Schefflera Amate: This Big, Bold & Beautiful Houseplant Screams Jurassic Park
Want to bring a bit of Jurassic Park into your home? The Schefflera Amate with it's bold, glossy foliage will do the trick. It's a tough & easy houseplant which needs some room to grow & spread.
How to care for this tough, tropical plant with impressive, glossy foliage
If you want an easy, fast growing plant that really makes a statement, then look no further. Schefflera Amate’s glossy, rich green leaves and impressive size are what make it so popular. Here’s how to care for this bold and beautiful houseplant known simply as Amate, or Umbrella Tree.
When I was an interior plantscaper many years ago, the predecessor (or parent) of this plant was known as Tupidanthus calyptratus, or in common speak, Umbrella Tree and/or Mallet Flower. These days its name is Schefflera pueckleri and you can find it sold in the exterior trade along with the Schefflera actinophylla. They are very similar. Confusing but both get up to 40′ tall so best to have them growing outside otherwise they’ll take over your living room.
The Schefflera Amate was developed from tissue culture and has replaced the above monsters for interiors. Because of the more compact form, it’s much better suited to our indoor worlds. You don’t need to have an atrium to grow it. Think of it as the younger, shorter brother. You can see it up close and personal in the video we shot in the greenhouses where the photos for our houseplant care book were taken.
Here’s the Tupidanthus in the great outdoors here in Santa Barbara. A bit too vigorous for the average home!
Although Scheffleras love humidity, they are quite tolerant of the dry air our homes are notorious for having. The large glossy leaves, which resemble a hand with the fingers spread out, don’t seem to get as many brown tips as the leaves of other houseplants. Both indoors and outdoors, the Amates are great in containers.
See what I mean? These ginormous leaves make a statement.
We did a video for you about these tropical rainforest beauties which you’ll find at the end of this post. Here’s what you need to know about the Schefflera Amate before you buy one and also what you need to do to keep it going strong:
Size: As a houseplant, it generally stays smaller than 10′ tall. This is not a narrow plant so make sure you have the space for it.
Light: Medium. Amates like it nice & bright but no direct, burning sun. They actually tolerate a lower light level than their predecessors the Tupidanthus’. Give them a spin every now & then because like all plants, they grow towards the light.
Watering: Also, like the majority of houseplants, average. They need well drained soil & their leaves will turn black if overwatered & kept soaking wet. A good drink every 10-14 days should do it. I’m going to do a video & blog post soon about watering houseplants so stay tuned.
The Amate in the grower’s greenhouse. The leaves will be cleaned off with water to shine them up before being sent out into the world.
Pruning: You can tip prune it twice a year to keep it size in check as it grows. Schefflera Amates can also be pruned hard if need be.
Propagating: By tip cuttings (the green stems) or by air layering.
Pests: Scale, mealy bug & spider mite. The Amates have been bred to be most resistant to mite.
I really like these plants and fortunately for you, they’re pretty easy to find. To learn more about Schefflera Amates and other fabulous houseplants, be sure to check out our book, Keep Your Houseplants Alive. This one will really give your home a tropical rainforest, jungle feel – look out for swinging monkeys!
A hole was cut in the roof so this Schefflera (Tupidanthus) has room to grow. Actually, which came 1st, the plant or the building?
A Schefflera hedge which is not looking its best due to our drought.
Here’s the video shot in a commercial greenhouse:
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