Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Schefflera, Umbrella Tree, Octopus Tree
Schefflera actinophylla

Family: Araliaceae
Genus: Schefflera (shef-LER-uh) (Info)
Species: actinophylla (ak-ten-oh-FIL-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Brassaia actinophylla

10 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From hardwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By FloridaGardener
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By IslandJim
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By palmbob
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By palmbob
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There are a total of 47 photos.
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22 positives
7 neutrals
4 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Llij5455 On Jan 29, 2015, Llij5455 from Marysville, OH wrote:

I have had this plant for over 15 years. I have never pruned it and I have moved probably seven times. It is now about 4 1/2 feet tall and I am going to try and trim it to make it a little more bushy instead of tree like. It certainly is a tough plant going through all of the moves. With Ohio weather I always keep it inside. Like so many of you I feel like it has become part of the family. I water it once a week and it has really gotten tall. Yellow leaves happen sometimes but it's very green and healthy.

Positive Feather3 On Nov 4, 2014, Feather3 from Fort Bragg, CA wrote:

I've had the same Umbrella Tree for over 20 years living in a pot. At first, it stayed indoors, due to my location of being in a cool, wet climate on the northern California coast. I've moved around this area several times and when I moved to an apartment in 2000 to recover from back surgery, it came with me. This time, however, I had to move it outside. To my surprise, it thrived and is now, fourteen years later, still thriving, only this time, on my back deck out in the redwoods, in a new pot. I've transplanted it from one pot to another over the last 20+ years and it continues to do well. I thought about planting it in the yard with so many other non-native plants that exist here; New Zealand Tea Trees, two trees from Chile, a Chinese Fern-Pine, a Chinese Pierris, among others. We bought this place in April of this year and discovered the many non-natives. I will not be planting this one in the yard, as I enjoy it too much to risk it damaging our septic and well systems. Instead, I will keep it in a pot on the back deck, where at the moment, new growth is coming in (in November!). I love my old Umbrella Tree :)

Neutral nbonnwrr On Oct 6, 2014, nbonnwrr from Mission Viejo, CA wrote:

I have 3 of these in my back yard 2 are doing well and one is less than pretty to look at for sure. Growing quite spindly and smaller yellow leaves. I know yellow would indicate overwatering but it is in-between the other two in the same landscape and drainage. I think my best bet is to trim it down to give it it's best chance. Does anyone have suggestions on the best way to trim? Cutting down to where there would be a thicker canopy seems logical in my books, but I'm no gardener :) Any suggestions are appreciated.
All 3 trees are 20 feet tall.

Positive definer On Aug 29, 2014, definer from Suitland, MD wrote:

A friend of mine had one in his office that was getting tall and lanky. I did some air layering on the two main stems and, just for the heck of it, took three of the leaves I had broken off and put some rooting hormone on them and stuck them in a coffee cup. To my surprise they rooted!! Not sure what they will grow into, but we'll see. Has anyone else tried rooting the leaves?

Positive stooky On Jan 20, 2014, stooky from Saskatoon
Canada wrote:

Our schefflera is named Joe and he is one tough customer. I've had him for forty years and he takes a beating. On top of that, I live in Saskatchewan, Canada! We keep him indoors in the winter.

Over the years he has gotten quite twisted and tall so tomorrow we chop him off at the base and start all over again. My son Logan is very concerned for his well being!

I have been reassured that chopping it at the base above the soil should not be a problem and I can even take some branches and just stick them into the dirt and they might strike!

The plan is to have Joe for a long time to come!

Neutral Homer_Simpson On Nov 27, 2013, Homer_Simpson from Homewood, IL wrote:

I want to grow this as a house plant, however I am finding it hard to find seed germination instructions for it. (ex. how long does it take to germinate, how deep do I plant the seeds, what temperature does it germinate at, what are the moisture and light requirements., and what soil type does it require).

Negative cosmicventure On Mar 5, 2013, cosmicventure from Hollywood, FL wrote:

Would not recommend this fast growing plant. In South Florida they are like huge weeds and considered invasive. The large canopies choke off native plants. The massive root systems push up sidewalks and clog sewer pipes. Not to mention tripping hazards. It never stops dropping the large leaves and has huge seed pods that when ripe make a mess. They are everywhere (bird droppings with the seeds) and can grow anywhere in South Florida just like a weed.

Positive artfullcodger On Jul 8, 2012, artfullcodger from Trenton, NJ wrote:

My umbrella tree was given to me in 1983 as a houseplant. I had it for another five or six years before it needed to be put into another pot. It grew about 3-4 feet high, summering on my patio outside, coming in as a houseplant in winter, until 1996. Then it sat in my daughter's bedroom with very limited sun until I reclaimed it in 1998. Now it has spread about 8 feet wide and about 3-4 feet high. "Octo-tree" for sure. I am going to trim it back to manage the space it takes up. About three years ago, I cut off one of the branches and stabbed it into the dirt around the main stem and darned if it didn't root there. If anyone wants cuttings, please feel free to ask. Also, it has a menthol scent. Is that typical of all of them?

Positive TrotlineDesigns On Feb 10, 2012, TrotlineDesigns from Clewiston, FL wrote:

I live in Clewiston, Fl. (South Shore of Lake Okeechobee) I found one of these trees growing out of my bottle brush tree.. Decided to leave it as the bottle brush wasn't all that healthy and in less than a year it is over 6 feet tall. I love the large green leaves and by the grace of God they turn yellow about this time of year (Feb) so the tree matches all the other ones in the yard.. I do hope the roots grow out of the trunk of the bottle brush tree... if it makes it I will cut the bottle brush down.
Love the umbrella tree either way.

Positive mholl704 On Apr 9, 2011, mholl704 from Appleton, WI wrote:

Finding this site, especially the pictures, was awesome. I have had this plant for over 12 years. When my father died, I took home a greenery arrangement from the funeral. This was the only thing in it that survived.

It was only about 4 inches high, nothing special, except the meaning. I potted it, not expecting much. Over the years, it was shifted around, experienced all sorts of lighting, locations (indoors) in 5 different apartments, care and, yes, neglect. But it persisted.

Due to the circumstances, it's bent in all directions, having been turned occasionally to straighten it out. (I'm obviously not much of a plant person -- I just like to watch things grow.) It now looks very similar to picture # 40, and is very healthy. I will have to repot it again soon, especially since I now have some idea what to expect.

I live in northeastern Wisconsin, so all of the information about it being a tropical plant was really surprising! It's like a member of the family to me. Two years ago, when I didn't get my Chrismas tree up, I strung lights on it, added a red ornament, and had a "Charlie Brown tree" for the season :)

Negative Seihatsu On Mar 27, 2011, Seihatsu from Trabuco Canyon, CA wrote:

I purchased a home in Southern California with two Schefflera's planted approximately 8 feet apart and 18 inches from the house. I estimated the trees to be about 10 years old when I decided I had enough of their messy droppings, ant infestations and aggressive root systems. Yes, Schefflera's are attractive but I highly recommend requesting expert landscaping advice prior to planting. I could tolerate the ants and leaf droppings but not the roots. The roots raised and crushed a 4 inch drain pipe and damaged a sprinkling system. One to 2 inch roots fused themselves to over 15 feet of foundation, engulfed the gas and water mains and lifted a slate walkway. It took 6 (six) full days of carefully digging, cutting, drilling and prying to free the root monsters strangle hold.

Positive jskyieeyes3 On Sep 11, 2010, jskyieeyes3 from Saint Cloud, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

my husband is the one who turned me on to these trees. i currently have 2 of them (both in pots), and they do well here in central florida. one is on the back porch, receives filtered morning sun, and is 5ft tall. the other is outside, receives full sun, and is 8ft tall. i have never heard anything about these plants being invasive until reading the other comments. they are planted next to houses and businesses all over town around here. they do grow rapidly here, provided they get plenty of sun. my smaller scheff didn't grow much last year (it was in partial shade), but this year when i moved it to a sunnier location on the porch, it grew a whopping 6 inches of new stem/herbaceous hardwood! don't get me wrong, they will grow in shadier locations, they just grow slower. the rippled leaves look very elegant; it's a very attractive tree!

Neutral faithiep On Jan 17, 2010, faithiep from Oldsmar, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

How unfortunate that they are such thugs as to be listed as invasive in FL. They're great quick shrubs to grow for privacy, will easily double in size in one year. They got zapped in our freeze, but will come back. I'll have to remember to keep them trimmed to 6'.

Positive rcharding On Nov 26, 2009, rcharding from Mobile, AL wrote:

My schefflera is doing extremely well here in Mobile (AL), though a bit of precaution must be taken. I have my planted in a protected south-facing location near a brick wall that absorbs the heat of the evening sun. Mine is a beautiful 6 foot-high bush. A few times in the winter I will cover it with a big plastic sheet on the rare nights of frost, but the worse that happens is a few leaves get frost-bitten. All in all, it can live and thrive here on the Gulf Coast.

Neutral Birgitgerlinde On May 12, 2009, Birgitgerlinde from Long Beach, CA wrote:

I live in the coastal Los Angeles region and see various Schefflera species planted everywhere, many quite close to structures. It is a very popular plant here. Are invasive roots only a problem in humid climates? I noticed the problem mentioned only by residents of Florida.

Positive schhdogs On Jun 23, 2008, schhdogs from Saint Petersburg, FL wrote:

We have 3 mature trees close to the house and driveway but have not experienced problems with the root system. We don't let the tree get any higher than the roof line and this is easily done by manually plucking off new growth on the top -- the plant bounces back quickly from this and we do this routine often. Grows TALL if allowed and IMO the shape isn't as nice than when kept shorter. These are very easy to propagate from cuttings. Also does well in containers. Seems to tolerate both part shade and full sun.

Positive mcdannells On Jun 9, 2008, mcdannells from Central Oregon, OR wrote:

These are house plants here. Basic plant great for newbies I feel. Never seen one in the ground but on the http://www.
The latest one I was given had to have five feet or so cut off. I like the bushy look and the people had it looking like a palm tree. The top was given away and the stalk was cut,rooted and given away (still have at least one left hint,hint) .
It is growing back.

This is one of those huge house plants....In the past this is one that I had grown big (easy) and sold to a office building where it might still be?

I had to supply this one with artificial light, which I had to keep moving the light for it grown to close and burned the leaves.

Again easy house plant and make sure you have room for it grows big!!

Neutral htop On Dec 17, 2007, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have not grown this tree, but have observed Umbrella Tree, Umbrella Plant, Octopus Tree (Schefflera actinophylla) in Maui. Native to Australia, it has become an introduced native plant in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Considered one of the plant pests in Hawaii because alien fruit-loving birds spread its seeds, it is quite common in wet lowland habitats on all of the Hawaiian Islands. A fast growing evergreen tree which can grow to 50 feet tall, it is very shade tolerant

Positive BayAreaTropics On Jul 26, 2007, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

Although tender,I have seen them looking very nice in the eastbay. I think an almost 20 year run of mild winters has much to do with S.actinophylla now doing well this far north.
Full sun to half a day of full sun seems to be best exposure.

Positive Nenehsmom On May 27, 2007, Nenehsmom from Moreno Valley, CA wrote:

We had a huge potted schefflera at my work on the patio and I always loved it. I had a chance to get one so I did. It did great on the fireplace hearth (who uses a fireplace in California?) then we moved. It was the hottest weekend in September and someone left it out next to the white moving truck, radiating the heat from the sun in 115 degree weather, and after being inside, it didn't like it. It was about 3ft across and about 4ft high, almost lost it, I thought it was dead, lost all its leaves, looked like it was shriveling. I refused to let my husband throw it away, I just kept watering it and talking to it! It's been 5 years and great until now. I've been wanting to put it in a bigger pot, but now it's got those under the leaves bugs and some of the leaves are turning yellow. I'm going to read everything I can and try to get it healthy before transplanting it. Like someone else said, it's part of my family!

Negative eurokitty On Jun 18, 2006, eurokitty from Seattle, WA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is on the state of Florida's do not plant list of noxious Australian plants/trees. You shouldn't plant it in Florida. Another horror story:

My mother had one that she loved, but that eventually cracked the cement pathway in her yard and broke part of her paver patio into rubble. Ultimately, it choked many of the surrounding plants. They had it taken down and had the main roots dug out - and they were huge.

The professional tree remover said that he's removed scheffera that actually broke a portion of the cement foundation in homes and its the most common tree that he removes close to homes in Florida. He also said they will invade and crush sewer pipes.

If you are in a warm, humid area you must be extremely cautious about where you plant this in the ground. The roots are incredibly strong and known in this area to damage house foundations, plumbing and other infrastructure. It's probably OK if you plant it well away other plants and large trees, and far away from any structures, sewer lines, cement or patios or buried electrical wires if you're in a climate where they grow rapidly. You should avoid planting them in Florida.

Negative mmesamantha On Feb 3, 2005, mmesamantha from Merritt Island, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I think the Schefflera is a very pretty tree. However, I have seen the damage this botanical can do with it's invasive root system.

The Schefflera root system destroyed my waterfall, tiled courtyard and the wing wall behind it. I was not going to let it destroy my pool so I had it cut down and the stump poisoned by professionals. Months later it was still alive. I had to have the stump cut out using various saws and other hand tools. I fear there still might be roots somewhere in the surrounding area the Schefflera could root from.

It has cost me nearly $4000.00 so far to repair the damage the Schefflera has caused.

When I drive past a building or house where I see the Schefflera planted next to a wall, I can't help but wonder how much the future repair cost will be.

In my opinion the only good Schefflera, is a bonsai.

Positive SudieGoodman On Dec 20, 2004, SudieGoodman from Broaddus, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have my Schefflera in a 5-gallon plastic pot overwintering in a greenhouse. The roots are growing out the bottom - will repot in spring into larger pot. Plant is now 3 feet tall - I need a little more height.

Positive Monocromatico On Jul 31, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

It does perfectly well in Rio de Janeiro. When they bloom, its just fantastic. Theres a touristic point, the Aterro do Flamengo, where lots of these plants were planted, and when its time to bloom, they all show those red blooms, like they wear fire crowns.

Positive broozersnooze On Jul 31, 2004, broozersnooze from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

Mine remains outside 24/7/365 in a clay pot & does beautifully.

Neutral punaheledp On Jul 31, 2004, punaheledp from Kailua, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

much prefer the dwarf to this. had some, at least 20', in the parking area of a home i lived in some years ago. incredibly messy, always had fruit and was always dropping in all over vehicles, the walkway, yuck. Maybe keep it tamed in a pot and never let it near soil it could get its roots would grow itself out of the pot in a blink.

Neutral NativePlantFan9 On Jul 25, 2004, NativePlantFan9 from Boca Raton, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Schefflera, or Queensland Umbrella Tree or Octopus Tree, is an attractive-looking tree that does well in zones 9, 10a, 10b, 11 and below. I had this tree at my old house in Tamarac, FL, where it was growing (grows well throughout southern Florida and my Boca Raton, FL, area) in the front yard and was damaging part of the black, concrete tar driveway with its roots. It also dropped many of its leaves which we had to rake up (I think there was one in the back also). It is a fairly fast-growing, unusual, up to 30 feet tall and attractive-looking tree but is on the EPPC Plant List One for its invasiveness. It can clog sewer lines and sprinklers and become a nuisance. However, it is excellent for keeping inside in a medium-to-large sized pot, where it dosn't show most or any of those negatives. Be prepared, though; it is fast-growing and can be 30 feet tall when mature! The seeds are unusual and awesome, blood-red in color and in large quantities at the top of the trees trunks, above the newest shoots of leaves. In my area, they are displayed mainly in Spring and Summer, but are found year-round. Enjoy this plant indoors!

Positive moonbeam5o On Jan 12, 2004, moonbeam5o wrote:

I have had this plant for about 4years in the late spring I put it outside the schefflera loves it of corse when falls comes around its back in the house and it does very well one thing it needs shade in the hot summer.Nancy

Positive anomina On Oct 3, 2003, anomina from Bradenton, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

in the bradenton neighborhood, on the west coast of florida just south of tampa, schefflera is practically a weed. you can't kill it, it can be pruned any way you want, it will grow 15-20ft high, or you can cut it back so it branches and forms a fast growing bushy plant covering as large an area as you wish. i have yet to see it flower, but i've not grown the plant tall until lately. i've been told by others around here that it does flower in red. all in all it's a very useful plant. i have the large leaf, the super large leaf, the small leaf and the variegated leaf varieties, all serving different landscaping uses, all thriving. it doesn't seem to care what kind of soil, mine is sandy and i throw some slow-release fertilizer to it from time to time. some is in shade, some in full sun. it's not picky.

Positive Bairie On Jul 17, 2003, Bairie from Corpus Christi, TX (Zone 10a) wrote:

Since my first knowledge of this plant, it has been a house plant, until about 15 years ago when I began to see them planted in the ground. We have had mild winters except for a few years when (usually) people wrap their 'tender vegetation.' So now they are seen quite frequently growing outside at heights of 10' or so. I have not seen any here like those in Palmbob's picture--that is awesome!

Positive nipajo On Jul 16, 2003, nipajo from Dallas, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

i have mine in a pot on the patio. i bring it out in the spring and take it in, in the fall. i have tried to or i'm trying to propagate a cutting and so far it has done well. some new growth but very little progress.

Positive palmbob On Jul 16, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is a very commonly grown lanscape tree in Southern California. Though it only flowers in the perfect climates here, it does flower profusely in more tropical, humid climates (such as Florida). It takes a huge amount of reckless pruning without a hint of a problem. There are varieties that have wavier leaves that are highly attractive.

Maybe not as cold hardy as what I thought this species was... had a freak cold snap here in Los Angeles Jan 07 and all the Scheffleras exposed to temps below 28F are brown and melted... maybe only a 10a plant?

Positive IslandJim On Sep 29, 2002, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

The flowers are nothing to get excited about but the fruit is quite interesting. It's bright red, borne in clusters on ribs that look somewhat like the ribs of an unbrella.

Just added a photo of a variegated one that I acquired this morning. The nursery had only one. It has two stems; as soon as I plant it and it become established, I intend to sacrifice one cane for cuttings, maybe in the spring.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Mobile, Alabama
Carlsbad, California
Fort Bragg, California
Manhattan Beach, California
Pasadena, California
Pomona, California
Reseda, California
San Diego, California
San Francisco, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Upland, California
Bartow, Florida
Big Pine Key, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Bradenton, Florida
Cape Coral, Florida
Clewiston, Florida
Daytona Beach, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Fort Pierce, Florida
Fountain, Florida
Hollywood, Florida (2 reports)
Holmes Beach, Florida
Homestead, Florida (2 reports)
Islamorada, Florida (2 reports)
Jacksonville, Florida
Key Largo, Florida
Key West, Florida (2 reports)
Keystone Heights, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Merritt Island, Florida
Oldsmar, Florida
Palmetto, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Safety Harbor, Florida
Saint Cloud, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Sebastian, Florida
Seffner, Florida
Sugarloaf Shores, Florida
Summerland Key, Florida
Tavernier, Florida
Venice, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Winter Haven, Florida
Valdosta, Georgia
Honolulu, Hawaii
Honomu, Hawaii
Paulina, Louisiana
Suitland, Maryland
Trenton, New Jersey
Marysville, Ohio
Tigerville, South Carolina
Broaddus, Texas
Brownsville, Texas (2 reports)
Canyon Lake, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Gary, Texas
Harlingen, Texas
Houston, Texas
Mission, Texas
Orange, Texas
Portland, Texas
Rowlett, Texas

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