How to care for the resilient Umbrella plant is easy. And some of the payoff is a plant with great looking foliage that filters out VOCs (volatile organic compounds). It can filter toxins like carbon monoxide, toluene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, acetone and ammonia. Once it filters out the pollutants it releases clean oxygen back into the air.
Umbrella Plant (aka dwarf umbrella tree, Hawaiian umbrella tree plant, dwarf Hawaiian schefflera, Australian ivy palm, umbrella plant, octopus tree, parasol plant and starleaf
Botanical Name and Family: Schefflera Arboricola from the Araliaceae family
Other plant species include: Schefflera Actinophylla, Gold Capella, Green Gold, Compacta
Photo: Rachel Claire
- Light: Bright indirect light
- Best Grown: If placed South or West facing
- Benefits: Because it filters out carbon monoxide this plant is great to have in the home if anyone happens to be a smoker.
- Soil: Well draining potting soil. Rich and modestly moist with a pH balance of 6.0 – 6.5 which is slightly acidic
- Watering: Give it a good soaking when the soil is completely dry. Make sure the pot has drainage since this plant can suffer root or stem rot if it sits in standing water.
- Fertilizer: This plant doesn’t need consistent fertilizing, but using one will give you more rapid growth. So you can use a liquid fertilizer. Or if you’re not into chemicals and want to go the green route, use coffee grinds. Coffee grinds contain nitrogen, some potassium and other micronutrients making it a great slow release fertilizer. All you have to do is sprinkle some coffee grinds right on top of your soil.
- Repotting: Every two years once its reached maturity
- Toxicity: Because it contains sharp calcium oxalate which is toxic and harmful to cats, dogs and small children. Depending on how much is consumed it can be fatal. However if ingested it can significantly damage the pets kidneys or liver. Other symptoms can include cardiac arrhythmia, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty swallowing, labored breathing, airway obstruction, along with swelling of the lips and tongue.
- How big will it grow: Indoors it can grow anywhere between 4 – 15 feet high and outdoors as high as 50 feet.
- Propagating: Take a stem cutting that is 2- 6 inches in the spring that has a few leaflets attached. Make sure whatever you use to cut the stem has been cleaned with alcohol to avoid any contamination. To get the best propagating results, you’ll want to incorporate a root hormone which is easy to do if you have some apple cider vinegar on hand. Mix 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in 5 – 6 cups of water. Pour an inch of the root hormone solution into a seperate small container (again to avoid contamination). Dip the cut end of the stem into a small container of hormone solution. This area of the stem is where the roots will begin to form. Add similar soil to the parent plant into a small planting pot. With a pencil or straw make a hole in the center of the soil then place the cut side of the stem in the hole. Pack the soil tightly around the soil so the stem stands upright.
- Temperature: It thrives best in temperatures ranging from 60 – 75°F (15 – 24°C) and should not be exposed to temperatures below 55°F (13°C) because it’s very sensitive to the cold. For this reason avoid placing this plant by drafty windows or doors.
As you can see, how to care for the resilient umbrella plant is pretty easy and hopefully you learned some new tips along the way. If you’re interested in other easy to care for plants, check out my posts on the snake plant, ZZ plant and the monstera plant