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Umbrella Tree
Umbrella Plant
Octopus Tree

Schefflera actinophylla or
Brassaia actinophylla

click pic to enlarge

Zone 9-10 or Houseplant

Native to Australia, New Guinea and Java, the Umbrella Tree, Schefflera actinophylla, is very common in South Florida and the warmer parts of Central Florida.  Schefflera is also seen indoors as a houseplant all over the world

Rated up to 40 feet, Umbrella Tree has large shiny medium green leaves held in groups of seven compound leaves.  Observers in New Guinea report seeing Schefflera growing epiphytic starting as much as 40 feet up in tall rainforest trees

Mature trees outdoors in full sun develop very showy flowers in the summer.   The Schefflera in the pic above is in the final red stage of bloom

Unfortunately, this Schefflera is also on Florida's "Don't Plant" list of nuisance trees.  What many people don't realize is outdoors, Schefflera is a nuisance for three reasons:

  • Schefflera seeds itself very easily causing Schefflera to grow where no one wants a large tree
  • Roots are strong, aggressive and can take over much of the surrounding soil
  • Schefflera sheds leaves constantly creating a littered appearance below

If you plant Schefflera, most any well drained soil will do.  After establishment, occasional water and occasional food are all that is required

There are numerous varieties of Dwarf Schefflera most often called Arboricola.  Called Miniature Umbrella Plant, Schefflera arborcola is native to Taiwan.  Arborcola can have all green leaves or variegated either green-yellow or green-white, depending on variety and sun or shade locations

Arboricola are Schefflera shrubs generally used in mass to fill bed space and provide contrast in colors and foliage.  This pic shows Arboricola used that way behind impatiens.   Arboricola is a slow growing plant, so it is easy to keep within bounds.   Pruned to create more branching, Arboricola is very nice with none of the negatives of its larger cousin

Schefflera farinosa (variegated) is native to Malaya and Indonesia, has green-yellow leaves like Arboricola, but much larger in size.  Farinosa is an excellent plant far less seen but perhaps even more attractive than Arborcola

Schefflera digitata is native to New Zealand, a shrub with a much thinner habit in green leaves that have points rather than rounded

Umbrella tree indoors as a houseplant is easy to grow if kept warm, in good light and the soil fairly dry.  Just follow basic houseplant procedures to have a nice Schefflera indoors all year round