Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hardy Scheffleras

Schefflera delavayi in my garden

Schefflera delavayi and Schefflera macrophylla in Dan Hinkley's garden
     Some of the hottest plants around these days, at least for plant nerds, are the hardy scheffleras.  Scheffleras are plants we all know as usually sickly house plants,  but recently plant hunters have been coming back from Southeast Asia and China with some spectacular versions which are proving to be hardy in our climate.
     In the first picture above is one of my favorites of these--Schefflera delavayi.  I now have three of these in my garden, all from Sean Hogan at Cistus Nursery.  That is the only source I know of at the present for this plant, but I believe it will become increasingly available because there is a big demand for it and it is not that difficult to propagate.  I wouldn't be surprised to see it coming from Monrovia in the future, since Dan Hinkley is working with Monrovia and he has collected many scheffleras on his plant hunting trips, including S. delavayi.  I like S. delavayi because the leaves are very large and tropical looking, and the indumentum on the stems is very nice.  Also, the color of the new leaves as they put out new growth each year is very nice.
     I have grown this Schefflera in my garden now for more than 5 years--I don't remember exactly when I got it, but I have had it long enough to know something about how it grows.  This plant has never been damaged by the cold in the time I have grown it.  That fact is echoed by other people I have known who have it.   These scheffleras are in the aralia family and another plant in that family is Fatsia, which, as many of us know, can basically be cut down to the ground and will regrow.  I believe these scheffleras have that same property and I base that statement on the fact that one of my S. delavayis was growing near a bamboo clump which eventually overshadowed it and crowded it.  It was declining because of this so I moved it.  After the move, the trunk looked like it had died, but after several months, new shoots appeared from below ground and now the plant is doing just fine, except where it had only one trunk before, it now has three.  This is exactly the behavior I would have expected of a Fatsia.
     Also, like a Fatsia, these Scheffleras can be pruned to control their growth and to make them branch.  I have a Schefflera taiwaniana which Dan Hinkley gave me and right now it is very much a Dr. Seuss looking plant with a tall bare trunk and a little head of leaves on the top.  I intend to decapitate it to make it branch a little lower down.  This method may also allow me to root the portion I cut off and create a new plant!
     Speaking of Schefflera taiwaniana, last year Monrovia had a nice crop of 5 gal. plants  which were very full and nice, but their entire crop sold out almost immediately and they have none available this year.  This illustrates the pent up demand for these wonderful evergreen shrubs or small trees.  Never fear, however, because I have heard that they have more on the way.  Indeed, when I was last at Dan Hinckley's garden, he showed us various forms of S. taiwaniana which were distinguished by the markings on their leaves. Hopefully these will show up from Monrovia in the future.  More plants to look forward to!
     The second picture above is from Dan's garden and it shows a nice little grouping by the entrance to his house at Windcliff.  On the upper right is Schefflera delavayi and on the left with brownish new leaves is what I believe is Schefflera macrophylla.  Dan says it is not completely hardy, but it makes a good pot plant.  I do not know where this schefflera can be obtained in the U.S., but in the UK it can be had from Crug Farm.  If you want to see a mouthwatering list of Scheffleras, look at the offerings of Crug Farm.


  1. I've been a fan from afar of your beautiful garden for years and am very much enjoying your blog posts! Heidi at Dragonfly Farm Nursery still has S. tiwaniana for sale.


  2. You are killing me! Oh how I want a Schefflera delavayi, here's hoping my annual birthday gift certificate to Cistus (from the husband) comes through again this year.

    I was wondering why the big Monrovia S. taiwaniana "drop" never occurred, now I know it did...but I just never saw them in a nursery.

    I am consistently amazed at the different Scheffleras I see on English garden blogs, they've got a whole bunch of really cool ones over there!