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Umbrella plants (Schefflera arboricola) are a type of evergreen that are known for their ability to grow very tall. These plants are also known for their large, umbrella-shaped leaves. The umbrella plant is a climbing plant that can grow up to 6 feet tall. This Schefflera plant is often used in landscaping because of its large, green leaves that resemble a fan or an umbrella.
Quick Facts on Umbrella Plants
- Common name: umbrella plant; dwarf umbrella tree; parasol plant; octopus tree
- Botanical name: Schefflera arboricola
- Family: Araliaceae
- Type of plant: broadleaf evergreen
- Native areas: Hainan, Taiwan
- Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade
- Size upon maturity: 4 to 8 feet wide; 8 to 15 feet tall
- Type of soil and pH level: well-drained, sandy potting soil; Slightly acidic between 6.0 to 6.5 pH
- Hardiness zones: 10 to 11 USDA zones
- Vulnerable to: pests; root rot
- Toxicity: toxic to humans and pets
Everything About Umbrella Plants
The umbrella plant is a climbing plant with a fast growth rate. This tropical plant grows year-round. It is also known as the dwarf umbrella tree, parasol plant, and octopus tree.
The large umbrella plants can also be used as shade trees. But the smaller dwarf plants associated with prosperity are associated with great fortune. In feng shui, trees have symbolic value in Chinese households. The plant’s cuplike shape and fingerlike leaves come to represent something handheld. In some Eastern religions, this plant represents ordered and methodical energies due to its clustering pattern, which may have been picked up on by worshippers.
Schefflera actinophylla vs. Schefflera arboricola
One of the many species in the Schefflera genus, there are two common species of umbrella trees: the umbrella tree (Schefflera actinophylla) and the dwarf umbrella tree or the umbrella plant (Schefflera arboricola). Both Schefflera plants have leaves that grow in clusters on a single stem, giving the plant its name. However, the two differ in the leaves’ height, color, and size.
The umbrella plant grows to a height of 15 feet when it is planted outdoors, while the full-size version can reach heights between 20 and 50 feet.
There are several cultivars of the umbrella plant, some with a variegated variety of leaves; however, the leaves of the full-size tree are available only in green.
Umbrella plant leaves are spread along the stem, while the full-size variety leaf clusters grow at the ends of branches
The leaves of the umbrella plant are about 4 inches long, while those of the full-size version are much larger, reaching up to 12 inches in length.
The umbrella plant has red to bronze flowers during the summer months, while its full-size counterpart blooms in shades of red through late fall.
Umbrella Plant Care
Umbrella plant care is easy. Umbrella plants are a good choice for anyone who does not want to spend a lot of time on plant care. They are also easygoing, so they do not mind being neglected once in a while. Finally, their large leaves help filter the air around them by absorbing chemicals and purifying them back into clean oxygen.
The umbrella plant requires bright, indirect light. It needs some sunlight, but if it is exposed to direct sunlight all day long, the leaves will burn and fall off. If you live in a very hot climate, placing your umbrella plant in a shadier area of your home can help prevent leaf drops.
Low light is not ideal for the umbrella plant, but it can survive in these conditions. If you have low light at home and still want an umbrella plant, place it near a sunny window. This will give your plant just enough light to stay healthy without causing any damage to its leaves.
The ideal soil for your umbrella plant should be slightly acidic, with a pH between 6 and 7. The umbrella plant likes moist, slightly acidic, well-drained soil. If your soil drains quickly and is not very moist, add some peat moss or other organic material to it.
Umbrella plants grow best with consistently moist soil, but not soggy or waterlogged. If the plant is in a container and good drainage holes are provided, allow some of the excess water to drain out and let the soil dry between watering cycles.
The best way to tell if your umbrella plant needs water is by observing its leaves; if they are curling up or turning brown, it is time for another watering. If you notice any new growth on your umbrella plant, it means that the plant is getting enough light and nutrients and does not need to be watered as often.
Temperature and Humidity
Since they are tropical plants, umbrella plants prefer high humidity and warm temperatures. They can tolerate some cold, but should not be exposed to temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit for more than a few days at a time. In general, your umbrella plant will do best in an environment that is between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Umbrella plants should be fertilized twice a month since they are heavy feeders. Feeding umbrella plants with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer that has been diluted to half-strength is highly recommended. If you are unsure about what kind of fertilizer to buy and how much to use, consult with your local nursery or garden center before purchasing anything.
Pruning and Maintenance
Since umbrella plants are fast-growing plants, they need to be pruned regularly to keep the plant neat and attractive. The best time to prune an umbrella plant is when it is actively growing especially during the growing season. Cut off any dead or damaged leaves, as well as any branches that are too long or unnecessary for the size of your container.
If the plant is getting leggy, cut it back by half to encourage new growth. You can also pinch off any growing tips that form on the umbrella plant to keep it bushy and full.
After your plants have reached maturity, it is recommended to repot umbrella plants every two to three years. If the plant begins to fill up its pot, then it is time to repot your umbrella plant. To repot your umbrella plant, remove it from its old container and place it in a new one that has been filled with new soil that is slightly moist but not wet.
How to Propagate Umbrella Plants
Umbrella plants are easy to propagate. The most common way to propagate an umbrella plant is by taking cuttings from the stem. Cut off a healthy stem that has at least two leaves on it and place it in a glass of water with rooting hormone until roots form. Once the cutting has rooted, put the new plant in potting soil.
Another way to propagate an umbrella plant is by dividing the root ball. You can do this by digging up the plant and separating it into two or more pieces, each with its own root system.
Are Umbrella Plants Poisonous?
The sap of the plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation and burning if it comes in contact with the skin. It is best to keep the umbrella plant from children. The plant’s leaves and other parts are also toxic to cats and dogs, so they should be kept away from these animals.
Common Pests and Umbrella Plant Problems
Although umbrella plants are relatively easy to grow as outdoor or indoor plants, they may be subject to certain problems. Umbrella plants are susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases.
Scale insects are small, brown, or black scale-like creatures that attach themselves to the foliage and stems of plants. They suck out sap from the leaves and stems and excrete a sticky substance called honeydew on which sooty mold grows, which further damages the plant.
To remove these pests, you can apply horticultural oil or insecticidal soap. You may also use neem oil if you prefer to use a natural product. If the infestation is severe, it is best to treat the entire plant rather than just one part of it.
Aphids are small, pear-shaped insects that suck sap from the plant. They can be green, black, gray, or red in color and are usually found on the underside of leaves. To remove them, blast the plants with water or spray them with insecticidal soap.
Spider mites are tiny, eight-legged insects that cause damage by sucking sap from the plant. They are difficult to see with the naked eye and can be identified by their webbing under leaves. Using a mixture of alcohol and water, you can remove and kill visible spider mites.
Fungal Leaf Spots
Fungal leaf spots are caused by fungi that infect the plant through wounds or other injuries. The spots appear as irregular, brown or black areas on leaves and stems. They can also cause premature leaf drop and plant death. The best way to treat fungal leaf spots is with a fungicide like copper or sulfur.
Bacterial Leaf Spots
Bacterial leaf spots are caused by a bacterium called Xanthomonas. They appear as small, red, or orange spots on leaves and stems. Bacterial leaf spots can cause plant death if left untreated. Some species of bacteria also produce toxins that affect root growth and fruit quality. To treat bacterial leaf spots, use a copper-based fungicide.
Root rot is a fungal disease that causes plants to wilt and die. It can spread rapidly through a garden, especially if the soil is waterlogged or too dry. The most common cause of root rot is Phytophthora, though other species can also cause the problem. The best way to treat root rot is with hydrogen peroxide. You can use it as a foliar spray or mix it with water and pour it around the base of plants.
Umbrella Plant Care FAQ
How do you take care of an umbrella plant?
Umbrella plants are easy to take care of. They can be grown indoors or out and require little attention. They do best in bright, indirect light but can also tolerate low light conditions. If your umbrella plant is indoors, place it near a south-facing window where it will get plenty of sun for at least half the day.
How long do umbrella plants live?
Umbrella plants can live for several years and even decades if you take good care of them. Regular watering and occasional pruning are all that is required to keep your umbrella plant healthy.
Can the umbrella plant take full sun?
Umbrella plants do not do well in direct sunlight. They prefer partial shade or indirect light. If your umbrella plant is indoors and gets direct sun, move it to a shadier spot until the leaves start to turn brown. If you notice this happening, be sure to water your plant more often so that it does not die from dehydration.
When should I repot my umbrella plant?
Mature umbrella plants need to be repotted every three years. This can be done at any time of year, although the best time to repot is in spring or summer when your plant is actively growing.
Are umbrella plants toxic to pets?
Yes, umbrella plants are toxic to pets. Dogs and cats that eat the leaves of an umbrella plant may become very ill.
Summary of Umbrella Plant Care and Growth
Umbrella plants, also known as octopus trees or dwarf umbrella tree, are attractive tree-like plants that create a strong visual statement. They make excellent houseplants and can be grown both indoors and outdoors year-round.
Umbrella plants are low-maintenance plants. If you have a busy schedule, the umbrella plant is a great choice for you. These plants can be easily neglected and will still thrive under the right conditions.
If you are looking for a low-maintenance houseplant that looks good and requires little effort, try growing an umbrella plant.