Schefflera arboricola Plant Care

What sets apart Schefflera arboricola is its umbrella-shaped foliage. Hence, it’s otherwise called a dwarf umbrella plant. It’s a tropical species that originated in Australia, Taiwan, and Hainan, almost similar to its relative Schefflera actinophylla. The only main difference is their size.

Although this species is a flowering one, it is mainly grown for its foliage. It’s among the list of popular indoor plants because of its manageable size. On top of that, the care and maintenance of schefflera plant are very basic. One need not be a pro in order to grow one at home.

Give a quick glance at the table below to see the basic things this umbrella plant needs:

Botanical Name: Schefflera arboricola

Common Name: Dwarf umbrella plant, umbrella tree, octopus tree

Family: Araliaceae

Plant Type: Broadleaf evergreen shrub or small tree

Native to: Australia, Taiwan, and Hainan

Maximum Size: 4 – 8ft tall

Watering Requirements: Medium watering

Light Requirements: Bright, indirect light

Preferred Humidity: High humidity

Preferred Temperature: 65 and 90°F (18 to 32oC)

Soil or Potting Medium: Rich and moderately moist with slightly acidic pH

Fertilizer: Half solution water-soluble fertilizer once a year

Propagation Method: Stem cuttings

Vulnerability: Root rot

Toxicity: Mildly toxic to cats, dogs and humans

Schefflera Arboricola Plant Care Basics

dwarf umbrella tree

Schefflera plant care is just basic. This plant won’t give you many headaches. But it doesn’t mean that you go happy to go lucky

Recommended Potting Mix

Schefflera plants love a loose potting mix. Choose one that’s rich in organic matter. You can add compost to the potting media and a part of sand to make it well-draining. The recommended potting mix should have a slightly acidic pH (6.0 to 6.5). You can measure this using a pH meter.

Waterlogged soils are not good for schefflera plants. This could easily lead to the plant’s demise. So, make sure you get the right potting soil right at the very start.

Lighting 

umbrella tree lighting condition

Like with most species of indoor plants, a bright indirect light best suits the plant schefflera. For indoor settings, one common struggle observed is the appearance of droopy and leggy schefflera. This is a result of low exposure to bright light. In this case, you may have to move your umbrella plants outside for better lighting. However, avoid placing it under direct sunlight.

Watering Needs

Schefflera houseplants need medium watering. This means that you may allow the soil to dry out first before watering again. Unregulated watering will lead to waterlogging which may further cause serious problems like root rot. So, water only when it’s necessary.

If you notice yellow leaves appearing in your dwarf umbrella plant, it could mean two things. Either the plant is overwatered, meaning the roots are damaged. Or, it could be due to underwatering leaving the plant dehydrated and wilted.

Temperature & Humidity

humidifier for umbrella plant

A temperature range between 65 and 90°F (18 to 32oC) is well-suited for schefflera plants. Since the dwarf umbrella is a tropical plant, it benefits well in a warm environment that has sufficient humidity levels. To keep the plant vibrant, make sure it receives enough moisture. When it gets too dry, spraying water on the leaves will help these plants thrive. Using a humidifier is the best way to increase humidity if you treat these beauties as an indoor plant.

Necessary Fertilizer

Generally, the plant schefflera wouldn’t need regular fertilization. However, if you’re just starting from a new, young plant, feeding it during the growing season is crucial. You may use diluted liquid fertilizer to feed the plant twice a week.

Once the plant is mature and established, you would only have to fertilize once a year. You can use half solution water-soluble fertilizer.

Propagation

Umbrella tree cuttings

Stem cuttings are the best way to go when it comes to propagating a schefflera plant. During spring, cut a mature stem to a size of 4 to 6 inches. Make sure to cut a stem that has nodes in it. Remove the basal leaves before you dip the cut tip in a rooting hormone. Plant in cutting in a growing media.

The newly propagated stem cutting will lose its moisture through the remaining leaves. To prevent wilting, you may cover the plant with a plastic sheet to maintain high humidity around the plant. Keep the soil slightly moist so the roots will begin to grow.

Growth Zone

Good news for those living in areas under USDA Growth Zones 10 to 12. Schefflera plants will thrive in these places as it offers a climatic condition suitable for their growth.

Potting and Pruning

An important part of Schefflera arboricola plant care is proper potting and pruning. Remember this species is like a small tree. It can easily fill in a container in just a year. So, be ready to do repotting as frequently as possible. However, if you wish to slow the growth rate of your dwarf schefflera, you may delay repotting to keep the roots bound.

Because of its spreading habit, you will have to prune back your schefflera houseplant from time to time. Using a sharp pruning shear or scissors, trim down overgrown branches and foliage. This will keep the schefflera plant in shape. Please don’t forget to also prune diseased, aged, or yellow leaves.

Other Schefflera Species and Varieties

Schefflera actinophylla

Schefflera actinophylla

This species is almost similar in appearance to the S. arboricola. The only main difference is that the S. actinophylla is larger in size. If grown outdoors, it can grow up to 50 feet in height!

{Images: Schefflera Madame De Smet}

Schefflera ‘Madame De Smet’

Schefflera ‘Madame De Smet’

This variety has the size of the dwarf umbrella plant. However, it has more attractive foliage with its variegation. The foliage is a combination of green and pale yellow.

Schefflera alpina

Schefflera alpina

Schefflera alpine plant is known as the hardy schefflera. It has dark-green foliage and it can grow up to 5 m in height.

Schefflera Arboricola Plant Diseases & Pests

Occasionally, your schefflera plant may be bothered by certain diseases such as bacterial leaf spot and alternaria leaf spot. These diseases are a result of too much overhead watering especially if it’s done in the evening.

Pests such as mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids may also be a problem for schefflera plants grown indoors. You may use soapy water to eliminate them or in other instances, neem oil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Aside from being a gorgeous houseplant, umbrella trees also serve as an air-purifying plant. It’s always a good idea to place this indoors especially if you have an enclosed place.

Yes. Schefflera plants are known to be mildly toxic to pets as well as humans. They contain a considerable amount of calcium oxalate crystals that may cause irritation and burning sensation in the mouth. Some even experience drooling and vomiting after consuming this plant.

Because the schefflera leaves resemble the appearance of fingers, they’re considered lucky in Feng Shui. It is known as a lucky 7 plant which is believed to attract wealth.

It isn’t difficult to find Schefflera. This species isn’t a rare plant and is most likely available in your local garden centers. Want a hassle-free visit? Just head out to Plantly and see some of the tropical plants that we offer

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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