Binomial name: Schefflera actinophylla
Characteristics: Evergreen tree, commonly grown as a houseplant. Free-standing. Leaves are shiny and light green and have 7-16 leaflets, which are 30cm long. Its common name is umbrella tree, and is the larger version of the dwarf umbrella tree, Schefflera arboricola.
Seeds per packet: 20
Description: Seed can be sown throughout the year indoors in a mini glasshouse.
Planting medium: Seed raising mix (preferably organic).
Optimum germination temperature: 20-27°C.
- Place the seeds into a glass of hot water and leave to soak for 12-24 hours.
- Prepare small pots with a well draining soil mix. Preferably sow one seed per pot as seedlings of this species do not like to have their roots disturbed. Sow approximately 2-3 mm deep and moisten (do not water log) with a spray bottle to avoid disturbing seeds. Place pots onto a warm windowsill that gets plenty of indirect light, not full hot afternoon sun. Ideal temperatures for germination are 20-27°C/70-85°F Seeds should germinate in these conditions within 4-8 weeks A heat mat may be necessary if these temperatures cannot be provided naturally.
- Keep moist during the entire germination period. If they are allowed to dry out this will kill them, however keeping them too wet will also kill them. Can be placed into a greenhouse or covered with plastic wrap to assist in maintaining moisture and humidity. It is important to be sure this species has plenty of light, too little light can cause it to become leggy trying to search for more light .. direct sunlight will burn the leaves so be sure it has indirect light only.
- Transplant once necessary. This plant is most popular as an indoor plant but can be planted outdoors as long as it is protected from direct sunlight and only in warmer climates. Once established it will not require much watering, in fact over watering will kill it. Let the top layer of soil dry out in between watering. May need pruning occasionally, especially if it does not have enough light. Umbrella plants are quite easy to trim - just cut off what you think is overgrown or leggy. Cutting stems down to 3-4 inches will encourage growth and bushiness. This species very rarely needs fertilising, once a year with a weak water soluble solution should be plenty.