How to grow Umbrella Tree
Umbrella Trees (Schefflera actinophylla) might not protect you from the rain, but their dark green, whorled leaves will bring a hint of the tropics to your home!
These tropical plants will happily grow as an indoor plant with bright, indirect light. Umbrella Trees are easily to grow and very low maintenance - making them perfect for the beginner gardener. They can grow up to 2 metres tall, but if you don’t repot them each year into bigger pots - they will be dwarfed or stunted by the smaller pot. Only repot into a bigger pot them if you want them to grow taller!
Top 5 steps to growing an Umbrella Tree
- An Umbrella Trees prefers a spot with bright indirect light - direct sun can burn their leaves.
- Use a premium potting mix, like Scotts Osmocote Premium Indoor Potting Mix for Indoor Plants to give your plant the best start possible
- Umbrella Trees like moist, but free-draining soil - water them when the top 3-4cm of the soil feels dry. Make sure the pot has drainage holes and don’t allow water to collect in saucers or the base of cover pots. Excess water can cause the leaves of your Umbrella Tree to turn yellow.
- Fertilise Umbrella Trees with an indoor plant fertiliser like Scotts Osmocote Pour+Feed for Indoor Plants once a month during spring and summer, to encourage strong healthy growth.
- Umbrella Trees come from the tropics, so they appreciate an area with high humidity, away from drying drafts or heating/cooling vents.
- An Umbrella Tree
- A suitable pot
- Scotts Osmocote Premium Indoor Potting Mix
- Scotts Osmocote Controlled Release Fertiliser for Indoor Plants or Scotts Osmocote Pour+Feed for Indoor Plants
- A potting mix scoop or garden trowel
- Defender Pyrethrum Insect Spray
Growing in a pot
Choose a pot for your Umbrella Tree that’s roughly 2 times the size of the original nursery pot - make sure it has drainage holes or use a black plastic pot that sits snuggly inside a cover-pot or cache pot (pot with no holes).
Half fill your pot with Scotts Osmocote Premium Indoor Potting Mix and gently remove the Umbrella Tree from the nursery pot and position it into the potting mix, backfill around root ball with more potting mix so that the potting mix is level with, or slightly below, the top of the pot.
Water your new Umbrella Tree in well and tip out any excess water from the base of the cover-pot or saucer (if using). Umbrella Trees prefer to be watered when the top 2-3cm of potting mix is dry to the touch. Never let water pool in the base of cover-pots or in saucers as your Umbrella will quickly rot if their potting mix remains soggy or waterlogged.
Fertilising & Care
Fertilise Umbrella Trees fortnightly in spring and summer with an indoor plant fertiliser to encourage new growth. Use Scotts Osmocote Pour+Feed for Indoor Plants - this is a simple to use ‘measure and pour’ feed which contains the right balance of nutrients. If you’d prefer a longer-term fertilising product, with less applications, apply Scotts Osmocote Controlled Release Fertiliser for Indoor Plants in early spring and again in early autumn - this product feeds for up to 6 months.
In the warmer months of spring and summer Umbrella Trees will appreciate a more regular watering and a higher humidity. To increase the humidity around Umbrella Trees, group them with other plants to create a microclimate. You can also sit their pot on a saucer filled with pebbles and water - as the water evaporates it will humidify the air.
Remove any dead or damaged leaves to promote new growth. If your Umbrella Tree grows long and leggy, try moving it to a spot with more bright (indirect) light and prune back leggy growth to encourage a bushy plant.
To remove the dust that collects on Umbrella Tree leaves, pop it into the shower or bring it outside for a gentle hose off or use a soft, damp cloth to remove stubborn dust gently.
Pests & Diseases
Umbrella Trees are relatively pest and disease resistant. However keep an eye out for scale, mites, and mealybugs - regularly check the backs of the leaves for signs of these pests - use Defender Pyrethrum Insect Spray to control them if needed.
Yellowing leaves on your Umbrella Tree could indicate excess watering - only water when the top 3-4cm of potting mix feels dry.
Browning leaves on an Umbrella Tree could be a sign of not enough water or too much direct sunlight. Increase watering if the soil feels dry or relocate your Umbrella Tree to a bright, but indirect sun position.
WARNING - Umbrella Trees are mildly toxic to pets and children. Keep them away from both.