Hawaiian Umbrella Tree Care
The Hawaiian umbrella tree produces dark green, palmate leaves.
The Hawaiian umbrella tree (Schefflera arboricola) is a well-known houseplant but may be grown outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 9b through 11. Grown outdoors, this plant makes an excellent hedge for areas of deep shade, although it is tolerant of a variety of light conditions and may be planted in bright sun or partial shade, as needed. Grown indoors, Hawaiian umbrella makes an interesting bonsai plant.
Plant the Hawaiian umbrella tree in well-draining, sandy soil, and allow the soil to dry somewhat — although not completely — between waterings. Monitor the moisture of the soil with a moisture meter, and check frequently for signs of over-watering, which appears as blackened leaves. If you’re under-watering the plant, the leaves will curl.
Plant umbrella tree in an area with enough room for growth. Unless pruned frequently, this plant will grow to be as tall as 10 to 15 feet, and may grow to be as wide. Take advantage of this plant’s ability to thrive in deep shade and pick the shadiest spot available in your yard. Amend clayey soils with organic matter before planting, and water weekly while it becomes established. Water every two weeks after it becomes established. The Hawaiian umbrella tree is highly responsive to pruning. Prune into the shape desired, whether standard, espalier or hedge.
Plant the Hawaiian umbrella tree in a medium to large-sized container with well-draining container planting medium. Water once a week, using your hand to test the soil for moisture before watering. Place it in indirect light and prune as desired. Wash occasionally with a damp cloth to prevent dust from building up on the leaves, and check periodically for spider mites. Treat with a miticide as needed.
Wire the branches with bonsai wire to shape them to your specifications. When wiring, start at the thickest part of the stem and gradually wrap the wire around the branch toward the thinner part of the stem. Remove all of the Hawaiian umbrella tree’s leaves every spring to keep the leaves small. Only do this if the tree is healthy. Larger leaves may be pruned off as they are produced. Keep the plant in brighter light to encourage small leaves. To produce aerial roots, keep the plant in a humid environment, like an empty aquarium, mist frequently and fertilize with half-strength fertilizer every two weeks. Prune smaller aerial roots to encourage the larger roots to grow thick and strong.
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