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Why Is My Schefflera Losing Leaves

Ask the Expert: re ny brassia actinophylla
have had indoors for the winter season and it has nearly lost all its leaves. what am i doing wrong. do not want to loose this lovely plant . have had almost five years. help me. Debbie

Reply:
Debbie,

Let’s examine the reasons that a green schefflera (Brassia actinophylla) 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.

Good luck and please keep me posted.

Comments

  1. My schefflera has also been losing it’s leaves. I had it outside because it is toxic and I have indoor cats. But, I brought it in for winter. It was doing wonderful… So full and I even had to transfer it twice. I noticed within a couple of weeks of bringing it indoors that nearly half the leaves had come off. This scared me and I thought it might be because it was used to sunlight. So, I started taking it out during the sunny and warmer days, as it has been nice here so far this winter. But, they continue to fall. Perhaps it is the temperature. It shows new growth but I have noticed the new growth is fragile and comes off too if touched. It still has about a quarter of it’s leaves and even more new growth but I was still worried about it. Good to know there is still hope for it to come back better than ever come Spring. I just wanted to make sure it’s normal and can be fixed.

    Thanks,
    Brandy

  2. Your schefflera is most likely under stress caused by changes in it’s environment. If you’re bringing it indoors for the winter, make sure it’s out of range for air vents and other drafts. Keep the plant in a bright, sunny location out of direct sunlight. Unless the temperature outside is the same as the temperature inside, leave it where it is, especially while recovering. Be sure to keep it moderately moist and mist lightly during the winter. You should see new growth improve soon

  3. I just recently purchased two Schefflera and they looked really healthy but I transplanted them and now they are losing about a dozen leaves per day and the new growth seems stunted. I am very careful to make sure the pot has proper gravel/moss drainage and the air/heat has not been running so it is not subjected to drafts. It is in a room with a southwest facing window that receives bright afternoon sun and I water it once a week making sure the soil remains moist. I am suspect it is because I bought them from a greenhouse which was warm and humid and brought them into my house which is cooler and dry. The climate is too cold for them to survive outdoors. The leaves are not yellow or dying but they are a healthy dark green and then just fall off. You said it is easy to fix any problems, however how can I fix the climate? I can’t simulate the humid warm environment of a greenhouse. Will they eventually adapt to their new setting? It has been over 2 weeks.

  4. Jordan, Scheffleras are known for being finicky about moving around. Likely, it is just in a shock and should recover within 2-4 weeks. However, there are a few things you could try to help your new companion along. 1.) Many people tend to over-water when their plant is under-the-weather. Just make sure your soil stays consistently moist, but not soggy or standing water. 2.) Think about the conditions of the greenhouse and how it is different from your home. Was your plant used to lots more sun before the move? If so, see what you can do about giving it more light. Even the room light would be better than before. 3.) If your home is dry, it is a good idea to get a mist bottle. Schefflera does not like to be misted on the leaves like many plants, but it does like the humidity of misting. Spray a fine mist in the air surrounding your plant often to help add moisture to the air. These tips should help your plant perk up in no time. Stay away from fertilizer and other things that might add to the shock of the plant, at least until it is better. Most importantly, don’t over-think it.. just let the plant bounce back on it’s own. Hope this helps!

  5. Thank you very much! Your information was great! I will use your tips and be patient for a few more weeks while they hopefully bounce back.

  6. Thank you for the information about schefflera. I have a beautiful 30 year old schefflera that started turning yellow and dropping her leaves. I think it is because of the extremely cold weather we had, and I had a window open nearby. I will be sure not to do that again! There is some new growth of leaves, so hopefully she will recover. Also, she is potbound, but way too big for me to transplant. Your site is very informative, thanks again.

    Attached Image: 020.jpg

  7. Claudia,

    I recommend you start a new plant by taking cuttings from this one.

  8. During our holidays my friend watered our plants. Afterwards I went to water them myself but noticed the leaves of our schefflera started to turn black and found the earth was soaked and it was standing in water. I drained it and put it in a larger pot but four weeks on the earth is still fairly wet. Any suggestions?

    Attached Image: 20140924_110240.jpg

  9. Veronica,

    The leaves turning black is, as you’ve already presumed, an indication of the plant being over-watered. When you get back to your routine, the schefflera should recover. You’ll have to prune the blackened leaves. They can’t get back to their natural state.

    Thanks,
    Ed

  10. Sunshower says:

    My lovely, 10 year old large schefflera:
    1. grew a bunch of new leaves at the bottom of the stock.
    2. top leaves turned brown and dry, then dropped off.
    3. now the new ‘bottom’ leaves – about 3 different ‘stocks’ of their own – have turned brown and dry – and are starting to drop off.

    I’ve never over watered this plant, and it stays in indirect sunlight.

    Any suggestions. I love this plant, and don’t want to lose it.

  11. Sunshower,

    Look for the signs of spider mites or mealy bugs. If you have them, you can wash the plant and use a neem oil to get rid of the insects. Also check to make sure the drain holes in your container are not clogged. Root rot could be occurring if the drain holes are not allowing the water to drain away from the plant properly. Once you correct the problem the plant should recover.

  12. I received a scheffellera from my best friend’s funeral and I do not want to lose it, It is beautiful but I”m having a problem keeping it.tThe leaves are turnng brown, drying up and falling off. I have a plant light on it and hope this is not the problem. It is not in the direct sunlight and it is in a cool dry place away from draft or heat. I don’t know what else to do. It is in the same pot I received it in and I’m going to change the pot in the spring if it doesn’t die first.

  13. Shell,
    Scheffleras must get medium-light, which means they need bright, but indirect light. 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.

  14. Mary Kraus says:

    Mine came from a greenhouse that didn’t seem to be taking care of it well. It has spotted white ponder looking “stuff” all over it which is believe is powdery mildew. I have been treating it once a week with neem oil. The plant does have new growth. I live in a north facing window so I have a grow light that I keep on it during the day plus the light that comes in through a large sliding glass door window. Some leaves turn yellow and eventually the whole branch falls off and other leaves towards the top curl. Some even have black spots that turn into sections that look like something is eating the plant. I bought a plant hydrometer so that I could better watch the watering. Any suggestions? Not sure what to do at this point.

    Thanks,
    Mary

  15. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Mary,
    It sounds like there could be a few different things affecting your Schefflera. If the plant isn’t getting enough light, the leaves will turn yellow and drop off. Make sure the plant is in bright, indirect light. Directly in front of a window can cause a burning issue with the leaves.
    It also sounds like you could have a disease or pest issue. Pseudomonas leaf blight can cause small water-soaked areas that enlarge and turn black. The best way to treat or prevent this is to keep the leaves dry, and remove any infected leaves. Alternaria and Phytophthora leaf spot can both cause similar symptoms. These are both fungal infections, and can be treated by keeping the leaves completely dry can eliminate the disease without the need for fungicides. There are several pests that could be affecting your plant. The most common are scale and red spider mites. Using a magnifying glass, inspect your Schefflera, especially under the leaves. This is the best way to identify any pests that may be causing problems with your plant and how to get rid of them.

  16. Michelle says:

    I have a Schefflera plant that has plenty of new growth, however it is losing its “fullness” inside. It drops about 10-15 green leaves daily. It sits just beside a West facing window. There is a vent next to it but I feel it’s far enough away from the plant to not effect it. I’m not noticing any discoloration in the leaves but they just keep dropping. Please help! Cleanup is becoming as frequent as doing the dishes.

  17. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Michelle,
    Your plant could be experiencing a watering issue. This can be caused by a plant being too wet or too dry. Check your soil by sticking your finger in to the first knuckle and pulling our a little soil. If you can roll the soil into a ball and water comes out when you squeeze it, your plant is too wet. If the soil doesn’t roll into a ball, it is too dry, and if the soil rolls into a ball but no water comes out when you squeeze it, it’s just right. Also, make sure your plant is draining well. You may want to check your leaves for any signs of an insect infestation as well. As long as your plant continues to produce new growth, it should be ok.

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