Houseplant choice #1- the Umbrella plant

Umbrella plant

Schefflera or Umbrella plant (Brassaia actinophylla)

I love the Schefflera plant and I recommend it to anyone who asks me what houseplant is the easiest to grow. Even though mine are out of control and crazy looking, this plant (more like tree) can be pruned to control shape and propagated to grow more. If you have a window, the Schefflera will adapt to any light and most conditions indoors.

Schefflera, Umbrella plant

I have this for over 15 years

Caring for this houseplant does not require any special light, soil, or instructions. I have loved it since I bought my first one over 32 years ago when I had a tiny room as a teenager  (with 60 watt light bulbs to grow my jungle). Even though I do not have any that old, I do have  3 from my dad’s funeral over 15 years ago which are ‘out of control’ as my husband states. They are; however, I have such an emotional attachment to them I cannot prune them. I know one day I will have to shape them because next spring I have to repot them and prepare them for a possible move to the other side of the country.

houseplants, Schefflera

I am about the green and informal

I am afraid to cut them, I know this sounds weird, but they are a part of me and a symbol of how much I love and miss my dad. Even at my age, the emotional attachment is real. My husband jokingly says “give me the pruners and I will help you shape them up”. Thank goodness he knows how important they are to me and helps me every fall to bring them in and every spring take them out to sit under the gazebo on the deck. Many houseplants love to be outside in the summer and if you can put them in a shade (or  as I do on the deck under a store bought gazebo), then they will flourish!

Then in the winter, keep them in a cool room away from a heat source. Do not overwater in the winter and let them become more dry than you would during the summer months outside. I keep my home at 65 which seems to be the optimal temp for my houseplants.


Houseplants from April-October under store bought gazebo

I have several in my home and 2 are in the East windows and the other 2 large ones are in living room where I have a South facing window. I have several smaller ones on the east side of the house too. The brighter the room the more the plant will grow. Not direct sunlight but a bright diffused or filtered light would be okay too. I live under Oak trees so I do not have direct sunlight. The Schefflera will tolerate low light and little care but be prepared because they can grow large!

Schefflera, Umbrella plant

Low light of the east side

I do not fertilize them nor do I repot them very often! They love to be root bound and I think I may fertilize them once a year. I have one that is sitting on my desk that was about 4″ tall over 14 years ago and it is now over 40″ tall and has had a rough life. Rough life? Yes, one year (several years ago) our beloved Thomas kept rubbing on it and broke off most of the stems. It has only been repotted twice in the many years I have it.  I do not repot very often and it has not hurt it a bit since they are about 5′ tall. Sure they may have a funky shape but they help keep the air clean and give some green which makes me happy in the long winter months.

Schefflera, Umbrella plant

Started out 4″ tall 14 years ago

An occasional shower to clean them up and sometimes they need a bit of debugging. If this happens, do not worry too much. If it is winter you can put them in the shower and spray the plant and the dirt down with some soapy Dawn dishwashing liquid and let the soapy water sit on the plant and the dirt/pot and rinse twice to get rid of the soap. Let sit in the shower or tub for a couple hours to drain and then put back.

Dawn, bugs, Schefflera

One of the Scheffleras covered in sudsy water

For anyone of afraid of indoor plants, now you do not have to be. If you find one at the store, look for a pot about 2″ larger than the pot it is in, and only repot it if the roots are coming out the bottom. Just remember that once a week will probably be enough water during the winter months and no need to fertilize. In front of a window will suit this very easy and adaptable plant and under a shade tree in the summer where it can grow happily among your other shady annuals.

Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!

2014/2015 copyrighted material C Renee Fuller @the Garden Frog Boutique

I have other recommendations I will write on later. Houseplants are a great thing to have indoors for air quality and even to liven up a room.

One thought on “Houseplant choice #1- the Umbrella plant

  1. Pingback: #1 tip for watering your houseplants | The Garden Frog

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