Schefflera, also known as the umbrella tree plant and the dwarf umbrella tree plant, are popular houseplants because they are easy to grow, but they do need some special care to provide years of indoor enjoyment. An added bonus? They help keep your indoor air free of pollutants. Schefflera are tropical plants so be aware that they will need somewhat tropical conditions in your home.
As with most plants, light and water are the two biggest concerns when growing a schefflera. Your schefflera loves plenty of bright light but doesn't do well in direct sunlight. Put it in a bright spot, with indirect light, for best results. Too little light, and your schefflera will grow "leggy" as it reaches toward the light source. Too much light, and the leaves will burn.
Set your plant on a saucer full of pebbles and allow the saucer to catch any runoff from watering. This will provide extra humidity while keeping your schefflera's feet dry. Wait until the soil dries out before watering your schlefflera. Overwatering is a good way to quickly kill this otherwise forgiving house plant. Once the soil has dried, water thoroughly until the soil is evenly damp. If the leaves of your schefflera start to turn yellow and fall from the plant, this is a sign that you are watering too frequently. On the other hand, wrinkled leaves may indicate that your plant is not getting enough water. Root rot is the most common problem with the schefflera, brought on by overwatering and poor drainage.
Schefflera are homebodies and don't like to be moved. Choose your site well and make sure you avoid areas with cold drafts or heat waves from air conditioning and heating vents. Either of these may cause the leaves to fall.
Schefflera tend to lose their lower leaves as they grow taller. To prevent this, prune the plant back harshly to promote new growth at the lower levels. Pinching off the new growth will also help to encourage your plant to branch out. If allowed to get tall, your plant should be staked for support.
When roots start to poke out of the holes in the bottom of the pot, it's time to repot your schefflera. Choose a heavy pot for your plant's new home as these small trees tend to get top heavy. Use a peat moss based potting mix when replanting. Fertilize your schefflera several times a year with a liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength.
Schefflera are a popular home for spider mites and mealy bugs, so check your plant frequently. Look especially at the undersides of leaves where the mites like to hide. If you see mites, try a product such as "Safer Soap" or neem oil to treat them. Check with your local nursery if you need help with this problem.
The schefflera is poisonous to humans and pet. While not fatal, it can still cause severe swelling and difficulty breathing. If ingested, contact poison control. In cases of severe breathing problems, call 911 immediately.
Taking these tips into consideration when caring for your schefflera plant will keep it healthy and your indoors happy for a long time to come.