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Schefflera - Growing Guide
Caring for Schefflera
Commonly known as ‘Umbrella Trees’ The concept of there being fully hardy species of schefflera would have been considered absurd even 10 years ago. Today schefflera are one of the big new talking points for gardeners who wish to experiment with these evergreen, palmate leaved trees as outstanding architectural plants.
At Caerhays we are now successfully growing six different species of schefflera, the tallest of which (S. taiwaniana) is now 20 years old and around 15ft tall. Schefflera pauciflora, S. alpina and S. macrophylla are well established after 10 years. S. delavayi and S. rhododendrifolia are more recent arrivals but all doing well.
At present Burncoose is only able to offer three schefflera for sale. However, we have seed trays and cuttings progressing in the propagating houses, and hope to offer more of these amazing, and newly introduced to cultivation, Vietnamese, Taiwanese and Chinese plants before too long.
We have grown all our schefflera species in sunny well sheltered glades where they have good wind protection. S. macrophylla especially has such gigantic leaves that wind damage is the first consideration. Older reference books maintain that you should grow them against a sunny south facing wall and some of the largest plants in Cornwall at Tregrehan and Tregye gardens started off planting schefflera in this manner. Today, providing they are well and securely staked in the early years, they seem perfectly happy as freestanding plants where they can show off their graceful architectural features to best effect.
How hardy are schefflera? There are now many instances where Schefflera taiwaniana has survived -10°C in the UK. Our S. alpina grows in a frost pocket and has been unscathed by cold easterly winds in the early spring. S. macrophylla coped perfectly well with the last cold winter in 2012. Wind protection seems more important than frost protection. Yes these are wonderful greenhouse plants if your greenhouse is large enough but, at least in milder UK counties, these are proving to be perfectly hardy outdoor trees.
The wonderful schefflera leaf forms in glades of magnolias or rhododendrons have captivated visitors here. There is little doubt that the new craze for growing schefflera has only just begun.
All the species grow here in well drained acidic soil. We have never planted them with additional dung, compost or fertiliser or any other special treatments. It is arguable that they grow so quickly anyway that enriching the soil further will encourage too much secondary and possibly weaker new growth late in the year when it could be vulnerable.
For the moment we leave you with pictures of the different schefflera species growing here which we hope to offer soon. You are allowed to covet them! The flowers and arrays of seed clusters are not bad either!