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Propagating Schefflera: How to Cultivate an Umbrella Tree

When pruning an overgrown schefflera, how often do you remove healthy cuttings from it? Instead of throwing those cuttings away, put them to better use by propagating them! Under the right conditions, it’s easy to propagate this tropical, fast-growing plant.

Let’s go over the two methods of propagating schefflera so you’ll have little umbrella trees in a matter of weeks!

closeup of a schefflera arboricola plant in a white ceramic planter. propagating schefflera

Propagating Schefflera Stem Cuttings in Soil

Step One: Gather Materials

To propagate your schefflera, gather these materials so you’re ready to use them as you work through each step:

Step Two: Prepare Planting Medium & Tools

First, wear gloves before handling your schefflera because some species of this umbrella tree are mildly toxic to humans. Check that it’s healthy and disease-free so you don’t select infected cuttings.

Next, you’ll need soil that’s moist, fresh, airy, and well-draining, with a pH level of 6–6.5. Place the soil or potting mix in a small planter pot with a drainage hole. Depending on how many cuttings you intend to propagate, use a 4-inch or 6-inch pot so there’s enough room.

Finally, take your pruning shears or scissors and sterilize them with a disinfectant or an alcohol pad. This prevents the spread of diseases on your schefflera cuttings when removing them from the parent plant.

Step Three: Get Cuttings

schefflera stem cuttings for propagation

Make a clean 45-degree cut on a healthy 4–6-in-long stem near the parent schefflera’s base and below a growth node. The cutting’s diameter should be similar to that of a pencil and have 4–5 leaves at the top.

If you want to propagate a bushy schefflera, take two or three cuttings from the parent plant. It’s a good idea to take more than one because one or a few cuttings may not survive the propagation.


Remove any lower leaves on the cuttings so the only ones still attached are the ones on top. Now cut each of those top leaves in half horizontally. This will keep the cuttings from losing excessive moisture while rooting.

Rooting Hormone Option

You are not required to use a rooting hormone when propagating schefflera. However, to further stimulate root growth and stave off infections, dip the cut ends of the cuttings into the powder.

Step Four: Insert Cutting in Medium

With a pencil, poke a 2-inch-deep hole in the potted soil. Then insert your cutting in the hole and pat the soil around the cutting to secure it in place. If you’ve snipped off extra cuttings from your current schefflera, do the same thing for them but in a 6-inch pot.

Step Five: Care for Cuttings

Place the potted cuttings in a warm, humid area where there is steady and indirect light. The temperature of that area should be above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water the soil every 7–14 days. This gives the soil a chance to dry before the next time you water it. It also helps you avoid overwatering and risking root rot.

If your chosen setting lacks humidity, create a little greenhouse for your propagated schefflera. All you have to do is loosely cover the cuttings with a plastic bag or wrap to trap the moisture. Change it every 2–3 days to air out the cuttings until the roots develop.

As your new schefflera grows new shoots, cut off those shoots’ tops to make the plant branch. And once new leaves grow, repot the cuttings into a pot that’s 2 inches larger than the current one. You’ll need to repot your schefflera every 2–3 years.

Propagating Schefflera Stem Cuttings in Water

Plant dwarf umbrella tree schefflera actinophylla variegata kept indoors as house gardening concept

Step One: Gather Materials

For this propagation method for schefflera, it’s not just the materials listed in the previous method that you’ll need. You’ll also need a damp paper towel, glass containers (e.g., jars, vases, cups), and fresh, distilled water.

We don’t recommend using tap water, as it contains chlorine and other minerals that are harmful to schefflera cuttings. The water needs to be lukewarm, too, since hot and cold water will shock the cuttings.

Step Two: Get Cuttings

As with the soil method, cut one or more healthy stems at a 45-degree angle after sterilizing your pruners or scissors. Each cutting’s length should still be 4–6 inches with four to five leaves at the top and one growth node. Lower leaves, as usual, have to go.

Step Three: Submerge Cuttings in Water

After filling your chosen glass containers with water, submerge the schefflera stems’ cut ends first. About 2–3 inches of the cuttings should be underwater.

Once again, you have the option to dip the cut ends in a rooting hormone. Or you can add drops of the hormone into the water. Whether or not you do that, you’ll still need to place the containers where they’ll receive moderate to bright, indirect light.

Water Maintenance

Every 2–3 days, change the water in the containers so the cuttings will remain in clean, oxygenated water. Unsterilized shears or scissors aren’t the only way to spread bacteria to schefflera cuttings; cloudy, stagnated water will do it too.

Step Four: Transplant Cuttings

You should see the roots develop in around 4–6 weeks. They’ll first appear as white bumpy stubs, but they’ll take on the appearance of actual roots over time. Once they’re 1–2 inches long, transplant the cuttings.

After removing the cuttings from the containers, wrap them in a damp paper towel to keep them from drying out. Fill a planter pot with the appropriate soil and potting mix. Then water it so the soil is moist before you insert the cuttings.

Step Five: Care for Cuttings

Care for the cuttings as directed for the soil method. Water according to schedule and leave the pot under bright, indirect sunlight in a warm area in your home.

Since the roots have already grown, you won’t have to use a plastic bag or wrap to lock in the moisture. But you can continue doing this for your propagated schefflera to ensure it gets the humidity it needs.

Frequently Asked Questions on Propagating Schefflera

Octopus Tree or Umbrella Tree (Schefflera Actinophylla). Close up green young leaves green house plant. Schefflera plant for modern interior decoration. Beautiful Octopus tree leaf use as background

Which is the best propagation method for schefflera?

There’s really no best method for propagating schefflera; soil or water, either method works. It all comes down to your preference after learning each method’s benefits.

For example, the water propagation method for schefflera lets you observe the roots’ growth through a glass container. This will help you know when it’s time to transplant the cutting from water to soil.

If you want your cuttings to grow stronger and healthier roots, go for the soil propagation method. You won’t have to worry about changing the out water while the cuttings are rooting!

When is the best time of the year to propagate my schefflera?

Though you may propagate schefflera any time of the year, it’s best to propagate it during the spring and early summer.

As a tropical plant, the schefflera will root better and faster in warm, humid, and mild temperatures. Not to mention its cuttings recover easily under those temperatures after having been cut for propagation.

It’s possible to propagate schefflera cuttings during cold weather and seasons, but they’ll take a longer time to root and grow. When it’s extremely cold (and hot), they’ll become dormant and may not grow at all.

Why are the leaves on my schefflera cuttings smaller than the ones on the parent plant?

When propagating schefflera cuttings, you’re growing a plant with a new root system. Yes, schefflera leaves are usually huge, but an immature root system can’t support such large leaves.

Of course, there are other reasons why plants like the schefflera may produce smaller leaves. There’s under- or overwatering, not repotting the plants when the roots spread out, and pests that feed off the plants. Nurture your propagated schefflera cuttings well and they’ll eventually grow bigger leaves.

Can my schefflera cuttings remain in the water?

Unless you’re propagating schefflera via the water method in a pond outside, leaving cuttings in water isn’t a good idea. They may be able to live in water, but distilled water lacks minerals and nutrients, which will stunt the cuttings’ growth.

Adding drops of a rooting hormone may help, but there’s still more work involved. On top of changing out the water often, you’ll eventually be changing container sizes to accommodate the roots.

Now You Know How to Propagate Schefflera!

Propagating schefflera is an efficient way to cultivate this fast-growing plant, whether you propagate via soil or water. Save your pruned cuttings from your current schefflera, choose your propagation method, and adorn your home with vibrant umbrella trees!

Visit our indoor gardening plants page for more ideas on what other houseplants you can propagate. To diversify your indoor tropical atmosphere, try your hand at propagating dracaena!