Schefflera Plant Pruning: Tips On Cutting Back Schefflera Plants

Schefflera Plant Pruning: Tips On Cutting Back Schefflera Plants

Scheffleras are very popular house plants that produce big dark or variegated palmate leaves (leaves made up of several smaller leaflets growing out of a single point). Hardy in USDA zones 9b through 11, they are often kept in pots indoors in colder areas. However, life indoors in a pot can be hard on a plant, and can often result in leggy, unhealthy looking shapes. That’s when it’s time to prune, Keep reading to learn more about trimming Schefflera houseplants and how to prune a Schefflera.

Trimming Schefflera Houseplants

The tropical Schefflera plant, also known as umbrella plant or tree, can grow quite large outdoors in the right climate. Indoors, this popular houseplant can be trimmed and maintained at a manageable size. Pruning Schefflera plants is easy and nothing that should prevent you from enjoying this beautiful plant in your home.

If you have ever seen a native Schefflera outdoors, you may be surprised to find how large they grow. When given natural light, water, and space, they can grow to be 40 feet (12 m.) tall. Indoors, they will only grow to about 8 feet (2.5 m.).

You can manage the height of your umbrella plant by trimming and shaping it. Pruning Schefflera plants is not strictly necessary, but if you want a pretty umbrella shape and a certain height, or if your plant has gotten out of control, you can easily trim it.

Scheffleras can have a single trunk, but they tend to have multiple stalks that branch off as the plant gets higher. If your plant isn’t getting enough light or nutrients, or if it’s just in too small of a pot, some of those stalks might get long and leggy. They might flop over under their own weight or produce leaves only at the ends.

This is a good indication that it’s time for Schefflera plant pruning. Pruning a Schefflera plant is not especially hard – if you see a long and unhealthy looking stalk, cut it back! Cut any bad looking stalks down to 3 or 4 inches (7-10 cm.) high. This should encourage new growth and make the plant more compact and dense. It may also help to move the plant to a sunnier window or transplant to a bigger pot.

How to Prune a Schefflera Plant

If you have just bought a Schefflera from the nursery, it is probably 2 to 3 feet (about 1 meter) tall. As it grows, you can prune it to help maintain the shape you want and to prevent it from getting any taller than you want it to be. For indoor plants, this can be done at any time of year. Use a sharp pair of pruners or a knife and make cuts just above leaves. Make cuts to break up denser clumps and to make the plant appear more even.

Strategically pruning a Schefflera plant can encourage it to grow out as well as up and make for a denser, more bushy shape. Trimming Schefflera houseplants can be achieved by cutting off the tops of the tallest stalks about an inch (2.5 cm.) above the spot where the next leaf down is attached. This will encourage more growth outward from the stalk instead of upward.

Cutting Overgrown Scheffleras

You can also prune your Schefflera if it has gotten overgrown. Make cuts to shape it and to thin it out so that light can get in and stimulate leaf growth on any bare branches. If you have a “leggy” stem, or a main stem that lacks leaf growth, you can cut it back to about six inches (15 cm.). It may seem severe, but this stem’s growth will catch up to any others.

The reason it went bare may be lack of light. Be sure your umbrella plant is in a spot where it gets a lot of indirect light. Rotate it occasionally to even out leaf growth.

How to Prune Houseplants

Last Updated: October 8, 2020 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Chai Saechao. Chai Saechao is the Founder and Owner of Plant Therapy, an indoor-plant store founded in 2018 based in San Francisco, California. As a self-described plant doctor, he believes in the therapeutic power of plants, hoping to keep sharing his love of plants with anyone willing to listen and learn.

There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 89% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status.

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Houseplants can add color and fresh air to a room. To keep your houseplants looking their best, you should prune them regularly with sharp scissors or gardening shears. Start by removing dead leaves, limbs, and flowers on the plants. Then, cut back overgrown branches and stems on the plants. You should also maintain the plants by fertilizing them and watering them regularly so they stay healthy and happy.

Schefflera needs pruning to stay in shape


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Q:My schefflera is growing like a weed! It's very tall. Where did I go wrong, and what can I safely do to trim it and keep it growing? I know they're easy to grow (obviously!) but would like to cut some height off of it. I have it tied with plant tape and have supports holding up the skinny stalks. Without these things, the poor plant would go horizontal.

A: Schefflera is a tropical tree in its native Northern Australia, growing to 30 or more feet tall and wide. It is popular as a houseplant because of its decorative leaves. The radiating leaflets earned it the common name of umbrella plant.

I see from your photos (which were too small to print) that yours is going for the Jack-in-the-Beanstalk look, that is, it's reaching for the sky, but is very skinny. It has three stems, two of which seem to be over 6 feet tall and the third, 8 or 9 feet. It seems healthy, with leaves down to the bottom of each stem, but I can understand why you aren't so happy with its form.

A number of houseplants, including schefflera, Japanese aralia, and shrubby or treelike figs, benefit from pruning to shape them as they grow. You can also shape vining houseplants, like grape ivy and philodendron, by shortening overlong stems.

It would have been better if you had pinched the top a couple of inches off each stem when it was as tall as you wanted, which would have encouraged the stems to branch. However, you will be glad to know that schefflera responds very well to severe cutting back.

Use hand pruners to cut each of your plant's tall stems back to a few inches lower than you want the plant to be. Before you make the cut, look carefully at the stem, then cut about a half-inch above where a leaf is attached. Bypass pruners will make a cleaner cut than anvil pruners.

If you want to try, you can probably get the tops you cut off to grow new roots, making more plants. To try to root the cuttings, you will need a pot big enough to hold the cut stems, a saucer, rooting medium (a premixed cutting mix, or half perlite/half milled peat, or just perlite), three bamboo stakes a bit taller than the cut-off stems and a clear plastic drycleaner bag.

Cut each of the stems at about the height you want the new plant to be, and about a half-inch below where a leaf is attached. Then remove the bottom two or three leaves. Fill the pot with rooting medium, then stick the bottoms of the cuttings in, burying them to just below the lowest remaining leaf. (If they aren't deep enough to stand up, remove another leaf.)

7 Ways to Prune a Schefflera Plant

Schefflera plants are also known as “Umbrella plants.” They are houseplants that grow with ease. They are pest resistant. Also, they require pruning if they get too large.

The pruning method is simple. Let’s consider 7 steps you can take to prune.

1. See Whether Your Schefflera Plant Has One Stem or Several Stems

This will determine how you prune your plants. A Schefflera with many stems gives you more advantages when you prune. They grow fuller and have places in which leaves can grow. At the same time, a Schefflera with a single stem develops into a tall and thin plant.

  • When you trim your plant, keep the natural shape of the plant intact. Trim your plant as it grows. Please do not destroy the natural growth pattern of the plant as it can be more difficult.
  • When you want to buy a plant, the type of plant you want determines the type of Schefflera you choose.

If you want your plant to be full and bushy, do well to pick a Schefflera with multiple stems. And if you want your plant to grow tall and thin, choose a Schefflera with a single stem.

2. Decide How You Want Your Plant to Look Like Now and in the Future

Many people have different tastes for plants. Some may want a thin and, at the same time, tall plant. Some love a short and full growth plant.

Your choice rests on the area you live in and the level of care you can give it. When you trim, you determine how you want your plant to grow.

  • The growth nodes of a Schefflera are located on the stem. This is where the leaves shoot out. Due to the Schefflera full growth, there are many growth nodes on it. So you have to decide how you want your plant to grow, so you will know where to trim in your plant.
  • Before you cut any leaves, you have to think about this! This will help you promote the growth of the leaves. And it will help you avoid trimming too many leaves.

3. Examine Whether Your Plant is in a Good State

Before you trim your plant, ensure it’s in good health. Ensure that the soil in which your plant is grown is good and has a lot of water.

If you notice that the roots of your plant are too many, you can report your plant. This will help to boost its growth.

  • See if your plant is in a good state of health. If you notice discoloration or brown spots in your leaves, you need to examine how well it is watered or how much nutrients your soil offers. Schefflera should not be potted in soil with much water. So you dry off water from the soil. But if it does not change your plant’s state, you can try to replace your potted plant’s soil.

4. Get Your Tools Ready for the Job

The tools you need for pruning depends on the size of the plants you are pruning. For small plants like shrubs, use pruning tools such as hand pruners, shears, or loppers. But for bigger plants that are up to 40 feet tall, you can use a pole pruner for pruning.

But if the tree is too large to be pruned safely with a pole pruner, you can call a professional pruning service.

5. Cut an Erect Stem Just Above the Growth Node to Make the Height of the Schefflera Plant Smaller

Simply put, trim the plant above the place where a leaf has shot out. This will make the height become smaller and prevent it from gaining height. The plant will also attain a fuller growth in the place where you cut.

  • Use a bypass pruning shear, a scissor-like type of pruning shear. This is because other types of shares can crush the stems instead of cutting through them.
  • Sometimes, the plant experiences a lack of light.

This can cause the plant to grow in a way you do not want, maybe because it grows to get light. So, remember this when you want to choose a place for your plant to stay.

6. Cut the Horizontal Branch to size Just Above the Leaf Node to Reduce the Width of the Schefflera Plant

When you cut the branch above the leaf node, your plant will attain fuller growth. Do not be afraid to cut the leaf further. Schefflera plants can handle harsh pruning.

  • Use the bypass pruning shear. This will enable it to cut through the stem.

7. Cut the Stem Down to Six Inches to Rejuvenate Straggly Plants to Grow

When plants get abandoned, they overgrow. And if you cannot shape the plant through the use of gentle pruning, you can trim the plant down. This will give you better access to how to control the growth of the plant.

When you trim your plant down, it grows back to a desirable plant with enough light, water, and nutrients.

  • When you trim your plant, leave up to two to three nodes on the stem. This will give the plant the chance to form new growth.
  • You can use the pieces that are cut off for propagation.

Cut two layers and bury them into the moist soil for a few weeks.

This will give the cuttings nodes to grow. Before the plant can then be repotted, roots should shoot out from the bottom of the cuttings.

General tips

  • Trim Schefflera plants in late winter. It would be best if you did this before the plant sends out new growth.
  • As your plant ages, trim away foliages as it dies.
  • Do rotate the sides of your plant to get enough light and evenly grow.
  • Pinch with your fingers the tips of your new Schefflera plant. This will force the plant to grow out as a branch with a full appearance.


In this article, we have seen 7 ways to prune your Schefflera or house plant. These are:

1. Check whether your Schefflera has a single stem or multiple stems

2. Decide how you want your plant to look like now and in the future

3. Examine whether your plant is healthy

4. Get your pruning tools ready

5. Cut an erect stem just above the growth node to make the height of the Schefflera plant smaller

6. cut the horizontal branch to size just above the leaf node to reduce the width of the Schefflera

7. Cut the stem down to 6 inches to rejuvenate a straggly plant to grow

When you follow these steps and tips, you will be able to prune your Schefflera plant. Also, you will be able to promote the growth of your houseplants.

Thank you for reading this article. If you have any questions about and or ideas that you want to share, you are welcome, and kindly leave your comment below, and I’ll be happy to write back to you.

4. Trimming Leaves

Many times, it’s easy to see your houseplant isn’t the happiest camper on the block by looking at its leaves. Plant stress from improper environmental conditions and care, as well as pest or disease problems, can show up on the foliage.

Foliage can show the effects through brown leaf tips, as well as entire leaves turning brown or yellow. Of course, the leaf problems leave your houseplant looking anything but attractive.

Since everything from too much fertilizer or sunlight, sucking pests to not enough water can be the cause of your leaf problems, it’s best to try to figure out what caused the situation with the foliage in the first place.

Trimming A Leaf Portion

If the tips or small sections of the leaves are turning brown or yellow, you may consider trimming the affected section off. Whether you should or not depends on the cause and on your preference.

If you think the damage is related to a disease, you should certainly remove the affected section, leaving a small margin of healthy leaf. If the damage is due to other causes, there is no need to remove the affected part unless you wish to.

Houseplants don’t have to look perfect all the time, so it you have a few brown tips or crispy leaf edges, it is ok to leave them alone. This is what I tend to do.

If you’d like your plant to look a little more pristine, you can carefully trim off the affected leaf section. If you cut into healthy leaf, a brown edge will often appear, so I would advise trimming most of the affected section off, but leave a small margin of brown or yellow. It won’t be perfect, but it’s as close as you are likely to get.

Longer term, it’s best to try to identify why your houseplant is getting leaf problems and take steps to fix these, so that new growth will stay lush and healthy.

Trimming Off A Leaf

If the entire leaf is unsightly or dead, you can use clean scissors or hand pruners to trim off the entire leaf and stem from the branch. If many leaves are affected, try removing a portion of them first and wait a few weeks to ensure that the plant starts to produce healthy new growth. Remove the remainder of the affected leaves over time.

Watch the video: How to Prune an Arboricola