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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. Sue,

    Cold is one of the major factors when schefflera shed their leaves inappropriately. This can be caused by normal temperatures drops outside. The optimum temperature range for schefflera is 59 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below the 59degrees will cause the schefflera to drop it’s leaves. So if the temperatures are dropping where you live it is time to bring the plant in doors. Schefflera as a houseplant can have issues with cold coming from air vent or breezes from open doors. So if your plant is near an air vent or a doorway simply moving it may elevate the problem. Also be careful not to over water your plant during this time. You need to actually check the soil moisture before you water it. Good luck and keep me posted.

  2. We have a schefflera plant we repotted it back in the spring and had it out on the deck it was doing great and so full. We brought it in cause of the cold weather at first the leaves started turning brown and then they began to fall off. It looks really bad is it dying and what can we do?

  3. Gina,

    Your plant is going through transplant plant shock (shock from being moved). First check your light situation. It needs to be in a place that gets close to the same amount of light as it did outside. Then check for air draft from door or air vents. Keep the plant out of these pathways. Finally check your water situation. Most plant have reduced water needs in times of stress and going into the winter. Make sure your soil is moist but not soggy and don’t water it till the soil starts to dry out. After you have done all of those things check for insects. Often when you bring plants inside they will have insects and the warmth of the home will help them increase. If you have an insect problem go down to your local garden center and get a general purpose houseplant spray for insects. Now you must take a wait and see approach. Plants usually recover from transplant shock in a couple of weeks. You may lose a few more leaves until then but don’t panic. You should start to see new leaves as well.

    All of the above suggestions relate to plants that are potted and moved into the house. If you dug up the plant and moved it in to the house, there is one more thing that needs to be done. When you dig up a plant you often cut off some of the roots. As a result the plant may not be able to support all of the foliage. In this case you will have to prune back some of the foliage.

    Good luck and keep me posted.

  4. One of the Stalks on my Schefflera plant is brown on the bottom and I have lost alot of branches on this stalk my leaves will turn very dark brown. This plant is from my fathers funeral I transplanted it well over a month ago. the stalk is is dark brown about 8 inches above soil line.

  5. Amy,
    First off, when you transplanted your schefflera, did you mound the dirt up around it? It is possible that it was planted too deeply. If that’s not the issue, inspect the browning areas of the leaves and stalk very closely. Do you see any white residue, sticky substances or other indications of a fungal problem? Lastly, check your watering habits. 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. If it is none of the above, attach a photo with out comment and we can better address the situation. Hope this helps!

  6. Hi , I just found your site I hope you can help. My husband bought me the schefflera plant about three months ago. It’s been shedding it’s umbrellas ever since. I have two whole branches bare.
    He says I water too much and I use a water gauge. The books are so vague. You could be over watering or under watering. If it’s over watering how long do I wait from the time I decide to check the condition for that, and if it’s under watering how long do I watch for that? It seem to start with brown circles on the leaves. I appreciate any advice. thanks

    Attached Image: IMG_0985.jpg

  7. Stephanie,

    Schefflera can be a little tricky. It takes them a while to get used to a new environment.

    So here is my recommendations:

    1-make sure the container is allowing excess water to drain away from the plant. If the pot doesn’t have drain holes – repot it into one that does.
    2 – make sure the plant is not in a drafty area — heat or air vents blowing directly on the plant can cause some of the issues you are having.
    3 – Get rid of the water gauge and use your finger — stick you finger into the soil up to your first knuckle then as you remove your finger make sure you have enough soil to test it. You will roll the soil into a ball – if the soil is moist enough to form a ball, but you can’t squeeze water from it — it is just right. If you can squeeze water it has plenty and if you can’t roll into a ball because it is too dry then you need to water it. I like to check more than one place in the container.

    Once you get on the right track with watering the plant will come out of transplant shock and be fine. Most people pay too much attention to scheffleras and love them to death. Good luck and let me know if you need help with anything else. Also remove all of the foliage that has fallen off the plant — as they start to decay they can cause problems.

  8. Claudia Chambers says:

    I have a Schefflera tree thats about 15 years old, its been growing beautifully and it was full, I have repotted maybe about three times depending on the growth and pot used, I only water when its needed, pretty much every 10 days, depending of the feel of the soil. For the pass two months leaves and branches are wilting and falling off. Its been in the same place the entire time. I checked for insects, and fungusI repotted it a few weeks ago also, I am still loosing branches and leaves slowly. I do have somewhat of a green tumb but this has me puzzle, can anyone help me save my tree.

  9. First of all, were your leaves and branches were wilting before your transplanted it? There are several things that could be causing the problems. When was the last time you fertilized it? Sometimes over-fertilizing could cause these problems, but also not fertilizing at all could be the issue. — Another issue could be that this older plant is too big. Do you prune your schefflera often? Trim back some of the old growth to rejuvenate and boost the growth of new leaves and stems. — Lastly, how is the drainage of your new container? Are there any differences between it and the last one? Did you use pebbles or anything before for drainage that you aren’t now? Are there holes? Watering plants in the winter often takes less water than warmer months; it’s easy to over-water. Hope this helps!

  10. Hello all. I recieved a beautiful schefflera from my uncle’s funeral just about a month ago. Since then, there has already been new growth on the top. The top leaves are droopy though. Also some of the leaves have turned just a bit more yellow. About a week ago I sprayed my plant for aphids. The leaves have been falling for a little over a week. Note it is also winter (I live in the midwest). Is it because of the cold? Although I keep the heater on inside my apartment. I dont want to repot until summer because I’m afraid my plant will die. I water my plant about every 10 days, careful as not to over water him. Yes, I said him. Lol. I want my schefflera to continue growing! Please help me!!


    Attached Image: 20130204_130117.jpg

  11. Ty,

    What type of insecticide did you use? If the new leaves were just emerging when you sprayed the insecticide on the plant and the solution was strong, it could be the cause of the problem. However, I would not be too concerned at this point since the plant still looks very healthy. Also, I think you can wait until summer to re-pot. You will need to keep a close eye on the water, making sure not to over-saturate the soil, yet keeping it moist. Watch the leaves — if they start to get brown edges slightly increase your watering.

    If the top leaves continue down a declining path, you can top the plant to encourage new growth.

    Hope this information helps.

  12. Lisa Coleman says:

    I purchased 2 beautiful schefflera plants; then fertilized and overwatered both of them. The leaves started to turn black and fall off. They seemed to stabilize (aka: not DIE!) so I let them both sit for almost 3 weeks and watered a little. More black leaves that fell off. I have had the plants appx 6 weeks and have lost almost one-half of the leaves, which I remove daily. They appear to be root bound so I’m tempted to re-pot it but this is turning into an unhappy plant experience. Is there a way to check for root rot without upsetting the plants even more. The leaves were so full that you couldn’t see through it. Now its getting pretty thin. Any suggestions?

  13. Here is a picture of my tree. It has been in the same place for almost a year but lately more than usual leaves have been falling off. I water it between 7 and 10 days – depends. The leaves get brown spots and then fall off. Any suggestions?

    Attached Image: 010.jpg

  14. Gloria,

    The plant may need to be re-potted. I would also check to make sure you do not have an insect issue. In fact, you might have a spider mite problem. To determine if this is true, get a magnifying glass and look at the backside of the leaves falling off as well as the leaves still on the plant. If you find evidence of spider mites you will need to spray the plant with an insecticide specifically for spider mites. Good luck and let me know how things go.

  15. Lisa,

    Were you able to tell if the container drains properly? If it doesn’t, you have no choice but to repot the plants. The plant will go through transplant shock, but in the end will be happier plants.

    However if drainage isn’t an issue, you can do a few things to help the situation. First you can cut the plant back slightly to stimulate growth. Then you need to make sure the water and light source are in correct balance. Place the plants in bright filtered light away from direct contact with a window (in others words back it away from the window slightly). As for water, water the plant when the soil becomes slightly dry, but not completely dry. Good luck and please let me know how the plants do.

  16. My schefflera losses a stem with leaves every time I walk by. This plant was given to me when my mom passed away in August 2012 so it’s very special to me. I attached a picture of one of the stems that has turned black. HELP!

    Attached Image: 20131119_140625.jpg

  17. Debbie,

    Try cutting the stem off below the black section and hopefully the plant will put on new leaves. Be sure to cut the stem off at a 45 degree angle. Good luck and please keep me posted.

  18. I have had a Schefflera plant since 1982 and have never had any problem till recently; getting to look like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. Leaves fast falling, in the past have set it in shade on porch but too big and was not out at all this year. Its nearly to our 8ft ceiling and still shows new leaves coming out. Has been repotted several times in the 31 years I’ve had it. Is in a nice bright room and have really done nothing different in it’s care. About 10 yrs ago I pruned it quite severly and started 19 new plants from the cut off branched and I still have one of them which was doing great till recently when it’s leaves began dropping and it is in a south room window the other side of house. I have not seen any insects and did spray it with a rose spray I had. I have always had good luck with my plants but can’t figure this one out. Possible could be root bound but don’t think younger plant is. Also does humidity in house make a difference?

  19. Shirley

    Although the plant is in a nice bright room, the closer it gets to the ceiling the lower the available light will become. So light could be a factor. At 31 years, it could just be time for the plant to decline. One question – did the rose spray have a fungicide in it? If so, this might cause the leaf drop to increase. I recommend two things – check to make sure the plant isn’t root bound and do another severe prune. Hope this helps. Please keep me posted.

  20. I’ve had my schefflera for about 20 yrs. I was unable to get it inside without help this year, so it spent one night out in freezing temps. I covered it with a tarp hoping it would survive. It is inside now and I’ve taken all the worst leaves off, but I wonder if I go ahead and do a severe pruning so that it has very few leaves, is there much of a chance that it will thrive next spring?

    Attached Image: 000_2215.jpg

  21. Marcie,

    Not sure a severe pruning is necessary. However, you will want to cut off any dead tissue. To find out if the stem is dead take your fingernail and scrape the bark. If the tissue underneath is green then the stem is ok. If not, cut the stem back until you hit green tissue.

  22. Tina Julian says:

    Jamie, Could you run me through trimming down my Schefflera to start new plants? Do I do it like I would a rubber tree plant with a cut, stick put in cut, moss and plastic around it? This is my first time on this site and and it is very inciteful (pun)…..

    Thanks so much.

  23. Tina,

    You can propagate schefflera the same way you have your rubber plant in the past. The method I use is a little different. I take cuttings by snipping the stem of the plant right above a leaf node. I make sure the cut is at a 45 degree angle. Then I dip the cut end in rooting hormone. I then place the cut end about 2 to 3″ deep into a good houseplant potting soil. I keep the soil mist but not soggy and in a couple of weeks roots will form. I will often place more than one cutting in a pot.

    Good Luck and keep me posted.

  24. hi…I bought a nice schefflera and was so happy about it….and it gives very nice new leaves then after one month its leaves start to fall about half of the leaves…I checked the draining poors and may be it was closed so I opened few ones….so it it possible to recover??other thing that there is an a.c in the room but not turning all the time
    thaaaanks in advance

  25. Sabreen, A few things. First, recovery should be possible. Second, the AC in the room could very well be your problem. You say it’s not turning on all the time, but if the schefflera is in direct line of the cold air when it DOES turn on, it could be causing the leaves to fall. You also want to keep the plant away from doorways and open windows due to damaging drafts. Try that and see if you get any improvement.

  26. Hello. I have a scheflera from my moms funeral. I’ve had it literally 5 days & it has started to turn black. I take it outside once a day & I have watered it once. I really don’t want it to die but I don’t know how to fix it. Plus I need to repot it but I’m really nervous that it is going to die.

  27. Rachel,

    The plant maybe going through shock. There really is no need to take it outside. In fact, the temperature change from outside to inside maybe causing part of the problem. If the plant was wrapped in a decorative foil, remove it at once. It might be keeping the plant from shedding excess water. If you can send me a picture of the soil and of the plant where it is turning black so I can see if something in particular is happening.

  28. A neighbor gave me a S. plant a few weeks ago. She had in her basement with a morning sun window and temp about 70-75. Very full and about 2 feet tall from top of soil. I have it in a dining room, no draft/vent on it, morning sun through brown sheers (about the same light), temp about 75-ish. Has been dropping some leaves, not a ton, still looks full. Leaves are green to yellowish, some with brown tips. I have not fertilized it. I suspect it is just shock from the move, can ball the soil without squeezing any water from it. Not sure, but I think I should soak it and then leave it for about 10 days? Also, wondering if our water might have too much salt (causing brown tips). Any advice?

  29. Drena,
    You’re right, it’s probably just unhappy because of the move. It could also be a change in the water pH as you’ve mentioned, but all of those things should eventually even out. I’d give it a few weeks to get used to its new surroundings before I made any drastic changes. After all, if it’s already stressed about change, more change would probably not be ideal.

  30. I received a schefflera tree from my brother’s memorial service about 3 months ago. I re- potted it in a decent sized pot with a drainage tray on the bottom. It has done well, with moderate leaf drop. I noticed that it was not regenerating leaves and now I have 2 bare branches. It is in an area that gets low/moderate light and I dont water unless the soil is dry. I already lost my ficus tree….. Can this tree be saved?! HELP!!!
    Thanks in advance!

  31. Kris,

    It’s not just the drainage tray that’s important. The soil needs to be sandy and loam-filled so that it can also drain. They do not grow well in soaked soil. If you are using standard soil, it is retaining the water. It may also need more sun. It will tolerate low light conditions, but they are not ideal. However, the problem is most likely cold. Cold is one of the major factors when schefflera shed their leaves inappropriately. This can be caused by normal temperatures drops outside. The optimum temperature range for schefflera is 59 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below 59 degrees will cause the schefflera to drop its leaves. So if the temperatures are dropping where you live it is time to bring the plant in doors.



  32. Thanks, Ed!
    My plant is inside, with temperatures no lower than 70 degrees. The soil is not blended with anything, though. Shall I use mulch or sand?
    Also, will the limbs that have lost all of the leaves regenerate?

  33. Kris,

    Schefflera are very hardy, so it should bounce back easily once conditions are optimal. If it’s inside, do you have it near an air vent or a doorway that gets gusts of wind from outside? Even brief exposure, especially such as pours from an AC vent, can cause this problem. As for the soil, mulch or sand either one would work. The soil just needs to be able to drain easily.


  34. Hi, my Schefflera has brown raised bumps all up the lower part of the main stem and is turning black! Please see picture. I don’t know what it is to treat it. All the leaves have been going brown and falling off but the bumps are restricted to the stem and don’t go that far up the plant so not sure if its one problem or two?

    Any help would be much appreciated

    Attached Image: image.jpg

  35. Sam,

    I think you may be over-watering your plant. You should repot with a loose, draining soil and make sure your pot has drainage holes. While you have the schefflera out of its pot, check the roots to see if any have been compromised.



  36. Hi this is a new plant for me. It just dropped a leaf and i noticed they are discolored. I water every 7-10 days. It is inside with good indirect light with no ac average temp 60. Any ideas? Attached a photo of leaves and of soil.

    Attached Image: image.jpg

  37. Terrie Lawson says:

    Please help. My s- is losing not only leaves but stems. The trunk does have the brown bumps but it looks like white dots on almost all the leaves.

    Attached Image: 1412694885154.jpg

  38. Terrie,

    It looks like your schefflera has mealybugs. They easily wash off the plant with soap and water, but your infestation appears extensive. You might want to use a pesticide, but one that does not linger after use.



  39. Anna,
    Looks like you may have a hosta. Partial light is ideal, but you may not be watering often enough. Try increasing your frequency to every 5 days and see if there’s an improvement.

  40. Desperate…
    I bought mine and it looked so healthy.. slight spotting and drooping but that’s all… I didn’t inspect it closely until it lost lots of leaves. Once I got up close I realized… It had been severely over watered in the store. This happened to me with a croton once…
    So much so that there is white fuzz mold type stuff on the surface and teeny tiny white-gray bugs (mites?) In the soil…. It was in a double pot which works great for my giant peace lily I got from the same place…. But the schefflera had been SITTING in a pool of water :( I had no idea until much damage seems to have been done…. I of course took it out immediately but it is still retaining moisture and I’m terrified to do much to it in its state.
    Is there any hope for this poor thing? Once I removed the water and moved it in the bathroom where there is no draft it seems to have stabilized s little…. Ah, help! Please!

  41. Kelsey,

    You are doing exactly what you need to do. Remove it from the pot, get fresh soil, ensure the leaves don’t also have mites on them and start fresh. As for your chances, schefflera are very hardy plants. There is a good chance it will bounce back and eventually be good as ever!



  42. Hi!! I just found your site and I think I might be too late, however, I’m gonna ask just in case I’m not… My bf bought me this plant for valentines day and I was so excited about it, he bought as an indoor plant.. I’ve kept it indoors and it was doing great, I read an article a while back showing how to care for it and did so then one day the leaves began to shed so bad so I stopped watering it and let it be for a while then it stopped. I moved away since then and brought my plant with me and out it in an area where it gets natural light, but not direct light.. It was doing good here as well and then one day the leaves started dropping so I stopped watering it once again, tat didn’t help so I watered it and kept I yup once a week.. The leaves stopped dropping and I saw two new stems growing, I kept it up but then the whole thing just started getting really bad, by this time I was confused and didn’t know where to start with trying to revive it… Now it is completely dead and I still have hope of brining it back…. Is bringing it back an option?? If so how ??

    Attached Image: image.jpg

  43. Chrys,

    I’m sorry, but it looks like it may be time to give up the ghost on this one. If you aren’t ready to let it go just yet, cut into the bark and see if there is any green on the inside. If so, you might have a chance. Otherwise, it’s for sure a done deal.

    If you see green, make sure that you are keeping it in ideal conditions. You should probably repot and check the roots for root rot. If you’ve over-watered, that could be what has caused this state. If you find root rot, trim the roots that are infected. When you water, you want to make sure the soil is mostly dry before watering again. That should prevent this in the future. For now, you might use a diluted fertilizer solution to try to bring the plant back.

    Good luck!


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