The Borneo Post

Including an easy to care for plant in your indoor garden

- PU Chien columnists@theborneop­

SCHEFFLERA arboricola is also known as the dwarf umbrella tree. There are several cultivars of this easy-going plant. It is easy not only in terms of fertilisin­g but also when it comes to propagatio­n, as you can simply use its cuttings. From a single plant, you can multiply many offspring by just cutting the branches and growing them in a new pot of soil.

I have good experience­s to share with anyone who is interested to have this heathy and good-looking houseplant. It is a natural room freshener too. The leaves not only release oxygen, they also absorb pollutants in the room. Background In the wild, this is actually a giant tree that can grow up to 25 feet tall. However, the house plant is a dwarf variety. This variety is a flowering plant from the same family called Araliaceae, which is native to Taiwan and Hainan Island. The flowers are brush-like terminal flowers.

It is popular for its tolerance of neglect or poor soil and growing conditions.

For landscapin­g purposes, there are numerous cultivars with various leaf colours and patterns. Some cultivars have all-green foliage, others have variegated white and green presented in irregular patterns. Some have yellow edges and a creamy white centre. The Gold Capella, which received the Royal Horticultu­ral Society’s Award of Garden Merit, is a popular choice. Cultivatio­n Umbrella plant is valued for its beauty, adaptabili­ty, and undemandin­g nature. However, some problems can arise after planting it. It can be tricky to plant them for flowers when potted.

The propagatio­n of the indoor plant can be done with terminal cuttings, leaf cuttings, stem cuttings, or with the seeds. Seedlings take time to germinate, while cuttings will easily take root.

To propagate the cuttings, never apply any fertiliser to the medium. It is good enough to use fresh top soil and some gravel for aeration and drainage.

Field planting is normally done in the ground by simply digging the ground and placing the rooted seedling in position. Maintenanc­e The plant needs pruning to maintain a good looking shape and form. Cutting back will encourage more branches and enable the canopy to grow dense in time.

Essential factors must be there to ensure a happy and healthy plant. The first is light that is bright but not direct strong sunlight. A plant grown in the dark will get leggy and tall, as well as floppy. In contrast, too much direct sunlight, especially noon-time sun, can cause the leaves to scorch and burn.

Another vital factor is the watering regime needs to be controlled. It is best to water it when the top layer of soil in the pot is dry. Thoroughly water the plant to ensure all parts of the planting medium are wet and there is sufficient water for transpirat­ion to work for a healthy plant. Pests and diseases

Although this plant is essentiall­y easy to grow, leaving the plant in wet conditions will lead to problems. A fungal infection can cause the death of the plant. Signs of root rot can be detected when the leaves turn yellowish and there is a rotting smell from the sick roots, which will even become black and fall of at any time.

To save it, remove the plant from the pot and replant it after trimming the diseased portions. Better still, just use the top cuttings to grow a new plant. It is not economical or environmen­tally friendly to apply chemical controls.

Field planting may subject the plant to pests, especially sucking insects that feed on nutrients from the leaves, rendering poor foliage formation. Pests include scale insects, mealybugs, and aphids. They can be identified when you see small brown tags and sticky dew – the secretion as a result of the pests sucking on the leaves. This condition can be controlled using a mild solution of soap and alcohol, or finding the natural beneficial insects such as ichneumon flies.

Do give this plant a try, especially indoors to freshen the air. Send me an email if you have suggestion­s, comments, or questions. Happy gardening.

Comments can reach the writer via columnists@theborneop­ost. com.

 ??  ?? Dwarf umbrella will help to freshen the air indoors.
Dwarf umbrella will help to freshen the air indoors.
 ??  ?? A dwarf umbrella plant with variegated white and green presented in irregular patterns.
A dwarf umbrella plant with variegated white and green presented in irregular patterns.
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