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Propagating Umbrella Plant: Create a Canopy of Green in Your Home

Umbrella plants, also known as Schefflera actinophylla, are tropical plants with an exotic appearance. They are beautiful plants to keep inside for a brilliant display of greenery.

Propagating umbrella plants is an easy and inexpensive way to grow as many plants as you want in your garden.

Keep reading to learn how to propagate an umbrella plant, including how to care for the finished product and what tools you’ll need for the process.

propagating umbrella plant

When to Propagate

The best time to propagate umbrella plants is in the spring or early summer so the roots have plenty of time to establish themselves during the warm season. This makes it easier for the parent plant to recover as well.

How to Propagate

Propagating umbrella plants vegetatively is relatively easy, so no seeds are required. This process is sometimes referred to as asexual propagation, and it works by creating clones of the mother plant from individual parts of the plant. These plants naturally reproduce through seeds.

Propagating umbrella plants using cuttings has proven to be an inexpensive and rewarding way to increase the number of plants you can grow in your garden.

The best way to propagate this plant is by using cuttings. It can be done year-round, but your plant will need a temperature between 59 degrees Fahrenheit to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can also propagate your umbrella plant by cutting a larger part of the stem from the plant and dividing it into pieces. The top part is the terminal cutting, which you will leave there. Remove the leaves from the rest of the stem and divide the stem into sections, with each section containing a dormant bud. The bud is where new leaves will develop, with roots emerging from the bottom.

To propagate using cuttings, choose a healthy shoot and cut it off just below the leaf node. It should be around ten centimeters long with three to five leaves at this point. Then you’ll need to remove the leaves closest to the bottom to reduce water loss through transpiration.

Remember that the more leaves you leave on your plant cutting, the more energy the cutting will need to dedicate to keeping those leaves alive. Since a plant cutting has less energy to spare than a full plant, you should make sure the plant is able to use all of its energy optimally.

After this, you can place the cuttings into a pot with potting soil suitable for cuttings, which includes soils that contain perlite or sand. You can also place the cuttings in a jar of water to be transplanted into the soil once they have developed roots.

If you choose to use water, make sure you change it out two to three times per week to produce the most water roots. Water roots are a bit more delicate than roots formed in soil, so you’ll need to be careful when you transplant them into the soil.

Cuttings can be propagated year-round, but you’ll need to keep your cuttings in high humidity, at a temp of around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water Propagation with Stem Cuttings

Propagating stem cuttings from an umbrella plant in water can be the simplest method of propagating because you can leave them alone for the most part, except for switching out the water as needed. Changing the water regularly prevents the decaying of leaves by introducing more oxygen back into the water.

Using water propagation for your umbrella plants is also a pretty gratifying process since you’ll be able to see the roots form and grow.

The first thing you’ll need to do is take as many cuttings as you want, using a pair of garden shears or pruners to cut off the tip of each branch. Make sure to sterilize your cutting tool before using it on your umbrella plants to avoid spreading any fungal infections from one plant to another.

If you want a single-stemmed umbrella plant, one cutting is enough, but if you prefer a bushier plant, you’ll want to use at least two or three cuttings placed into the same pot when it’s time for transplanting.

After you’ve clipped a few umbrella plant cuttings, you’ll want to strip off the lower leaves as needed to have around two to three inches or so of the stem bare to place in a vase or glass of water.

Then all you have left to do is place the pot with your cuttings in a warm, bright location and wait for rooting to start. The rooting process may take a few weeks to begin, with the new roots looking a bit unusual at first, like white bumpy stubs.

You should allow the roots to grow around one to two inches long before you transplant them into a pot with soil. When placing the cuttings into the soil, you’ll need to make sure you use pots with drainage holes in the bottom. Allowing water to sit at the bottom of the pot can lead to root rot in your plants.

propagating umbrella plants

Soil Propagation with Stem Cuttings

The easiest way to propagate your umbrella plants is through soil propagation using stem cuttings because you’ll be placing the cutting directly into the pot it’ll be growing in.

First, you’ll take the cuttings the same way we talked about in the previous section, but you won’t place them in any water this time. Instead, you’ll place your cuttings directly in a small pot with moist soil.

To speed up the rooting process, you can dip the cut ends of your umbrella plant stems in a rooting hormone before planting them into the soil. Make sure you’re using moist soil when inserting the umbrella plant cuttings into pots.

Another way to speed up the rooting process when propagating umbrella plants is to use a heating mat underneath the pot they’re in. The heat from the mat increases the soil’s temperature, which speeds up the rooting process.

Since maintaining moist soil is important when propagating umbrella plants, remember to check the top inch or so of your soil. If it feels dry, go ahead and water it.

This method makes knowing exactly when the roots started a challenge, but eventually, you’ll start to see new growth at the tip of the cuttings, which signals the cuttings have successfully rooted.

Air Layering

With the air layering method of propagating umbrella plants, you don’t have to make any cuts. Instead, you let a new plant begin rooting while it’s still attached to the mother plant. If you have an umbrella plant with woody stems, this method can be useful.

The process is a bit slower than with other methods, but it requires the least amount of attention and upkeep. You will need to remove any leaves from the stems you’ve chosen to propagate until you have a bare area around five inches long.

After you’ve removed the leaves, you’ll need to remove a thin outer layer of bark around the perimeter of the chosen stems, about half an inch tall or so. Once you’ve done this, you can dip the tips of the cut stems into a rooting hormone while dusting some of it on the exposed wound on the stem of the plant with a Q-tip.

The next step in the air-layering process of propagating umbrella plants is to let pre-moistened sphagnum moss soak in water for a few minutes, wringing out the excess water when it’s done soaking.

Use the moss to wrap the perimeter of the stem, and then use a clear plastic wrap to wrap around the moss completely. Make sure to secure the wrap at both ends using twine or twist ties.

It will take a few months for the roots to start to grow into the sphagnum moss, but thanks to the plastic wrap, you’ll be able to see the new roots once they begin to form.

After it has rooted, remove the plastic wrap and cut off the stem directly below where the new roots have formed. At this point, you can plant the cutting into well-drained soil.

Caring for Propagated Umbrella Plants

Now that you know how to propagate your umbrella plants, let’s talk about how to care for your propagated plant!

Once your cuttings have formed roots and begun to develop new leaves, it’s time to transplant them into pots. You’ll want to create a drainage layer in the pot before you add potting soil to prevent mold or mildew growth from water collected at the bottom of the pot.

Place your young umbrella plants in a warm, well-lit environment, gradually introducing them to more light rather than abruptly exposing them all at once. This prevents transplant shock, which can lead to plant death.

The humidity level should be kept high until plenty of leaves develop, and you should make sure to maintain moist soil. If the top inch or so of soil feels dry, your plant needs to be watered.

About three months after repotting your umbrella plants, you can start fertilizing them regularly. Light monthly applications of a diluted fertilizer are usually plenty for umbrella plants. Typically diluting the fertilizer to half the label’s recommendation is sufficient.

Required Tools

Luckily, the only tools needed for propagating umbrella plants are pruning shears or even just a pair of really sharp scissors. You should always make sure to clean your gardening tools with alcohol between uses to reduce the risk of spreading fungal disease from plant to plant.

propagating umbrella plant

Wrapping Up Propagating Umbrella Plants

Whether you prefer using the water propagation method, the soil method, or the air layering method, we hope we’ve shown you how easy it can be to propagate an umbrella plant!

For more information about different plants to liven up your living space, check out our post on the best indoor gardening plants to grow.