Dwarf Umbrella Tree

Dwarf Umbrella Tree

Dwarf Umbrella Tree

Common Name: Dwarf Umbrella Tree, Umbrella Tree, Parasol Plant, Octopus Tree
Latin Name:  Schefflera arboricola
Family: Araliaceae
Plant Type: Tree, shrub
Origin: Taiwan
Blooming Time: Early to Late Summer
Humidity: Moderate
Temperature: 60 – 85*F
Height: 5′
Color: Green, yellow
Insects and Diseases: Scale, mealy bugs, aphids, spider mites

The Dwarf Umbrella Tree is a beautiful foliage plant to use inside the home. It’s very popular because it’s not an overly picky plant that can tolerate some neglect and a variety of home conditions.

The tree has long oval shaped leaves with pointy tips that grow on delicate stems. Each stem tip has five to nine shiny leaves that are arranged in a circular, or umbrella shape.

The Umbrella Tree comes in both green and a variegated variety. The solid variety is a dark, lush green color. The variegated variety has green leaves that are mingled with yellow or creamy white. This one is also popular when used as a bonsai.

While the dwarf variety generally only reaches around 4-5 feet tall, excellent growing conditions can produce a taller tree. Pruning and trimming can keep the tree at the size and shape you prefer.

The flowers appear as long, red spikes from the top of the plant during the summer. Round orange berries appear after the flowers and will turn black as they age. However, it seldom flowers in the home.

If you have a good location, the tree prefers to have bright, indirect light. Hot, direct sunlight can cause the leaves to burn. But, being a high tolerant plant, it can adapt to most lighting conditions as long as there is some light source.

However, if it receives too little light, the plant will become spindly looking. Yellow, dropping leaves means that the plant needs more lighting. The variegated variety requires a little more light than the green trees.

Umbrella Trees are very drought tolerant and can withstand some neglect when it comes to watering. The soil should not be kept too wet and the pot should have good drainage. Water the plant when the soil is almost dry or you notice slight wilting of the leaves. Use slightly warm water when watering this one.

Like with many other plants, wrinkling or wilted leaves means that it’s not getting enough water. But, if you notice the leaves beginning to turn black and eventually falling off, the plant is getting too much water.

A general purpose potting soil can be used for Dwarf Umbrella Trees as long as it drains well, but retains water moisture. Perlite or coarse sand can be added to the soil to improve aeration.

To make your own soil, mist 1 part Perlite or coarse sand, 1 part humus or moist peat and 1 part garden soil and give the mixture a light dusting with lime. For extra drainage, select a pot with a hole in the bottom.

A good quality liquid fertilizer can be used, or you can purchase fertilizers especially for foliage plants. Umbrella Trees growing under lower lighting conditions, need less fertilization than on that is receiving bright light.

If your pot is full of roots, the plant should be fertilized once or twice weekly with a diluted liquid plant food. Less fertilization is needed during the winter months, unless you notice new growth on the plant. Slow release fertilizers can be used once each growing season.

Stop fertilization in late October and then begin feeding again towards the end of February. Umbrella Trees need a period of rest during winter months when growing has decreased or sometimes stopped.

Harvesting Seeds:
When the red flower spikes change to dark maroon, let them dry completely in the sun. Carefully wash the pods, seeds should fall out if you gently rub the seed pod, once seeds are removed let them dry again.

Umbrella Tree’s can be propagated through seeds, cuttings or air-layering. Cuttings can be cut off with a sharp knife and placed in a good quality potting soil. Place the pot in a high humidity area that has indirect lighting. To increase humidity, cover the pot with plastic.

To air-layer, carefully slice off a thin layer of the stem covering on a lower branch. The open area can then be buried under the soil. Once roots have gotten established, remove the stem and place it in another pot.

These trees can be grown from seeds also, just sow in small containers and lightly cover with soil. Germination usually occurs within 2-3 weeks and plants can be re-potted once well established.   

While many people have no problems at all with skin irritation, some have adverse reactions and may develop a itchy rash when coming in contact with the sap. In most cases skin irritation only last few a little while.

Ingestion of any part of the plant can cause numbness, tingling in the mouth, vomiting and a lack of coordination. Only in extreme allergic reactions is this serious, if in doubt contact your physician.

This plant is actually listed on most of the non-poisonous lists.

To help provide the Umbrella Tree with extra humidity, mist every day or two. Use warm water when watering or misting. Filtered or distilled water is best, water that contains lime will stain the leaves.

Written by Connie Corder for HouseplantsForYou.com, Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved


  1. Ri Ko
    Oct 2, 2009

    Hi I live in Canada .My tree is blooming for second year . It had about 20 blooms ,now they’ve turned to yellow beries. In the summer I keep it outside and in the winter inside

  2. JaymiC
    Oct 10, 2009

    Ive had my tree for a while, no blooming but its indoor, will it ever do that? and can i make the leaves stronger so they dont fall off

  3. Thomas Patrick Piedmont
    Oct 18, 2009

    I own one of these plants, that I purchased at Home Depot near Dunellen NJ. It is easy to grow, can be grown as a bonsai if you like.

  4. Nancy
    Jan 30, 2010

    I have a couple of several year old Umbrella trees (scheffelerias) that have lost all of its lower leaves and they have no branchs- just leaves off the trunck. Is there a way to may the lower buds develop into branches? They are both 4-6 Feet. they get new leaves at the top but look very “naked below”.

  5. Alix
    Mar 30, 2010

    My aunt gave me this plant as a graduation present and I am horrible with plants anyway I over watered the plant and it is dying how can I save it?

  6. Samantha Durrant
    Apr 11, 2010

    I have just been given one of these plants from my friend who has no luck with plants at all. half of it has died, some of the leaves have wilted and drooped, when i took the plant out of its out pot, it was sodden, it looks like it has been over watered. I have taken off the dead leaves, but left on the wilting ones, once the plant has dried out, will these leaves pick up again?.. i have given it a good position in the home..

  7. arlene
    Apr 20, 2010

    i have an umbrella plant im not sure what kind it is large i have had this plant for at least 10 years my plant has nrver had flowers on it half the time i forget to water it it grows like crazy regardless of how i care fof it it also has long narrow root like stems what are they it is dark green how do i care for it what can you tell me about it thank you

  8. CoCo
    Apr 24, 2010

    Alix the only way I know to try to save a plant that has been over watered is to repot it, or at least take it out of the pot and add new soil.

    If it’s a big umbrella tree it might not be easy. If it’s had too much water, some of the roots are most likely rotted and decayed. If these aren’t removed it will cause the other roots to rot as well. I would take it out of the soil and remove as much of the dirt as I could from around the roots. Check all the roots and remove any that are mushy and decaying.

    It probably wouldn’t hurt to leave the tree out of dirt for a few hours and let the roots get some air to let them dry out a little. If you do want to go ahead and repot it, I’d wait a few days before I watered it again.

    A lot of times even when the soil is really dry, the soil that is clumped around the roots is still wet. It’s like when you have one potato in the bag that’s started rotting, if you leave it in there all the potatoes around will soon start to rot. Hope this helps.

  9. albina anne
    Jun 6, 2010

    hi .I have my tree Dwarf Umbrella Tree .Its very small about 8 inches tall.It s so nice .The leaves are very nice dark green and it has alot of light but i give it no direct sun.I water it only once every 2 weeks and i only put 6 onces of water every 2 weeks….I have a passion for plants .My umbrella tree is so nice i hope it stays like that.In a few weeks ill let you know ,how its turning out .But for now its a baby .I only have it for about 3 weeks .But if it continues to grow like that .Ill be very happy

  10. Jackie
    Jul 20, 2010

    I have had my dwarf umbrella tree for three and a half years. It was given to me when my first son was born. It was doing really well, then I repotted it and ever sence then it has been dying. The trunks are turning brown and shrivling up. I don’t know what i have done to it or how to save it. I would love any advise any one can give me.

  11. arlene
    Jul 20, 2010

    to jackie about your tree if i were you i would replant it in all new soil and give it less water trie to find potting soil for that kind of tree from a nursey

  12. erica g.
    Jul 21, 2010

    well i had jus bought this tree and i am worried bout having little bugs in my house from the tree.. does this happen often???

  13. Heather
    Aug 19, 2010

    I’m seriously confused as to the toxicity of the Umbrella tree. I want to get 2 to place in my bedroom, but I have cats and the ASPCA lists Schefflera as toxic to them. However, some other sources indicate that Arboricola or the Umbrella plant is NOT toxic to dogs or cats! Can someone please help me out so that I don’t go buying a plant that will make my kitties sick?!?!? Thanks.

    • Robin
      Jun 4, 2013

      i would call your vet and ask them they should be able to research from the correct sources .

  14. Debbie - Namibia
    Sep 12, 2010

    I have a dwarf umbrella tree for a few years now. It is quite healthy and in indirect sunlight indoors. A few months ago I noticed it leaves seemed to be sweating a type of sticky clear type of resin which then leaves the table where it stands on all sticky. I washed the plant off with water and it was alright for a few months and the leaves (although healthy) have now again started weeping the watery looking sticky type of resin. does anyone have an idea what this is?

  15. evelynsass
    Sep 23, 2010

    Where I live we have an umbrella plant and it is starting to show nasty sap on the leaves. Please does any body no any thing about these plants. I have tried everything and can not figure it out . Please help me.

  16. Chris
    Nov 20, 2010

    Hi there,
    I found a parasol plant in the street a month or so ago and immediately took it home to ‘save’ it; it’s about 5′ tall with a fair amount of growth at the top. I repotted it in fresh compost in a pot with good drainage and it stands in a well-lit room out of direct light. I assume as it was dumped in the road whoever owned it previously realised it wasn’t well but I’d hoped a new home and fresh soil would help. However, the leaves have begun to turn yellow and brown and many of them have developed brown lines as though something is chewing away at them. However are no signs of infestation that I can see.
    It makes me very sad that it’s dying, any advice gratefully accepted!

  17. arlene
    Nov 22, 2010

    an umbrella tree ; needs a lot of direct light .if the leaves are turning brown it is getting to much water. i put my plant on my patio all summer ;bring it in side in the winter and put it in front of my patio window for direct light i do not water it all winter as it gets enough water from rain in the summer . ive had mine for a good ten years.

  18. JJ
    Dec 20, 2010

    I have a healthy umbrella tree that is very tall 5+’ . . .this afternoon my 2 1/2 year old took all the leaves off while I thought she was napping ( oh the bittersweet risk of taking a nap while you’re child is “napping”). . .anyway. . .I was curious to know if you think it will grow them back if I continue to care for it well. . .???? Should I cut it down? Or should i just cut my losses??? Any advice would be great THanks!

  19. Carol Kroeger
    Aug 11, 2012

    I have an umbrella plant that is 22 years old & still looks great.

  20. Shibibi
    Oct 11, 2012

    I never knew mine was a Dwarf until I read this article while researching different trees with my son for a grade Six science assignment. My umbrella tree was inherited from my late Grandmother in 1989 and while it does get forgotten at times (and not watered) it still grows and looks lush and beautiful! Also I don’t believe it to be poisonous as I know my dogs have eaten the leaves and they are fine. The weight of the branches can be challenging as it pulls the whole tree over so pruning is a must! But overall, it is gorgeous and easy to care for. I hope to see it live on many more years.

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