Propagating A Schefflera Plant: The Complete Guide

A Schefflera plant, commonly known as an umbrella tree, is a tropical plant that is typically grown as a houseplant indoors. If you’ve grown Schefflera, you might be familiar with its attractive umbrella-like leaf pattern and its easy care requirements. 

Schefflera actually refers to a genus of plants in the Araliaceae family. There are hundreds of species, but the ones you most likely will see as houseplants are the Schefflera actinophylla (umbrella or octopus tree) and the Schefflera arboricola (dwarf schefflera). 

Since they make such excellent houseplants, you may find yourself wanting more! Rather than heading to the nursery for a whole new plant, you may consider propagating, which will allow you to create new plants from seed or from a plant you already have at home.

There are three ways Schefflera can be propagated: seed planting, air layering, and cutting. Seed planting is as simple as planting and germinating a Schefflera seed. Air layering is the process of damaging a section of stem on your plant so that it develops roots on the plant. Cutting involves severing a stem from your existing Schefflera plant and then encouraging root growth in soil or water. This tutorial will cover these techniques and help you choose which is best for you.

Why We Love Propagating Schefflera

Propagation is the process of creating new Schefflera plants. Purchasing full-grown plants or seedlings may be easier or faster than propagating yourself, but it is not the most cost-effective.

The benefit of planting your Schefflera from seed is that you do not need to have access to a Schefflera plant like you would need for cutting and air layering. This can be a good starting point if you have never grown one before. 

Another benefit to growing from seed is it ensures your plant does not inherit any disease or problems from the parent plant. Diseases are relatively uncommon for indoor-grown Schefflera, so this may not be as much of a concern if that is your source.

The downside is that you will have to purchase seeds either from a garden store or online, and you cannot always guarantee good seed quality unless you buy from a reputable supplier. Additionally, you must be able to germinate your seeds, which sometimes can be tricky for even the most experienced gardeners. 

If you already have a Schefflera or know someone who does, air layering and cutting are options, and no purchase is necessary, other than the pot you will eventually put your new plant in. 

Both of these techniques ensure your new plant will be identical to the parent plant, which is fantastic if you love its characteristics. You will also get a larger plant right from the get-go, rather than waiting for a seedling to mature. 

For Schefflera, air layering and cutting are both viable options, though cutting may be the more common option as it is slightly less work. Read on for the step-by-step tutorials on these methods so you can decide for yourself which one you want to try. 

Propagating Schefflera From Seed

These are the steps you will follow to grow a Schefflera plant from seeds. When shopping for seeds, keep in mind that fresher seeds will have a higher germination rate.

Materials Needed

  • Schefflera seeds
  • Small seedling pot (around 4 inches) I like these because plastic covers are included. 
  • Ziplock bag or other plastic cover to maintain humidity
  • Regular potting mix


  1. Fill a small bowl with hot water and pre-soak your Schefflera seeds 12 hours prior to planting. This will increase your germination rate.
  2. Prepare your pot by filling it with your potting mix. Moisten the soil using a misting spray.
  3. Plant your seeds approximately one inch deep. Planting 2-3 seeds per pot increases the chances for successful germination.
  4. After seeds are planted, water the soil just enough to keep it moist, but not soaking.
  5. Cover the pots with the Ziplock bag or plastic cover to retain moisture. 
  6. Place the pots someplace where they can stay warm, about 75°- 85° F, but not in direct sunlight. You may use a seed germination heating pad.
  7. Check your seedlings every couple of weeks for sprouts. Germination takes 30-60 days. Once the seeds sprout and have their second set of leaves, remove the cover.
  8. Ensure your seedlings have access to plenty of sunlight. If you don’t have a spot near a window that gets plenty of light, you can use a grow light.

Propagating Schefflera by Air Layering

In general, air layering works best during spring or summer, though this is less important for Schefflera plants grown indoors. Air layering is a quick way to propagate your Schefflera tree, and many find success using this method. These steps will teach you how to do it. 

Materials Needed

  • A healthy Schefflera plant (a plant that is too young may not have enough foliage to recover from the removed stem)
  • A sharp cutting utensil (a knife like this one would work well)
  • Sphagnum moss (or a damp paper towel if not available)
  • Plastic wrap
  • Twist ties or tape
  • Rooting hormone (optional)


  1. Select a spot on the stem of your plant to make your new Schefflera. There should be leaves above and below the location you choose; the leaves below will ensure the continued survival of your parent plant and the leaves above will become part of the new plant. 
  2. Sanitize your cutting utensil with alcohol to prevent the introduction of disease.
  3. This may feel odd, but you will have to use your cutting utensil to damage your plant’s stem. Cut into one side of the stem, scraping away the outer layer until you have cut a section about halfway through the stem. Alternatively, you can cut and remove the outer layer of the stem in a circle that is about one inch wide. 
  4. If you are using rooting hormone, apply it to the wound before wrapping. Follow the instructions for the hormone you are using.
  5. Dampen your sphagnum moss or paper towel and wrap it around the wound, making sure you cover it completely. This is to keep the damaged area moist.
  6. Using your plastic wrap, completely cover the moss or paper towel, wrapping it tight enough so that moisture will not escape. 
  7. Secure the plastic wrap with either twist ties or tape.
  8. It usually takes 1-2 months for roots to grow from where you cut the plant. You can often see them growing through the plastic. Once a root forms, you can cut your new plant.
  9. Using your blade, cut your Schefflera stem below the damaged section and root. Now you can plant your new Schefflera in its own pot!

Can You Grow Schefflera From a Cutting?

Many Schefflera owners may wonder if they can grow new plants using cutting. The answer is: yes! Taking a cutting from a stem on your Schefflera plant is one way to propagate it. You may even use the scraps from pruning to create all new baby plants. Read on for the full Schefflera cutting tutorial.

Propagating Schefflera by Cutting

Materials Needed

  • A healthy Schefflera plant (a plant that is too young may not have enough foliage to recover from the removed stem)
  • A sharp cutting utensil
  • An appropriately sized pot for the new plant
  • Potting mix
  • Rooting hormone (optional)


  1. Choose the location where you will make the cutting on the plant. When cutting, it is best to choose a spot on the stem above a growth node. Ensure the stem diameter is at least as wide as a pencil.
  2. Sanitize your cutting utensil with alcohol to prevent the introduction of disease. 
  3. Cut the stem at a 45 angle, severing the stem from the plant. Make the cut as cleanly as possible to avoid unnecessary damage to the stem.
  4. To encourage growth below the cut, trim off the bottom leaves, but make sure you leave one full set.
  5. If you are using rooting hormone, apply it to the end of your cutting prior to planting.
  6. Prepare your pot with potting mix and make sure the soil is moist. Poke a hole in the soil to place your cutting into. 
  7. Your new stem is not able to properly transfer water to the leaves, so you may opt to cut your leaves in half to reduce the loss of moisture.
  8. Your cutting should have roots and be ready to transplant in 1-2 months. 

Tips for Successfully Propagating Schefflera

So, you’ve got your new Scheffler plant using one of the propagation methods mentioned above. The next question is: how do you keep it alive?

Sunlight is one of the most important factors. Your new plant should be placed somewhere out of direct light while you are waiting for roots. Even after the plant has rooted, indirect light is best.  

Moisture is also key. A deep watering of the soil, followed by enough time to let the soil dry out, is the best way to water Schefflera. This keeps the soil moist, but not too dry or too wet. 

Your plant also needs moisture in the air to encourage root growth. A clear plastic covering over your plant can help maintain humidity, but this is not needed once roots are established.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will Schefflera cuttings root in water?

Yes. Some plants will propagate when a cutting is placed in water, and Schefflera is one of them. Simply place your stem in clean water after the cutting is made. 

You can even place your stem in water or wrap it in a damp paper towel temporarily if you are not ready to plant it in soil right away. Keeping the plant moist is key. Technically Schefflera can live in water indefinitely, but this will likely stunt growth. After the stem puts out roots, plant it in soil.

Can you propagate Schefflera without rooting hormone?

While rooting hormone can help stimulate root growth, it is not necessary to achieve successful propagation. 

How will I know if my propagation is working?

When you tug gently on the stem of your new plant, encountering some resistance indicates that the roots are developing. If after two months, there are still no roots, it may be time to try again.

Can I take additional cuttings from my parent plant?

As long as your parent plant is disease-free, showing new growth, and still has plenty of leaves to continue growing, you can keep taking cuttings from it. 


If you love your Schefflera, propagation is an easy, cost-effective way to obtain more plants. You can choose to grow from seed, air layer, or grow from a cutting, depending on the method that works best for you. Regardless of how you decide to add Schefflera to your collection, you can enjoy these friendly houseplants for many years to come.