Schefflera actinophylla

umbrella tree
Tropical foliage feature. Upright evergreen shrub in cool-summer climates, a branched tree in coastal SoCal. Good in pots. Showy burgundy octopus-arm blooms in SoCal.
height 20–30ft
width 15–20ft
tolerates Heat, Narrow Planting, Pots
Low – Moderate
Water this plant regularly, when the top inch or so of soil feels dry. If you establish this pattern over several years, then you can cut back to watering every week or two in dry weather. Use drippers, emitters, or a slow stream of water so that it doesn’t run off; allow the water to trickle all the way down through the deepest layers of soil. In a pot slowly water the entire surface until water comes out of the bottom of your pot.
exposure Part Shade – Full Sun
In or Out
drainage In Ground: Planting Mix, In Pots: Potting Soil
fertilizing All Purpose
origin Australia
17, 21–24

Sunset Zones Map


Growing Notes

While many umbrella trees do well in shade, this one performs better with some year round sun (in Central California areas with more rainfall). We have seen gardens with too much winter shade cause brown tip die off on this plant, which it sometimes recovers from once sunny days return, but not always.
Many times this plant will grow as a tall column, with only a couple main trunks and little branching. To control height, or induce branching, prune it back after winter rains.

More Info

This plant was grown for an outdoor environment, so we do not recommend moving it inside. In general we do not recommend moving plants raised for an outdoor environment indoors.
This plant would make a good houseplant if it had been grown in a controlled greenhouse with houseplant soil. This ‘greenhousing’ ensures that plants who come home with you are well acclimated to indoor life, and also that they don’t have any pests. It is common for outdoor plants to have other passengers as well, such as earthworms or centipides that don’t necessarily hurt the plant, but aren’t welcome indoors.
If you consider yourself an expert gardener, you can of course attempt to transition this plant indoors. In that case you’ll want to strip all the soil from the rootball, wash the roots clean and then spray the entire plant (leaves, undersides of the leaves, all the cracks and roots) with a mix of one tablespoon of rubbing alcohol in a cup of water. Repot the plant in the appropriate sterile soil/pot and take extra care as it transitions to the indoors, especially looking for pests and treating at the first sign of problems. Always consider the risk that any bugs could also affect other houseplants you have nearby.
For some plants, we sell two versions: outdoor-grown and greenhouse-grown. If you’re looking to grow this plant indoors, feel free to ask our staff if we have a greenhouse-grown version in stock.