The Schefflera is a tropical beauty with long shiny oval leaves that droop elegantly from the stalk-like. The plant looks like an umbrella, hence earning the name “Umbrella Plant”. It is an easy plant to adopt and will reward you with its spectacular bloom of long pink, white, or red tentacle-like flowers each summer. The plant can grow into a 12-15 feet tall tree with each stalk giving you 12-16 leaflets at maturity to create a lush green bush indoors.
Here are requirements to grow and care for your Schefflera (Umbrella Plant):
- Watering: wait until the pot dries up to soak the soil but do not overwater the plant. Keep the soil moist and well-drained.
- Light: it prefers bright indirect light.
- Temperature: it thrives in temperatures between 60oF (15.5oC) and 80oF (26oC).
- Soil: pot the plant in fertile, well-drained but moist sandy loam soil.
Basic Guidelines On How To Grow Schefflera Plant
Schefflera is a competitive fast-grower in the wild. Indoors, you have to provide the right humidity, temperature, light, and soil, among other factors. Here is a comprehensive guide to help you unlock the potential of the umbrella plant. Let’s begin.
The umbrella plant loves plenty of water on the roots and leaves. Sprinkle the soil at least once a week if the room is moderately warm. If you have any doubts about watering, check the topsoil to ensure that it is completely dry up to one or two inches deep.
The water should be at room temperature to avoid shocking or freezing the roots. Because the umbrella plant requires acidic to slightly alkaline soil, monitor the chemical composition in your water regularly. Rainwater, filtered water, or tap water that has stayed in a container overnight is the best because it does not add harmful chemicals to the soil. Too much water results in soggy soil that will cause root rot and yellowing of the leaves.
While this tropical evergreen plant loves water, too much will kill it. Nevertheless, the umbrella plant will recover quickly from drought, making underwatering better than waterlogged soil.
Umbrella plants will do well in the typical house humidity. However, to achieve the full potential of this tropical plant, you need to provide slightly higher humidity up to 60%. It should resemble the thick tropical forests that the umbrella plants habitat.
A dry environment is disastrous for the umbrella plant. It makes the plant vulnerable to attacks by spider mites, scales, and mealybugs. Luckily, the high humidity will deter most of these insects, giving you a beautiful and lush-looking shrub.
Use a humidifier to guarantee the right humidity around the Schefflera. A pebble tray with water will also enhance moisture in the area. Regular misting also gives you a chance to check on your plant regularly.
The presence of insects and yellowing leaves could be indications of low humidity levels. You would rather provide more moisture in the area instead of leaving the air around to dry.
The umbrella plant prefers rich compost potting mixture. Such a soil combination is adequately aerated and will drain water faster without losing nutrients. The compost can also sustain robust growing roots and foliage.
Prepare the potting mixture for Schefflera using 1 part moistened sphagnum moss, 1 part garden soil, and a little sand. If the combination is still too dense, you can add compost to enhance soil aeration. Peat moss based potting mix will also serve the purpose.
Umbrella plants like medium lighting as would be found in a thick tropical forest. Indoors, it translates into bright indirect light. If the light is too little, your Schefflera will get floppy and leggy. Too much and direct sunlight will also kill your Schefflera.
A little sunshine in the morning, and some more to warm the plant in the evening will be sufficient. Direct sun or light during the day will scorch the lush leaves of Schefflera, leaving you with an eyesore. The leaves turn yellow and begin to fall.
Because the umbrella loves light, you may move it to the window or outside during summer. However, provide shade to cover the plant during midday and afternoon sun. Light is the secret to a bushy, tall, and plush umbrella plant.
Schefflera enjoys and will thrive in a range of indoor and outdoor temperatures. It will survive and thrive in temperatures as low as 60oF(15.5oC) and 80oF(26.6oC). Such are the typical temperatures you would expect in a home or office.
Temperatures indoors change for different reasons. Air conditioning may create drafts that alter temperature around the plant. Unfortunately, sudden changes in temperature or temperatures falling below 55oF (12.7oC) will kill your plant or cause stunted growth.
Temperature also affects soil moisture, humidity, and vulnerability to diseases. You must strike a perfect balance between these three elements to grow a beautiful and healthy umbrella tree.
Advanced Care Guidelines for Schefflera (Umbrella Plant)
Umbrella plants will look like an ordinary shrub if you just pot and water it. Such a level of care denies you the chance to see a spectacular depth that the plant can show when it receives the right amount of attention.
Here are some additional care procedures to consider in search of a beautiful umbrella plant:
Schefflera is a fast-growing plant, especially in fertile soils. A thick root system and bushy foliage require a lot of nutrients to sustain. This is why it involves fertilizer application twice a week during the growing seasons.
Such applications can translate into a lot of fertilizer that is likely to damage the soil. To avoid such mistakes, use diluted liquid fertilizer or slow-releasing pellets. This heavy feeder will show appreciation through thick foliage and faster growth.
Fertilizer is also likely to affect soil pH and interfere with the growth of the plant. However, such damage can be canceled out by using porous soil that does not hold too many chemicals. Repotting is also one of the options you can use to eliminate harmful chemicals from the soil.
Schefflera grows fast and will overpower your indoor garden space or topple the pot. Pruning is one of the tricks to control the growth habit of your umbrella plant shrub. Use pruning to help the plant to adapt to the available space.
Prune by cutting the stalks you feel are burdening the shrub. Nip them at the node to ease healing and improve the aesthetics of your umbrella plant. The plant grows fast and will recover from the woods in a short time.
The best time to prune is during spring and summer, though the umbrella plant grows throughout the year. Because of the high demand for light, pruning can be used to enhance light access to all branches of the plant. It is also a way of opening up the shrub so that pests and diseases do not hide in the thicket.
Leaf or stem cuttings are the best options when propagating an umbrella plant. However, it is not easy or straightforward because of the difficulty of growing roots on the stalk. The right conditions of warmth, humidity, and soil nutrients must be provided.
You’ll need healthy leaves or stems for propagation. Place the leaf or stem about a centimeter into the soil. Wait for 2-4 weeks for the roots to emerge.
The best time to propagate the umbrella plant is during summer. The weather is warm enough to support root development. The newly propagated cutting waiting to develop roots requires indirect light to sprout.
Rooting hormones can improve the success rate during propagation. Still, this tropical plant is difficult to propagate and may require the experts in air-layering. The best way to grow Schefflera is by buying one from a gardener instead of staring at the defeat and frustration of trying to successfully propagate one.
Spider mites, scale insects, and mealybugs are the common pests you will have to deal with when growing Schefflera. They damage the holes as they feed, damaging the aesthetics of the plant and eventually causing discoloration. Control these pests by enhancing humidity around the plant.
The most common disease in umbrella plants is root rot. It results from contaminated soil or overwatering. The condition makes your plant to get yellow leaves that eventually fall off, causing the entire plant to wilt. Diseases will weaken your plant, making it susceptible to pests and more infections.
Top 10 Schefflera Varieties
- Dwarf Schefflera– this is a smaller version of the umbrella plant and is referred to as a dwarf umbrella plant. While it grows 10-15 feet in the wild, it only achieves 5-6 feet indoors.
- Gold Capella Schefflera– it is also known as a parasol plant and recognized by its green glossy palm-like leaves. The leaves are oval and come with an irregular splash of yellow, pale green and gold variegation.
- Janine Schefflera- the variety is small in stature and comes with white variegation amidst dark-green leaves. When the leaves are younger, they are shinier and brighter with little variegation. The leaves are also smaller and sliced into irregular patterns, especially at the tip.
- Sunburst Schefflera- it has open-banana-leaf-shaped leaves that appear to love the sun. It also comes with deep yellow and gold variegation that seems to take over the color of the plant. The sunburst Schefflera looks as if to love the sun more than any other variety. The leaves are lighter than those of most Schefflera varieties.
- Alpine Schefflera– are you looking for a variety that can tolerate cold climate? This is a more confident bet. It is a robust grower and requires medium-light to thrive. It has large leaves that appear oily but with no variegation.
- Luseane Ivory Schefflera– it is recognized by its short and dusty appearance. Its leaf variegation takes the ivory color that combines with a midland green to give a show-stopper of a bush. In bright light, the radiance will appear like flowers.
- Petite Schefflera– the name suggests a small plant. Nevertheless, its beauty will immediately capture your attention. The small size can be deceitful because this is an uncontrollable monster that will overpower the pot in a year. However, you will love its cream-ivory variegation and the resulting bush when you get fertilization right.
- Mme De Smet Schefflera– the robust growing Mme De Smet Schefflera variety will capture your attention with its cream-gold variegation. It is taller and can be used to create a botanical spectacle indoors.
- Trinette Schefflera– the aggressive grower comes with dark green leaves and golden variegation. If allowed to grow tall, it can turn into a beautiful tropical tree indoors. The combination of dark green and gold creates breathtaking iridescence that will transform your interior.
- Luseane Moondrop Schefflera– the variegation is a bit distant and appears on the younger top leaves. The dark color combines perfectly with ivory variegation and the light green young leaves to give you a splendid foliage spectacle.
Frequently Asked Questions about Schefflera Plant (Umbrella Plant)
How do you make Schefflera Bushy?
Strategically prune the plant to take your desired shape while also growing more shoots. However, break dense foliage clumps as you guide the plant to grow in your desired direction and structure.
Why are leaves on my Schefflera falling off?
The soil is either too wet or too dry. Water your plant a bit more or enhance drainage to leave the soil moist. You could also be moving the plant too much around or exposing it to extreme hot or cold weather.
How long do Schefflera plants live?
Schefflera plants can live indoors and in the garden for more than 30 years. The secret is to provide the right conditions like temperature, humidity, soil, and water. Control pests and treat diseases whenever they emerge. Pruning is also a crucial way to enhance the lifespan of the Schefflera plant because it allows light to get to all corners and controls how big the plant grows. If you prune the stalks, new ones will always emerge.
Are Schefflera roots invasive?
The robust growing leaves eventually become invasive. Since it grows into a large tree in the garden, you will have to find a way to handle the large leaves after a few years. Using a large pot and trimming the roots could help to control them.