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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Schefflera bloom showcases array of berries

By Staff | Nov 4, 2015

The schefflera bloom offers an array of colored berries. PHOTO BY ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

Plant Subject: Dwarf Umbrella Tree (Schefflera arboricola) variegated

First impression: Buttery yellow and olive green patterned leaves. Their palmate shapes are numerous and waxy. Berries exploding from the shrub are in carnival shades of orange, red, black, and purple. Gosh, we have oodles of these tropical beauties catching the light and mimicking shade and sun. You can see these flowerless whorls of patterns and hues strutting their stuff at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: Schefflera includes a whopping 650 species of shrubs and trees originating from the Americas, Southeast Asia and Oceania. Our star is considered a houseplant to our northern visitors, but quite common in our gardens. Tender to cold, when it gets chilly, aka in the 30S, its leaves may turn black and drop off. No worries, once our temperatures begin to warm up, usually the next day new growth will appear. Our tropical temperatures give us lots of opportunity to admire its lovely leaves.

Our Dwarf Schefflera doesn’t invade our gardens like their larger cousin the Umbrella Tree, Schefflera actinophylla. I prefer the variegated leaf for movement and contrast, but our star also comes in a solid green leaf. Aboricola shrubs have a natural shape and should not be hedged and edged. Their leaves are their beauty and uniqueness, so shearing them diminishes their garden impact.

When they flower it is insignificant with a stem and teeny flowers. You may miss the flower, but not the fruit. Just look for an explosion of tropical berries that will add pizzazz to your gardens.

They can be planted alone or grouped together with a mature height varying from 8-12 feet. Easy to care for, they require good drainage and regular watering and are also happy in full sun, or shade.

Our Dwarfs Umbrellas throughout the gardens have been here many decades. They remain healthy, but every now and then attract mites or scales, which can be detected by the appearance of sooty mold. Sooty mold is the residue from the harmful insects, which is sticky and black and can be removed by hosing the leaves with a strong water spray. You can also combat chewing insects with a systemic product when applied to the roots of the plant is absorbed by the plants roots. Once the plant has absorbed the systemic, the plant becomes deadly to the targeted chewing insect, and only kills the chewing insect and no other beneficial insects. When you spray pesticides you are killing the good and bad bugs. Good bugs make your garden hummmmm.

Pros:

Year round show stopping dappled tropical leaves

Natural shape

Great for vases

Medium salt tolerant

Great for shady areas to add some light color

May not stop at just one

Noninvasive

Soft low growing hedge

Cons:

Not cold tolerant

Need to practice pronouncing ar-bor-ih-KOLE-uh

Occasionally treat for mites and scale

Nonnative.

Conclusion: We have oodles of eye catching light varying Aboricolas bursting with fruits that even Carmen Miranda would be proud to wear. So many choices, so little time aahh. Take all the time you need in our tropical eye catching garden.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!