Drawf Shefflera

Jessf

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Dwarf Schefflera

10 years of training on this one. It's been left to grow wild for the past 2 seasons. This weekend I pruned the top and changed out the soil. A few more years in the growing pot and it might make it to the bonsai pot to begin ramification. I got my first bonsai tools from Lee Valley. What a difference sharp tools makes. Angle and concaved knob cutters work beautifully.








The scheff is growing over an old piece of driftwood. The roots have found many crevasses in the wood and is well stuck. The Wood has become a bit punky in a few spots, and i fear it may completely rot away. Although I've covered the driftwood in the final picture, I may repot it a bit higher and expose the driftwood now to protect it from further rot. I'll need to let the driftwood dry then treat it with some wood hardener.

I've discovered that if I defoliate the scheff as I have, then leave it in full sun for the summer, the leaves harden off at around 1.75 to 2" in diameter which is a nice size for this scale on bonsai. Once the tree is brought back inside larger leaves will want to grow but can be pinched away.
 
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Jessf

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I can't seem to get the tree to throw air roots. One common feature among many of the banyan style scheffs I've seen. Being in Ontario Canada, the summers are short and the winters long. I can't seem to get enough humidity to keep the air roots alive until they hit the ground. I'm thinking the tree doesn't need air roots. but I don't know.

any ideas?
 

Mike423

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I'm not sure about the growing condition for tropicals are in Canada nor Have experience with Shefflera's, but there is always a way. It all depends on how much air roots are worth it to you. If you really wanted to you could probably do a sort of air layering by marking the bark where desired and placing rooting hormone. the when the roots have grown long enough you could try to guide them into the soil. Never done this myself but have seen others who have done this with Ficus species which also readily throw out air roots. I'm sure there are some people here who can point you in the right direction on how to preform this technique if that is an option for you.

-Mike
 

Jessf

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hey that's a good idea. I was thinking I could bury the tree up to the bottom of the first branch, cut the underside and apply rooting hormone.

the other alternative burring the whole thing is to make a column of soil by cutting both ends off a 500ml water bottle and wedging it between the existing soil line and the underside of the first branch.
 

Joedes3

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You could also put spaghnum moss around the base of the plant. The roots will grow wild at that point.
 

Mike423

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You could also use a piece of clear plastic wrap to wrap around the place you would like to make roots and stuffing it tight with sphagnum peat moss inside. That's The method that works best for me when air layering.The moss holds moisture well needing very little if any watering. Another plus side is since the plastic wrap is clear you can see when a good amount of roots begin to grow. if you use this method just be sure the plastic is wrapped tight and there are no empty pockets on the inside. If you are interest there's a video showing this being done by Graham Potter on youtube.
 

Jessf

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You could also use a piece of clear plastic wrap to wrap around the place you would like to make roots and stuffing it tight with sphagnum peat moss inside. That's The method that works best for me when air layering.The moss holds moisture well needing very little if any watering. Another plus side is since the plastic wrap is clear you can see when a good amount of roots begin to grow. if you use this method just be sure the plastic is wrapped tight and there are no empty pockets on the inside. If you are interest there's a video showing this being done by Graham Potter on youtube.

I've seen Mr Potter's videos...all of them lol.

It's what brought bonsai from the back of my mind to the front, hence, joining the forum lol.
 
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The tree doesn't need aereal roots, but if you want them, you can get the neccessary humidity by enclosing the tree in a plastic bag. If the tree is outside, keep it out of direct sun, or the tree will cook in the bag. I have used this with my shefflera even indoors in winter to encourage the roots. Some of the other approaches mentioned using sphagnum moss may work better to induce rooting in specific locations, but I have not tried them.
Oliver
 

Jessf

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I'll give the Spagnum mose a try. I did the bag method when the tree was younger, one of those clear leaf bags. The container it's in now is 16" by 16" and I'm not sure I'd find a bag large enough. I could make one from 4mill poly, but I think the spagnum is my best bet.
 
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Poblem lies with your location, and lack of humidity. Shefflera do not need ariel roots, but they do look cool. What kind of soil have you potted it in??? It looks to me like it would retain almost to much moisture at the roots. The trick about ariel roots is that the tree itself needs to be in well draining soil, (roots rot extremely fast with excess moisture) but the humidity in the air, on the trunk and leaves is what sends out the arials roots. Spagnum moss would work, but takes alot of time, and be carefull not to keep it to wet, will start to rot the trunk. Another way is to set up a misting system with drip irrigation, or mist by hand, and possibly use a humidity tray. You could also send it to me down here in florida for a while and I'll send up my japanese maples that burn to easy in the sun. Grass is always greener on the other side...
 
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Oh, also check out the hawaiian's and their Shefflera's at FUKUBONSAI.COM
They have some good info as well as plants
 

Jessf

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Thanks for the tips. I've perused the fukubonsai site for several years now, it's helped me a great deal with this scheff.

As for the soil, it's regular tropical potting mix from a local nursery, nothing special. For me, things like soil need to hold moisture and be maintenance free because I can't be there to water or mist everyday. Most of my methods over the past 10 years are what you might call, "bonsai by proxy"

I've added some perlite this year to the soil mix to help with drainage.

Do you think if I went to a more bonsai appropriate soil I might see faster growth overall, or just finer root development?
 
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see these type of plant will literally grow on a rock, over a rock, take over the rock, etc. You need to take it out of the deep pot and start trying to ease it into a very shallow pot. 3" deep or shallower, what happens is the roots with a little bit of exposure will start to thicken real quick, when they start recieving more oxygen, which in turn will make the plant grow faster. The soil needs to dry out a little between waterings, that is why, was wondering what soil was used, see here they are grown as yard plants very well in our very sandy soil. There is a lot of moisture in the air and it rains often, but with the sun drys the soil extremely quick, then the rest of the time it sucks alot of moisture out of the air, this is what you are trying to duplicate. So shallow pot to help dry soil, bonsai soil would help, ease up on watering. This is a type of plant that could very well go almost the week where you live without watering. Try extending watering dates, by a day, for a while and see how it does. And lastly either buy a tub, tray, something that will hold water, add some peagravel, and sit your whole plant in its pot on top of it. Make sure the water in the tray is maintained, usually when you water the tree it will drain into the tray, keeping it full. As the water evaporates the tree will suck the moisture in through its leaves and branckes which will help with areil roots as well. The whole idea is to give the tree enough water that it suvives, which will be less and les as it starts sucking moisture out of the air.
 
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also, one other thing... I would very careful with the extreme cutting back of the tree, first thing is they die back rather far as you will soon be finding out, and also start sending out new growth in rather undesired locations. This kind of tree you cut in small incriments throughout the year. Also, alot of the pictures of the trees you are looking at, and trying to duplicate are rather large!!! They are typilically a large bonsai 2 to 3 feet high if not more often...
 

Jessf

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Thanks again for the info. I went over to take a look at the tree. There will be some die back of the smaller branches, but the larger one's are looking fine with some small little buds forming already. I bought a bag of spagnum on the way over and wrapped the trunk with it, then wrapped the whole thing with saran.

I'll leave it like that for 2 years, see what happens.
 

Jessf

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how is your Shefflera doing

actually it's doing really well. no die back at all. there were a few areas where the green turned slightly yellow but as can be seen in the photo, buds-o-plenty.

I think I'll keep it is the tropical potting mix until it's ready for the bonsai pot. It's been working well for the past 10 years, see no reason to change now.
 
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tree is looking good... and I am glad you didn't have any serious die-back, keep us updated...
 

007

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I used to live in Detroit and I managed to get my Schefflera to throw aerial roots quite regularly. It wasn't getting the aerial roots to form, it was getting them to survive. I finally learned a trick from somewhere that did the job nicely.

First, to get aerial roots to sprout, as previously mentioned, you need a fast draining soil mix. The tree won't throw aerials if its in damp/wet soil . . . it doesn't need to since its getting all it needs from the soil. I use a coarse lava, turface mix for my schefflera and I let the thing get bone dry between waterings. I also place the tree over a large bucket of water to amp up the humidity around the tree . . . in Ontario, I know it gets both hot and humid there in the summer, so you should have no trouble getting the roots to form. I tried the "nick the bark on a branch" trick with no success. I also tried the sphagnum moss and got nothing but algae, rot, and a general mess.

Now comes the trick to get them to survive! Drinking straws. Once the aerial root has formed, cut a non-clear drinking straw to height, GENTLY slip the root tip into the straw, and put the other end into the soil. Done. Not only can you then place it where you want it to go, it also acts as a humidity trap for the root. Once the root is into the soil, just carefully cut away the straw with a sharp razor blade. You can also try to slip it off the bottom, but I lost a few roots that way (they snapped when I had to bend them to angle the straw away from the soil).

Good luck!

P.S. I'd get rid of the sphagnum. In my experience with Schefflera, any moisture retained against the bark will rot it through in no time.
 

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