Schefflera plants are a genus of plants named in honour of Jacob Christian Scheffler, an 18th-century German botanist. A number of them are popular as houseplants, including schefflera arboricola, also known as the ‘dwarf umbrella tree’.
Plants in the schefflera genus are green and leafy, although some species will also bear flowers. The flowers produced by some species are small and yellow-green in colour and the petals grow in long clusters of around two dozen, making a spear formation.
The natural habitat of schleffera plants is subtropical and they grow naturally in South East Australia, Papua New Guinea and Taiwan. In an ideal environment they are capable of growing to heights of 40 feet.
As an evergreen shrub, Schefflera are available all year round and the most common species are schefflera actinophylla (Umbrella plant) and arboricola. When planted outdoors, they can survive but require particular conditions replicating their original habitat.
There are believed to be at least 300 species of plants in the genus schefflera, which belongs to the arialaeace family. There are some, however, who believe the figure is nearer to 700 species and the subject is currently undergoing review.
Schefflera species which are kept as potted houseplants are easily cared for. They need moderate light rather than direct sunlight and little watering, although they should not be allowed to dry out completely. They can be cut back and shaped to suit their environment.
Schefflera plants are particularly prone to damage from spider mites and will need regular misting with either soapy water or a dilute of neem (a natural pesticide) to prevent attacks from these insects.
Did You Know?
Some varieties of Schefflera have been mistakenly identified as cannabis (or hemp) plants and destroyed accordingly.