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Leaves Are Falling Off My Schefflera – Help!

Ask the Expert: why do the leaves keep falling off of my scheffera
schefflera keeps loosing it leaves, i water it about twice a week – Sue

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  1. Hi, My Scheffelera is 7 months old. When I first got the plant I was overwatering it, however, I think I got the watering under control but it is still loosing leaves. The stems and leaves are turning brown and falling off. I’m down to 3 umbrella’s of leaves and they are drooping badly and I have a feeling I’m going to loose them too. I thought that it might not be getting enough light so I recently moved the plant by a south facing window. My plant has never had any new growth. Any suggestions on how I can help my plant?

    Attached Image: DSC06715.jpg

  2. Lynn,

    Let’s try to determine any issue that might be a factor.
    1. Does you pot have drain holes? If not re-pot the plant into a container with drain holes. As you do this check to see if your plant is experiencing rot root. the roots should be white or creamy in appearance. If they are black, you might have rot root. Should this be the case snip the roots back till you remove the black. Then re-pot in fresh soil.
    2. Going the other extreme. Many people who over-water their plants will then go the other extreme and under-water their plants resulting in another stress on the plant. Reading our care tips for Schefflera might help with this.

    Once you have determine which of the above might be a factor, you can take the appropriate steps to correct the issue. However, with a plant this stressed it might take a while for it to recover. Be patience and give the plant a couple of weeks to recover after you have implemented the appropriate solution. Good luck and please let me know if I can help with anything else.

  3. Purple Thumb,

    Can you send me a picture? Are you wanting to top the plant and start a new one?

  4. Becky,

    Scheflerra are notorious for going into transplant shock when moved from one extreme condition to another. The good news is they usually recover if we give them time. I recommend leaving it alone and letting it get familiar with the new environment. You should see it start to recvoer in 2 to 3 weeks. Make sure during this time that you follow normal watering procedures. Good Luck and Please let me know If I can help with anything else.

  5. Jim,

    Check to see if your window is drafty. An extreme drop in temperature can cause this type of issue – even a slight cold draft can damage a schefflera. If the window is a bit drafty simple move the plant 1 or 2 feet further away and the plant should recover in about 2 to 3 weeks. Good Luck and please let me know if I can help with anything else.

  6. My Shefflera has apparently been over watered, & is also probably root-bound. I’ve had it many years, & we had to move temporarily into a different room, because we were painting the room it usually is in. It had been losing leaves before the move, but since then, it’s essentially naked on the bottom 1/2 of the primary stems. The top of the stems, however, look great. Today, I cut 2 of the 3 stems & put them in a vase (for the time being) & I bought some rooting hormone. Is it reasonable to treat the cut stems with the rooting hormone & plant them? I’ve seen where you are supposed to propagate from ??? The actual umbrella leaf part. But you are supposed to get the leaf from the bottom of the main stem–& I don’t have that. Thanks for your advice.

  7. Ruth,

    Usually I top a schefflera to start a new plant. When you say stems was this the stalks of the plant or the leaf stem. Leaf stems usually don’t propagate well – instead top the plant. You will need a 6inch piece. CUt the stem at a 45 degree angle and dip in rooting hormone, then place 2 to 3 inches in the soil and keep the soil moist until the plant roots. Good luck.

  8. I recently received a plant from a funeral but do not know what it is or how to care for it can anyone help

  9. GG,

    Can you provide a photo?

  10. You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the most useful sites online.

    I most certainly will recommend this website!

  11. i need help all around with my pitiful plant. i have a picture that might be easier than explaining all the issues my poor plant has. how can i send this picture?

  12. Tiffany,
    You can send us your picture here: http://www.flowershopnetwork.com/blog/ask-the-expert/ We will try and identify the plan anyway we can.

  13. My Scheffelera is losing leaves. I love this plant and how it looks. This is my second one in less than a year. When I purchased them they were full and healthy. I’ve noticed this one is doing the same thing as the first one did – leaves turn brown then fall off. I re-potted it into a larger pot without holes; (soil must be extremely wet below with no holes in the pot) after reading your answer to some of the post I will re-pot into another pot with holes. I even went out and bought a grow light and a grow light kit. Leaves still falling off. If the leaves keep falling I will take it back to the florist and have them tend to it. I’m neglecting my other plants trying to care for the Scheffelera.

  14. Crystal,
    There are a couple of reasons that a schefflera loses leaves.
    Extreme temperature changes. If the plant is used to one temperature an there is a sudden shift in temperature, it will lose its leaves. Is the plant in the path of an air vent? If so, move it where it will stay warm but not exposed to hot or cold air.
    Insufficient light. If the plant isn’t getting enough light the leaves will turn yellow and drop off. Make sure the plant is in bright light. However, directly in front of a window can cause a burning issue with the leaves.
    Water issues. If the plant is too wet or too dry the leaves will drop off. Does the soil feel dry or have you let it get dry? If this is the case, water the plant and make sure you keep it moderately moist. If it is too wet, make should it has proper drainage and don’t water till it is slightly dry.
    Pathogens. If the plant has an issue with insects the leaves could drop off. Check the fallen leaves for signs of insects or sticky substances. You might need a magnifying glass to see the insects. If this is the problem you will need an insecticide.
    Once you determine what is wrong, you can easily correct it. I have seen these plants drop all of their leaves and make a full recovery. The most important thing is to watch for new growth. If the plant is forming new growth, you should be ok.
    We have a plant care page for Schefflera. It might have some information that will be helpful. You will have to scroll down the page to see the care information.

  15. Last October I received my Schefflera plant from my grandma’s funeral. For awhile it has been dropping whole stems and leaves and occasionally just a random leaf here or.there. Some of the stems and leaves were brown and dead looking. About 3 weeks ago I transplanted it into a much larger pot. After transplanting it I read that the brown leaves were a sign of root rot so I cut into the main stem of that branch and it was gray so I removed it as I read to. I was going to unplant and look at the roots but my mom told me that it needs time to acclimate to the new pot, so I should wait. It’s been 3 weeks now and it’s still dropping at least one stem a week along with a couple of leaves. I am unsure what to do but I really don’t want to loose it. :( I believe it is getting proper light as it is by a window that doesn’t get direct sun. As far as water I am unsure if I am watering too much or too little but the pot does have drainage holes. Most of the leaves r dark green or green and yellow. I give it about 16 oz once a week. I was going to post pictures but am unsure how to do that. Finally, in the last few days it looks like a new branch is growing at the bottom of one of the main stem. Please help!

  16. Meghan,
    It could be that your Schefflera isn’t getting enough sun or is being overwatered. Check the water to see if there is poor drainage in the soil. It could also been the plant is infested with pests. Check to see if it has tiny bugs and if so, a light pesticide should help.

  17. A friend gave me a schefflera that she had for 16 years. I told her I would take good care of it. However, the leaves have been dropping off in record number. What can I do to stop this from happening?

  18. Cyndy,
    It can either be that it’s not getting the appropriate amount of sunlight or water. Scheffleras need a medium amount of sunlight, not direct sunlight. They should get enough water, but not too much. Try changing one of these and see what happens.

  19. I have a schefflera that I have had for 10 years. It looks like about 10 different stems were planted and they form a circle in the pot (not twisted). As it has grown the stems have become long and have grown outwards and not inwards to really give a full plant. If I prune, it will result in the middle of the plant being empty (no leaves – a hole in the middle of the plant). Also most of the stems do not have leaves coming out at the bottom of the stems. If I cut too low, it will end out an empty stalk with no leaf stems on it. I am afraid no new leaf stems will form from it.

  20. June can you send a picture to jadams@flowershopnetwork.com. This way I can get a better understanding of what needs to be done.

  21. I bought a gorgeous, and rather large Schefflera Amate this summer. I went on vacation for 1 week and the person who was to come and water my plant forgot. Not only did it not get water for 1 week, but, the outside temperature was about 100 degrees. Many of the leaves turned brown and fell off. Since then, there has been quite a bit of new growth on the top, however, nothing in the middle where the leaves fell off. Will the leaves come back in these areas? I’m happy to send pictures. I’d love to know if/how I can prune it in hopes of it getting back to the fullness it was when I bought it!

  22. Sean,
    Since it does have new growth at the top, it sounds like it is getting back to normal. Prune the dead leaves by cutting to just above the leaf node. Keep in mind that you will get renewed growth at the node where you cut.

  23. Nikki Collins says:

    I’ve had this plant since 1999, it was my Grandmother’s, it is wilting and dropping leaves which are turning Brown. I can’t take the chance of loosing it. It had a lot of water but I put in fresh soil and drained all water. What else can I do?

  24. Nikki,
    Scheffleras must get medium-light, which means they need bright, but indirect light. See if that’s the problem. How much are you watering it? They don’t do well in soaking wet water. It’s best to wait until the soil dries out and then thoroughly soak the soil when you water. See if this changes anything.

  25. Hello! My mom bought me a scheffelara arboricola earlier this year, maybe August. It has four main stem that are braided. When I first got it, it spanned 5+ feet wide with two of the main stalks leaning heavily to each side. It seemed like the braiding needed to be continued up, but that the flower shop it came from had not kept up with it. Anyway, leaves were darkening and falling off like crazy so I took some sheers to it and tried to drastically downsize the tree, trimming stalks that were weighty and unruly; I also continued the braiding a little bit, which took some muscling. I replanted some of the cuttings and noticed that one of the stalks were turning dark brown. Now, two of the four stalks on my main tree are also turning dark brown/black, starting at the top and creeping down towards the roots, taking leaves as it goes down. The other two stalks are happy, healthy, green, and have new growth. I’m afraid the brown will take over the whole thing if I don’t do something, but I’m afraid to hack at it any more than I already have.
    The tree is in my living room; indirect sunlight shines in the room for 6+ hours a day. I have tried the tree in various places around the house and this seems to be best. I try to water only when I notice dry soil, but the dark stems make me think I’m overwatering…
    HELP!! Should I repot my pitiful tree? Should I cut the darkened stems even though that would trim my tree to less than half its current size?

  26. Lindsay,
    It sounds like your schefflera may have root rot due to over watering or a root fungus. Clean off the roots with water and be very gentle. You may need to trim off all the affected roots. Replace the soil clean the pot thouroghly. Make sure the pot has good drainage and only water when the top of the soil is dry. For more info on root rot, click HERE.

  27. My schefflera spends summers outside and always thrives, but every fall when I bring it indoors for winter it looses leaves continually until spring. It has grown very large and is difficult to move, but reading your post makes me think it’s not getting enough light. My house does not receive much light indoor so I will move it closer to the window, but I also worry about drafts. It continues to have new growth but the leaves drop from the bottom up. Any other suggestions are appreciated.

  28. Diana,
    Scheffleras need warmth, so make sure not to put them in an area that is too drafty. If your leaves are walling off, then that has to be a watering problem. Is your schefflera in a pot with good drainage? If not, then you might be overwatering and it may have root rot. Check the roots for black rotting and snip off the bad.

  29. Hi,
    I just bought my Schefflera Amate yesterday. I live in Colorado so it had a cold ride home. Now the leaves are all droopy. I do not think it has spider mites or aphids. I had to cut several leaves off because they were dead. It was very dry so I watered it yesterday and made sure not to let it sit in the water. Ideas? I have pictures but can’t figure out how to upload them. Thanks!

  30. Amy,

    Email your pictures to jadams@flowershopnetwork.com. I think between the cold and the dryness the plant is stressed. It will take a few days for it to recover. Watch for new leaves – if the new leaves look healthy the plant will be fine.

  31. I repotted an old schefflera that was root bound, but does get and keep new growth. Water regularly with light plant food in water, but nothing changes. Any suggestions?

  32. Kathy,

    When you repotted the plant you might have replanted it too deeply. If you covered the top of the old rootball with new soil, you need to remove this excess soil. Any time you repot a plant the top of the rootball should remain as it is. Adding excess soil can cause rotting issues and other issues. Once you brush back the excess soil the plant should recover. I would also stop fertilizing the plant for a while.

  33. Hi I’m desperate for help. I have had my umberella plant for 15 years. It was beautiful but growing too big. We found it was 2 seperate plants that intertwined at the root. We delicately managed to seperate them and one of the plants is thriving. The other the original plant has suffered my cat toileting in the pot without me knowing. I repotted it in fresh soil and water him well. Sadly my gorgeous plant who is affectionately known as Fred is dropping his leaves and stalks like crazy and is very droopy. Please can you help me as I don’t want to lose him.

  34. Julie,

    The plant sounds like it is going through shock from the transplant. Although you might have been very careful in separating the two plants this one might have suffered more root damage than the other one. When plants are stressed proper watering is crucial. In this case the plant may have gotten too much water thus causing the leaves to drop and the plant to wilt. Make sure that any excess water is allowed to drain away from the roots of the plant. Then let the plant slightly dry before watering again. The plant should start to recover or the course of the next month. Watch for new growth as long as it is healthy you should be fine. Please keep me posted on how the plants does.

  35. I got my schefflera from a neighbor about a year and a half ago. It’s been in my office at work and flourishing. We have ants at work… so the ant man came and sprayed. That day after, my schefflera began to wilt. At the advice of a wise co-worker, to remove the residue, I wiped the leaves down with a bit of Dove and water & then dampened the soil, b/c it was dry. The next day the entire plant looked like it was upside down. All of the stems are pathetically just hanging. I carefully cleared the roots, then re-potted in new soil. For 4 days now, it’s still green, but also still just hanging. I’ve noticed, however, that many of the umbrella leaves are no longer wilted, while others are curling away. Will this make a recovery? Is there anything more I should be doing? Did I tell you how mad I am at the ant man?

  36. Char,

    You did everything you could now just give it sometime to recover.

  37. Thank you so much, Jamie!

    Though one umbrella has turned completely brown, the others are no worse and some- a bit better. I plan to send an update and I appreciate your help.

  38. Jennifer says:


    I have a large schefflera that was badly affected by aphids. I have been using neem oil and it is starting to rebound, but it lost a lot of leaves and stems. Now most of the growth is at the ends. How can I encourage growth at the base and through the middle of the plant?

    Thank you,

  39. Jennifer,

    Healthy green stalks might produce leaves in the places where the damage leaves fell off. In this case just leave the plant alone and see what happens. But, the stems that are not healthy (black, brown or dried up) need to be removed. They will not come back.

  40. Natalie says:

    How long does Schefflera take to recover from overwatering and does it need to be repotted to avoid root rot? My story: I got a healthy plant at a store, with new growth. 1 week after purchasing, I noticed that the new leaf looked sort of sad. I touched the soil – dry, I watered a little bit. No change in the leaf. I used my moisture meter – the soil is dry. I kept adding water over the period of 3-4 days watching the meter before I realized that the meter was broken! The plant was in its original plastic pot with 4 holes, which I placed into a decorative pot (without repotting). So when I realized that the meter was broken, I lifted the plastic pot – oh boy, there was lots of water in the decorative pot. So the plant spent 3-5 days in that water. I removed the water from the decorative pot and drained the water from the plastic pot. In a few days the new leaf started getting brown spots. I placed paper towels under the pot to extract any water from the bottom (I removed them and squeezed the water out 4 or 5 times since then). The new moisture meter still shows wet at the bottom, moist in the center. BUT – now it’s been 10 days since the ordeal – all the leaves (including some new growth that showed up during the ordeal) are hanging. Not just leaves – but stems too. They hang so low that I’m afraid they’re going to dislocate from the trunk. I even tied them up to the trunk… What do I do? Leave it alone? Re-pot? Add something like peroxide to avoid/stop root rot (I’ve read about this method somewhere but not for schefflera). I really don’t want to lose this plant…. It was a gift from a very special person. Thank you in advance.

  41. Natalie,
    I would depot and bare root. Prune all roots that are compromised back to sound tissue with a sharp tool (sterilizing with alcohol or bleach between cuts would be good practice); repot into a fresh, free-draining soil mixture. Water to keep soil just damp until the plant recovers and then start a watering program that includes flushing the soil whenever you water and then allowing the soil to become quite (almost completely) dry before watering again. Schefflera tolerates this treatment very well. Hopefully this helps.

  42. Natalie says:

    Rachel, thank you so much. I did all of the steps you listed except for watering right after re-potting: the new soil that I bought seemed moist, I just added a quarter cup of water. At the moment it’s in a place with an indirect but bright light, indoors (warm at +72F, humidity of about 50-60%). There were some healthy roots (actually, only “remote” roots were affected, not the ones directly connected to the stems).
    Any estimates how long it will take to recover: days, weeks? Also, will it keep dropping leaves during recovery? I just wonder when to ring the alarm again that something does not go right.
    Thank you again!

  43. Natalie,
    The plant should start to recover or the course of the next month. Watch for new growth as long as it is healthy you should be fine.

  44. Delores Cannon says:

    I bought a tall schefflera about a month ago the leaves were already droopy a little but not much… it’s out side with my dwarf schefflera which are doing great I’ve been having them for years. But when it start raining a lot of water drip in the big schefflera the large teribble but little spike are behind each leaves do I pull the old one off or just let them fall off.

  45. Delores,

    Do not pull the leaves off unless they are falling off naturally. Do not force them off. Leaves that turn black and drop are signs of excessive water. Read this article about basic schefflera plant care. I hope this helps.

  46. Hi, I’ve had my beautiful plant for at least 8 years, in the same pot. when should one repot? I’m starting to loose a few leaves, but I attribute that to reduced sun light (AC on the blink).

  47. Glenda,

    The first sign that your plant needs to be repotted is if you can see roots on the surface of the soil or emerging from the drainage holes in the bottom of the container. If the plant is experiencing slowed growth, it might be pot-bound. Take a peak at the roots and see if they are coiled inside the pot. All of these are signs that your plant needs a bigger home! Here are some helpful steps on how to repot your plant. Hope this helps.

  48. Shirley Study says:

    I have had my umbrella plant for many years and repotted it a year or so ago. It is a beautiful plant with 5-6 stalks. It is in direct sunlight but it has been there for about two years and it didn’t start loosing it’s leaves until the last probably month. I don’t water it until the soil is dry on top. I fertilize it about once a month. It is in front of a sliding glass door where it has lived for about two years with no problem so I don’t think it is any draft from opening the door which isn’t used often because I use the garage to exit the home. The leaves just turn lighter yellow and fall off. The dead leaves do not have spots of any kind on them. It is mainly just two stalks on the plant where the leaves are falling off and quite a few since it started this. I thought it might spider mites because I did see some webs. So I have sprayed it with a product called Garden Safe House plant insect killer that was suppose to be used to control spider mites. I have sprayed it twice about a week apart. I think maybe the only thing that it might be is root rot. It is in a pot with holes in the bottom however. What is your opinion. I hate to loose my beautiful plant.

  49. Shirley,

    Did you see any improvement after you sprayed the plant? If that didn’t work, I would suggest removing the plant from the soil and feeling the roots to check for root rot. Cut away any roots that are soft, dark, or smelly, and repot the plant using fresh soil. Hope this helps.

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