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How to Care for Umbrella Plants

By Bridget Kelly ; Updated September 21, 2017

Schefflera, a tropical evergreen tree, is also known as the umbrella plant or octopus plant. A popular house plant, the schefflera's leaves measure 4 to 10 inches in width, resembling the spokes of an umbrella. This tree can grow to 40 feet tall in its natural habitat. Indoors, the umbrella tree can reach 10 feet. This tree is easy to grow and, if back-lit, can add a splash of drama to an otherwise dark corner.

Plant your umbrella tree in a mixture of soil, perlite and a little builder's sand. Umbrella plants don't tolerate full sun, so place the plant in a well-lit area but out of the direct sun. Ideal growing temperatures for the umbrella plant are between 60 and 65 degrees F, but they will do fine at higher temperatures as long as the plant is misted frequently to provide humidity.

Water the plant to keep the soil moist but not soggy. As a rule of thumb, water when the top inch of soil is dry. Remove any standing water in the pot's tray, as this can cause root rot.

Fertilize your umbrella plant every 2 months with an all-purpose plant food, making sure to apply it to moist soil.

Protect the umbrella plant from pests, such as spider mites, by periodically cleaning both sides of the leaves with a soft, moist cloth. Misting the plant occasionally with water will also help to avoid a pest infestation. Heavy infestations will require the use of a pesticide or miticide.

Prune the umbrella plant to force it to grow fuller. With hand pruners, cut off the tips of the branches.


Things You Will Need

  • Perlite
  • Builder's sand
  • All-purpose fertilizer
  • Hand pruners


  • Schefflera is toxic if ingested, and the sap may cause a skin reaction.

About the Author


Based in the American Southwest, Bridget Kelly has been writing about gardening and real estate since 2005. Her articles have appeared at Trulia.com, SFGate.com, GardenGuides.com, RE/MAX.com, MarketLeader.com, RealEstate.com, USAToday.com and in "Chicago Agent" magazine, to name a few. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.