Commonly known as the umbrella tree, this stately plant reaches a height of 8 to 10 feet (2.5 – 3.1 meters) indoors. A small species, Schefflera arborciola, grows to only about 4 feet (1.2 meters) and has recently become available in variegated form. At one time, schefflera was the most favored big indoor plant. It is somewhat less popular today as other plants have takes its place. It is one of the easiest large plants to grow. Consideration to its placement should be given before purchase. Schefflera has long stems with 7 to 16 polished leaves, each up to 12 inches (30 cm) long. Their formation resembles the ribs of an umbrella and, hence, the plant’s common name. To reduce the height of the larger schefflera, prune the main stems back to a node (the point at which leaves join the stem). This plant is excellent for the novice indoor gardener or those who tend to neglect their plants. Its major drawback is its tendency to attract pests. Check to make sure the plant is pest-free at time of purchase, and mist often to reduce the risk of insect infestation.
Family: Araliaceae (aralia)
Origin: Australia, Java, Taiwan, New Guinea, New Zealand
Care: Water thoroughly, allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Water less in fall and winter. Feed with dilute water-soluable fertilizer every two weeks in spring and summer and once a month in fall and winter. Mist often.
Ideal Temperature: 55-75°F (13-24°C)
Challenges: Aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects, especially if the air is too dry.