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Schefflera arboricola

Umbrella Plant: Low-Maintenance Tropical Houseplant

The umbrella plant, or Schefflera, is a popular houseplant native to Taiwan and Hainan. Its name comes from its green leaves, which radiate from a central stem like the spokes of an umbrella. The plant can grow 10 feet tall but be pruned to a smaller size for indoor use.

Other names for this plant...

Dwarf umbrella tree Parasol plant Octopus tree Hawaiian umbrella tree

About The Umbrella Plant

In addition to its striking appearance, the umbrella plant is easy to care for and can thrive in different light conditions. Whether you're a seasoned plant enthusiast or a beginner looking for a low-maintenance addition to your collection, the umbrella plant is a great choice.

It is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in many countries. Schefflera arboricola is appreciated for its lush foliage and distinctive appearance, making it a popular houseplant, bonsai tree, and landscaping plant.

Botanical Name

The botanical name of the umbrella plant is Schefflera arboricola. Cyperus is another type of umbrella plant which is not the same as Schefflera arboricola.

Plant Type

Schefflera arboricola is a tropical evergreen plant that belongs to the family Araliaceae.

Tropical evergreen plants are a diverse group of plants with several characteristics in common. They have large, broad leaves adapted to capture as much light as possible.

Umbrella plants tolerate various environmental conditions, including high humidity, full sun and partial shade, warm temperatures, and frequent rainfall.

Many tropical evergreen plants are fast-growing and can quickly reach maturity. This makes them popular for landscaping and gardening, as they can provide quick and dramatic results.


It is native to Taiwan, Hainan (a Chinese island province just off its south coast), South East Australia, and Papua New Guinea.


The leaves of Schefflera arboricola are glossy and green, with multiple leaflets that radiate out from a central point like the spokes of an umbrella. Its stems are woody and can become quite thick over time. They are usually brown or gray and can have a slightly rough texture.

The umbrella plant produces small, greenish-white flowers in the spring and summer but is not particularly showy. The plant also has small, round fruit in the wild that turns from green to black as it ripens.

The leaflets radiate outward like the spokes of an umbrella, hence the common name "umbrella plant."

Types Of Umbrella Plants

There are several different types of umbrella plants:

  • Schefflera arboricola: Also called the dwarf umbrella plant, this is the most commonly cultivated species of umbrella plant. It has smaller leaves and a bushier growth habit than some of the other species. It is also known as the Gold Capella.

  • Schefflera actinophylla: Also known as the Queensland umbrella tree, this species has larger leaves than Schefflera arboricola and can grow up to 40 feet tall when grown in the ground.

  • Schefflera elegantissima: This species has variegated leaves with white or cream-colored margins, which give it a distinctive appearance.

  • Schefflera digitata: Also known as the finger leaf umbrella plant, this species has long, finger-like leaves that give it a unique appearance.

  • Schefflera taiwaniana: This species is native to Taiwan and has smaller leaves than other umbrella plants. It is often grown as a bonsai tree.

Umbrella Plant Styling 

Your container can have a big impact on the overall look of your umbrella plant. Consider one that complements the plant's foliage and your decor, and has suitable drainage holes to mitigate overwatering.

The umbrella plant can become quite large, so if you have limited space, consider growing it as a smaller bushy plant by pruning it regularly.

It also looks great when paired with other tropical plants, like Monstera, mother-in-law’s tongue, and vining Pothos. Try placing it in a grouping of plants with different leaf shapes and colors to create a vibrant, lush display.

Umbrella plants can grow very large. Choose an appropriate size pot and repot as needed.


The umbrella plant prefers bright indirect light. Place it near a window or in a well-lit room but avoid placing it in direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves.


The umbrella plant likes to be kept moist but not waterlogged, so water it regularly and avoid letting it dry out completely.


The ideal temperature range for the umbrella plant is between 60 and 85°F (15 and 29°C). It tolerates temperatures as low as 50°F (10°C) for short periods, but prolonged exposure to cold temperatures causes dropping leaves.

The umbrella plant does not like sudden temperature changes, so keep it in a spot protected from drafts and rapid temperature changes.


The umbrella plant likes high humidity levels, which can be challenging in a home environment. Try placing a humidifier near the plant or grouping it with other plants to create a humid microclimate.


Constantly wet soil can lead to root rot. Choose well-draining potting soil that allows excess water to drain away. The umbrella plant prefers nutrient-rich soil as it is a fast-growing plant. Choose a soil formulated for indoor plants, or mix a general-purpose potting soil with compost or other organic matter. The ideal soil pH for the umbrella plant is between 6.0 and 7.0, slightly acidic to neutral.

As the umbrella plant grows, it must be repotted into a larger container. When repotting, choose a container larger than the current one, and use fresh potting soil to ensure the plant has access to the nutrients it needs.


Pruning your umbrella plant controls its size and shape and promotes bushier growth:

  • Prune your umbrella plant when it grows in spring or summer.

  • Use clean, sharp pruning shears or scissors to make clean cuts and prevent damage to the plant.

  • Look for stems that have become leggy, stretched out, or grow in an undesirable direction. Remove any dead, diseased, or damaged stems.

  • When making your cuts, cut back to just above a node, a small swelling on the stem where new leaves and branches emerge.

  • Control the size and shape of your umbrella plant by pruning the stems back to the desired length. To promote bushier growth, you can cut back the stems more severely.

  • Avoid removing more than one-third of the plant's foliage at once, as this can stress the plant. Instead, prune the plant gradually over time.


Fertilize it once a month during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer for indoor plants.

Height & Growth

The umbrella plant is a woody plant that can grow up to 10 feet tall when grown in the ground, but it is often grown as a smaller, bushier plant in containers. The size of the plant can be controlled through pruning.

Each leaf is about 4-8 inches long, and stems have 7-9 leaflets.


The umbrella plant (Schefflera arboricola) is mildly toxic. The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation and swelling in the mouth and throat if ingested.

It's worth noting that the toxicity of Schefflera arboricola is generally considered to be low, and most cases of ingestion are not severe.


Umbrella plants are toxic to pets.

Common Problems 

  • Over-watering leads to root rot and other issues. While umbrella plants like moisture, they need well-draining soil to prevent the roots from sitting in water.

  • Umbrella plants also don't like to be under-watered. Signs of under-watering include drooping, wilting, browning or yellowing leaves, and dried-out soil. To address under-watering, ensure water penetrates to the bottom of the pot.

  • Umbrella plants prefer high humidity, which can be challenging in a home environment. The air may be too dry if your plant's leaves turn brown or crispy at the edges. Try misting the plant's leaves, placing a humidifier nearby, or grouping it with other plants to create a microclimate.

  • Like most houseplants, umbrella plants can be susceptible to pests like spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects. Watch for signs of infestation, like webbing or sticky residue on the leaves, and address the problem using insecticidal soap or other natural pest control methods.

  • Umbrella plants prefer bright, indirect light but are susceptible to sunburn if they receive too much direct sunlight. If your plant's leaves turn brown or scorched, move it to a slightly shadier location to protect it from the sun's rays.

Umbrella plants thrive in bright, indirect light.

How To Propagate Umbrella Plants

Propagation of umbrella plants is easily achieved through stem cuttings. Not all cuttings will root successfully, so taking several cuttings is an excellent way to increase your chances of success. A good time to propagate your umbrella plant is during the growing season when you’re already pruning it.

Rooting hormone helps propagation as it stimulates the growth of new roots from cuttings.

Umbrella plants are easily propagated through stem cuttings.

Frequently Asked Questions

How tall does an umbrella plant grow?

Umbrella plants grow up to 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) tall indoors, although they can be kept smaller with regular pruning. In their natural habitat, umbrella plants can grow up to 30 feet (9 meters) tall but typically grow more slowly indoors.

What is the endangered status of umbrella plants?

Schefflera arboricola is not currently endangered. It is a popular houseplant and is widely cultivated for ornamental purposes.

What are the benefits of an umbrella plant?

Some benefits of having an umbrella plant are air purification by removing harmful toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. The attractive foliage of umbrella plants makes them a popular choice for indoor decoration. Umbrella plants are relatively low maintenance and easy to care for.

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