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Everything you need to know about Dwarf Umbrella Tree -Schefflera Arboricola

Dwarf Umbrella Tree

The dwarf umbrella tree, scientifically known as Schefflera arboricola, is a type of umbrella tree. It is a dwarf-sized umbrella tree, hence the name. It is also commonly known as the octopus tree or parasol plant.

Originating from Taiwan and Australia, these trees look almost like an umbrella and have oval-shaped leaves that hang. While the umbrella trees can tower heights of about 50 feet, their dwarfs can only reach 4 to 5 feet.

Dwarf umbrella trees bloom with reddish flowers and blackberries. But do you want these dwarfs to freshen up your apartment, or to have a therapeutic garden to sip hot tea in?

That’s a decision you would want to make since these dwarfs don’t usually bloom indoors.

Characteristics Table:

Origin Taiwan and Hainan Province, China.
Scientific Name Schefflera arboricola
Common NamesDwarf Umbrella-Tree, Umbrella Shrub, Star Leaf, Hawaiian Elf Schefflera, Hawaiian Elf
TypeHouseplant
FamilyAraliaceae
Temperaturebetween 65 and 90°F.
Wateringwhen the top 75% of soil is dry.
LightMedium-light
ToxicityToxic to pets
Propagation Stem Cuttings
Floweringlook like small white spikes.
Maximum Size1 to 3 feet; 3 to 8 feet

How to care for dwarf umbrella tree

Needless to say, your very own dwarf umbrella tree will look best when you care for it. Don’t worry, we can tell you how to do that.

Temperature:

Your dwarf will grow best between 15°C and 24°C (or 60°F to 75°F). The good thing? That’s the average room temperature. Sudden temperature rises or drops are not good for these trees.

Water:

You would not need to water your dwarf umbrella tree; just water it when the soil is dried. Remember that giving your tree more water is more of a problem than giving it less water. Not thirsty, eh?

Lighting:

Your dwarf needs direct sunlight, but if the sunlight is too hot, then that’s bad. However, low light exposure is not harmful to growth, but it impacts its height.

Soil:

Not much to worry about. Dwarf umbrella trees can take growth in any kind of soil as long as it is moisturized and porous. The best soil would be a mixture of 2 parts peat moss and 1 part perlite.

Repotting:

You should re-pot your tree every two years and replace the soil mixture with a new one. It’s best to do the re-potting process in the blooming season, the spring.

Humidity:

Average indoor humidity levels work just fine. If the air gets dry, you should have a humidifier.

Fertilizer:

Don’t fertilize the soil in winters or for a couple of months after repotting. Only fertilize two to four times a month in seasons other than winter, but that too with a diluted solution.

Where to place it in your home

Dwarf umbrella trees thrive in warm but not too hot direct sunlight so you want to place them somewhere that fulfills these requirements.

Good examples are next to a window in a corner, or on the window sill if the sun is not too hot. Putting them on a ledge or wall tray can also liven up things in your living space.

Common diseases in dwarf umbrella tree

1. Fungal Leaf Spots

Sometimes your dwarf may get Alternaria leaf spots that cause brown to black spots on leaves, stalks, and stems. This is caused by the pathogen Alternaria Panax.

The spots in question may appear wet and can soon make entire leaves brownish if the problem is not addressed. In severe cases, your plants may experience falling leaves.

However, you can save your dwarf umbrella tree by keeping its leaves dry all the time. 

Phytophthora leaf spots show symptoms similar to Alternaria leaf spots; you will find them on the lowest leaves first and later on the upper ones.

You can deal with them in almost the same manner as Alternaria leaf spots with the addition of removing the infected leaves before they spread, and your dwarf is good to go!

2. Bacterial Leaf Problems

The pathogen Xanthomonas campestris pv. Hederae can cause your dwarf to develop bruises or lesions between veins or along edges.

The leaves will become corky and the spots may become large and dark. What you can do is give your dwarf an abundance of fertilizers, avoid overhead watering, or remove the entire plant to limit the disease’s impact.

Pseudomonas cichorii may cause what is called Pseudomonas leaf blight, which can easily be mistaken for Alternaria leaf spots because of the brownish spots.

The difference is that in your plant the spots are very small and wet and they grow very quickly. You should remove the affected leaves, and if your plant is severely affected, you should remove it altogether.

3. Root Rot

Your dwarf umbrella tree may have root rot if it is wilting, its leaves are falling, and it is giving a sparse appearance. This happens when there is more moisture in the roots than the required amount because it causes fungal infections.

Make sure your tree has good drainage. Also before irrigating your tree, keep the top half-inch of the soil perfectly dry. You should water an infected plant infrequently.

If the container of your tree is small and root rot is happening, take out the tree from the soil, cut off brownish roots, and replant the tree in fresh soil that is porous and has better drainage.

Benefits of Having it as an Indoor Plant

Dwarf umbrella tree consumes the air in your home, which may have pollutants (such as benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde), and filters it into just releasing oxygen.

If you smoke, your dwarf will also consume the cigarette smoke toxins in the air and filter them out. This makes the air quality inside your house much better and cleaner than before.

One of the best things about dwarf umbrella trees is that they are malleable. You can change their shape in any way you want.

Do you want to grow them tall? Do you want them to be a centerpiece? Do you want them to be just a background in your room? Perfect! Dwarf umbrella trees can do that all!

Your tree can also bring you loads of medical help. Traditional herbal Chinese medicines use dwarf umbrella trees’ stems, leaves, and roots to prepare a drink that is believed to have painkiller effects in you. This potion can also help your body have better blood circulation.

Risks

Your dwarf umbrella tree produces toxic calcium oxalate crystals in its leaves and stems that are sharp and needle-ish. If consumed, they can be harmful to both humans and animals.

When the saps come into human skin contact, your affected area may feel hurting, irritating, swelling. What you can do is run the affected skin area under warm water and wash it with soap.

If you think your child has eaten the sap, wash and rinse their mouth and give them some soft food, such as custard or yogurt.

When it comes to your pets, the symptoms can be much more harmful, and if gone unnoticed and undealt with, your pets may die.

They will show similar symptoms in addition to vomiting, difficulty in swallowing, and lots of drooling. Severe symptoms in your pet may be kidney or respiratory problems.

Take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as you suspect that your pet has consumed the dwarf umbrella tree or if you notice any symptoms.

FAQs

Is dwarf umbrella tree indoor or outdoor?

Both. Dwarf umbrella tree is an indoor plant that can be placed outdoors because of its high tolerance. However, it is advised to slowly acclimate the plant before placing it outdoors. It provides a stunning effect that adds a touch of green to any room.

How do you keep an umbrella tree small?

When growing an Umbrella Plant (Schefflera arboricola), it is easy to let the plant get too large or take up too much space in your home. Pruning your plant is a great way to control its size and to avoid it from taking over your home.

Can I cut the top off my umbrella plant?

Yes, you can cut the top off your umbrella plant by removing the tips of each leaf with sharp pruners. You can also take off all but the bottom two leaves if you want. This will allow for more growth the the remaining leaves. It is best to do this in spring or summer, when plants are actively growing.

Ending

While it has benefits, there are certain risks of having the dwarf umbrella tree inside your home. What you should do is research before getting a plant about how to care for it and how to avoid any risks. If you’re careful, you will not face any sort of problems. 

Written by Chris Buckland

Hello, I’m Chris. I’m a houseplant expert. I have been Cultivating and Growing Houseplants for 20 years. Plants are like my children. I love to write about Indoor plants and share my experience. That's why I started writing everything I know about houseplants.

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