Brassaia actinophylla or Queensland Umbrella Tree is a large ornamental tree native to Java, New Guinea and Queensland, Australia. In the U.S., it is a "tub plant" known as Schefflera actinophylla. In its native habitat, plants will reach close to 100 feet (30 m) tall and sometimes they grow as epiphytes. The palmately compound leaves form umbrella-like symmetrical heads with 7-16 leaflets that are each up to 12 inches (30 cm) long. They make a stunning tree for the patio in tubs. Plants are easy to grow, but need some pruning to keep them in bounds. The plants are hardy in the landscape in USDA zones 10-11.
Blooming: Although our specimen is quite old, it has never produced blooms.
Culture: Brassaia actinophylla needs full sun to partial shade with a rich well drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part sand. Plants are well watered and allowed to dry before watering again. We fertilize the plants monthly with a balanced fertilizer. Plants are fairly fast growing and can reach the top of the greenhouse very quickly. To remedy this problem we selectively prune the larger stems on a regular basis. These plants are tough--you can cut the trunks back to the ground and they will resprout and have very interesting shapes. During the winter months, we restrict the water somewhat, but never to the point that the plant wilts, and fertilizers are withheld during this period.
Propagation: Brassaia actinophylla is propagated by cuttings taken at any time of the year. The cuttings root very quickly and can also be rooted in water.
Brassaia actinophylla was featured as Plant of the Week October 9-15, 2009.
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Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.