Tips for Growing and Maintaining Your Dwarf Umbrella Tree

The dwarf umbrella tree is a gorgeous plant that works in both indoor and outdoor settings. This versatile plant is not a trendy plant variety, but it has a loyal following. There will always be fans of fast-growing plants that take just a bit of care to stay beautiful.

What is a Dwarf Umbrella Tree?

Dwarf Umbrella TreeView in gallery

Dwarf umbrella trees, or Schefflera arboricola, are from a larger group of umbrella plants in the tropical tree family. It is a native of New Guinea, Australia, and Java. They have deep green, glossy leaves that grow from a central point.

This is why it is also called an octopus tree or a parasol plant. The variegated variety of the dwarf umbrella tree has yellow to white patches on the leaves. Some common variegated varieties are Dazzle and Gold Capella.

Most homeowners like the dwarf variety of the umbrella plant because it grows just 3-6 feet as an indoor plant. It can still grow up to 25 feet as an outdoor plant. Umbrella plants do respond well to pruning, so excessive growth is not a problem.

According to the gardening experts at Costa Farms, the umbrella plant makes a good addition to most interior rooms because it is adaptable to various growing conditions. It works well in bedrooms because at night, this plant filters the air to decrease indoor air pollution.

Dwarf Umbrella Tree Care Details

Botanical nameSchefflera arboricola
LightBright but indirect light; adaptable to lower light
WaterWater when the soil dries; mist leaves
FertilizerAll purpose plant food twice a week during the growing season, but never in the winter
PestsAphids, spider mites, mealybugs, scale insects
DiseasesLeaf blight, leaf spot, root rot
SoilRegular potting soil mixed with perlite or sand, humus, or peat
Climate ZonesHardy in Zones 9-11
SizeIndoors 3-6 feet tall, outdoors up to 25 feet tall
FoliageDark green leaves with a glossy finish that spread from a central point
FlowersWhite, pink, or red flowers, does not bloom often indoors
ToxicityIrritating sap to human skin, toxic but not fatal for humans and animals

Dwarf Umbrella Tree Growing Tips

The Schefflera plant is easy care and versatile, but they thrive best in certain conditions.


Light Needs

The umbrella plant is adaptable to different light conditions, but it will thrive best in bright but filtered indirect light. If you have these conditions, you will have a lush houseplant that is tall with bushy leaves. Direct sunlight for a few hours of the day is fine, but it is not ideal all day. In low light, these plants will become leggy, or tall with sparse leaves.

Water Needs

The dwarf umbrella plant grows best if you allow the soil around the tree to dry out between waterings. Make sure the roots never sit in excess water as this can cause root rot. You can avoid this with well-draining soil and a pot with good drainage holes. Mist the leaves on a regular basis or use a humidifier to increase the humidity levels for indoor plants.


Soil Conditions

Whether you plant your umbrella tree in your garden landscape or in pots, use well-draining sandy loam soil. You can also use soil that is two parts peat moss, one part compost and one part perlite. When you plant the Umbrella Trees outdoors, make sure that it is in an area where the water doesn’t pool. The soil should have a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.

Atmospheric Conditions

Dwarf umbrella trees are tropical and love high humidity levels and temperatures ranging from 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a climate that gets below 55 degrees, these plants, similar to other tropical varieties like Bird of Paradise plants and Areca palms, will not thrive outdoors. Indoors, keep your umbrella plants away from drafts or areas with sudden temperature drops. The green varieties thrive best in the cooler temperature ranges. Variegated varieties prefer warm temperatures.


Fertilizer

Dwarf Umbrella Trees are heavy feeders and love extra nutrients. They will thrive with all-purpose fertilizer administered during the growing season from spring through summer.


Pests and Diseases

Aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites are the most common pests of the Umbrella Plant. You can prevent infestations with the application of neem oil. If you see a sticky substance on your plant, the most common explanation is an infestation of aphids, scales, or mealybugs. Treat an infestation with insecticidal soap, neem oil, or rubbing alcohol and a damp cloth. The New Mexico State University College of Agriculture recommends isolating the infected plant while you treat it.

Root rot and leaf spots are common diseases for Umbrella Plants. Most of the time, these can be avoided if you take care not to overwater. If you see brown spots on the leaves of your plant, treat by removing the affected leaves. If this doesn’t clear up the problem, treat with a commercial copper fungicide.


Pruning

Dwarf Umbrella Trees can become leggy or too tall for your indoor garden. If they do, prune them. Begin with a pair of sharp shears or pruners and cut branches back just above the leaves. This will encourage more leaves rather than tall growth. Cut back any leggy stems about 6 inches to stimulate leaf growth.


Potting Dwarf Umbrella Trees

Umbrella Plants grown indoors will sometimes become top-heavy. Make sure to plant these trees in a pot that is large enough to counterbalance the weight of the tree. As the plant grows, you will need to transplant to a bigger pot with new potting soil. Do not fertilize for about 4 weeks after repotting as the new soil will have enough nutrients for your plant to thrive.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Is a Dwarf Umbrella Tree poisonous?

Umbrella Plants have calcium oxalate crystals in their sap that cause a rash on the skin and around the mouth if eaten or rubbed. Also, the Umbrella Plant may cause vomiting, kidney issues, heart problems, and respiratory issues in pets or humans if they ingest the leaves.

What are Dwarf Umbrella Tree bonsai?

Bonsai is the art of growing and shaping a miniature tree in a pot. Because Umbrella Plants are so versatile, some experts consider them a good candidate for the art of bonsai. Also, Umbrella Trees have large, fleshy root systems. This makes it easy to create root-over-rock-style bases that are attractive in bonsai art.

How easy is Dwarf Umbrella Tree propagation?

Dwarf Umbrella Tree propagation is more difficult than for other similar plants. To begin, cut off a 2-6 inch stem in the spring. Remove all the leaves but one set. Dip the end into a rooting hormone and place it in a container with potting soil. Next, cover the container with a plastic bag away from direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist and try to keep the temperature around the container at 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Check for roots in about one month.

What are the common types of Dwarf Umbrella plants?

There are several varieties of Dwarf Umbrella Trees including Arboricola, Renate Green, Gold Capella, Trinette, and Dazzle. Arboricola has green leaves. Renate Green plants have a rippled leaf. Gold Capella is a variegated variety with gold and green leaves. Trinette and Dazzle have cream and green leaves.

Conclusion

Dwarf Umbrella Trees are a great addition to your indoor and outdoor plant arsenal. They are low maintenance, have a striking shape, and grow in many conditions. There are a variety of species, so you can experiment with the look and care needs of different plants to see what works best for your home. When it comes to plants, you can’t have too much of a good thing.