Cheflera: indoor or outdoor?

The cheflera is one of the typical plants that we can find in nurseries, and especially in greenhouses. It is usually labeled as a houseplant, so there are many of us who take it home to decorate the living room or bedroom.

However, to what extent is it true that you have to protect yourself inside the home? Can it be out? If you have doubts about where to place your plant, do not stop reading.

Indoor plants are those that, due to their tropical origin, need protection against the cold and especially against frost. But, really, all plant beings are from outside. Even so, sometimes in the nurseries you can find some that are labeled as “indoor” and, therefore, that are considered very delicate that in reality they are not so much, like the chef.

Origin and characteristics of the chef

Our protagonist is a shrub or evergreen tree depending on the species that reaches a maximum height of 30 meters native to Asia. It belongs to the genus Schefflera, which is made up of a dozen species, the best known being S. arboricola and S. actinophylla.

They develop palmate or finger-shaped leaves, rarely simple, dark green or variegated. The flowers have no ornamental value, they are tiny and grouped in clusters, and being greenish in color, they usually go unnoticed. The fruit is a small drupe with a diameter of less than 1 centimeter that turns blackish when ripe.

Schefflera actinophylla

Image – Flickr/ guzhengman

It is a tree native to the rainforests of Australia, and is known as the umbrella tree or octopus tree. It can reach a height of 15 meters, and its leaves are compound, green in color. It is generally kept as a tree, but in its habitat it tends to develop as a climber, growing leaning on other tall plants.

Its flowers are grouped in clusters of up to 2 meters, as they are inflorescences that contain up to 1000 small flowers.

Schefflera arboricola

Image – Wikimedia/ Mokkie

It is a shrub or evergreen tree that reaches a height of 3 to 6 meters, native to Taiwan and the island of Hainan in China. In habitat it can grow as a climber if it has trees nearby, but in cultivation it is kept as an isolated specimen, or it is planted in rows to make beautiful hedges.

Its leaves are palmate compound, formed by 7 to 9 green or variegated leaflets. And its flowers are grouped in clusters of about 20 centimeters.

What care do you need?

If you dare to have a copy, we recommend you take care of it as follows:


  • Exterior: it must be in full sun.
  • Interior: it must be put in a bright room, since its light needs are very high; In addition, it is necessary that there are no drafts, to prevent its leaves from burning.


They are plants that want water, but not in excess. If they are grown in pots, they must be watered 2-3 times a week in summer, and every 10-15 days the rest of the year; On the other hand, if they are kept in the garden, it is advisable to water them about 2 times a week in summer, less in winter.

When in doubt, it is always better not to water, as overwatering can rot its roots and, therefore, we could lose them. In fact, for this same reason they should not be planted in pots without holes or in poorly drained land.


From the beginning of spring to the end of summer, it is interesting to pay them, for example, with guano ( for sale here ) or with a universal fertilizer for plants, following the instructions specified on the package.


They don’t really need it, but they can be pruned in late winter to give them a more arboreal or bushy shape. For this, the dry, diseased branches and those that are weak are removed, and all the necessary ones are cut to give it the desired shape.

Don’t be afraid to over-prune: of course you should always try to avoid drastic pruning, but schefflera are very hardy, and they do well when pruned too much. But yes, disinfect the tools before and after use, because you know what they say: prevention is better than cure .

Planting or transplanting time

In spring, when the risk of frost has passed.

If you have it in a pot, transplant it to a larger one every 2-3 years.


The chefflera multiply by seeds and cuttings in spring-summer and even in autumn if the weather is mild:


The seeds will be sown in seedbeds with drainage holes, with specific soil ( for sale here ) or universal substrate, and ensuring that they are as far apart as possible. Then it will be watered and placed near a heat source, or outside in the sun if it is summer.

If all goes well, they will germinate in about 15 days.


To multiply it by cuttings, you have to cut a branch of about 30 centimeters, impregnate the base with homemade rooting agents and finally plant it in a pot with vermiculite that we will have previously watered. Then, it is placed outside, in semi-shade, and the substrate will be kept moist.

In about 1 month it will root.

Plagues and diseases

Image – Wikimedia/ Forest & Kim Starr

Chefflera are very resistant in general, but during the summer they can be affected especially by cottony mealybugs that are fought with a specific insecticide for sale here.

In the event that they are watered excessively, the fungi could damage them. To avoid this, it is necessary to control the waterings and, in the event that white or brown spots appear, or that the trunk begins to soften, it is necessary to treat with fungicide.


They resist weak frosts without problems, down to -2ºC, perhaps -3ºC if it is for a short time and is somewhat sheltered.

Is the chef’s kitchen indoor or outdoor?

Normally, it is kept as an indoor plant, but the truth is that whenever possible it is better to place it outside, either in a pot or directly in the garden. The cheflera is a very beautiful plant, which looks great in any corner, as long as it receives a lot of sunlight. It does not do well in semi-shade, although it can tolerate it if it is in direct sunlight for a minimum of five hours a day.

It is much more resistant to cold than is believed. It can withstand -2ºC without damage, so it is worth giving it a try.

Where to buy a chef’s plant?

You can get it from here:

Schefflera or cheflera (30…

€ 15.00

View deal

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