How to grow and care for Dwarf Umbrella Tree Indoors

Houseplant, Dwarf Umbrella Tree

Botanical name: Schefflera arboricola
Synonym: Heptapleurum arboricola
Family: Araliaceae

Dwarf Umbrella Tree also called Hawaiian Schefflera or Dwarf Schefflera is a popular houseplant due to its tolerance to neglect and poor growing conditions. It is native to Taiwan as well as Hainan and it gets its common name from its appearance as a smaller version of Umbrella Tree. Leaf fall may occur if there is sudden change in conditions. Hawaiian Schefflera is a fast-growing tree-like plant with about ten leaflets radiating from each leaf-stalk. Under the right conditions, this plant will produce aerial roots which will convert to fully functional roots when they reach the ground. However, three conditions must be maintained for the plant to produce aerial roots; these 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. It 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 Dwarf Schefflera can been selected for the variations in leaf color and pattern which are often variegated with creamy-white to yellow edges or centers. Hayata whose leaves are greyish. Geisha Girl with rounded leaf tips. Variegata with yellow-splashed leaves among many others.

How to Grow Dwarf Umbrella Tree

Light

Dwarf Umbrella Tree prefers bright to medium light; the variegated types require more light than the all-green type. Protect Dwarf Schefflera from direct sunshine to prevent sun burn on the leaves. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Water

Water Dwarf Umbrella Tree liberally during the growing season and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering in cold weather to keep the soil slightly moist as growth is minimal. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead in root-rot. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth with a minimum of 120C is ideal for Dwarf Schefflera. Protect the plant from cold draughts. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

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

Feeding

Feed Dwarf Umbrella Tree with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer every 4 weeks during the growing period. Withhold 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. Learn more on feeding houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Dwarf Schefflera every 2 years during the growing season when the plant becomes root-bound. Use rich and free-draining soil. A pot 1 size larger is ideal; Dwarf Schefflera prefers to be root-bound. Ensure that the pot has drainage hole(s) as the Hawaiian Schefflera does not like to be waterlogged.

Pruning

Pruning Dwarf Umbrella Tree 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; new growth appears just below the cut. To prevent branching provide support for upright growth. If the plant becomes leggy, cut it back to a few inches above the soil level; this will encourage new growth to sprout.

How to Propagate Dwarf Umbrella Tree

Propagate Dwarf Schefflera from stem cuttings or from stem-tip cuttings during the growing period. Take a 6 in. cutting, ensure it has several leaf node as this is where new growth will come from. Remove the lower leaves and stick about 2 in. into moist free-draining soil. Cover the set up with polythene to create a greenhouse effect. Place in a warm shaded place. Maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges. Wait until there is adequate growth inorder to transplant the plant.

Common Problems in Growing Dwarf Umbrella Tree

  • Blackened leaf tips followed by leaf drop
  • Waterlogging is the cause of blacked leaf tips followed by leaf drop in Dwarf Schefflera. Ensure that both the soil and the pot have adequate drainage to prevent unhealthy water retention in the soil.

  • Sudden leaf drop
  • Sudden change in growing conditions for Dwarf Umbrella Tree will result in sudden leaf-drop. The plant needs to be slowly acclimatized to new growing conditions.

  • Yellow leaves and spindly growth
  • Yellow leaves and spindly growth in Dwarf Schefflera are due to too little light. Dwarf Umbrella Tree requires bright to medium light. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

  • Bright yellow leaves
  • Bright yellow leaves in Dwarf Umbrella Tre are due to underwatering is the cause; maintain the soil moderately moist and never allow the soil to dry out completely. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Dwarf Umbrella Tree are Scale Insects, Mealy Bugs and Red Spider Mites. Isolate the affected plant and treat appropriately. Mist the leaves regularly to reduce infestation by these pests.

  • Diseases
  • The most common disease in Dwarf Schefflera is Root-rot Disease which is brought about by waterlogging due to poor soil drainage. The presence of the disease is indicated by yellowing of leaves, leaves and stems turning brown-black and gradual wilting of the plant.

Toxicity

Dwarf Schefflera (Schefflera arboricola) contains "sharp" calcium oxalate crystals that are insoluble and damage cells and tissues of animals if ingested. This results in swelling of the exposed tissue and the digestive tract which may be fatal to both animals and humans.

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