Here's a rundown of some of the plants I have, as well as some facts, and care for each.
Aloe - This guy's a succulent, but I often forget that. That means that this soothing medicinal plant should be watered well, then let to dry completely before watering again. Aloe should be kept in bright light and a small pot, as it enjoys being root bound. Aloe's healing properties are well known, but I can never bring myself to break the leaves when I need to treat a burn or scrape. I keep a bottle Aloe Gel in the house for that instead. Did you know that Aloe actually refers to a whole genus, so the typical plant we see is sometimes called "true" aloe.
I've had a few different aloe plants, and I think my problem is that I over eater them. I moved my current plant to the brightest window, and am trying to make it flourish, but at the moment, it's kind of languishing.
Schefflera/Umbrella Tree - Again we have a plant that is commonly called by it's genus, but the big type we see in pots are usually the Schefflera actinophylla. This plant can grow quite large and full and flower when in the right environment. It can live in medium indirect sun, but prefers bright light. This plant should be watered well, then it's upper soil should be let to dry before watering again. If it's leaves turn yellow and fall off, it's under watered. If they turn black and fall off it's been over watered. (Mine tends to have the former problem).
When we moved to Park Slope and into a larger apartment, I searched Craigslist for some larger plant and found the schefflera I currently have. We had a harrowing but memorable drive thru the neighborhood with it propped in the back of our truck. I call it our "bedroom tree" (every bedroom should have a tree!) and it's about 7 feet tall. The family we got it from said it was about 8 - 10 years old, then, so now it must be about 12 years old or older! We repotted it once, and it's not living it's best life. Sometimes it grows the cutest little baby new leaves, but mostly it just hangs around looking droopy. I've been trying to water this guy more regularly and I think it'll benefit when we open the windows so it can get fresh air and more light.