Schefflera arboricola (Dwarf Umbrella Tree) Indoor Care, Propagation, Problems and Solutions

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.

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


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.


Dwarf Umbrella Tree will grow to a height of 4-6 ft when grown indoors.

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.


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.


Schefflera arboricola is toxic to both humans and pets as listed by 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.

Where to Buy

Dwarf Schefflera Plants are a beautiful addition for your plant collection. You may acquire them online from Etsy or from Amazon.

Schefflera arboricola Care Indoors

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

Schefflera arboricola 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.

Schefflera arboricola, Dwarf Umbrella Tree, Dwarf Schefflera


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.

Decrease 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 result in root-rot disease and loss of the plant.

Light Requirements

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

Rotate the pot regulary 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. Check out these full spectrum grow lights on Amazon.

Temperature and Humidity

The best temperature for growing Schefflera arboricola indoors is an average warmth of 16-280C.

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

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 increase humidity. Check out these techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.


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.

Potting Medium

The best potting mix 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 like this quality Potting Mix available on Amazon are ideal for Dwarf Umbrella.


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. Take a look at these Ceramic Pots with Drainage Holes and Saucer on Amazon.


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 with a sharp, clean pair of pruning scissors 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.


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

Dwarf Umbrella Tree (Schefflera arboricola) growing problems 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.


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.


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.

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 grow lights if the natural light is inadequate.

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.

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.

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