Schefflera actinphylla/ Umbrella Tree Bonsai

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The Umbrella Tree is a large, erect shrub or small tree with stiff, thick, sparsely branching stems native to Australia and New Guinea where it can reach heights of 12 metres with a 6metre spread. Its leaves are 10-30cm and divided into 7-16 ovate, leathery, glossy, deep bright-green leaflets borne in terminal rosettes at the end of long branches. Leaves of juvenile plants have fewer, smaller leaflets than adult plants. The Umbrella Tree bears upright panicles of brownish-red flowers up to 80cm long in summer followed by spherical black fruit, unfortunately it very rarely flowers when grown indoors.

POSITION Bright light, away from direct sunshine. A warm location is necessary for the Umbrella Tree, where minimum temperatures are no less than 15°C, try to avoid positions where temperatures will regularly rise above 25°C as this will reduce vigour. Due to the minimum temperature requirement of this tree it is grown indoors through most of the year though during periods of warm days and nights at the height of summer it is preferable to place outside in a shady place.

WATERING High humidity should be maintained throughout the year, use a humidity tray. Water liberally from Spring to Autumn but sparingly in Winter

REPOTTING Every two years in Spring. Use a very free draining soil mix.

PRUNING Prune back hard regularly to encourage branching. Otherwise trim to shape.

PROPAGATION Propagation is quite difficult, take stem cuttings in Summer, use bottom heat to encourage rooting. Air-layer in Spring. Sow seed at 19-24°C in Spring.

PESTS AND DISEASES Scale insects and mealy bugs may be a problem indoors.

STYLING The Umbrella Tree is difficult to style to traditional Japanese forms though it is possible to shape into informal uprights. Most commonly seen in multiple trunk clump forms in small to medium sizes.