Schefflera is a plant commonly found in houses, apartments and offices. It is appreciated for the beauty of its foliage and its great ease of care.
- Short background facts about schefflera
- Caring for schefflera
- Pruning schefflera
- Diseases or mistakes made while growing schefflera
- Watering schefflera
- Propagating and multiplying schefflera
- Smart tip about schefflera
- Schefflera Amate Care and Growing Tips
- Additional Tips for Growing Schefflera Amate Care
- Why are some leaves on my Schefflera turning yellow and falling off?
- Dwarf Schefflera Arboricola / Umbrella Tree Care
- Schefflera Umbrella Plant Propagation – How To
- Umbrella Schefflera Pest or Diseases
- Suggested Schefflera Arboricola Uses
- Umbrella Plant Care
- Pro Tips
- Schefflera Care – Information On The Schefflera Houseplant
- Schefflera Plant Care Instructions
- Schefflera Houseplant Pests and Diseases
Summary of Shefflera facts
Name – Schefflera arboricola
Family – Araliaceae
Type – indoor plant
Height – 10 feet (3 meters) indoors, 100 feet (30 meters) in its native environment
Soil – indoor plant soil mix
Exposure – bright light but no direct sunlight
Foliage – evergreen
Care, pruning, watering and treatment, follow this advice to grow a beautiful schefflera and avoid having it fall sick.
Short background facts about schefflera
It is appreciated for its aesthetic appeal but also for its highly adaptive survival traits that let it thrive in the most varied settings of our homes, apartments and offices.
It is also often present in office spaces because of its care-free growing and capacity to survive being ignored.
Caring for schefflera
Schefflera is quite tolerant as regards exposure, watering and temperature levels of where it stands.
Indeed, it does just great in a room where temperatures might range from 55 to 72°F (12 to 22°C). Best still to avoid brutal temperature shifts.
- It must be set in a luminous room but cannot be exposed to sunlight.
- It can tolerate veiled light but dotes most on bright light.
- Watering is needed when the soil is dry, but not abundantly and preferably with water at room temperature.
- Lastly, avoid moving it too often, since this tree needs time to adjust to its new setting.
Every 2 or 3 years, you must repot your schefflera.
- Refer to our guidelines on how to repot your schefflera.
It is important to prune schefflera stems for it to branch out.
This means pinching the tip of the main stem so that new lateral shoots may develop.
- You can renew this step several times.
Diseases or mistakes made while growing schefflera
Schefflera losing its leaves
Quite common for schefflera, this is normal as long as leaf loss is regular and not too many are falling.
In case of leaf loss, check that it is well watered, and eventually proceed to topdress the pot.
- This may also be connected to a change of pots or of place.
- It may also lack light, in which case you must provide more light to it.
It should quickly bounce back more vigorous than ever.
Schefflera leaves turn yellow
This is often caused by a mite attack.
- Simply treat it with organic mite killer sold in horticulture stores.
- Avoid other chemical products, especially for an indoor plant.
White powder appears on leaves which get all sticky
This is usually due to mealybugs or scale insects.
- Read how to rid your schefflera of scale insects
Consequently, water on average once a week.
If the air indoors is quite dry or if it is summertime, it’s possible to water more often, but always wait for the soil to have dried up in the surface layer.
Of course, in winter or if surrounding moisture levels are high, you may space the watering somewhat.
Feel free to mist the leaves on a regular basis, this will increase leafage quality and keep the leaves from drying up.
Propagating and multiplying schefflera
How to prepare schefflera cuttings
- Snip pieces of woody stems about 4 to 6 inches long and remove leaves (mark which side goes “up”).
- In a pot of moist soil mix, make a hole with a finger or pencil and slide the bottom of the stems in.
- Keep the soil mix moist but not waterlogged.
- Roots should sprout within a few weeks
- Leaf buds should form at junctions where you removed the leaves from earlier, within a month.
Cuttings is a sure way to replicate your favorite schefflera.
This is especially relevant if you want to keep mutations such as the particularly variegated schefflera, shown below.
Variegated schefflera plants require more sun than the more conventional, green varieties.
Smart tip about schefflera
With a pot or garden box and regular topdressing, your schefflera can grow to reach a magnificent 6 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) tall!
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Dreamy schefflera by Dave Hosford under © CC BY 2.0
Schefflera leaf by Маргарита Харитонова under license
Well-watered schefflera leaf by abubibolabu under license
Schefflera cuttings by Marcel Hoyer under © CC BY-NC 2.0
Schefflera, variegated by Светлана Гурьева under license
It’s hard not to love a plant with glossy eye-catching foliage and a stunning form; oh yes it is. I’ve grown plenty of the schefflera plants for years (there are quite a few of them on the market now) but this is my favorite. I want to share these Schefflera Amate care and growing tips so your home can have some wild and wonderful tropical vibes.
Most houseplants are native to the tropics or subtropics and the Amate is no different. What sets it apart and kicks it up a notch is the abundance of large leaves. I find this plant, commonly called an Umbrella Tree, easy to care for (even here in the Arizona desert where I live) and I think you will too.
Schefflera Amate Care and Growing Tips
I’ve done a previous post and video on Schefflera Amate care but that was a few years ago. Blogging style changes over the years, just like anything, and I wanted to do a more in depth care post on this fabulous plant I love for many reasons.
The Schefflera Amate has a beautiful, rounded form. It’ll develop into a tree form as it ages but you can pinch it back to prevent that. It takes up a piece of real estate in your home because it grows a bit wider as it grows tall. If you’re tight on space, be sure to check up the Dracaena Lisa because it grows in a much more narrow form.
This plant grows to around 10′. When grown outdoors, it can get taller. I bought mine in a 10″ pot which was around 4′ tall but I’ve also seen them in 6″, 8″ & 14″ pots.
The Schefflera Amate grows moderate to fast indoors. Outdoors it grows fast.
My Amate lookin’ good on the side patio for the filming. It’s in a 10″ pot now & I’ll transplant it into a 14″ one next spring.
Medium light is best. For instance, mine sits in a north facing window where it gets natural light all day long. Remember, I live in Tucson AZ where we get A LOT of sun all year long. An east or south exposure might be better for yours depending on where you live.
High light is fine too as long as it’s not in or close to a hot, sunny window. It’ll tolerate lower light but just know it won’t grow as fast, the shape won’t be as good, & the leaves might droop a bit.
I rotate my plant every 3 months so it gets light on both sides. Otherwise, your Schefflera will start to lean towards the light source & grow in a 1-sided way. If you live in a climate where winters are darker, you may have to move your plant to a spot with stronger light for a few months.
Like most houseplants, this 1 doesn’t like to be kept consistently moist. Overwatering will lead to root rot & then leaf spot & perhaps powdery mildew. I water mine thoroughly every 7 days here in this hot climate. In winter I back it off to every 9-14 days depending on the weather.
If you have any questions on how often to water your houseplants, this post called houseplant watering 101 will help out.
As I always say, if your home is comfortable for you, it’ll be so for your houseplants too. Just be sure to keep your Schefflera away from any cold drafts & air conditioning or heating vents.
It’ll take temps down to 30F when grown outdoors.
Oh, that fabulous foliage. And look Ma, no brown tips!
Scheffleras are native to the subtropical & tropical rainforests. That being said, they do just fine in our homes which tend to have dry air. Here in hot dry Tucson, mine doesn’t have any brown tips at all which you can see in the pic above.
If you think yours looks stressed due to lack of humidity, fill the saucer with pebbles & water. Put the plant on the pebbles but make sure the drain holes &/or the bottom of the pot aren’t submerged in water. Misting a few times a week would also be appreciated.
I don’t fertilize mine but that might change soon because I’m experimenting with a concoction. I’ll let you know. Right now I give my houseplants a light application of worm compost with a light layer of compost over that every spring. Easy does it – 1/4 to 1/2″ of each for a larger sized houseplant. Read about my worm compost/compost feeding right here.
Liquid kelp or fish emulsion would work fine too as well as a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer (5-5-5 or lower) if you have that. Dilute any of these to half strength & apply in spring. If for some reason you think your Amate needs another application, do it again in summer.
You don’t want to fertilize houseplants in late fall or winter because that’s their time for rest. Don’t over fertilize your Schefflera Amate because salts build up & can burn the roots of the plant. Avoid fertilizing a houseplant which is stressed, ie. bone dry or soaking wet.
Any good quality preferably organic potting soil is fine. Just be sure it’s formulated for houseplants which it’ll say on the bag. I now use Smart Naturals by Fox Farm. It has lots of good stuff in it.
I always have coco coir on hand & add that in with the potting soil in a ratio of 1:3(ps). Growers love coco coir as a growing medium because it holds water well yet still provides good drainage & aeration. It’s much more environmentally friendly than peat moss which is considered to be a non-renewable resource but has all the same properties.
Me hanging out in the Amate forest at Santa Ynez Gardens, a wholesale nursery where we took most of the pics for our houseplant care book Keep Your Houseplants Alive.
Repotting / Transplanting
This is best done in spring or summer; early fall is fine if you’re in a warm climate. The faster your plant is growing, the sooner it’ll need repotting. I wouldn’t keep a Schefflera Amate too tight in its pot like some other houseplants.
I can see the fine roots in the drain holes of grow pot of mine. I’ll repot it in early spring into a 14″ pot. It’s in a 10″ pot now & I’ll skip the 12″ pot & go straight to 14″. You can do that with this plant.
The main reasons to prune this plant are for propagation &/or to control the size. Mine grows in the bedroom where the ceilings are 9′ tall. I’ll tip prune it when my Schefflera is around 7 1/2′ to 8′ tall. I show you how I’ll do it in the video.
Just make sure your pruners are clean & sharp before you do any pruning.
I imagine you can propagate this plant by tip cuttings (please let us know if you have) but I’ve never tried it.
The preferred method which has worked for me is air layering. I did this successfully on a Schefflera pueckleri or Tupidanthus which is a close relative of the Amate. I’m air layering 1 of my Ficus elasticas so that video & post will be coming up soon.
Just like transplanting, this is best done in spring or summer.
09 Here’s the variegated version of the schefflera I air layered. This is Schefflera pueckleri “variegata” or Variegated Tupidanthus. I haven’t seen this snazzy plant to often & wanted to share it with you.
Mine have never gotten any. When I was an interior plantscaper, all the Scheffleras were prone to spider mites, mealy bugs, scale & thrips. This was especially true when the heat came on in offices as the temps outdoors cooled.
The Amate has been bred to be more resistant to spider mites – more on that in “Good To Know”. Click on the links above & you’ll be able to identify the pests & take action if need be.
There is nothing specific about the Amate & toxicity. Because other Scheffleras are considered to be toxic to dogs & cats, I’d make a bet this 1 is too. I always refer to the ASPCA website for this info & you can read about the effects this plant has on pets here.
I’ve done a post on toxicity & houseplants plus safe choices for pets which might interest you.
Additional Tips for Growing Schefflera Amate Care
The Schefflera Amate is a selection of the OG Schefflera actinophylla. In a nutshell, the Amate is bred (via tissue culture not seed) to be better than the original. The form is better, it has a stronger root system, & is more resistant to spider mites & leaf spot. Head’s up – it’s more resistant to spider mites but not immune. Check your plant every now & then to make sure it hasn’t be invaded.
This plant needs room to spread out & be its gorgeous self. If you’re tight on space, look for another houseplant.
The Amate tolerates lower light conditions but does much better & looks much better in medium light.
Don’t over water your Schefflera Amate. It could bring on the dreaded leaf spot.
A leaf or 2 falling off every now & then is normal. That being said, green leaves falling off is due to the light conditions being too low.
Leaves spotted with or falling off black/dark brown is due to too much water.
Yellow leaves can be due to quite a few causes. The most common are: too dry, too wet or spider mites.
Don’t be tempted to use any commercial leaf shines to make those glossy leaves even glossier. You don’t want to clog the pores because the leaves need to breathe. I use a damp soft cloth to clean my houseplants with large leaves.
2 Scheffleras arboricolas, 1 variegated. A very popular houseplant which stays smaller than the Amate.
I really like Schefflera Amates and fortunately for you, they’re pretty easy to find. To learn more about other fabulous houseplants be sure to check out my book Keep Your Houseplants Alive. I’ll do a post on this plant’s smaller relative, the Schefflera arboricola (Dwarf Schefflera), within the next 6 months. So many houseplants … so little room!
Why are some leaves on my Schefflera turning yellow and falling off?
I’ve got good news for you! This is totally normal and your plant looks healthy and your watering practice sounds very right. 3 weeks? You must have trained your plant to be drought tolerant by watering only when necessary. The roots have gone deep and are able to reach the last drops of moisture available!
Leaves die off periodically until the entire plant dies. Normal and healthy. Just cut them off as soon as you see a leaf that is starting to be cut off by the plant itself…mainly because of old age and/or bad positioning to get light. The sooner you help your plant prune itself more energy is available for the entire plant. All plants that have leaves not able to produce enough food and costing the plant more in energy to maintain than the energy made, will expend a bit of energy to cause abscission, cutting the leaf or branch off from water and chemicals and allowing the non or low productive leaves or branches to drop.
When we humans remove top soil and organics or even denude forests of long term existing vegetation and when we want to put plants in pots we humans have to add certain chemicals plants need so they are able to make their food through photosynthesis. Less is far better than more. Just a wee bit too much and one can quickly kill plants. Fertilizer IS NOT FOOD.
I prefer Osmocote for newbie gardeners and indoor plants. Extended release, 14-14-14 will pretty much last half a year. Great for foliage as well as flowers/reproductive stuff. I’d buy bottled water for indoor plants as our tap water is full of ‘salts’, fluoride, chlorine…on and on (shouldn’t be drinking tap water yourself, unless you are on a well). You’ll start seeing browning of the leaf tips and margins. Always use potting soil for potted plants. Seriously a big deal. Your instincts sound very good!
One other detail, if you want your plant to get more branching you need to cut the ‘apical’ or ‘terminal’ bud off. The very very end of a branch or at the top of the main branch at the top of the plant. Most of the energy in a branch of a plant is in that bud. When one cuts that off (called heading) that energy is then redirected to all the lateral buds down that branch. This is what one does for shrubs and hedges. This is not what one normally wants to do with trees unless one wants a bush on a stick.
The Schefflera arboricola or dwarf umbrella tree is a broad-leaved evergreen shrub belonging to the family Araliaceae and hailing from Taiwan and Hainan.
The plant’s genus name honors Polish, 19th-century botanist, Jacob Christoph Scheffler. The specific epithet, arboricola, is derived from the Latin and means tree-like.
Common names for this plant include:
- Hawaiian Umbrella Tree Plant
- Dwarf Hawaiian Schefflera
- Dwarf Umbrella Tree
- Australian Ivy Palm
- Dwarf Schefflera plant
- Umbrella Plant
- Octopus Tree
- Parasol plant
When colorful annuals make their way into garden centers, spring foliage indoor plants like the Hawaiian umbrella tree plant – Schefflera Arboricola, arrive as well!
In most garden centers you’ll find arboricola in the regular “mix” of tropical plants filling out many of the spring indoor house plant assortments.
Schefflera arboricola is the “dwarf” cousin to the old time umbrella plant – Schefflera actinophylla.
You’ll find quite a few arboricola varieties in most garden centers or nurseries.
Below are some of Dwarf Hawaiian variegated Schefflera varieties commonly found today:
- Arboricola – regular green variety
- Renate Green variety that has more ripple to the leaves
- ‘Gold Capella’ variegated green, gold or yellow leaves
- ‘Trinette’ variegated cream and green leaves
- ‘Dazzle’ variegated some leaves almost completely creamy white
New Schefflera arboricola cultivars are introduced each year.
Schefflera variegated Arboricola growing as a bush in Terra Cotta “vase” an interesting look. Outside St Johns Town Center Jacksonville, Florida Oct 2016
Dwarf Schefflera Arboricola / Umbrella Tree Care
Size & Growth Of The Tree That Looks Like An Umbrella
When grown in its native climate, these dwarf trees can actually grow to reach 10’ to 15’ feet tall.
When growing in the wild, dwarf Hawaiian Schefflera arboricola trees also grow as epiphytes with aerial roots on the bark of other trees.
When kept as a houseplant, the arboricola tree usually tops out at about 5’ – 6’ feet fall. Three feet high is more typical.
During the summertime, the Schefflera plant produces very small red flowers that grow on compound panicles.
These transition into rounded, orange or red drupes which turn black as they mature.
Flowering is common on umbrella plants outdoors in the ground. Dwarf umbrellas kept indoors seldom flower.
The oblong leaves of the umbrella tree may grow to be 4’ to 6’ inches long individually.
The leaves grow in round clusters of 7 to 9 individual leaflets, arranged in a circular fashion that mimics the spokes of an umbrella.
Light & Temperature
Dwarf Schefflera is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 12.
The Schefflera arboricola can adapt to a wide variety of light levels but prefers a bright light intensity if possible especially the variegated varieties – ‘Gold Capella’ & ‘Trinette plants’.
When grown outdoors, dwarf Hawaiian Schefflera plants should be placed in a sheltered location with bright indirect light and partial shade.
Outdoors, Dwarf arboricola trees can tolerate full sun but will do better with protection from harsh punishing midday and afternoon sun.
The Umbrella Plant cannot tolerate being outdoors in cold winter weather and should be kept as a houseplant during this time.
In the summertime, you can move your container plants outside to a sheltered location with bright, partial shade.
As a houseplant, the umbrella plant is well-placed in a southern, western or eastern window receiving curtain-filtered light for three or four hours daily.
Avoid direct sun exposure for the schefflera houseplant.
When kept indoors, take care not to allow the temperature surrounding the plant to drop lower than 55° degrees Fahrenheit throughout the wintertime.
Keep humidity high surrounding the plant by misting the foliage and by setting the container on a tray containing wet pebbles.
Potted green Schefflera Arboricola at Disney World Animal Kingdom, 2019
Watering & Feeding
Hawaiian umbrella trees have an extensive root system and as mentioned even grow climbing a tree. They also seek water when grown outside.
As with most plants grown as a house plant indoors, dwarf tree Schefflera arboricola does not like to sit in water.
Avoid letting the arboricola bush sit in a saucer of water! Dwarf Scheff’s like moist soil but not wet. Wet soil promotes disease.
During the growing season (Spring and Summer), keep your Dwarf Hawaiian Schefflera well watered, but avoid overwatering.
Water deeply and then allow the soil to almost dry out before watering again.
From late in the autumn until early in the spring, you should reduce watering.
Fertilizer is optional, but giving the plant a half dose of a water-soluble fertilizer once per month during the growing season helps maintain color.
Soil & Transplanting
In all climates, the umbrella plant does well as a container plant. When used as a houseplant, provide high humidity and a well-drained potting mix with extra peat moss.
Repot in the springtime if the plant is rootbound. Do not fertilize for several weeks after repotting. With fresh soil, your Schefflera will not need fertilizer.
Grooming & Maintenance
Houseplants collect dust on their leaves and the arboricola bush is no different. Clean the leaves periodically using a damp sponge.
Don’t forget the undersides where mites like to hang out.
More on How To Clean House Plant Leaves
Prune umbrella plants to maintain size and shape.
If left alone the branches and stems can stretch and grow “out of shape”. It’s easy to keep them shaped with selective pruning.
Like a Ficus tree, dwarf arboricolas can handle some radical pruning and come back strongly.
Don’t be afraid to prune the plant when needed.
Occasional yellowing of the leaves is normal. Remove yellow leaves when they appear.
NOTE: Remember when plants move indoors they go through a period of acclimation. Expect the plant to thin out and loose leaves while acclimating.
Schefflera Umbrella Plant Propagation – How To
Propagate Dwarf umbrella plants from seeds, cuttings or by layering.
Plants will grow from seeds but most house plants never flower or seed.
Propagating from Cuttings
- Take stem cuttings near the base of the plant. It should be about 4” – 6” inches long.
- Cut the leaves on the cutting in half, crosswise to help reduce dehydration.
- Dip the cut end of the cutting into rooting powder
- Place the cutting in a 4” inch pot of clean well-drained potting soil.
- The end of the cutting should be buried two inches deep.
- Water and place the potted cutting in a warm, airy location with bright, indirect sunlight.
- Keep the soil slightly damp.
- New roots begin to develop within a couple of weeks.
Propagating By Layering
- Bend a flexible, low stem into a pot of new soil placed next to the parent plant.
- Bury it slightly, and anchor it in place with a rock or similar weight.
- Keep the soil slightly moist.
- The bent stem should produce roots and start to send out new shoots within a couple of weeks.
- Once rooted cut the stem loose from the parent plant.
More on air layering propagation
Umbrella Schefflera Pest or Diseases
The Dwarf Umbrella Plant experiences very few diseases and pest problems.
However, the Schefflera is in the Aralia family and like many of the plants from this family spider mites like this plant.
As with most plants, overwatering and poor conditions will cause problems with root rot.
Compromised plants are susceptible to attacks by thrips, aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs.
More on Natural Pest Control for Plants
Schefflera Dropping Leaves
If leaves turn black and begin dropping off it’s a good signal of overwatering. The soil is staying too wet or moist.
On the flip side when leaf tips wrinkle and begin to wither, it indicates that you are not watering enough.
Is Schefflera Considered Toxic or Poisonous to People, Kids, Pets?
According to the ASPCA, Umbrella tree Schefflera is toxic to cats and dogs because it contains calcium oxalate crystals.
An animal or person who ingests the plant may experience difficulty swallowing, burning and irritation in the mouth, excessive drooling, and vomiting.
Are Arboricola Trees Considered Invasive?
Schefflera can be invasive in areas where it is winter hardy, such as Hawaii and Florida.
If you grow umbrella plant outdoors in an area where it is winter hardy, take care to keep its spread under control.
Suggested Schefflera Arboricola Uses
The Dwarf Schefflera plant is an attractive, easy-care houseplant in any climate.
In areas where the plant is winter hardy, it can be used as a:
- Container plant – most found in the garden center are bush form.
variegated umbrella gold capella bush growing in bowl at Disney Springs, Orlando
- Used as a hedge plant
Arboricola hedge growing at Disney Magic Kingdom – Tomorrowland
- Single accent or specimen plant in the garden
- Trained as a bonsai plant
- Grown and pruned into a small tree with a single trunk or braided
Remember with your dwarf umbrella / Scheffleracare plant:
- Don’t keep the plant wet
- Place the plant in an area with bright light or filtered indirect light, these are bright light houseplants.
- Watch out for mites
- Don’t be afraid to prune when needed
That’s a quick look at one of the easiest to care for and popular houseplants on the market – the Umbrella plant or Schefflera Arboricola plant.
The Schefflera/Umbrella tree will live for years when cared for properly.
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An adorable pet for your floral collection, and an amateur gardener’s most obedient subject, the umbrella tree is the houseplant you didn’t know you wanted, but a houseplant you deserve to take care of.
Taking its name from the charming shape of its foliage, the umbrella plant gains its affection because of being very adaptable to growing in different types of conditions, and it takes neglect sportively.
What’s In A Name?
Scientifically known as Schefflera arboricola, it’s more commonly called as an umbrella tree, with a dwarf suffix attached to it for one variety. It also bears the names octopus tree and parasol plant, so next time you hear any of these names know it is your friendly neighborhood houseplant.
However, there are some common confusions regarding the umbrella plant. It is mistaken for Heptapleurum, which is botanically very similar to Schefflera, and which has an uncanny resemblance to the Umbrella plant. If you are one of those who have confused one for the other, there is a reason for relief. This swapping of plants does not hinder how you take care of them, as the difference isn’t that big at all. But, another common misconception is with the cyperus plant, which in itself is a type of umbrella plant, but still considerably different.
Dwarf Umbrella Tree-Land of Origin
Its place of origin is not one, but two. Australia and Taiwan. Tolerating temperatures of 60 to 70°F best, the scale of tolerance starts from 15°F. It does require medium light water and direct sun, but not harsh or it will burn, more on that below.
It can grow up to the height of 50 feet and thrive in medium-high humidity, while the dwarf variety reaches only a meager 4 or 5 feet. When trimmed and pruned well, the growth can be managed for the indoors. It doesn’t bother its owner on the soil side either, with the standard compost or potting soil being more than enough, and fertilizer once a few weeks or so keeps it healthy.
It does have a few downsides, one of them chiefly being propagation. One will need to sunder the tips while they are growing, in spring. Pests need to be tackled too, especially red spider mites and scale insects.
This adorable plant gets its names from the look of its leaves, often in a group of five to nine, shiny and long and oval and its tips pointed, hoisted in a circular fashion above stems that are delicate on touch. These leaves, due to the rapid growth of the plant, can double in number as it grows. But, the more, the merrier, and prettier.
It has two varieties for its color, one is a green with a dark and lush hue, and the other is a variegated pigmentation with creamy white or yellow tinges. A bonsai darling, the umbrella plant is often grown in its variegated skin by aficionados. Apart from the look of its leaves, there is a more detailed difference between the two varieties as those with green leaves – even though not as appealing to the eye as a variegated type – are more robust in their make as they can survive with lesser light and in far colder temperatures. Variegated varieties are more delicate and don’t grow as tall as the green ones.
Schefflera actinophylla, which is native to Australia and Java, has more varieties of green than variegated, more often than not having slightly variegated pigmentation. The Schefflera Arboricola found natively in Taiwan is the commonly variegated one. Even though both plants are quite common to purchase, and have special specimens like the Compacta and the Gold Capella, it is the variegated ones that are more in demand.
Apart from the leaves, the umbrella plant does sprout flowers, and needless to mention, berries too. With the appearances of long spikes with a red hue, the flowers bloom during the summer season and make way for round berries that are dandelion, rouge, and black in color, the gradient changing as they age, eventually turning black. In spite of being a flowering plant, it does not bloom indoors often.
Some Health Concerns
Toxicity is a concern every plant owner must explore thoroughly before purchasing or growing any plant. And in this segment, the Umbrella Tree is not without its toxicity, and its effects vary. For most people, there is no reaction, but others suffer from irritated skin and a terribly itchy rash due to the sap. The skin irritation isn’t persistent in most cases and goes away in a short while.
Touching and ingestion are widely different and the latter – be it leaf, a flower or berry, can be a cause for your body going numb, your mouth tingling, disorientation and poor coordination, and yes, vomiting. But, this is only serious in some cases when the allergy has caused an extreme reaction. It is recommended to consult a physician when doubtful.
If you like petting more than just trees, please do keep your cats and dogs away from the plant. It is mildly toxic to your pets and is best kept beyond their reach for their safety.
Beware The Mite-y Pests
Speaking of safety, be it your bed, pet or pot, pests are always a blot on your happiness, and they do have a bone to pick with the umbrella plant from time to time. Spider mites are the number one foe for your dwarf plant. You can curb this minor infestation by spotting the webbing on the leaves’ undersides and clearing them out. You can drive these pests away with the one thing your tree loves: a high level of humidity. The mites cannot stand it and mist the plant regularly is the best to keep the spiders away.
Let There Be Light
While you chase the pests away, please do remember to keep the plant in the general direction of the light, preferably indirect yet bright, a short distance from any window. It isn’t advisable to expose them to direct heat of the sun, as the leaves begin to burn. Direct sunlight is still allowed, but only for a couple of hours a day and preferably not in noontime.
Conversely, lack of adequate light will result in yellowing of the leaves along with discernible drooping. This requirement is of further importance when growing a variegated tree as the need for light is higher for this than the normal one. In spite of this, a darker corner of your house is not entirely a wrong decision. It will merely hinder the width of the plant and space it out less densely.
Unlike its light requirement, the umbrella tree isn’t fussy about its water intake. It has a high tolerance for drought and can thrive through neglectful watering. This does not mean the tree can live through an adverse lack of water, and it will begin to wilt, the leaves wrinkling when not supplied with adequate water.
Excessive watering can be a grave issue, starting with the leaves turning black and falling off. The stems and roots rot at an exponential pace. The water you use for the plant should be of lukewarm temperature, and the plant should only be irrigated when the leaves start wilting, or the soil is nearly dry. Once watered, do not let the water clog the pot, and drain it properly so that the soil isn’t wet for long.
Trees are living things and they too have preferences for special treatment like us, or like our pets. The umbrella plant enjoys abundant humidity and fancying it with misting every couple of days with warm water is recommended. Using distilled or filtered water helps avoid deposits when you mist the leaves.
A Home Called Soil
Now that you know what the plant needs like food and water and how much it actually needs, let’s move onto the place it calls home: the pot, and specifically the soil. It does not require any special type, and a common potting soil is enough, the condition being the soil having a good drainage and moisture retaining the property. You can aerate the soil better by adding coarse sand or perlite. Or you can make your own perfect mixture by adding one part moist peat or humus, one part garden soil, a pinch of lime and one part of the above mentioned coarse sand or perlite.
Adding fertilizer to this mix comes with its own list of instructions. A special foliage fertilizer or a liquid houseplant one is best to use, and the amount you add depends on the season it is growing in and the light the plant is receiving.
While in winter, there is no requirement for fertilizing, from February on until October fertilizing the plant twice or four times per month with a diluted solution should be enough. Increase the frequency a little if the roots of the plant are bound to the pot.
Speaking of pots, your little tree requires changing homes every couple of years. It is important not to fertilize the soil after repotting as there is already sufficient amount of fertilizer in the new soil. Repotting your dwarf tree is essential, and opting a heavier base for the pot will keep your plant from toppling.
You know what else will keep your plant from toppling? Pruning it well. The umbrella tree grows rapidly and if you don’t want it to go through a wild teenage phase ever so often, pinch the tips off so that it doesn’t tower out of control and becomes bushier instead. And yes, keep an extra watch on its growth, it tends to spring up in springtime.
Birthing And Nurturing
Puberty, sadly, does not bode well for this plant. Propagating the umbrella plant is tough, but the ways to do it are the common ones: through air layering, seeds, and cuttings. The method for growing them via cuttings is quite simple. Near the base, clip a stem off and use a dampened paper towel to wrap the end that has been cut.
To reduce the moisture losing process of the plant during the rooting, horizontally cut the leaf in half using a sharp knife. To grow the plantlings, root them in the cradle of a pot of six inches filled with fresh potting soil. Plant them by poking holes of two inches with a pen or a pencil or an instrument of the same measure.
The cuttings should be in a place where the humidity is high and are exposed to ample indirect sunlight. To add more humidity, mist the pot every couple of days after covering it with plastic.
If you plan to raise the trees up from seeds, you’ll have to wait through a small incubation period as germination takes two to three weeks from the date of sowing. The sowing is hassle-free, and can be done in small containers with a light soil cover, but the gathering of seeds requires a little more effort on your part. When the flowers start turning from red to a dark shade of maroon, dry them out in the sun and treat the pods with a gentle wash so that when you rub the seed pod carefully, the seeds fall out. Gather them and dry them once more before planting them in the soil.
If this seems like a little delicate process, your final option is air layering, and this is quite an interesting one. Once you have sliced a thin layer from the lower branch stem carefully, bury the open area under the soil and wait for the roots to develop. Once the roots sprout, transfer the steam into a different pot and voila! You have one more umbrella plant in your garden.
From its birth to maintenance, the Umbrella Plant is not one to make you fussy. It’s an eye-catching addition to your garden. It isn’t too expensive on the purchase side either, with an average sized pot costing you between $20 and $26 approximately.
So, keep your pets away and mist the pests away, don’t eat the leaves, or the berries, water it regularly and don’t let it reach too close to the sun, and done, you have an excellent young one to nurture.
Umbrella Plant Care
Common Name: Dwarf Umbrella Tree, Hawaiian Umbrella Tree Plant, Dwarf Hawaiian Schefflera, Australian Ivy Palm, Umbrella Plant, Octopus Tree, Parasol Plant, Starleaf
Botanical Name: Schefflera arbicola
If you are looking for a smaller version of the larger Umbrella Trees (schefflera actinophylla) than the Mini Schefflera arbicola could be the right choice. These indoor plants grow to be about five to six feet indoors, in optimal conditions. They can be pruned back if they get leggy or too tall and thin. This is best done in early spring before new growth begins. They will generally not flower indoors but do regularly in nature. Their leaves are arranged in a whorl and resemble on umbrella top, giving it its most common name. The key to success with these indoor plants is that they need moist soil during the growing season (soil that never completely dries out, but it not constantly saturated). These glossy leaves add a very different texture that other potted houseplants and create an indispensable anchoring element to your plant grouping, or they can stand alone and define a space with its subtle beauty.
Important! Umbrella Trees are poisonous if ingested, so be very careful if you have pets and/or small children.
Dwarf Umbrella Trees like filtered indirect light. Provide them with at least 4 hours of light a day. They will stay healthy and grow properly if they are getting the required light.
These indoor plants like to dry out between watering sessions and quickly decline if the roots are left sitting in water. Let the water saturate the soil completely when watering. If your plant is in a terra cotta pot, you will be watering more frequently as these containers absorb moisture. The smaller the pot the plant is in the faster the soil will dry out.
Average household temperatures of 60-75℉ are perfect for these houseplants. Avoid temperatures under 55℉ as Schefleras are sensitive to cold temperatures.
Try to have slightly higher humidity levels with these plants. Humidity levels over 60% will make your indoor plants thrive.
These guys are not heavy feeders but will benefit from being fertilized once a month during the growing season with a ¼ diluted complete fertilizer. Remember to water your plants first before fertilizing.
- Rotate your schefflera to maintain a healthy, full plant.
- Remove any dead or dying foliage to prevent pests and disease.
- These plants can be propagated in soil, so make some new plants!
Schefflera Care – Information On The Schefflera Houseplant
The schefflera houseplant is a popular plant and comes in many varieties. The most well known are the umbrella tree and the dwarf umbrella tree. One of the reasons the plant is popular is because schefflera plant care is so easy, but, while schefflera care is easy, the plant does need to be cared for. Keep reading to learn more about growing schefflera and keeping it healthy and lush.
Schefflera Plant Care Instructions
There are two very important parts to proper schefflera care. The first is correct sunlight and the second is proper watering.
Light – Schefflera plants are medium light plants, which means that they need bright but indirect light. A common complaint about schefflera plants is that they get leggy and floppy. This problem is caused by too little light. Making sure that you are growing schefflera in the right kind of light will help prevent leggy growth. On the other side, you do not want to place a schefflera houseplant in direct, bright light, as this will burn the leaves.
Water – When growing schefflera, be aware that watering correctly will help to keep your schefflera houseplant healthy. To water correctly, wait until the soil in the pot dries out and then thoroughly soak the soil when you water. Often, people will over water their schefflera plant and this will eventually kill it. Yellow leaves that fall off the plant is a sign that you may be watering too much.
Additional care of schefflera includes pruning and fertilization.
Pruning – Your schefflera may also need to be pruned occasionally, especially if it is not getting quite enough light. Pruning a schefflera is simple. Just cut off what you feel is overgrown or leggy back to a size or shape you like. Schefflera houseplants rebound quickly from pruning and will look even fuller and more lush shortly after pruning.
Fertilizer – You do not need to fertilize your schefflera, but if you would like to, you can give it a half solution water soluble fertilizer once a year.
Schefflera plants are poisonous to people and animals, if eaten. It is not often fatal but will cause a burning sensation, swelling, difficulty swallowing, and in severe cases, difficult breathing.
Schefflera Houseplant Pests and Diseases
Schefflera plants are not often bothered by pests or disease, but it can happen occasionally.
Spider mites and mealybugs are the most common pests that affect schefflera plants. In light cases of infestation, washing the plant with water and soap will normally eliminate the pests. With heavier infestations, you many need to treat the plant with an insecticide like neem oil. Also, be aware that pests typically attack this plant if it is stressed. If your schefflera has pests, this is likely a sign it is either getting too little light or too much water.
The most common disease that affects schefflera is root rot. This disease is brought on by overwatering and poor drainage in the soil.