Umbrella Plant: Plant Care Guide

With its marble-hued, umbrella-shaped leaves, which often come in shades of yellow, white, or gold, these often under-appreciated shrubs are a great addition to the home. To thrive, all it necessitates is medium-light and a little water, but only when the soil is dry to the touch.

When grown as a houseplant and cared for correctly, Umbrella Plant is a great option for those looking to add fresh foliage to an array of rooms in the household. It's also a low-maintenance plant that is extremely easy to care for.

Umbrella Plant

About this plant

Known as the 'umbrella plant', 'schefflera', or 'octopus tree', this plant boasts two closely-related genus: Schefflera actinophylla and Schefflera arboricola. The former boasts leaves spanning over four or five inches (10-13 cm) with the latter is known as the dwarf variety, with smaller leaves measuring one to two inches (2-5 cm).

Native to the forests of Taiwan, Australia, New Guinea, and Java, umbrella plants can reach an impressive 50 feet tall when in their natural habitat. When grown indoors, you can expect heights of between eight and ten feet. There are also a number of dwarf versions available, suited to those with smaller apartments.

Care needs

Umbrella plants don't necessitate fertilizer, however, giving them a drop of a quality fertilizer will assist with faster growth. Try to feed them a diluted version every month during the summer. Ensure the leaves of your plants remain dust-free all year round too as this can help your umbrella plant to thrive. You can do this by wiping them down with a damp sponge or cloth.

If you own a mature umbrella plant, you may need to provide it with support via a stake, especially if it has grown to its optimal height. If your Schefflera becomes too leggy, simply prune it back. If they're not leggy enough, pinch the growing tips to inspire a bushier, fuller plant.

How to plant

To ensure your umbrella plant thrives, plant it in a pot boasting good drainage holes, and use a peat-moss-based potting mix. It is important to repot these plants every few years and this is best done in the spring.

If propagating this plant, simply clip a stem from the plant's base using a pair of clean shears. Dip this cutting into a rooting hormone mixture, then place it in a small pot containing good quality potting soil. Water and place in a location that benefits from indirect, bright light.

To heighten humidity, you may wish to enclose the pot in a clear plastic bag. This will help to speed up the rooting, as this plant is used to warmer, tropical temperatures of between 18°C (64°F) to 24°C (75°F).

Watering needs

Like the majority of houseplants, the umbrella species require good drainage. Too much water can lead to root rot. When watering your plant, do so thoroughly, but only when the top of the potting mix is dry to the touch. Umbrella plants tend to be more tolerant to dry soil than they are to overwatering.

If you have placed your plant on a drainage saucer, be sure to empty this after watering to remove the excess moisture.

Lighting requirements

Umbrella plants prefer to be grown in indirect, bright light, however, they can withstand direct indoor lighting. If you plan to grow your plant in the latter conditions, you should note that it is normal to expect a slower rate of growth.

If you leave the umbrella plant under indirect light, the leaves will turn yellow, while leaving your plant in areas of the shade should also be avoided.

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