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Umbrella Plant Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Schefflera Arboricola”

Guide to the Umbrella Plant - everything you will ever need to know! Tips for growing and caring for “Schefflera Arboricola”
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Schefflera Arboricola is a flowering plant that goes by many names including the Umbrella Plant, Parasol Plant, Dwarf Umbrella Tree, and Octopus Tree. This species belongs to the Araliaceae family and can be found growing in several regions of Taiwan and Hainan.

Umbrella plants have become very common in many households worldwide thanks to their tolerance of neglect and poor environmental conditions. These special-looking beauties are suitable for both indoor and outdoor growing, but most gardeners prefer to grow Schefflera Arboricola in beautiful pots that match their interior design. They are also used very often in landscape decorations, especially in regions with warmer climates where winters are not so harsh and frost happens seldomly.

In traditional Chinese medicine, these plants are used because of their beneficial properties in blood circulation and pain alleviation. Extracts of their roots, stems, and leaves are used as a treatment of headaches, abdominal pain, sore throat, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma.

Read on if you want to learn more about growing, watering, and propagating Schefflera Arboricola.

About Umbrella Plant

  • These plants are considered a smaller version of the S. Actinophylla species, well-known as the Umbrella Tree. They are also mistaken for Cyperus Alternifolius due to their similar names.
  • They can be used to attract birds and other pollinators. Their fruits are eaten by several species of birds, such as fish crows, red-whiskered bulbuls, and mockingbirds.
  • Umbrella plants can be an excellent substitute for Bonsai trees and are often preferred by novice gardeners as indoor ornamental bonsais.
  • Studies have shown that Schefflera plants can remove benzene from the atmosphere, so they can play a big part as air purifier plants.
  • There are numerous cultivars that have been selected for their variations in leaf patterns and colors. The specimen “Gold Capella” has gained the prestigious Award of Garden Merit.
  • They are known to contain calcium oxalate crystals that can be quite toxic if ingested. For their own safety, make sure you keep curious pets and children within a safe distance and make sure they can’t consume their leaves.
  • Umbrella plants do well in slightly warm and humid locations. They show the best results when they are provided with bright and indirect light.
  • Regular pruning is mandatory for a bushy appearance. While caring for these plants, take a moment to look for signs of pest infestations.
  • Dwarf Umbrella trees can be grown among other plant companions including Peace Lily, Philodendron, Dracaena, Dieffenbachia, and Ficus.
Umbrella Plant
Umbrella Plant

Umbrella Plant Features: An Overview

  • This plant belongs to the Schefflera genus that contains about 600-900 species of flowering trees, lianas, or shrubs. Some species are highly popular as ornamental houseplants, such as S. Arboricola and S. Actinophylla.
  • Schefflera Arboricola is a pretty tall evergreen shrub that can reach between (8-9 m) in height. It usually appears either as an independent plant or an epiphyte, relying on the trunks of other trees.
  • Their leaves form a palmate structure composed of 7 to 9 leaflets of 3.5 to 7.9 inches (9-20 cm) in length and 1.6 to 3.9 inches (4-10 cm) in diameter.
  • In cultivation or when the plants are younger, they will produce smaller leaves with fewer leaflets. All leaflets have one central rib that divides them into two halves.
  • The foliage is leathery in texture, somehow glossy green on the upper surface, and quite lighter in color and matte underside. Some specimens can present variegated leaves with different and unique patterns of green, yellow, and creamy white.
  • Umbrella plants begin their blooming period in midsummer and end it in early autumn. Their flowers grow on a much-branched inflorescence of 7.9 inches (20 cm) long called a panicle.
  • Their panicles present many tiny umbels that contain about 5-10 flowers each. The bloomings come in a lovely color palette, ranging from yellow to green.
  • These plants bear small fruits that are initially glandular points, becoming somewhat spherical to oval in shape. Their fruits are commonly known as drupes.
  • The drupes generally ripen from late summer to early winter. When younger, they may present various shades of orange, becoming reddish-violet at maturity.
  • Dwarf Umbrella trees can be propagated through seeds that can be found in their fruits. Each fruit contains five seeds.

Growing Umbrella Plant

Schefflera arboricola plants can make for a great companion as long as the environmental conditions are similar to those from their natural habitat. Although they may seem pretty difficult to handle at first, but after a while, you will manage to get along with them pretty well. Like most houseplants, they have a harder time to settle in their new growing medium. But once these plants feel like home, we guarantee you will not regret the extra efforts from the beginning!

Whether you grow them indoors or outdoors, Dwarf Umbrella trees prefer plenty of bright and indirect light. They are pretty easy-going and can also accommodate locations that are slightly darker than usual. For optimal growth, you must protect these plants from harsh and direct sunlight, as it may scorch their leaves. Moreover, their pots should be rotated a little once every week to maintain straight growth.

Schefflera Arboricola
Schefflera Arboricola

Umbrella plants are big lovers of slightly warm environments both indoors and outdoors. During all year, they do well in temperatures that range from 59 to 70 °F (15-21 °C). The specimens with green foliage are known to tolerate lower temperatures better than the variegated ones. However, when the temperatures start dropping, you must bring your plants inside to protect them from any freezing conditions and winters.

Planting Schefflera Arboricola

In terms of soil, Umbrella plants are not as picky as other species. They can tolerate almost any type of soil as long as it is well-draining and somehow rich in nutrients. Plant your Schefflera babies in a commercial all-purpose potting soil or store-bought compost and they will cause no trouble.

During their active growing season, Umbrella plants exhibit a lot of stem and leaf development. They are independent plants that can do just fine without any regular fertilizing to boost their growth. Still, if you want faster growth, feed your plants with a diluted general-purpose fertilizer every couple of weeks during the summer.

Keep in mind that a freshly repotted Umbrella plant will not require fertilizers for at least two or three months. Typically, the fresh compost contains plenty of nutrients and it is more than enough for your plant to thrive a few months without any extra attention.

Schefflera arboricola Plant, From Amazon

In comparison to other tall species, Dwarf Umbrella trees can do pretty well in small pots. These plants usually need repotting once every two or three years when they start to outgrow their containers. Look for a pot that is one size larger than the current one and fill it with fresh houseplant compost or all-purpose potting soil. Drag your plant outside from its pot, remove any extra soil from the roots, and transplant it carefully into its new growing medium.

Pests are probably one of the most common issues with Umbrella plants. They can be bothered very often by scale insects and red spider mites, affecting mostly their alluring foliage. Sticky leaves along with clear or black residue are a major indicator that your plant is infested. You can treat the infected parts with rubbing alcohol, aphid sprays, or strong insecticides in the worst case.

Watering Umbrella Plants

Umbrella plants love moisture and show the best growth when they are provided with plenty of it. However, they are pretty tolerant of under-watering and will forgive you if you forget to water them for a week or two.

You must always check the soil in-between waterings to make sure you water these plants properly. When the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil feels dry to the touch, your Umbrella plant is ready for a new round. They are susceptible to root and stem rot, so any excess water should be removed from their tray after watering.

Umbrella plants do well in average room humidity and these conditions will also help them fight against pest infestations. If the air around your plants is too dry, use a humidifier or mist them occasionally.

Propagating Umbrella Plants

We know, Dwarf Umbrella trees are so gorgeous that it is quite difficult to resist them! You will naturally want more of these plants for yourself or to share them with family and friends. Luckily, they can be propagated through cuttings, although they may not show nice results from the first try.

But do not get discouraged, gardener! When it comes to propagation, even the most experienced plant-lovers can fail sometimes. Plants are like teenagers: they cannot be controlled or easily understood, but you do not give up on them.

The cuttings will respond well to propagation if they are taken and used in spring. Look for healthy branches and cut about 2 inches (5 cm) from their tips. For the propagation medium, fill a container with the same potting soil you are already using for the mother Umbrella plant.

Schefflera Arboricola cutting
Schefflera Arboricola cutting

Before planting the cuttings into their growing environment, it is suggested you dip their lower part in rooting hormone. No leaves should be dug under the potting soil, so you should leave only the upper leaves on the branches.

When the Schefflera cuttings are ready, plant them in the prepared medium. Allow the top half of the cuttings to meet plenty of bright, indirect light and lots of warmth. Make sure you water the soil regularly to provide your baby Umbrella plants with enough moisture. With proper care, they should develop a healthy and strong root system in a few months.

In Conclusion

A nice-looking plant packed with low-maintenance features. What more could you want? Whether you are a beginner or experienced gardener, the Umbrella plant is a must-have in any houseplant collection! With proper care and lots of love, you will have a loyal and friendly companion on your side for a long time!

Are you growing Schefflera Arboricola plants? Share your experience with us in the comments!

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Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

1 Comment

  1. Christina R Evilsizer Reply

    I got my umbrella plant in an abounded house the house was dark and very cold. I brought her home let her warm up for a few days cause I know she was in shock so I waited for about a week or two then put her in some nice lighting and watered her good and she woke up from the dead. I’m a beginner on house plants and it looks like I have a green thumb but i know not all my plants will be this good i’m really happy that i found this plant .

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