Umbrella Plant: A Unique Houseplant That Loves to Stay Wet

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Lawn & Garden

The umbrella plant, also known as umbrella palm, is a distinctive houseplant with bracts that resemble the spokes of an umbrella. This indoor plant prefers to be kept moist at all times.

The plant features green, 18-inch to four-foot stems topped with green bracts arranged like umbrella spokes. Brown flowers that quickly fade to brown appear among the bracts. It is one of the few houseplants that likes to remain soaking wet and can be easily grown in a dish of water. However, brown leaf tips may occur if it dries out, and spider mites can be a problem.

Umbrella Plant Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Cyperus alternifolius
  • Common Names: Umbrella Plant, Umbrella Palm
  • Light Requirement for Umbrella Plant: Full Sun to Filtered Light
  • Water Requirement for Umbrella Plant: Very Moist
  • Humidity for Umbrella Plant: High
  • Temperature for Umbrella Plant: House to Cool
  • Fertilizer for Umbrella Plant: Balanced
  • Potting Mix for Umbrella Plant: All-Purpose
  • Propagation of Umbrella Plant: Division, Stem Cuttings
  • Decorative Use for Umbrella Plant: Floor, Table
  • Care Rating for Umbrella Plant: Easy

Explore Different Types of Houseplants:

  • House Plants
  • Full Sun House Plants
  • Bright Light House Plants
  • Filtered Light House Plants
  • Light Shade House Plants
  • Hanging Basket House Plants
  • Floor Plant House Plants
  • Table Plant House Plants
  • Terrarium Plant House Plants
  • Very Easy House Plants
  • Easy House Plants
  • Demanding House Plants
  • Temporary House Plants
  • Flowering House Plants
  • Climbing or Trailing House Plants
  • House Plants with Colorful Foliage
  • Fragrant House Plants

Learn How to Care for Houseplants:

  • Lighting House Plants
  • Watering House Plants
  • Humidity for House Plants
  • Temperature for House Plants
  • Fertilizing House Plants
  • Potting House Plants
  • Grooming House Plants
  • Propagating House Plants
  • Decorating with House Plants
  • Preventing Pests and Diseases in House Plants
  • Vacation Care for House Plants
  • Gardening

About the Author: Larry Hodgson is a full-time garden writer in Quebec City, Canada, where he grows over 3,000 species and varieties. He is the author of several books, including “The Garden Lovers Guide to Canada” and “Houseplants for Dummies,” and winner of the Perennial Plant Association’s 2006 Garden Media Award.


1. What is an Umbrella Plant?

An Umbrella Plant (Schefflera arboricola) is a tropical plant native to Taiwan that is commonly used as a houseplant. It is known for its distinctive umbrella-shaped leaves that grow in clusters from a central stem.

2. How do I care for an Umbrella Plant?

Umbrella Plants thrive in bright, indirect light and should be watered when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. They prefer well-draining soil and can benefit from monthly fertilization during the growing season. It is important to keep the plant away from cold drafts and to trim any dead or yellowing leaves to promote healthy growth.

3. Can I propagate an Umbrella Plant?

Yes, Umbrella Plants can be propagated through stem cuttings. Simply cut a 4-6 inch section of stem, remove the lower leaves, and place the cutting in a container of moist soil. Keep the soil consistently moist and the cutting should begin to develop roots within a few weeks.

4. Is an Umbrella Plant toxic to pets?

Yes, the Umbrella Plant is toxic to cats and dogs if ingested. Symptoms of poisoning can include vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. If you suspect your pet has ingested any part of the plant, seek veterinary attention immediately.

5. How often should I repot my Umbrella Plant?

Umbrella Plants prefer to be slightly root-bound, so they only need to be repotted every 2-3 years. When repotting, choose a container that is only slightly larger than the current one and use well-draining soil.

6. How tall can an Umbrella Plant grow?

Umbrella Plants can grow up to 8 feet tall in ideal conditions, although they are typically smaller when grown indoors as houseplants. With proper care and pruning, they can be kept at a manageable size.

7. Why are the leaves on my Umbrella Plant turning yellow?

Yellowing leaves on an Umbrella Plant can be a sign of overwatering, underwatering, or nutrient deficiencies. Check the soil moisture level and adjust watering accordingly, and consider fertilizing the plant if it has not been done recently. If the problem persists, inspect the roots for any signs of damage or disease.

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