When my husband and I first moved in together it was to an unfurnished, rented house in west London. The house was empty except for a small umbrella plant which the previous tenants had obviously left behind. That was 12 years ago and the plant, against the odds, is now a healthy large plant in our living room.
The umbrella plant is so named because of the shape of it's whorles. Also known as an umbrella tree, it comes in a few varieties and it's correct name is schefflera arboricola. Mine has one trunk and a number of small branches from which grow stems with between 4 and 12 leaflets fanning out to look (a bit) like an umbrella. The leaves are dark green ovals, some with pale green markings to the middle.
Upon finding the plant I took pity on it, repotted it and then haven't really paid much attention to it since apart from watering it weekly or fortnightly when I forget. It seems that these plants are perfect for those who are not particularly green fingered! I have moved the position of my plant a number of times and it is very easy to tell when it is not happy because the stems of the whorles break from the trunk or branch. Moving the plant to a different position (ideally out of any drafts) will ensure a quick recovery. I am always amazed at the number of tiny new leaves appearing despite my minimal attention to the plant.
A couple of warning about this plant. First, if you plant it outside it can become a pest as it can become invasive. Second, it is mildly toxic to pets. However, I have a cat and she has never attempted to eat the leaves so I do not worry about this. Less of a warning but also a point to note is that the large leaves seem very good at collecting dust! I find a wick shower does the trick to bring back the shine. It should also be noted that this plant does not flower indoors.
I have grown very fond of my umbrella plant as it has not given up on me yet. If you are new to plants or simply don't have the time or inclination to lavish them with care, this is a great indoor plant for you.
NEW HOME, NEW PLANT
I moved into the house that I lived in before my present one in 1986.
A few days after moving into my new home I discovered a basket had been left on my doorstep. It had plants growing inside and a card was stuck into the soil, saying “With the compliments of Bairstow Eves.”
I don’t think they do this any more but wasn't it a nice gesture?
Inside the basket there were a few tiny plants surrounding a larger Umbrella plant.
The basket was taken indoors and cared for. After some time the plants had grown too tall and spread too much for the basket and were re-potted.
I must say that I am hopeless with house-plants and although I love plants and flowers I currently only grow plants in the garden and never in the house. This is a safer arrangement for the plants!
But strangely the umbrella plant survived for years, although sadly, the plants that had been with it, perished.
My umbrella plant grew and grew and I ran out of space for it. It was moved around the house and as it grew too large for each new home a new location had to be found.
One location was in the hallway but it didn’t thrive here. This was before the days of googling and I didn’t realise for a while that it didn’t like drafts.
It was moved to a different location and grew taller and wider.
The plant did get rather dusty and with the leaves consisting of many tendrils it isn't an easy task to dust this plant. I bought a leaf shine spray for the plant and it did enhance it.
The plant survived under my care for at least thirteen years but with four children in a too small house, I ran out of space for it and had to, reluctantly, give it away.
The Umbrella plant or Schefflera is an attractive indoor plant and must be fairly easy to grow or it wouldn't have survived for so long in my home. It is tropical therefore it’s no surprise that it is best suited to humid conditions. It prefers to be kept in temperatures of 60ºF or over and kept out of drafts.
The plant should be watered about once a week but less in winter time.
Schefflera is a leafy green plant with the leaves being long and shiny and curve downwards giving the umbrella shape.
When this plant is grown indoors it won’t flower but makes a very decorative plant due to its graceful shape and green waxy looking leaves.
One of the evergreen plants I've got in my living-room is the Schefflera, a member of the Araliaceae plant family. It got its name in honour of Jacob Christian Scheffler, a German botanist and physician who lived from 1698 to 1742. I couldn't find out if he discovered the plant in New Guinea or Australia, the home countries of the plant, or if the honour of naming a plant after him was bestowed on him for something he'd done in the field of science.
The Schefflera is also called Umbrella Plant, an odd name if you ask me. Admittedly, the leaves are arranged in a whorl around the leaf stem, they're long and wide and touch each other so that they look a bit like an umbrella. The problem is only that the leaves begin with a thin stem so that there is no cover at the centre of the 'umbrella' meaning anybody using a whorl as an umbrella would get a wet head.
In its countries of origin, also on Tenerife, the plant can grow up to the height of about 5m, the houseplant variety we have indoors in Europe usually only grows up to 1,50 or 2m. It has whorls with 7 - 9 leaflets which are about 10-15cm long and 2cm wide, either green throughout or with creamy-white to yellow edges or centres. The indoor Schefflera doesn't develop blossoms, it's just a green decoration for living-rooms, reception areas and offices. Now that smoking is banned in public buildings it can display its smoke absorbing quality only in private homes.
I don't remember for how long I've had my Schefflera, I guess it's been standing at the same spot for more than 30 years. Obviously it likes it there. It doesn't want abrupt changes of temperature, a constant 20°C make it happy. It doesn't like drafts, a spot in bright but indirect light is just right. My Schefflera stands on a low table beside a window facing west. It gets indirect light in the afternoon, sunbeams touch it (if there are any).
Whenever I look closely at my Schefflera, I see small new leaves, what I like about the plant, though, is that they grow very, very slowly. It's now 1,30 m high, when I bought it, it was half the size. Last year I bought a 1.50m long green plastic stick in a garden centre which I stuck into the pot and tied the stem to it because it began to lean to one side. I'm glad the Schefflera grows so slowly, I don't want to turn my living-room into a jungle. Internet advice sites tell me that Schefflera need pruning from time to time to keep them looking vigorous and healthy and that pruning session is the perfect time to start new plants. I've never pruned it, it looks vigorous and healthy enough to me and then what should I start new plants for? One Schefflera is enough in my living-room. Sadly, indoor Schefflera don't produce blossoms.
It has been standing in the same soil since I've got it, I've never changed it. There is no conviction behind this that this is the right thing to do but merely laziness. The Schefflera doesn't seem to mind. I 'coffee' it once a week like all my other plants, I always do it on Sunday so that I won't forget it. After making filter coffee I pour water through the coffee dregs a second time which, when it has become cold, I use for my plants. They love it! You better believe it. A woman who worked in a coffee bar told me that often in the evening gardeners came to take the coffee dregs home that had accumulated during the day to muck their flowers with. It's no problem to go away for two weeks, too little liquid is always better than too much.
Occasionally my Schefflera loses some leaves or small twigs, I collect them and throw them away. As long as the loss isn't exorbitant I don't bother. Spider mites which are said to be fond of the plant haven't found their way into my living-room so no use of pesticide or washing with insecticidal soap has been necessary up to now. When I think of it, which isn't too often I must admit, I spray the leaves with water. It's the perfect plant for beginners and people without a 'green thumb'
i have one of these plants and i like it, but it is getting very tall around 4 feet high and 4 feet wide. i have been a bit brutal in past when i pruned it but i grew back with a vengance. what do i do with it now it is taking over my front room?
I have an umbrella plant that is over 40 years old and thriving. It is approximately 10 ft tall. I put it on the front porch (yes, it does get sun) all Summer and bring it in when it gets colder in the Fall. I have a question regarding pruning it - how is this done? Thanks
The Schefflera arboricola (umbrella tree plant) should not be confused with umbrella grass (which it often is in reviews and gardening books). It originates in Australasia.
The umbrella plant is a highly ornamental plant that can grow to about 8-foot-tall. Mine is about two foot at the moment and is coming along nicely. The umbrella plant derives its name because of the way that its leaves radiate out and hang downwards.
It makes the perfect houseplant for those who love their plants a little too much for it is a plant that likes plenty of water - two or three times a week in summer and about once a week in winter. It should be potted in a loam based soil.
The umbrella plant likes to dwell in bright areas but like so many other house plants it should not be subjected to direct sunlight. It will however still survive in more shaded areas of the house.
You can even take your Umbrella Plant out in the rain if you wish just like a normal umbrella. I took my little plant out this moring when the rain was pouring down. When back indoors you should make sure that the room temperature be kept above 50 degrees fahrenheit if possible. If you don't like walking in the rain you can spoil them by giving them a spray of rain water two or three times week.
These plants should live to a ripe old age if you treat them well.
If you decide to buy this plant look for good green leaves - they should appear like highly polished green leather. My two foot plant cost about £3 at a local family garden centre.