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Broad Mites Might Be The Problem With Your Schefflera

Ask The Plant Expert:Schefflera With Board Mites

Hello, Through unfortunate circumstances I have become the keeper of 2 Schefflera plants. One is a pretty good sized ‘bush’ and the other is much smaller.

They both came from a florist and looked extraordinary 5 days ago. The problem started surfacing the day we brought them home, the leaves started wilting, turning a dark greenish-brown and then falling off. On the smaller plant some of the leaves actually look shriveled and dried (mostly the smaller newer growth). There are a few leaves that have spots on them.

I’m having a hard time telling if they are dry, the soil seems to be deep in the pot and it seems to just be the vine/stem in the soil. Because of this they have been watered thoroughly and drained before putting them back in their decorative pots. They are both in a brightly lit room, the smaller one has been placed near a great vent so I just moved it today.

The larger one is in the same room but not near a vent. They were shipped to a visitation and then put in the car for a few hours before coming home with me – the temp that day was in the single digits. When I first noticed these symptoms it reminded me of what lettuce looks like when it gets frozen then thawed, I thought the extreme temps did something to some of the branches so I trimmed quite a bit of the sickly looking leaves/stems from them. Regardless of doing that they are rapidly losing life. They are holding a sentimental value right now for me and I would really love to keep them happy but not sure how to fix the problem.


Plant Expert Reply:

Wow. It does look like your plants are having a bit of trouble, but I think your plants are still in fairly good condition.

Exposure to cold temperatures may have caused some of the problems you are seeing. But from a glance, I would say the plants could have a broad mite problem. Broad mites will often cause new leaves to cup downward and pucker, as well as cause leaves to be stunted with serrated margins. You will need a magnifying glass to identify the mites. If your plant does have mites, I recommend removing all damaged leaves and stems and treating with a miticide. Your local garden center should have one that will work.

The sticky substance could also indicate an aphid problem. If you have aphids, you should be able to see them without a magnifying glass. Look at the underneath side of the leaves. If aphids are a problem, you will need to treat with an insecticide.

I am not sure what you mean when you say ” I’m having a hard time telling if they are dry, the soil seems to be deep in the pot and it seems to just be the vine/stem in the soil. Because of this they have been watered thoroughly and drained before putting them back in their decorative pots.”

If you can give me a little more information or a picture of the soil, I think I can help you avoid water stress issues.

At the bottom of our Dwarf Schefflera page you can find a list of care instruction that might help.

I hope this information is helpful.


Jamie Jamison Adams

What is Wrong With My Schefflera?

Ask the Expert: Please help me identify the problem with this plant!

A dear friend of mine gave me a cutting off her HUGE and prolific plant about 1.5 years ago. Around the same time, I believe I brought some insects in with some bad potting soil. I have sprayed with Bayer Natria Insect, disease & mite control as well as another Bayer insect killer. After I treat, I usually find dead insects around the plant which look like fruit flies. The plant seems to put out new growth but looks wilted.

I forgot to tell you this plant usually lives on the windowsill facing south of our house which has blind-filtered light. I have moved it to other areas such as by a room with north and east facing windows with filtered light and a north window. The mother plant lives in a north-facing sliding glass door and is a prolific grower to say the LEAST! I have repotted twice in the 1.5 years. I water only when the surface soil seems dry.

Schefflera With Distorted Leaves Schefflera With Yellow Veined Leaves

[Read more…]

Help! What Is My ‘Tree’ Dying

Ask The Plant Expert:

I’ve had this “tree” for over 15 years.  (I’m not even sure what type it is.) The leaves have always fallen off from the bottom as it grows, but they are falling off more quickly lately. Now the upper leaves are getting brown spots.  Help, what can I do!  Thank you, Karen

Schefflera Shedding Leaves

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:


Your Schefflera could be experiencing one of two problems: insufficient water or a fungal problem. The first thing to do is assess your watering practices. Check the rootball to make sure it is fully saturated when you water. Then make sure that the plant does not need to be repotted. If the plant is receiving enough water, then check the plant for a fungal issue.

If your plant has Alternaria leaf spot (Alternaria panax) the newly formed spot will have a wet appearance and the spot will spread until the whole leaves is infected.  This can be controlled by removing the leaves that are infected. Also, make sure that water does not touch the leaves.

I hope this information is helpful.  Please let me know if I can help with anything else.

Help! What Is This Bug On My Schefflera?

Ask The Plant Expert:

What is this very small black bug on my schefflera? I just brought this plant home three days ago from a funeral. I kept it outside for one day, then re-potted it yesterday and brought indoors. Today, I noticed these black specks and took a picture so I could zoom in for a closer look.  There does not appear to be any damage, and the bugs do not seem to move. What are these critters, and how do I get rid of them? – Shelly

Small Beetle Identification Small Beetle Identification

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:


Looks like the larval stage of a type of small beetle. You can use a general purpose insecticide to get rid of them. Your local garden center and nursery should have something that will work. Please let me know if I can help with anything else.

Help! What’s Wrong With My Droopy Schefflera

Ask The Plant Expert:

I have had my Schefflera for nearly 4 years.  I live in OH and this plant lives indoors next to our south-facing window from late-October through mid-May.  During the other months, the plant is kept on the outdoor porch which is just on the other side of the south-facing window in indirect light.

This plant has been transplanted once last Spring and seemed to be doing well.  However, after I brought the plant in from my outside porch last month, I noticed that there are branches curving downward and the plant is losing its attractive shape.

It doesn’t help that my cat likes to pounce on the curved branches she can reach. How do I fix this? – Heather

Droopy Schefflera

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:


You have a very nice schefflera. There are a couple things that you can do to help shape the plant. Prune out those branches that droop down, and with no regards to the basic shape of the plant. Then start a rotation schedule for the plant. Every week turn the plant 90 degrees; this will keep the foliage from unevenly bending towards the light. You can also prune flimsy and weak stems.

In fact, it looks like your plant has produced a lot of new growth in a short period of time. If this is true, and a result of you fertilizing the plant, cut back on the fertilizer by half. When plants rapidly produce new growth, that growth can be a little weak and flimsy. This new growth over time can strengthen, but if it is causing the plant to look mis-shapened it is better to trim it.

Hope this information was helpful. Please let me know if I can help with anything else.

Help Identify These House Plants From A Dish Garden

Ask The Plant Expert:

Hi there.  I received a variety of plants in a funeral arrangement.  I re-potted them in the spring and now that it is getting colder at night, I need more help in determining how to care for them.  I had them outside on my porch, since I was not sure as to the toxicity of them, as I do have 3 cats and a dog.  Can you please identify.  I believe that one of them is a dwarf umbrella plant, but not sure on the other.  Thanks. – Jeanene

Wareneki Daceana House Plant Schefflera Houseplant

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:  
The first one is a Wareneki Draceana and the second one is a Schefflera. The first one should be okay for your pets  to be around. However, the schefflera can be a problem for dogs or cats who are prone to chewing on plants. If you read our article 10 House Plants Poisonous to Dogs, Cats or Children, it will help you decide which plants you should keep with your pets. You may also refer to the House Plant Care & Information Page.
Hope this information was helpful.
Please let me know if I can help with anything else.


Schefflera Shock: How To Help With Repotting Recovery

Ask The Plant Expert: I have a Schefflera that I have had for 35 years and it has gotten very big.  I was finally able to find a pot at least a little bigger than the one that it was in, so I repotted it this summer.  It’s roots were wound around at the bottom of the old pot.  My new pot wasn’t much bigger than the old one, so I rubbed off some of the old soil from it to give it new soil when I repotted it.  I let it rest inside for a few weeks and it seemed fine.  Then I put it outside for a few days this summer to get a good bath from the rain (I usually do that each summer) and since I’ve brought it back in, it has been dropping green leaves and some leaves are turning yellow and dropping off also.  What am I doing wrong?  After 35 years, “Charlotte” has become part of the family…I’d hate to loose her!  Thanks! – Amy

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:

Amy,Schefflera (Brassia arboricola)

It sounds like the plant is in severe transplant shock. It usually takes a several days for the signs of transplant shock to appear and a couple of weeks for the plant to recover. In your case, the plant went from one situation (re-potting) that caused transplant shock to another (moving it outside) without ample time for the plant to recover form the first.

To help your plant recover,

  • Make sure the new pot allows excess water to drain.
  • Make sure the rootball has been thoroughly saturated and that you water it as you have always done.
  • Let it rest don’t move it for at least a few weeks.
  • Don’t fertilize it. The plant should start to recover during this time.

Once the plant has recovered and is stable, you can go back to your normal fertilizer schedule and other activities. Hope this information was helpful. Please let me know if you need anything else.


Ask The Expert: What Is This ‘Uniquely Twisted’ Houseplant?

Ask The Expert: This woody, palmate, rounded lance-shaped leaf plant grew out of a viney, heart-shaped alternate-leafed pathos.  More than once.  This is the only one I saved.  My friend has one about six feet tall, and she said it was an “elephant- bush”, or something, but I can’t find anything like it.  The trunk is uniquely twisted, or meandering.  The other identifying info on the trunk is that it is layered, like some palms, like a grass. -David

Dwarf Umbrella Tree - Schefflera arboricola

Flower Shop Network‘s Plant Expert Reply: David, what I believe you have there is a Schefflera actinophylla (also called Brassica actinophylla), also know as “green Schefflera” or “octopus tree.” A hardy, evergreen shrub that is popular as a houseplant. It can withstand tough conditions making it perfect for any living arrangement. A green Schefflera in good condition looks more like this:

Green Schefflera House Plant

You said your friend’s green Schefflera tree is ‘uniquely twisted’, this is not surprising. This type of tree is easy to shape and lends itself well to bonsai art.

This plant flourishes in a lot of light. Green Schefflera require an evenly moist environment. Water moderately during growth and keep only moist to the touch in winter. For more, go to Green Schefflera House Plant Care and Information.

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Umbrella Plant, Octopus Plant, Schefflera Are One In The Same



Octopus Plant

Octopus Plant

Ask the Expert: Can you tell me what kind of plant this is???

I was wondering if you could tell me what kind of plant this is so that I can look up more information on the care of this plant. Thank you. Tammy

Plant Expert Reply:
This plant goes by many names Brassia arboricola, arboricola, schefflera, octopus plant and umbrella plant. We have great schefflera care instructions for this plant in our flower gallery.

How To Combat Schefflera Problems

Ask the Expert: Help with my Schefflera, please!
Actually, I was told that my plant isn’t a traditional Schlefflera, but in the same genus.  It has a long, skinny trunk (I guess you could call it), and then the leaves bloom out at the top — like a tree.  Anyway, almost as soon as I took it home, it started losing leaves at a pretty alarming rate.  At first, it was close to the front door, so I moved it somewhere else to avoid the cold draft (but still in a place with plenty of light).  Then, I discovered (quite late) small moving black bugs on it that were later identified as aphids.  By this point, the plant had lost almost all its leaves.  But there were signs of growth, so I used an insecticide spray on it, and it seemed to come to life again.  However, I guess my plant is bug prone because I eventually found these white, fuzzy things on it that were identified as mealy bugs.  I used another lighter soap mixture/spray on it, and the bugs “seem” to have been contained (though I guess you can’t be sure).  But my plant is in rough shape again, and now, for some reason, all the new buds are not blooming into leaves like they did before.  Instead, they are drying out and turning black.  I should mention that I also never really got the watering thing down.  I have one of those soil moisture gages, and when I stick it in, it’s always moist.  As a result, I don’t water it at any kind of regular interval, but, rather, I wait until the gage says it’s dry — as I was told to do by the people I bought the plant from (though this sometimes takes up to two weeks or more).  Do you have any idea why this might be happening?  I would appreciate any suggestions.  Thank you! Scott

Plant Expect Reply:

Watering is a crucial element in keeping your Schefflera healthy.  When plants are under water stress (either too much or too little), they become susceptible to insect invasion, fungal problems and all around decline.  Don’t rely on your water gauge. Water guages are fine except sometimes they don’t always tell the whole picture.  The soil needs to be moist throughout not just the top inch.  Stick your finger in the soil up to your second knuckle in a coouple places. This will give you the best indicator as to the moist of the soil.  If the soil is dry, saturate the soil not just the top.  If it is wet wait a couple of days and check again.  Once you have the watering straightened out, treating the insects and other problems will be easier.

Your plant probably had insects when you brought it home.  That happens occasionally.  You probably didn’t notice because the insect were in a different life stage – eggs, larvea etc. It often takes a couple of treatments to get rid of all the insects.  It sounds as if you have taken care of them.

The new problem may be insect damage just now presenting.  It could be a result of a fungal problem.  I would trim off any damaged or disease buds and then give the plant sometime.  It usually does take about two weeks for water damage to present itself. It usually takes a couple of weeks for the plant to recover from water problems.

In the meantime, take a magnifying glass and look for spider mites on the plant or thrips in the buds. If you see either, you will need to treat the plant. As for fungal issues, look for lesions on the leaves or on the stems of the plant. If you see either, the Schefflera will need to be treat with a funigicide.  However, most fungicides cause a phototoxicity in Schefflera so it will be a little more tricky to treat.

If you aren’t sure what is going on, send me some photos of the plant from diferent angles and parts of the schefflera and I will try to figure it out.