How To Plant And Care For The Umbrella Plant

The Umbrella Plant, scientifically known as Schefflera arboricola, is a popular and versatile houseplant appreciated for its lush, umbrella-like foliage.

This comprehensive guide aims to provide all the essential information required to cultivate, nurture, and maintain the Umbrella Plant for both indoor and outdoor settings.

The Umbrella Plant Quick Guide

The Umbrella Plant
The Umbrella Plant
Common NameWhite Bird of Paradise
Botanical NameStrelitzia nicolai
Plant TypePerennial tropical plant
Native toSouth Africa
Soil NeedsWell-draining, rich soil
Sunlight NeedsFull sun to partial shade
Growing ZonesSuited for USDA zones 9-11
Height/SpreadCan reach up to 20-30 feet in height
Pot Type NeedsSuited for large containers or as a landscape plant
Soil pH NeedsNeutral to slightly acidic (pH 6.0-7.0)
ColorsWhite and blue flowers, green leaves
Where to PlantGardens, landscapes, indoor spaces with ample sunlight
PestsTypically pest-resistant
DiseasesGenerally resistant to diseases
Growth HabitUpright, clumping habit with large paddle-shaped leaves
ToxicityNon-toxic to humans and pets
PropagationDivision, seeds, or rhizome cuttings
MaintenanceLow maintenance, occasional removal of dead leaves
Drought TolerantModerate drought tolerance, prefers regular watering
LifespanLong-lived, can thrive for many years with proper care
Watering NeedsRegular watering, allowing soil to dry between waterings
Feeding NeedsOccasional fertilization during the growing season
The Umbrella Plant

WHAT iS Umbrella Plant

The White Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) is a striking tropical plant known for its large, paddle-shaped leaves and white and blue flowers.

It is a versatile and ornamental choice for both indoor and outdoor landscapes.

The Umbrella Plant, native to Taiwan and Hainan, China, is cherished for its bushy, green leaves resembling the structure of an umbrella.

It is a relatively low-maintenance plant that adapts well to a variety of environments, making it a favorite among plant enthusiasts.

Why You Should Grow Umbrella Plant

The Umbrella Plant (Schefflera) is an appealing choice for several reasons:

  1. Aesthetic Appeal: With its glossy green, umbrella-like leaves, the plant brings a touch of elegance and lushness to indoor spaces, making it a visually attractive addition to any room.
  2. Air-Purifying Qualities: Known for its air-purifying properties, the Umbrella Plant helps improve indoor air quality by removing harmful toxins, enhancing the overall ambiance and health of the environment.
  3. Adaptability: The plant is relatively easy to care for and can thrive in various lighting conditions, making it suitable for different spaces within a home or office.
  4. Low Maintenance: Schefflera typically requires minimal care once established. Regular but moderate watering and occasional pruning to maintain shape are usually sufficient.
  5. Versatility: Available in various sizes, from small tabletop plants to larger floor-standing varieties, the Umbrella Plant can fit different settings, regardless of space constraints.
  6. Easy Propagation: Schefflera plants can be propagated easily from cuttings, allowing enthusiasts to create new plants from established ones without much effort.
  7. Positive Influence: Beyond its visual appeal, having greenery indoors can have a positive impact on mental well-being, reducing stress and creating a calming atmosphere.

In summary, the Umbrella Plant is an ideal choice for individuals seeking an aesthetically pleasing, low-maintenance plant that contributes to a healthier indoor environment while bringing a touch of natural beauty to their space.

Umbrella Plant Varieties

The umbrella plant, commonly known as Schefflera, includes various species and cultivars.

Some popular varieties include:

Schefflera actinophylla (Umbrella Tree):

Known for its large, palmate leaves arranged in an umbrella-like formation at the ends of its stems. This species can grow quite tall and is commonly used as an indoor or outdoor ornamental tree.

Schefflera arboricola (Dwarf Umbrella Tree):

Characterized by smaller and more compact leaves compared to Schefflera actinophylla. It’s a common houseplant choice due to its adaptability to indoor conditions and its bushy appearance.

Schefflera elegantissima (False Aralia):

Often mistaken for the Umbrella Plant due to its similar leaf structure, though it belongs to a different plant family. It showcases delicate, finely divided foliage.

Schefflera digitata (Finger Aralia):

A unique species with finger-like leaves, providing an interesting and distinct appearance. This variety is less commonly found but highly admired for its foliage.

Variegated Schefflera:

Several cultivars of Schefflera species come with variegated leaves, featuring streaks or patches of lighter colors such as white, yellow, or cream. They add a touch of uniqueness to the plant.

How To Propagate Umbrella Plant

Propagate Umbrella Plant
Grow Umbrella Plant

The Umbrella Plant (Schefflera) can be propagated through several methods:

Stem Cuttings:

Stem cuttings are the most common and straightforward method of propagating umbrella plants.

To make new plants from cuttings, do the following steps:

  1. Select a healthy stem: Choose a healthy, non-flowering stem that is at least 4-6 inches long. Make sure the stem is free from pests or diseases.
  2. Make a clean cut: Use a sharp knife or pruning shears to make a clean cut just below a leaf node. A leaf node is where a leaf sprouts from the stem.
  3. Remove lower leaves: Remove the leaves from the bottom 1-2 inches of the stem to prevent them from rotting in the soil or water.
  4. Root the cutting: You can root the stem cutting in either soil or water:
    • Rooting hormone (optional but recommended): When you cut a piece of a plant to grow a new one, you can dip the cut end into something called “rooting hormone.” It’s like giving the plant a special helper to encourage it to grow roots. This isn’t necessary, but it’s a good idea because it helps the plant start growing faster and stronger!
    • Rooting in soil: Fill a pot with well-draining potting mix. Insert the stem into the potting mix, ensuring the leaf node is buried. Water the soil thoroughly. Put the pot in a warm, bright spot with indirect sunlight.
    • Rooting in water: Fill a jar or glass with clean water. Place the stem in the water, ensuring the leaf node is submerged. Replace the water every few days to ensure it stays fresh.

Rooting in water
Rooting in water

Air Layering:

Air layering is a technique that involves rooting a branch while it is still attached to the parent plant. This method is more time-consuming than stem cuttings but can be successful for larger plants.

To make new plants from air layering, do the following steps:

  1. Select a branching stem: Choose a healthy, branching stem that is at least 6 inches long. Make sure the stem is free from pests or diseases.
  2. Make a cut: Make a cut about 1 inch long and halfway through the stem, just above a leaf node.
  3. Wrap the cut: Wrap the cut area with moist sphagnum moss or peat moss. Secure the moss in place with plastic wrap or foil.
  4. Water the moss: Keep the moss moist by watering it regularly.
  5. Wait for roots to develop: It might take a few weeks, but that’s okay. During this time, the plant is working hard to grow roots. Once the roots are visible and strong, cut the stem below the moss and pot the rooted stem in well-draining potting mix.


Division is a method of propagating umbrella plants by dividing the root ball of the parent plant. This method is suitable for larger plants that have multiple stems.

To propagate using division, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the plant from its pot: Time to give your plant a new home! Carefully lift your plant out of its pot. Be careful not to hurt its roots or stems. When you take your plant out of its pot, there might be some extra dirt around the roots. Just give it a gentle shake.
  2. Divide the root ball: Use a sharp knife or pruning shears to divide the root ball into sections, each with at least one stem and a healthy root system.
  3. Pot the divisions: Plant each divided section in a pot with well-draining potting mix. Water the plants thoroughly. Put your plant pots in a warm and bright place but make sure it’s not directly in the sunlight.

Leaf Cuttings (less common):

  1. Take a healthy leaf and cut it into sections, ensuring each section has a portion of the leaf vein.
  2. Insert the leaf sections into a rooting medium and maintain moisture until roots develop.

Regardless of the method chosen, it’s crucial to ensure that the plant receives adequate warmth, humidity, and moisture during the propagation process.

Patience is key, as some methods may take several weeks to months before roots develop and new growth appears.

How To Buy Umbrella Plant From Nursey

Buy Umbrella Plant
Buy Umbrella Plant

When purchasing a White Bird of Paradise plant (Strelitzia nicolai) from a nursery, consider the following steps:

  1. Research and Selection: Begin by researching reputable nurseries or garden centers in your area or online. Look for those that specialize in tropical plants or have a good selection of indoor and outdoor plants.
  2. Health Inspection: Inspect the plant’s health. Look for lush, vibrant green leaves without discoloration, spots, or signs of damage. Look closely at your plants to make sure no tiny bugs or illnesses are bothering them.
  3. Root Evaluation: Carefully check the roots by gently sliding the plant out of its pot. Healthy roots should be white or light in color, not dark or mushy.
  4. Check for New Growth: Select a plant that shows new growth or unfurling leaves, indicating that it’s actively growing.
  5. Size Consideration: Determine the size that fits your space. White Bird of Paradise plants can grow large, so consider available room both indoors and outdoors.
  6. Ask Questions: If at a physical nursery, inquire about the plant’s care needs, watering requirements, lighting preferences, and any other specifics for its optimal growth.
  7. Online Purchases: If buying online, ensure the seller has positive reviews and a good reputation. Check their shipping policies, plant guarantee, and return options in case the plant arrives damaged or doesn’t meet expectations.
  8. Transplanting and Care Instructions: Ensure the nursery provides care instructions for the plant. Ask about how the plant has been acclimated, how long it has been at the nursery, and any special care it may need after transplantation.

How To Plant Umbrella Plant

Planting an Umbrella Plant (Schefflera) is relatively straightforward.

Here’s a guide on how to plant it:

Gather the necessary materials:

  1. Umbrella plant (Schefflera actinophylla)
  2. Well-draining potting mix
  3. Pot with drainage holes
  4. Watering can or hose
  5. Garden gloves (optional)

Indoor Planting:

  1. Choose a Suitable Pot: Select a pot with drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. Ensure it’s a few inches larger in diameter than the plant’s root ball.
  2. Prepare the Potting Mix: Make sure to use a special soil called “potting mix” that lets water drain away easily. It’s like giving your plants a comfy bed to sleep in. You can add perlite or sand to enhance drainage.
  3. Planting Process:
    • Place a layer of soil at the bottom of the pot.
    • Gently remove the plant from its nursery container. Loosen any compacted roots before planting.
    • Position the plant in the center of the pot and fill the sides with the potting mix. Ensure the plant sits at the same depth as it did in the nursery container.
  4. Watering: After planting, water the plant thoroughly. Allow excess water to drain away.
  5. Location: Place the potted Umbrella Plant in a spot with indirect sunlight or bright, filtered light. Find a spot with light, but not too much direct sunshine, to keep your plants happy and healthy.

Outdoor Planting:

  1. Soil Preparation: Ensure the planting area has well-draining soil. Amend the soil with organic matter like compost if needed.
  2. Dig a Hole: Create a hole twice the diameter of the plant’s root ball. The depth should be equal to the nursery container or slightly shallower.
  3. Planting Process:
    • Gently remove the plant from the container, handling the root ball carefully.
    • Place the plant in the hole, backfill with soil, and tamp gently to remove air pockets.
    • Water thoroughly to help settle the soil.
  4. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the plant to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  5. Location: Find a semi-shaded to shaded spot for the plant, away from direct sun. Umbrella Plants can adapt to different light conditions but prefer protection from harsh sunlight.

Care for the Umbrella plant

Care for the Umbrella plant
Umbrella plant Care

Here’s a comprehensive guide to Umbrella plant care:

Total Time: 365 days

Provide consistent watering:

Umbrella plants prefer moist but not soggy soil. Let the top part of the soil dry out a bit before giving it more water.
During the summer months, you may need to water more frequently, while during the winter months, watering can be reduced.

Maintain humidity:

Umbrella plants prefer moderate to high humidity levels. If your home is particularly dry, you can increase humidity by misting the leaves regularly or placing the pot on a pebble tray filled with wate


Keep the plant in a warm environment, ideally between 60-85°F (15-29°C), avoiding sudden temperature fluctuations.

Fertilize regularly:

During the growing season (spring and summer), fertilize the umbrella plant every two weeks using a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength.
This provides essential nutrients for healthy growth and vibrant foliage.


Regularly prune the plant to maintain its desired shape and remove any damaged or yellowing leaves.


Provide a stake or trellis for support as the plant grows taller to prevent it from leaning or bending.

Repot as needed:

As the umbrella plant grows larger, it may need to be repotted into a larger pot. Repotting should be done when the roots start to crowd the current pot, typically every 1-2 years.

Pests and Diseases

Keep an eye out for common houseplant pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects. Act quickly if bugs visit your plants! If you see unwanted pests, use the right methods to get rid of them. Keep an eye out for common houseplant pests such as aphids, mealybugs and scale insects.

Here are common issues to watch for:


  1. Spider Mites: These tiny arachnids cause stippling on leaves, leading to a dull appearance. They weave fine webbing and can be eliminated with neem oil or insecticidal soap.
  2. Mealybugs: White, cottony insects that cluster on the undersides of leaves or stems. They weaken the plant by sucking sap. Wipe them away with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol or apply neem oil.
  3. Scale Insects: Look for small, hard or soft brown scales on leaves or stems. These sap-sucking insects can be removed manually or treated with horticultural oil.
  4. Aphids: These small insects cluster on young shoots and the undersides of leaves, sucking plant sap. They can be dislodged with a strong spray of water or treated with insecticidal soap.


  1. Root Rot: If you pour too much water, it’s like drowning the roots of your plant. Ensure the soil has proper drainage and allow it to dry between waterings to prevent this issue.
  2. Leaf Spot: Fungal diseases can cause circular brown or black spots on leaves. Keep the air flowing around your plants! Make sure they have enough space, don’t water them from above, and if needed, use something called “fungicide” to keep them healthy.
  3. Powdery Mildew: White powdery patches on leaves caused by fungal infections. Improve air circulation and reduce humidity. Treat with a fungicidal spray.

Prevention Strategies:

To prevent pests and diseases from affecting your umbrella plants, follow these general guidelines:

  1. Practice good hygiene: Regularly clean the leaves with a damp cloth to remove debris and potential pest habitats.
  2. Maintain good air circulation: Avoid overcrowding plants, and trim or remove any dead or diseased leaves to promote air circulation.
  3. Water properly: Water deeply when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, and avoid overhead watering to prevent fungal diseases.
  4. Choose resistant varieties: Some umbrella plant varieties are more resistant to pests and diseases than others. When selecting plants, look for varieties that are known for their resistance.
  5. Inspect regularly: Regularly inspect your plants for signs of pests or diseases. Early detection and treatment can help prevent further damage.

Umbrella Plant Growth Problems

Umbrella Plant Growth Problems
Umbrella Plant Growth

Umbrella plants, also known as Schefflera actinophylla, are generally easy-to-care-for houseplants, but they can experience some growth problems if not properly maintained.

Here are some common umbrella plant growth problems and their solutions:

Drooping or wilting leaves:

Drooping or wilting leaves can be caused by underwatering, overwatering, or root rot.


  1. Underwatering: When you water it, make sure to pour enough water until you see it coming out of the holes at the bottom of the pot. Let the top part of the soil dry out a bit before giving it more water.
  2. Overwatering: Reduce watering frequency and allow the soil to dry out more thoroughly between waterings. If the root ball is soggy, gently repot the plant in fresh, well-draining potting mix.
  3. Root rot: Check for signs of root rot, such as soft, mushy roots or a foul odor. If root rot is present, repot the plant in fresh, sterile potting mix and reduce watering frequency.

Yellowing leaves:

Yellowing leaves can be caused by nutrient deficiency, overwatering, or pests.


  1. Nutrient deficiency: Fertilize the plant every two weeks during the growing season (spring and summer) using a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength.
  2. Overwatering: Reduce watering frequency and allow the soil to dry out more thoroughly between waterings.
  3. Pests: Inspect the plant for signs of pests, such as aphids, mealybugs, or scale insects. Act quickly if bugs visit your plants! If you see unwanted pests, use the right methods to get rid of them.

Brown leaf Tips:

Brown leaf tips are often caused by underwatering or low humidity.


  1. Underwatering: When you water it, make sure to pour enough water until you see it coming out of the holes at the bottom of the pot. Let the top part of the soil dry out a bit before giving it more water.
  2. Low humidity: Mist the leaves regularly or place the pot on a pebble tray filled with water to increase humidity.

Slow growth:

Slow growth can be caused by nutrient deficiency, lack of light, or root-bound conditions.


  1. Nutrient deficiency: Fertilize the plant every two weeks during the growing season (spring and summer) using a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength.
  2. Lack of light: Move the plant to a location with brighter, indirect sunlight.
  3. Root-bound conditions: If the roots are tightly bound in the current pot, repot the plant into a larger pot with fresh, well-draining potting mix.

Leggy growth:

Leggy growth, with long, sparsely leafed stems, can be caused by insufficient light.


Insufficient light: Move the plant to a location with brighter, indirect sunlight. Every so often, give your plant a little turn, like a gentle spin. This way, it gets sunlight on all sides, and it will grow nice and balanced.

By identifying and addressing these common growth problems, you can ensure your umbrella plant thrives and brings its beautiful foliage to your home or garden.

Pros and Cons of Growing Umbrella Plant

Pros of Growing White Bird of ParadiseCons of Growing White Bird of Paradise
Striking Tropical Aesthetics: Adds an exotic, tropical ambiance with large, banana-like leaves and unique flowers.Slow Maturity: Takes several years to reach maturity and start flowering.
Low Maintenance: Generally low-care and tolerant of neglect once established.Size Constraints: Grows quite large, requiring ample space indoors and not suitable for smaller living spaces.
Air-Purifying Qualities: Helps improve indoor air quality by removing toxins.Prone to Pests: Susceptible to common garden pests such as spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs.
Outdoor Landscaping: Ideal for gardens in warmer climates, serving as a bold focal point.Sensitive to Cold: Susceptible to cold temperatures, requiring protection in colder climates.
Attracts Wildlife: Attracts birds and pollinators due to its large flowers.Limited Indoor Suitability: Restricted to regions with warm climates or as a houseplant in suitable conditions.
These points offer an overview of the advantages and potential challenges associated with cultivating the White Bird of Paradise plant.
It’s important to consider these factors when deciding whether to grow this tropical plant in your indoor or outdoor space.


The Umbrella Plant is an excellent choice for both novice and experienced plant enthusiasts. With its adaptability and attractive foliage, it adds a touch of nature’s beauty to any indoor or outdoor environment.

Enjoy your beautiful umbrella plant!


Is the Umbrella Plant toxic to pets?

Yes, the Umbrella Plant is mildly toxic if ingested by pets. Keep it out of their reach.

How often should I water the Umbrella Plant?

Water the plant when the top inch of soil feels dry, usually every 1-2 weeks.

Can the Umbrella Plant survive low light conditions?

While it prefers indirect light, it can tolerate low light but may grow slower.

What causes leaf drop in the Umbrella Plant?

Leaf drop can occur due to stress from changes in environment, watering, or light conditions.

How large can the Umbrella Plant grow indoors?

Indoors, it can grow up to 10 feet in height when adequately cared for.

Can I grow the Umbrella Plant outdoors?

Yes, it can thrive outdoors in warmer climates, ideally in shaded areas.

How can I prevent pests from infesting my Umbrella Plant?

Regularly inspect the plant and use neem oil or insecticidal soap to deter pests.

Author Profile

Leafy Lines
Leafy Lines
Step into the world of plants and flowers brought to you by Leafy Lines, a devoted gardening lover and someone who enjoys playing with words about all things botanical.
With a love for nature and a talent for growing things, Leafy Lines is here to be your companion in the vibrant world of plants and gardening.
Leafy Lines started a gardening adventure driven by a passion to create, nurture, and feel connected to the earth. From the initial steps into potting soil to the thriving garden today, the path has been filled with trying new things, gaining knowledge, and a profound recognition of the therapeutic joys that come with gardening.

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