Looking for a plant for the office or home that is relatively easy to care for and has good size and impact? The Umbrella Tree is a great choice. This hardy plant, native to tropical rainforests in Australia and New Guinea, is available from 2 feet in height up to 6 or 7 feet. It is very full with large, dark green, shiny leaves. It will survive in offices lit with good overhead fluorescent lighting and some natural light. Do not place it too close to west and south windows as it does not like bright direct sunlight. This plant does very well when set up in a pot with sub-irrigation (watered from the bottom). It likes to be kept slightly moist, but not wet. In good light, it will grow quickly. Prune regularly to keep a nice uniform shape. Fertilize once per month from early spring until late fall. The leaves tend to get a whitish waxy coating that attracts dust, so polish the leaves regularly with a dry microfiber cloth. Inspect the plant regularly for pests. If it is kept too dry or in bright light, it may become infested with spider mites. These are microscopic insects that will suck the chlorophyll out of the leaves, leaving them pale and mottled. It is difficult to see the mites, but the grayish webs are easily visible between the leaves. Regular cleaning of the leaves will discourage this insect.
Because of its fullness, we often use the Umbrella Tree as a space divider in office settings. The images show how It nicely delineates work or collaboration areas. It is also one of the best plants to dampen ambient noise. Its thick, fleshy leaves absorb sound well. Watch where it is placed though. It is somewhat fragile as its leaves are easily knocked off by physical contact.