The Umbrella Tree, or Schefflera arboricola, is an evergreen perennial with characteristic glossy green leaves that fan out in an umbrella-like shape, hence its name! Its umbrella appearance can be accentuated further still, because sometimes the lower leaves will fall off to leave a long bare stem while still maintaining a full green canopy above, leading to a top-heavy look. It's often confused with the very similar Schefflera actinophylla. Usually, the easiest way to tell these apart is the size / shape of the leaves, but either way, the care needs for each are much the same. However, the Schefflera actinophylla is highly invasive, and so is actually considered to be a weed in some regions, so therefore should be planted with consideration.
This plant originates from forested areas of Taiwan, China, New Guinea and Australia. In fact, it has become so common in Australia that it is sometimes even referred to as an 'Australian schefflera'.
These plants are a great option if you want to make a statement reminiscent of the appearance of tropical plants but without their tricky care needs! Umbrella Trees will do well when left to their own devices, for the most part, so offer a low-maintenance alternative and beautiful beginner plant choice.
It's better to forget to water this cutie than to water it a bit too much.
They can grow quite tall even when grown indoors, up to around 6.5 ft or 2 m, and even taller when grown as an outdoor plant, and they like bright indirect sunlight. So, ideally, they can be placed in a corner in your home. If it starts to look a bit leggy and the leaves become floppy, this is typically a sign that it's not getting enough light, so try moving it to a lighter spot. However, just like with humans, too much sun can be damaging to your Umbrella Tree - keep it out of harsh, direct sunlight so that its leaves don't get scorched.
Note that unfortunately, Umbrella Trees can sometimes be quite prone to pests (particularly Scale and Spider Mites). If yours gets infested, don't worry - you can treat it!
Another fun name for the Umbrella Tree is the 'Octopus Tree'. This is because, in the wild, it can flower to produce long tentacle-like flowered fronds in vibrant shades of reddish-pink.
If you need any more reasons to persuade you that Umbrella Trees are a wonderful houseplant choice, they're also very effective air purifiers! Keeping one in your home can help cleanse the surrounding air of environmental pollutants and toxins.
One other important thing to note, though, is that Umbrella Trees are toxic to both humans and animals.
HOW TO PROPAGATE YOUR UMBRELLA TREE
You can propagate your Umbrella Tree by taking a cutting and replanting it either in water or directly into soil.
Make sure the cutting you take is long enough (around 6 inches or 15 cm) and contains at least a few leaves. Try to keep it humid and moist if potting in soil, or if you choose to propagate yours in water instead, you can then easily keep an eye on any new roots being produced. Once enough roots have appeared, you can then replant the cutting from the water into soil.
Sometimes Umbrella Trees can be a little tricky to propagate, so don't worry if it doesn't seem to work for you at first - you can always try again.