeks with air layering propagation not far behind, usually about a month or so.