Schefflera arboricola (sometimes referred to as 'Heptapleurum arboricola')
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A position that offers a splash of morning or evening sun is best, especially during the autumn and winter months. Avoid more than three hours of direct sunlight a day during the summer, as this will lead to dehydration and sun-scorch. Rapid leaf loss will occur to plants that are placed in too dark locations - if it's too difficult to read a book, it'll be too dark for the plant, too!
During the spring and summer, maintain good soil moisture by only allowing the top third to dry out in between irrigations - reduce this further during the colder months for the replication of its dormancy period. Umbrella Trees situated in darker locations must be watered far less than those located in brighter ones for the prevention of root rot. Under-watering symptoms include stunted growth, dry spots appearing on the leaves and yellowing older leaves; these issues are either down to an over-crowded pot, too little light, or forgetfulness. Over-watering symptoms include yellowing lower leaves, brown mushy patches developing in the stems, and root rot. For the latter, take the plant out of its pot and investigate the health below the soil line. If there are visible signs of rot, click on this link to learn about the recommended steps to eradicate this problem.
Low humidity won't affect an Umbrella Tree too much, as long as you occasionally mist the foliage whilst the radiators are operating. A gentle hose-down once a month will help with the hydration of leaves, but will also wash off any excess dust and pests.
Supplement every four waters during the growing period, reducing this to every six weeks in the autumn and winter. Never use a 'ready to pour' fertiliser into the soil without a pre-water beforehand as it'll quickly lead to root-burn. It's recommended to use a 'Houseplant' labelled product as it'll provide a good blend of the thirteen essential nutrients for quality growth.
Continual lower leaf loss is a significant issue among gardeners. This unfortunate phenomenon is caused by dark locations and will continue to occur until it is relocated. Introduce the plant to a more well-lit location with a splash of off-peak sunlight; if caught in time, the leaf loss should stop within a few days.
Black/dried juvenile leaves at the top of the stems are the result of under-watering. Sit the plant in a bucket/large container of water to allow the rootball to become thoroughly soaked. After 15 minutes, take the plant and repot it into the next sized pot with a 'Houseplant' labelled potting mix. Wait a day before watering the plant to settle it into its new home. This will wrap the rootball in a cushion of moist soil to provide a more consistent environment for your Umbrella Tree to grow in.
Pest damage and Umbrella Trees go hand in hand. Check the leaves' undersides and along the central archways (midrib) for possible infestations of Scale. Along with the brown ovular shells, they'll produce a shiny sticky substance that'll develop on the top sides of the leaves - this is what's known as sooty mould. Click on the hyperlink above to learn more about how to eradicate this pest.
Another common pest are Spider Mites, which are small, near-transparent critters that'll slowly extract the chlorophyll from of its leaves. Have a check under the leaves, most notably along the midrib, for small webs and gritty yellow bumps. Click here to read our article about eradicating Spider Mites, along with some extra tips that you may not find elsewhere!
Environmental Shock is a familiar occurrence with newly-located specimens, that usually results in stunted growth and lower leaf loss (common). When a plant is relocated into a new, unfamiliar setting, the effects can be catastrophic. The humidity, temperature and light levels will all suddenly shift into different proportions, inflicting great stress the individual. There are two options of addressing this issue; either wait it out or relocate it into a more Umbrella Tree-friendly environment. As long as the specimen appears healthy with little change to its pre-existing leaves, new nodular growth should emerge in the following months.
Yellowing lower leaves is a clear sign of over-watering, commonly sped up by too little light. Although non-variegated specimens can do well in low light, irrigations must be reduced to counteract the chance of root rot. This soil-borne disease is the breakdown of the root systems that'll inhibit the plant's ability to soak up moisture and vital nutrients for growth, thus resulting in wilting and yellowed leaves.
Always use lukewarm water, and if you choose to use tap water, allow it to stand for at least 24hrs before application. Their root systems tend to be quite sensitive to temperature change, so pouring cold tap water into the pot will not only ironise the roots, but could even cause yellowed halos around each leaf.
Transplant shock is a big issue when it comes to repotting; give the plant a good soak 24hrs before the action and never tinker with the roots, unless it has been affected by root rot. Typical signs of transplant shock are largely similar to under-watering (wilting, yellowing leaves and stunted growth). For more information about addressing this issue, click on this link and scroll down to the 'Transplant Shock' section!
Schefflera is part of the Araliaceae family that holds genera such as Polyscias, Fatsia japonica and Hedera. In 1775, the genus was named after Johann Peter Ernst von Scheffler, an 18th-century German physician and botanist who contributed to the Reygers books on botany. The S. aboricola originates from Taiwan and is commonly called the "Dwarf Umbrella Tree' due to its smaller appearance from its popular Australian cousin, S. actinophylla.
12° - 23℃ (54° - 75℉)
H1b (Hardiness Zone 12) - Can be grown outdoors during the summer in a sheltered location with temperatures above 10℃ (50℉), but is fine to remain indoors, too. If you decide to bring this houseplant outdoors, don't allow it to endure more than an hour of direct sunlight a day as it may result in sun-scorch. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing it back indoors.
Up to 4m in height and 1m in width. The ultimate height will take between 5 - 10 years to achieve, with 20cm of growth being put out annually.
Remove yellowed or dying leaves and plant debris to encourage better growth and improve the all-round appearance. Pruning must be done with clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases; remember to make clean incisions as too much damage can shock the plant.
Via Seed or Stem Cuttings.
Stem Cuttings (Difficult)
White or yellow flowers will appear several times during its lifespan, but will only bloom once it reaches a certain level of maturity. Blooms are formed in clusters that will develop into yellow berries if pollination is successful. The whole plant, including the berries, is toxic due to the heightened levels of calcium oxalate crystals.
Repot every three years in spring, using a 'Houseplant' labelled potting mix and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. Umbrella Trees are far better being potbound for several years due to the heightened risk of root rot and repotting-issues (like transplant shock), so only repot if you feel it's wholly necessary - restricted root growth will also increase the chance of blooms, too.
Hydrate the plant 24hrs before tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. For those situated in a darker location, introduce an extra amount of perlite into the deeper portion of the pot to downplay over-watering risks. Click here for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.
Keep an eye out for scale, aphids, spider mites, vine weevils & mealybugs. Typical diseases associated with Umbrella Trees are leaf-spot disease, botrytis & root rot - click here to learn about these issues.
This plant is classified as poisonous, so if small sections are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite may occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly; acquire medical assistance for further information.
Dobbies, Blue Diamond, British Garden Centres, TESCO, Waitrose Garden & Online Stores.
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