How To Propagate Schefflera In Water

Schefflera, or the dwarf umbrella tree is a flowering plant commonly grown inside. This houseplant has become popular due to its ability to withstand neglect and poor growing conditions. Growing new plants from cuttings allows you to keep your current plant going and can make great gifts. Did you know these plants can be propagated in soil or water? Today, we are going to use our research to break down the process of propagating Schefflera in water and talk about the care these plants require.

To propagate Schefflera in water, simply take a fresh cutting from your parent plant and place it in a glass of water. Place this glass of water with your cutting in a shady area of your home. Over the next weeks, you will begin to see roots developing. 

These are only the basics of propagating Schefflera in water, so we will go into further detail. Keep reading as we discuss if Schefflera can live in water, how long it takes for roots to appear, and the expected lifespan of these plants.

root of Schefflera arboricola or dwarf umbrella tree named and bottle of water, How To Propagate Schefflera In Water

How To Propagate Schefflera In Water

The main stem of a Schefflera cannot be divided, but you can successfully propagate this plant using cuttings. These cuttings need to include a small part of the large stem as well as a growth node. Use a sharp instrument such as a grafting knife or bypass pruners to get a clean slice on your cutting. Blunt scissors can end up damaging your cutting in this process.

Professional Sharp Pruners, Garden Pruners

Have a look at these bypass pruning shears here on Amazon.

The cutting should be about 4 inches (ca. 10 cm) — 6 inches (ca. 15 cm) in length and have a diameter similar to a pencil. Leave one complete leaf set on the stem and remove all other leaves.

You can place the cutting into a glass of clean water immediately. If you aren't prepared for an immediate transfer, wrap the end of your cutting in a damp paper towel secured with a rubber band. Never allow your cutting to dry out in this process.

Cutting with root of Schefflera arboricola

Keep your cutting out of direct sunlight and in an area with high humidity. These conditions will promote root growth. When new growth appears on top, you will know your plant is ready to be repotted.

How Long Does It Take Schefflera To Root In Water?

Once your cutting is in its glass of water, it is a waiting game for the roots. New roots and growth on top indicate it is time to rehome the plant, to promote even more growth. You can expect to start seeing roots about six weeks after the start of propagating. Soon after roots appear, new leaves will come up on top.  After two to three months, you should have a healthy new plant.

To speed up or promote rooting, you can apply root hormone to the end of your cutting before placing it in water. The rooting hormone stimulates prolific root branching and the development of fine root hairs. This substance can be used on the ends of your cuttings and again on the actual roots when it is time to transplant.

Amazon offers rooting hormone gel great for cuttings here.

Can Schefflera Live In Water?

Schefflera arboricola tree in bottle of water

Schefflera can live in water and will tolerate about 6 inches (ca. 15 cm) of water. If you have Schefflera outside, these plants do great in boggy soil and can be anchored with a few rocks. You can place these plants in a pond and have little to no plant care involved. Keep in mind that these plants can be invasive and have deep roots.

Having Schefflera inside, in just water, does come with some drawbacks. Keeping these plants in only water can stunt or slow their growth due to a lack of minerals. So, while these plants can live in water, it is not always ideal. Instead of keeping them in water, you can move them into individual pots with soil after rooting has started in water.

Read more on our blog post, “Does A Schefflera Plant Bloom?”

Common Issues When Propagating Schefflera

Woman hand holding cutting of Schefflera arboricola or dwarf umbrella tree named and water in bottle to put it into for rooting on wooden background

You can continue using cuttings to create new plants as long as your mother plant is healthy and thriving. Each time your original plant needs pruning is a chance to create new plants. Have you been attempting this propagating process unsuccessfully? There are some common problems with these plants to look out for.

One common issue is fungal infections related to too much moisture. Always check your mother plant for fungus or other pathogens before going forth with cuttings. To decrease the chance of rot or fungus taking over a cutting, you can try to keep the humidity high in the surrounding environment.

Even with no issues, propagating will not have a 100% success rate. Remove any dying or dead cuttings as soon as possible so they don't have the chance to affect your other, healthy specimens.

Does Schefflera Need Sunlight?

Schefflera actinophylla variegata with sunlight in summer

Schefflera is a flexible plant that can survive in varying conditions, but the sunlight requirement is one aspect that stays consistent. When you start the rooting process, you will want your cutting to be in a shady area. Once you transplant your rooted cuttings, they need light to survive, not direct light.

Schefflera thrives in conditions with indirect light. Bright, direct light can actually burn the leaves of this plant. On the other hand, not enough light will result in floppy or leggy branches. In the Summer, you can move your Schefflera outdoors to receive plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. A good option is to place them under a patio cover.

Read more on our blog post, “Why Is My Schefflera Losing Its Leaves?”

How Often Should You Water Schefflera?

Senior man watering schefflera arboricola houseplant

Overwatering is a common issue among Schefflera and can be fatal for these plants. Watering correctly is crucial to keeping your plant healthy and happy. The amount and timing of watering vary based on the size of your plant and pot, humidity and temperature of the environment, type of soil, and drainage.

The best way to water Schefflera is to allow the soil to dry out, then thoroughly soak the soil. It is better to slightly underwater this plant than to overwater.

On top of watering the soil, the leaves of Schefflera should be sprayed frequently during the growing season. You'll find that these plants require far less water during the winter months. Signs of too much water include yellowing leaves and leaf drops.

How Long Do Schefflera Plants Live?

root of Schefflera arboricola or dwarf umbrella tree named and bottle of water, How To Propagate Schefflera In Water

Schefflera plants are only hardy to USDA zone 10. In any other zones, these plants must be brought inside for most of the year and can be outside only during the warmest months. These plants just keep giving when you utilize the cuttings for new plants, but you also get to enjoy a long life with the original plant.

Schefflera living in optimal conditions can live up to 25 years. Keeping the plant indoors, in bright, indirect sunlight, and consistent watering will keep your plant alive for decades.

To ensure the good health and quality of your plant, keep an eye out for diseases and pests. Things to look out for include fungus gnats, scale infestation, leaf spot disease, and spider mites. Affected plants may exhibit yellowing or dying leaves, leaves with brown spots, weak branches, and other signs of decline.

Concluding Thoughts

Propagating Schefflera in water is simple and can be done over and over again using cuttings. Keeping your cuttings in water, in a shady area, and applying growth hormone promotes quick root growth. You can expect to have roots after six weeks and a full, healthy, new plant in 3-4 months.

Once established, these plants can live up to 25 years and will continue giving if you utilize the cuttings. One common issue throughout the life of Schefflera includes fungal issues. Keep up with correct watering and needed sunlight to keep your plant healthy. We hope you found this article helpful when it comes to propagating new Schefflera plants. Happy planting!

Are you looking for more inspiration when it comes to houseplants? Have a look through our blog post, “4 Houseplants That Don't Need Drainage [& How To Grow Any Plant With No Drainage]”


  1. I have a Schefflera that I received as a gift 40 years ago and it was about 2 feet tall when I received it. It is now about 8 feet and I really needed this info. Thank you!

  2. I have propagated my dwarf schefflera plant in water for about 6 weeks and new leaves have formed nicely but there are no new roots to the base of the stem. Can I still plant it into soil without the roots forming or how do I get roots to form.

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