How to Grow and Care for Schefflera arboricola (Dwarf Umbrella Tree) Indoors


Schefflera arboricola, Dwarf Umbrella Tree, Dwarf Schefflera

Botanical name: Schefflera arboricola
Synonym: Heptapleurum arboricola
Family: Araliaceae
Common names: Dwarf Umbrella Tree, Hawaiian Schefflera, Dwarf Schefflera

Description

Schefflera arboricola commonly called Dwarf Umbrella Tree, Hawaiian Schefflera or Dwarf Schefflera is a popular plant on account of its tolerance to neglect and poor growing conditions.

Hawaiian Schefflera is a fast-growing tree-like plant with about ten leaflets radiating from each leaf-stalk.

Under the right conditions, Dwarf Umbrella Tree will produce aerial roots which will convert to fully functional roots when they reach the ground.

Three conditions must be maintained for Dwarf Schefflera Tree to produce aerial roots. These conditions are a high growth rate, insufficient trunk roots (due to the plant being root bound or these roots are pruned) and a constant, very high humidity.

Related Plants

Dwarf Umbrella Tree is much easier to grow than its close relative Schefflera actinophylla (Umbrella Tree).

Unlike the Umbrella Tree, the Dwarf Umbrella Tree will happily grow as a bush if the growing tip is removed.

Origin

Schefflera arboricola also called Heptapleurum arboricola is native to Taiwan as well as Hainan and it gets its common name from its appearance as a smaller version of Umbrella Tree.

Varieties

Many varieties of Schefflera arboricola can been selected for their variations in leaf color and pattern which are often variegated with creamy-white to yellow edges or centers.

Varieties of Dwarf Umbrella Tree include Hayata whose leaves are greyish, Geisha Girl with rounded leaf tips and Variegata with yellow-splashed leaves among many others.

Where to Buy

Dwarf Schefflera Plants in various sizes are readily available online at Etsy. Buy Schefflera Plants online from Etsy.

Schefflera arboricola, Dwarf Umbrella Tree, Dwarf Schefflera

Schefflera arboricola Care Indoors

Dwarf Umbrella Tree (Schefflera arboricola) thrives in medium to bright light away from direct sunshine, moderate warmth and moderately moist, rich, well-drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.

Hawaiian Schefflera requires repotting every 2-3 years only when it becomes pot-bound. Regular pruning is necessary to keep the plant neat, to minimize pest and disease infestation and to encourage a bushy, compact growth. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.

Light Requirements

Schefflera arboricola grows best in medium to bright light. Keep it away from direct sunshine to prevent sun burn on the leaves.

Regularly rotate the pot to ensure that the Dwarf Schefflera receives light on all sides for uniform growth to prevent lop-sided growth.

The variegated types will require more light than the all-green type. They can also grow under a grow light where the natural light is inadequate.

Watering

Water Schefflera arboricola liberally during the growing season and allow the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings to maintain the soil moderately moist.

Cut down on watering during the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist as growth is minimal at this time but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of the plant.


Temperature

The best temperature for growing Schefflera arboricola indoors is an average warmth with a minimum of 120C.

Keep Dwarf Umbrella Tree away from cold draughts to avoid sudden drop in temperature as it can cause leaf drop.

Humidity

Normal household humidity is perfect for Hawaiian Schefflera; normally the plant has no need for extra humidity.

Mist the leaves regularly and clean them by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and discourage pest infestation.

When the temperatures a very high which significantly reduce air humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Schefflera arboricola with a balanced, liquid fertilizer every 4 weeks during the growing period for lush growth.

Stop feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time may lead to fertilizer burn.

Regularly flush out accumulated salts from the soil by running a stream of water through the soil until the water comes out through the drainage hole. Allow it to run for a few minutes and repeat several times.

Repotting

Repot Schefflera arboricola every 2-3 years during the growing season when the plant becomes root-bound.

Use a pot 1 size larger than the current one as Dwarf Umbrella Tree prefers to be root-bound.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole as the plant does not like to be in soggy soil and it can lead to root-rot disease.

Soil

The best soil for Schefflera arboricola should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.

Most multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal for this plant. Purchase quality Potting Mix for Dwarf Umbrella Tree online from Etsy.

Pruning

Pruning Schefflera arboricola requires removal of dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy.

To encourage a bushy and compact growth, regularly pinch the growing tips and new growth will appear just below the cut.

If the plant becomes leggy, cut it back to a few inches above the soil level; this will encourage new growth to sprout.

The foliage emanating from the pruning can be used for taking cuttings to propagate new plants.

To prevent branching, do not pinch the growing tips and provide support for the Dwarf Umbrella Tree to encourage upright growth.

Propagation

Dwarf Umbrella Tree (Schefflera arboricola) can be propagated from stem cuttings or from stem-tip cuttings during the growing period.

How to propagate Dwarf Umbrella Tree from stem cuttings

Take a 6 in. Dwarf Umbrella Tree stem or stem-tip cutting, ensure it has several leaf node as this is where new growth will come from.

Strip off the lower leaves and dip the lower cut end in a rooting hormone to hasten rooting.

Insert about 2 in. of the lower cut end of the cutting into moist, free-draining soil.

Cover the set up with polythene to create a greenhouse effect to increase warmth and humidity.

Place the set up in a warm, well-lit place and maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges.

Rooting of the cuttings should take about 3-4 weeks; new growth indicates rooting has taken place.

Acclimatize the new Dwarf Schefflera to normal growing conditions by opening the polythene cover a little bit everyday for a period of two weeks. During this period, keep the soil barely moist.

At the end of the two weeks, water moderately, apply liquid fertilizer monthly until a fine network of roots appear on the soil surface.

The new Schefflera arboricola should by this time have developed 2-3 new leaves. From this point, the plant is ready for repotting and routine care can begin.

Schefflera arboricola, Dwarf Umbrella Tree, Dwarf Schefflera

Schefflera arboricola Problems Indoors

Dwarf Umbrella Tree (Schefflera arboricola) problems indoors include black leaf tips, yellow leaves, leggy growth, leaf drop, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.

Black leaf tips and leaf drop

Black leaf tips and leaf drop in Dwarf Umbrella Tree is caused by too wet soil (soggy soil). Too much water in the soil reduces oxygen in the soil and when this happens death is the result.

Death begins from the leaf tips and eventually the entire plant dies if the fault is not corrected in time. Ensure that both the soil and the pot have adequate drainage to prevent unhealthy water retention in the soil.

Leaf drop

Sudden change in growing conditions for Dwarf Umbrella Tree will is the cause of sudden leaf-drop.

The Dwarf Schefflera needs to be gradually acclimatized to the new growing conditions and to be protected from draughts (drafts) to avoid sudden changes in the temperatures.

Leggy growth and yellow leaves

Leggy growth and yellow leaves in Dwarf Umbrella Tree are due to too little light (inadequate light).

Move the Hawaiian Schefflera to a brighter spot where it will receive medium to bright light or instal a grow light if the natural light is inadequate.

Bright yellow leaves

Bright yellow leaves in Dwarf Umbrella Tree are due to underwatering (too little moisture in the soil).

Water the Dwarf Schefflera thoroughly during the growing season and maintain the soil moderately moist.

Water less in the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist but never allow the soil to dry out completely.

Pests

Common pests in Dwarf Umbrella Tree are Spider Mites, Mealy Bugs and Scale Insects. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests.

Mist and clean the leaves regularly to reduce infestation by these pests. Read more on how to identify and get rid of pests in houseplants.

Diseases

The most common disease in Dwarf Umbrella Tree is root-rot disease which is brought about by soggy soil due to poor soil drainage.

The presence of root-rot disease is indicated by yellowing of leaves, stems turning brown-black and gradual wilting of the plant.

Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the disease. Read more on how to treat root-rot in houseplants.

Is Schefflera arboricola toxic?

Schefflera arboricola (Dwarf Umbrella Tree) is toxic to both humans and pets according to ASPCA.

The plant contains "sharp" calcium oxalate crystals that are insoluble and damage cells and tissues of animals if ingested.

The Calcium oxalate crystals cause swelling of the exposed tissue and the digestive tract which may be fatal to both animals and humans.

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