- TEMPERATURE: 65 – 80 degrees F (18 – 27 degrees C)
- LIGHT: Medium to Bright, Indirect
- HUMIDITY: Moderate
- SAFETY: Toxic to dogs and cats
- DIFFICULTY: Easy
Schefflera amate is currently my favorite houseplant. As you can see in the picture above, my umbrella tree thrives in an east-facing window. This plant is long-lived when cared for properly, and amate is particularly suited to lower light conditions than other varieties.
The plant becomes quite large even indoors – with glossy green leaves reaching 10 – 12 inches (25 – 30 cm) across or more. In the wild, Schefflera amate grows up to 40 feet tall. In your home, you can keep it under 10 feet with pruning.
Umbrella tree is easy to grow and requires very little upkeep, as long as you provide enough light, don’t move it around too much, and don’t over- or under-water. I can recommend this plant for houseplant beginners or indoor gardeners who have a “black thumb.”
Keep this plant evenly moist, never letting it dry out completely. I water my Schefflera amate thoroughly when the soil is dry to the touch. To water my large plants like this one, I place it in the bathtub and use the spray nozzle to soak the soil and clean the leaves at the same time.
Then, I let it drain for an hour or two before moving it back to its home in the living room. This plant does not like being moved around excessively, so do this only when necessary – about once a week or so in my experience.
Schefflera amate tolerates normal household humidity quite well, especially if you mist it with water regularly. But in winter when the air is very dry, place a humidifier in the room near the plant or place it on a humidity tray.
I spray my umbrella tree with warm water from a spray bottle a few times a day and it seems to really like this, plus we have the humidifier on an end table a few feet away.
Feed your plant monthly with a balanced houseplant fertilizer or use a time-released formula. If you’re using a potting soil that includes time-released fertilizer, you usually won’t need to feed for the first six months.
My favorite houseplant fertilizer is Jack’s All-Purpose, but any all-purpose food will work. (Read my review of Jack’s Fertilizer to see why I love it so much.) I use it on all my houseplants, except those that need special nutrients like cacti and succulents.
In my experience, Schefflera amate does best in bright, indirect light. I keep mine in an east-facing window where it receives direct sun for a couple hours a day and indirect light the rest of the day. Although it can tolerate less light than other varieties, amate is NOT a low-light plant.
However, it will be fine with no direct sun as long as it receives six to eight hours of bright, indirect light each day. When I first got this plant, I made the mistake of placing it in a low-light room and it began shedding leaves like crazy. It needs bright light!
For the best results, keep temperatures between 65 – 80 degrees F (18 – 27 degrees C) at all times. Schefflera amate prefers warm temperatures, and grows best when allowed to warm up during the day.
Never let night temperatures drop below 65 degrees F (18 degrees C) or the plant may began shedding leaves. Keep away from drafts of cold air or blasts of heat from heating and cooling vents, as this can cause the plant to drop leaves.
Repot your umbrella tree once every two to three years in spring, as needed. Choose a pot about 2 inches (5 cm) larger in diameter than the previous container. Heavy pots work best for this plant to prevent toppling over when they become very tall.
Use a good potting soil formulated for houseplants that includes peat moss. I like this one by Happy Frog because it is perfectly light and contains everything your plant needs in one bag, but any good-quality potting mix will work.
Schefflera amate is easy to propagate by taking stem cuttings. Take cuttings of the stem tips and plant them in a moist potting medium. Soon, the cuttings will take root and you’ll have another little plant.
Air layering is also an option, but it’s quite fussy in my opinion. I prefer to propagate via cuttings because it’s so much easier and works very well.
This plant requires very little maintenance to keep it healthy. Keep leaves clean by manually wiping each one with a soft damp cloth, or spray the leaves off in the shower occasionally.
When your umbrella tree becomes very tall, it may require staking to keep it from falling over.
Schefflera amate was bred to be more resistant to pests than other varieties, but you should still inspect leaves for any sign of pests every few weeks.
Here are some common problems indoor gardeners often have with this plant and solutions:
- Yellow Drooping Leaves – If your Schefflera amate has yellow drooping leaves, this is likely due to over-watering. Reduce the amount of water you give the plant, watering only when the soil becomes dry to the touch.
- Dropping or Shedding Leaves – If your umbrella tree is dropping or shedding leaves, it’s usually due to temperature. Make sure temperatures remain above 65 degrees F (18 degrees C), and that it’s not being blasted by hot or cold air from heating/cooling vents.
- Leggy Growth – If your Schefflera amate has leggy growth, this means it needs brighter light. All the stems and leaves are growing towards the light source. A more even, brightly lit area will result in more even growth.
Where to Buy Shefflera Amate
I purchased my umbrella tree at my local Walmart garden center for $20. It’s a popular foliage plant, so you may have luck finding it in nurseries or big box stores. If you can’t find it locally and you really want one, look online.
I prefer to buy plants I can’t find locally on Etsy. I like to support small growers when I can since their plants are usually great quality. They have a reputation to protect, unlike huge corporate nurseries that don’t care about each individual plant.
Click here to see the current Schefflera amate plants for sale on Etsy. (Note: Be careful about ordering plants online in winter months, as they may sustain damage.)