Some links in the post are affiliate links and I get a commission from purchases made through some links found in the post.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that for several years I have had one of these plants, always called it an Umbrella plant and have only just found that the proper name is a Schefflera plant. Oops!
Anyway, this plant has been one of the most popular house plants for many years now. It comes in a regular size as well as a dwarf variety.
Possibly one of the reasons for the popularity of the schefflera plant is that it is classed as low maintenance.
Having said that it still does need care, and if it does not get the right attention it will not be as lush and healthy as it should be.
We’re going to look at some reasons for an unhealthy plant and how to fix your schefflera plant problems.
What are the Main Schefflera Plant’s Problems?
The reasons why this plant is low maintenance is because there are really only two problems to keep in mind for a healthy schefflera plant, namely the correct amount of light and the correct amount of water.
Your schefflera always needs bright but indirect light. If you notice that your plant is becoming ‘leggy’ it is most likely because it is receiving too little light.
Now, having decided that the plant is getting too little light, don’t be tempted to move it to an area where there is bright and direct light as this will simply burn the leaves.
For your schefflera to be healthy the best way to water it is to wait until the soil dries out and then give it a good soaking.
One of the main schefflera plant problems, and the reason many of these plants die is because they are overwatered. Overwatering also causes the leaves to turn yellow and fall off.
What About Pests and Disease With your Schefflera Plant?
The nice thing about the schefflera plant is that it very seldom is bothered by pests and diseases, although this can happen – as with any plant.
The most common pests to watch out for are spider mites and mealybugs. Normally giving the plant a wash of soap and water will be enough to take care of this problem.
If the infestation is more severe you may need to try an insecticide. Neem oil is normally recommended.
One of the reasons for a pest infestation is that your plant is already stressed out due to too much direct light or too much water.
One of the few diseases that this plant succumbs to is root rot – again, this is caused by overwatering it and poor soil drainage.
Why are my Schefflera Plant’s Leaves Drooping?
Your schefflera plant will start to droop its leaves because of any number of issues but the most likely causes are:
- Insufficient drainage
- Bad levels of light
- Stress brought on by the above issues
Don’t beat yourself up if you overwater your schefflera occasionally. Nothing bad will happen.
However, if you constantly give the plant too much water the leaves will start to droop because the roots have turned to mush.
Even in the hottest months of the year your plant will only need watering once a week. It will need less in the cooler months.
If you think you have overwatered the plant then the best thing to do is to replace the soil as soon as you can. This is the better option than just waiting for the wet soil to dry.
It is always a good idea to check to dryness of the soil before you water the plant. If it is still damp when you stick your finger in, then wait another day or two.
Just as overwatering your schefflera plant will cause its leaves to droop, so will underwatering. Your plant needs a happy medium to stay healthy.
Like overwatering, the plant will not curl up and die if you leave it without water once or twice.
If it is left not watered for long periods such as when you head off on vacation, then you will have a sorry looking plant when you return.
The easiest way to check whether it needs water or not is to stick your finger in the soil next to the stem. Make sure you feel down to around 2-3 cm to check the moisture levels.
If you have discovered that your plant is bone dry, don’t be tempted to give it a huge amount of water as this will also be harmful. Your plant does not enjoy going from one extreme to the other.
The best way to keep your schefflera plant happy is to have a regular routine pattern every week or two. This will mean it is less likely to droop and ultimately drop its leaves.
Although watering is often the main cause of the schefflera plant drooping its leaves, another cause may be bad drainage of the soil in the pot.
This is easy to fix by simply adding some perlite to the mix. This allows the water to drain through faster – make sure that the pot you use has holes at the bottom.
Additionally, you should even before you get your new plant into its pot, add some pebbles at the bottom.
The reason for doing this is so that no soil blocks the drainage holes, and the water can run out easily.
One other point to consider with this and in fact most plants is that the pots made of plastic will not allow water to evaporate.
While a clay pot is porous and some water escapes through the sides, allowing the soil to dry out.
If you are enjoying this article, check out our article on why are my croton leaves drooping.
Why are my Schefflera Leaves Turning Black?
On most plants and in particular the schefflera plant black leaves are a sign that they have cold damage.
There are other causes for the leaves turning black, namely overwatering, mold, mildew and high humidity, all of which will promote root rot.
Be aware that excessive hot air can also hurt your plant by leaching the moisture out of the leaves. This will show up by turning the leaves black.
Occasionally your plant may suffer from pests which may manifest themselves in black or dark leaves although this plant is not as susceptible as many others.
Pests are removed by rubbing a Q-tip dipped in alcohol over the infestation or washing the leaves in a soap and water solution.
The easiest way to fix this is to pay attention to:
- Water routine
- Humidity levels
- Pests and diseases
Why is my Schefflera Leaves Turning Brown?
The reason for brown or yellow discoloration is mostly caused by pests and disease. If not taken care of in the early stages you will find that the leaves turn brown in a few days.
However, with yellow areas you should remember that this is a part of the natural coloration of the schefflera plant and the yellow is part of it.
More Schefflera Plant Problems
A common problem with most plants that are kept indoors, and the schefflera also suffers from this, is ‘tipping’ of the leaves. This is where the tips of the leaves tend to dry out and turn brown.
There are several factors which cause tipping, one of them is overwatering. Another reason for tipping is the overuse of chemicals and fertilizers.
Dry, stagnant air and the wetness caused by overwatering will add to this issue.
Although schefflera plants are more resistant to bugs than many others, they may still be attacked by spider mites and mealybugs.
These will feed on the moisture in the plant and show up in dry, discoloured leaf tips.
This plant is greatly affected by humidity in the room. This will make all the difference to a healthy plant or a sickly plant.
The schefflera plant enjoys high humidity and will do well if it is as high as 85%. The high humidity helps the plant to retain moisture in the leaves.
It can be tricky to control the humidity in the room. Misting the leaves two or three times a day will help to control the levels.
Another way to maintain humidity is to provide a tray under the pot which is filled with water. For added attraction you can place pretty pebbles in the water.
Place the pot on the stones above the water, not in it and you will find a humid area develops around the plant.
How Often Should you Water a Schefflera Plant?
The best way to tell if your plant needs water is to stick your finger into the soil. You will very likely find that you only need to water it once a week, or even every two weeks.
These plants will also do well with a bit of added liquid fertilizer. They prefer 20/20/20 type applied during the growth period and then an adjusted mix of half strength every 2-3 weeks.
Here’s something you may not have heard of. Your schefflera plant loves ‘aged’ water! How do you do this? You just let the water stand in the container for a few days before watering your plant.
Final Thoughts: How to Fix your Schefflera Plant Problems
Although these lovely plants are seldom affected by bugs and diseases, there are several environmental issues which will affect their beauty.
Incorrect watering, bad humidity levels and wrong lighting will all cause the leaves to be less than perfect, they may even fall off.
Fortunately, all the schefflera plant problems are easy to fix and there is no reason why you should not have a beautiful specimen in your home for many years.
Before you go, here are some more related articles I encourage you to read below to help solve more of your gardening issues:
Written by: Valerie Holyoak