I have an 8′ schefflura. I want to cut it down to around 3 or feet. How do I go about rooting from the trunk?
Thanks for your question about your houseplant.
Schefflera actinophylla and Schefflera arboricola (common name – Umbrella plant) are fairly similar except, S. actinophylla grows quite tall and can have leaves up to 10 inches growing from a central stalk, whereas the slightly shorter S. arboricola has 1-2″ tightly-clustered leaves.
There can also be many different cultivars.
For your purposes, pruning and care would be the same regardless of which variety you have.
The best time to prune is in early spring, as this will encourage new bushy growth during the growing season. You may also want to repot the plant and give it fresh potting soil and a good watering before or after pruning it. Pruning before repotting might be better as you can trim away some of the roots if the plant is very root bound. However, keeping the plant somewhat root bound will slow down its future growth.
Wear gloves, as the sap of umbrella plants have harmful calcium oxalate crystals. Also have a bag (preferably a paper bag that can be put in the compost) handy for the pruned stems.
Start by pruning the upper branches and any smaller trunks you want to get rid of (although it sounds like your plant may have a single trunk). If you want it to grow from the very bottom of the trunk, you can cut the plant back to about 6″ tall and one inch above a leaf node (where a stem/leaf would meet the main trunk). This drastic pruning will force the plant to grow from just below the 6″ trunk and put on more stems and bushier growth but it will be a slower growth.
However, if you want to keep the tree with a single trunk and have the trunk be about 3 or 4 feet tall, cut to the height you wish and just above the leaf node you wish to keep (preferably at a place where the emerging stem and leaves will grow outwards and upwards from the plant and not towards the middle of the plant).
Then put the plant in a spot away from heat vents and with bright indirect light (not direct sunlight). Bright light will keep it from getting leggy, as will rotating the plant every so often.
Prune regularly to keep the tree to the height you desire.