Schefflera arboricola and Schefflera actinophylla are the two species that go by the common names “umbrella plant,” “schefflera,” and “octopus tree.”
If you’re unsure, the Schefflera actinophylla has leaflets that are 4 to 5 inches (10-13 cm) long.If not, it’s Schefflera arboricola.
The above picture shows both: A small Schefflera arboricola with striped leaves grows on the window sill, partly hidden by the big Schefflera actinophylla.
Since the two species are mostly the same and need almost the same conditions indoors, the following tips apply to both unless otherwise stated.
How To Care For Your Umbrella Plant
Schefflera actinophylla comes from Australia, New Guinea, and Java, where it was first found. It is the bigger of the two species. In the wild, it can grow up to 50 feet (15 meters) tall.
There are also many different types of both species that have yellow, gold, or white stripes on the leaves.
Where to Grow an Umbrella Plant
Even though umbrella plants do best in bright, indirect light, they can also live in direct light indoors. In medium-to-low light, they will just grow more slowly and taller.
Most of the time, humidity is not a problem. However, if the air is too dry, pests like scale and spider mites may be able to get into the plants more easily.
Schefflera actinophylla is an invasive species that spreads quickly in Florida and Hawaii. Before planting outside, check to see what the rules are in your area.
Care and Planting
Like other houseplants, umbrella plants need good drainage so that too much water in the soil doesn’t cause root rot. Plant in a pot with drainage holes and peat moss potting mix.every few years, in the spring.
When the top of the potting mix dries out, give it a deep drink of water and let the soil dry out before giving it another drink.
Umbrella plants don’t need to be fertilized very often, but if you want them to grow faster, use a basic plant fertilizer that has been diluted once a month during the summer. Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe the leaves down to keep them dust-free.
A mature tree, like the one in the main picture, might need to be staked. Schefflera that gets too tall or bushy can be trimmed back. Pinch off the plant’s growing tips to make it bushier and fuller.
If it’s warm and humid outside, plants may bloom, but don’t expect flowers inside.
How to Propagate
Putting the pot in a clear plastic bag may help maintain humidity, which is good for roots. So is keeping the temperature between 65°F and 75°F (18°C and 24°C). Some people have been able to get stems to grow roots in water before planting them in soil.