Polyscias scutellaria, commonly known as the shield aralia or the umbrella tree, is a tropical plant native to Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. It belongs to the Araliaceae family and is popularly cultivated as an indoor ornamental plant for its attractive foliage and easy care.
Here is a care guide for Polyscias scutellaria:
1. Light: Shield aralia prefers bright, indirect light, but can tolerate some shade. Direct sunlight can cause leaf scorching, so it is best to avoid exposing the plant to direct sunlight.
2. Water: Shield aralia prefers evenly moist soil, but not soggy or waterlogged conditions. Water the plant when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, and avoid letting the soil completely dry out. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so make sure the pot has adequate drainage.
3. Humidity: Shield aralia prefers moderate to high humidity levels, which can be achieved by placing a humidifier near the plant, or by placing a tray of water near the plant and misting the leaves regularly.
4. Temperature: Shield aralia prefers warm temperatures between 18°C to 24°C, and can tolerate temperatures as low as 10°C. Avoid exposing the plant to cold drafts or sudden temperature changes.
5. Fertiliser: Shield aralia benefits from regular fertilisation during the growing season (spring and summer), using a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half-strength. Avoid fertilizing the plant during the winter months.
6. Pruning: Shield aralia can benefit from occasional pruning to maintain its shape and size, and to remove any dead or damaged foliage. Prune the plant in the spring or early summer, and avoid pruning during the winter months.
7. Propagation: Shield aralia can be propagated by stem cuttings taken in the spring or early summer. Dip the cuttings in rooting hormone and plant them in moist potting soil. Cover the pot with a plastic bag to create a humid environment, and keep the soil moist until new growth appears.
8. Pests and Diseases: Shield aralia is relatively pest and disease resistant, but can be susceptible to mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects. Check the plant regularly for any signs of infestation, and treat with an insecticidal soap or neem oil if necessary.
By following these care guidelines, you can help ensure that your Polyscias scutellaria plant thrives and remains healthy and attractive.