The Umbrella plant is a type of sedge plant, closely related to and similar in appearance to the grasses. Native to several islands off the east coast of Africa (Madagascar, Mauritius, and Reunion Island) the species has been extensively spread by people and is now widely naturalized in the tropics, especially in South America and the West Indies.
The common names for this species all contain the word Umbrella, undoubtedly because each stem is topped by 12 to 20 leafy bracts that droop in all directions from the stem apex giving the distinct appearance of an umbrella.
The umbrella plant is just one species of over 600 in the genus Cyperus. Like most of its Cyperus relatives, this plant inhabits marshes, ponds, or slow moving streams, growing to a height of 1 ½ to 3 feet. It is a perennial in its native habitat, but when grown in areas having seasons with freezing temperatures, it is treated as an annual or grown indoors. The Umbrella plant was introduced into worldwide cultivation about 200 years ago for use in water gardens and as a potted plant.
Besides propagation by seed, the Umbrella plant has an unusual means of vegetative reproduction. The plant’s stems are relatively weak and tend to crimp and bend over when subjected to even the slightest pressure. This results in the stem apex and leaves being submerged in water, or at least contacting the moist marsh soil. Soon after, the bent stem sends out roots and shoots from beneath its leaves, establishing a new plant. This can be easily duplicated at home by cutting a whole stem from the plant, removing the leaf tips and lower stem to make it more manageable, and placing what remains upside down in a glass of water. One can follow the development of the new plant over the next several weeks. Eventually potted into soil, the plant will grow rapidly into a graceful specimen. It is perfect for the indoor gardener who overwaters, since the Umbrella plant requires a saturated soil and does best if a saucer placed under the pot is kept filled with water.
A close relative of the Umbrella plant, the Papyrus (Cyperus papyrus), is of historic interest. Also known as the “Paper Plant”, it has been used in the Middle East and especially Egypt since 2750 BC. for paper production. The stems of this species are 5 to 8 feet long and much thicker than those of the Umbrella plant. Harvested stalks are split open and the soft, white, internal pith tissue is removed and cut into long strips. The strips are glued together with a special adhesive and then pressed flat and dried to form sheets of paper. The technique is still practiced in the Middle East to this day.
The umbrella plant is very easy to care for, which is one of the reasons that makes it so popular. The botanical name of umbrella plant is Schefflera arboricola and it belongs to the plant family of Araliaceae. This pretty houseplant, branches out with glossy green leaves and grows up to 8 feet in height. However, the height of the plant can be controlled by regularly pruning. Umbrella plant looks very pretty in a veranda, or in your garden too. In fact, you will usually find an umbrella plant in most of the gardens. However, they may differ in looks, as there are many varieties. Arboricola, Renate, Gold Capella, Trinette and Dazzle are some of commonly found types in the umbrella plant. Let's understand umbrella plant care in detail, so that you can make your garden look beautiful.
Umbrella Plant Care
Light is very essential for every plant, in order to photosynthesize. This is their process of making food. However, too much of sunlight can also be bad for the plant and its leaves. To take care of umbrella plant, keep it in diffused sunlight. Since it's a houseplant, keep it indoors. Umbrella plant does need a lot of sunshine to grow, but not direct sunlight.
Ironic, but true, that the 'umbrella' plant needs wet conditions to thrive! If you are wondering how to take care of umbrella plant, then water the houseplant thoroughly and regularly, but every time you water, see to it that the soil is ½ inch deep dry. Also, you can use fertilizers to ensure a good yield. However, excess watering and fertilizing cause the leaves to lose their glossiness and make them fall out early in winter. Water the plant with caution in the winter season. Read more on soil moisture levels.
Just like we trim our hair to keep them in good shape and condition, plants too need to be pruned from time to time. An umbrella plant grows to about 8 feet in height. To keep the plant in a compact shape and size, cut out the growing tips of the plant. Remove the dead leaves from the plant and trim it into a proper shape. Umbrella plant pruning will keep the plant healthy. Read more on Schefflera arboricola care.
Umbrella plant is usually safe from pests. However, while gardening, do keep in mind that it sometimes, does fall prey to Mealy bugs, mites and scale insects. The infestation will be evident if you turn the leaves over and see tiny white and brown spots. Spray any pesticide, which is normally used for plants, which will help you keep your umbrella plant in a good condition.
The prorogation of this houseplant takes place in a various ways. Seeds, cuttings and air-layers are some of the common ways of propagating this plant while practicing indoor gardening. Planting an umbrella plant cutting in abundant sunlight and then shifting it to a diffused light area, will give you a thick umbrella plant.
Shady, I mean with a cool area, in a garden is always a welcome respite on sunny days. Landscaping with umbrella plant gives you plenty of options. Plant umbrella plants on the hedge, slightly away from direct sunlight, as this can make your garden look cozy and cute. The other option is to plant, the umbrella plant amongst all the garden plants, for an ornamental effect.
As umbrella plant care is easy, it is a famous plant used by bonsai makers. It's sturdy nature, adaptability and easy to maintain, makes it a favorite bonsai plant. I hope, these umbrella plant care tips, help you to plant the seeds to reap its evergreen benefits.
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