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Why Is My Schefflera Dying?

Ask the Expert: My Schefflera is Dying
I have a 22-year old schefflera that stands about 4 feet high. It\’s leaves started to get hard with a whitish tint about 6 months ago. Now the leaves are slowly browning at the tips and are either falling off one-by-one or the entire stem is falling off. Can I save it?

I repotted the plant and I mist it daily, but my once full, healthy plant is now thin and bare.

Please help me save it. Thanks. BJ

See Attached Photos:

Sick Schefflera

Sick Schefflera



Unhealthy Schefflera

Unhealthy Schefflera


  1. BJ

    I believe you have some type of insect damage occurring. Look for the following things a sticky substance on the leaves can indicate aphid damage; a white or cottony substance can indicate scale damage;small moving insects seen with a magnifying glass indicates spider mite infestation.
    All of these can be controlled with either a soapy water mixture or a houseplant insecticde from your local nursery & garden center.

    You plant, also, looks as if it is under going a water or temperature issue. If this plant was previously outside and then brought in that could be the cause of some of the problems. Check to make sure that an air vent is not blowing directly on the plant. As for water, make sure that the plant is allowed to dry slightly before you water it.

    Does the plant have any lower leaves? If so, I would trim the long thin stalks back to the lower green leaves. In a few weeks fertilze the plant and it should start to put on new growth.
    Good luck and keep me posted.

  2. Thanks for your advice. I washed my schefflera with Safer brand Insect Killing Soap and it’s actually looking better! Oddly, some of the brown tips “washed” off. I think I may lose a few more leaves, but it looks like the worst of the damage is over. I’ll continue to wash it once-a-week for another couple of weeks, and then continue the treatment once-a-month.

    I don’t have any leaves at the bottom, so I’m afraid to cut it back. Perhaps in the Spring I’ll cut the stems down and hope for the best. Good idea?

    Thanks, again!

  3. BJ,

    If you don’t have any leaves on the bottom, I would definitely wait until spring to cut it back. I would experiment with cutting back only one stem when you do. Good luck and keep me posted.

  4. I have a single stalk and want to trim it. If cut all the leaves off and the stem back half way will it die or can it survive. i don’t want it in a large pot but it is unstable now. it is about 15 years old and surprisingly healthy. Thank you.


    Attached Image: photo.jpg

  5. Most likely if you cut all the leaves off it will die. One thing you might try if you are wanting a smaller plant is to propagate a new one. This is easy to do. Simply cut the top off with at least 6-8 inches of stem. Cut your branch at an angle and dip it in rooting hormone, which you can find at any garden center or nursery. Then stick your top into moist soil until it roots (be sure to keep the soil moist until then.) You can do this with the side branches as well, although they don’t take as well as the top. But if they do, give them away as gifts! Watch your stalk, in about two weeks it will either leaf back out or die.

  6. I bought an umbrella plant at Dominion a few weeks ago,almost a week later leaves started falling off at a rapid rate.I’ve watered it accordingly and leaves still fall off,now I’ve been seeing these tiny flies around the house&mostly around the plant,would these flies come from the ground or the plant?And what can i do about them?I’ve sprayed the plant with insecticidal soap but doesn’t make a difference.What do you reccomend?I’m about ready to throw it out

  7. Robin,

    Check your soil. If is is soggy and has algae growing on top of the soil, you might have a fungus gnat problem. You will need to aerate the soil and spray for fungus gnats. Schefflera are susceptible to transplant shock. If the plant is forming new leaves give it a chance to recover.

  8. My schefflear was all a bunch of small ones together maybe two dozen started to wilt until all but a couple have died. Can I pull those living out an replant them?

  9. Tony,

    Yes! Schefflera should be re-potted annually until they reach full maturity. Since these are all together, you’ll want to be very careful extracting the roots. Otherwise, it should be fine.


  10. Mine has dead leves with circles on them. What is that????

  11. Aynsley Broom says:

    Hi Mark,
    If the circles on your leaves have a yellow halo around them, it could be that it has a fungal disease.

  12. Claudia says:

    I have recently replanted a schefflera plant into an organic soil. it was left outside in the sun while previously it was kept in an office, the strong leaves have become thin and they have started to yellow/brown and fall off? Is the plant dying and how can i save it?

  13. Jeffrey Balch says:

    Hi Claudia! Schefflera plants need bright but indirect sunlight. If the leaves are yellowing and falling off, they may be burning. I would suggest moving it to a spot where it won’t receive too much direct light.