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Can Schefflera Get Too Much Sun? (Sunburn)

Schefflera, or Umbrella plant is a beautiful flowering plant that has grown in popularity as a houseplant due to its easy-to-care routine. If you are growing one at your place or thinking of getting one, you must find out if it can get too much sun!

Schefflera doesn’t prefer direct intense sunlight as it can get sunburned if it gets too much sun. Thus, it is best to grow them under medium indirect light. To prevent sunburn, you must place your Umbrella plant away from any direct sun and increase the humidity around it.

In this article, I will explain the signs of sunburn on your Umbrella plant, how to deal with it, and how you can prevent it. So, stick till the end.

Schefflera turning brown

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Can Schefflera tolerate full sun?

Schefflera are beautiful tropical plants that thrive best when exposed to medium light.

A Schefflera or umbrella plant will not react well to full sun or direct sunlight.

It can tolerate some amount of direct sun on its leaves, but if the condition persists, it will show signs of sunburn.

Therefore, it is best if you don’t expose your umbrella plant to full sun.

Does Schefflera like sun or shade?

Schefflera or Umbrella plant needs a middle ground between sun and shade.

It neither enjoys direct sunlight nor full shade.

If you place it under direct sunlight, it will get sunburned, and if you place it in the shade, it will become leggy and not have proper growth.

A spot that gets the required amount of indirect light is ideal for your Umbrella plant.

Effects of Sunburn on a Schefflera Plant

If your umbrella plant is exposed to direct sun and has sunburned, you will notice some signs.

Let’s discuss these signs in detail.

Yellow leaves

Schefflera yellow

The first sign of sunburn is that the leaves start turning yellow.

When your Umbrella plant receives direct sunlight on its leaves, the chlorophyll gets destroyed faster than the reconstruction of new ones.

Since chlorophyll is responsible for the green color of the leaves, you start noticing the leaves turning yellow.


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Brown leaves

Sometimes the yellow leaves start turning brown, whereas sometimes, the edges and tips of the leaves turn brown when the plant gets direct sunlight.

Crispy foliage

Yellow and brown leaves might be signs of various problems, but if your plant is sunburned, you will notice that the texture of these leaves is dry and crisp.

This happens because direct sunlight burns the leaves and dehydrates them.

Curling leaves

Schefflera curling

It is not unusual to notice curling leaves if your Schefflera is exposed to direct sun for a prolonged period.

Direct sunlight speeds up the transpiration, due to which the leaves start losing moisture.

So, the leaves start to curl due to excess moisture loss.

While sometimes, the plant curls its leaves to save the remaining moisture.

Falling leaves

If you keep neglecting your Schefflera, the yellow or the brown leaves will soon start falling off the plant.

The cycle will also continue with the younger leaves if you don’t move the plant to a better spot.

Droopy plant

Other than the foliage, the plant also starts showing signs of sunburn.

A droopy plant can indicate that your umbrella plant is a sunburn victim.

Due to the loss of moisture because of the excess sun exposure, the plant loses its turgidity and droops.

How to save a sunburned Schefflera?

Don’t panic if you find that your Schefflera is sunburned.

I will share how you can save it and bring it back to health.

1. Relocate the plant

The first thing you must do is relocate your Schefflera plant.

If it is sunburned, the spot where you had placed it is not suitable for the plant.

Find a spot where it will stay protected from the direct sun and not face challenges like low light.

2. Remove the damaged leaves

The next thing you should do is remove the damaged leaves.

The leaves already damaged due to sunburn will not become healthy again, so it is best to remove them.

You must get a sharp and clean pruner and prune the damaged leaves carefully, without harming the healthy ones.

Don’t prune more than 50%, which will stress the plant and make it look uneven.

3. Reduce watering the plant

You must reduce watering the Schefflera plant after sunburn.

Since you have pruned the damaged leaves, the plant will be left with fewer leaves and naturally require less water.

Therefore, you should reduce the watering frequency for your umbrella plant.

You can resume the usual watering frequency after the plant recovers and start growing new leaves.

4. Stop fertilizing

A sunburned plant is already stressed, and instead of stressing it more with excess fertilization, you should stop fertilizing it.

Fertilizing an already stressed Schefflera will make the plant weaker.

Therefore, stop fertilizing till the plant recovers and resume fertilizing after you notice new growth.



How to prevent sunburn on Schefflera?

Schefflera humidifier

The best thing you can do is prevent sunburn on your umbrella plant.

You can cure a sunburned umbrella plant, but you can save yourself from all the trouble if you take minor steps to prevent the sunburn.

Let’s see how you can do it.

Place your Schefflera in the right spot

If you can place your Schefflera at the right spot, you can save it from sunburn.

An east-facing or a north-facing window will be ideal as the plant will not get exposed to direct sunlight.

But if you are placing the plant near a south-facing window, you will need to take precautions like using curtains or blinds or placing the plant 5-10 feet away from the window.

Cover the plant if it is outside

You can cover the Schefflera plant if it is outside.

You might not be able to control the sunlight or the placement if your umbrella plant is outside, but you can protect the plant by covering it.

You can cover the plant with a cloth or a beach umbrella when the sunlight is too intense.

Protect the young plants

Young Schefflera plants are more sensitive, so you must always protect them from sunburn.

You can cover the baby plants, keep them in a safe spot away from the direct sunlight, or use anti-transpirant spray. 

Mist your umbrella plant

Schefflera misting

Misting is a great way to prevent sunburn, especially on days when the sun is too intense.

You can mist your Schefflera to prevent transpiration and sunburn in the summer months.

Tips for a healthy umbrella plant

Other than saving your Schefflera from the direct sunlight, you must also understand the correct ways of caring for this plant if you want to see it thrive.

So, here are some basic care tips for your umbrella plant.

Factor Care Tips
Light Schefflera plants do best in medium to bright indirect light. It can tolerate the morning soft sunlight but avoid placing it in direct sunlight. Also, don’t keep it in a shaded spot. If it is not getting enough light, use artificial light.
Water Schefflera enjoys moisture. You must water the plant thoroughly till it starts running out of the drainage holes. An umbrella plant will generally require water once in 7-10 days during the growing period.
Soil Schefflera plants require well-drained, aerated, and rich potting soil that can hold enough moisture not to let the plant dehydrate. You can mix 2 parts of peat moss, 1 part perlite, and 1 part compost to get an ideal soil mix for your umbrella plant.
Fertilizer You must fertilize the umbrella plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer with an NPK of 20:20:20. Do it every 2-3 weeks during the growing season and dilute it to avoid overfertilization.
Temperature Schefflera comes from tropical regions where it enjoys warm conditions and, therefore, temperatures between 65 and 90°F are suitable for them.
Humidity Like all tropical plants, umbrella plants also enjoy a fair share of humidity, and you can provide them all that with a humidifier. If you don’t have a humidifier, consider misting or using a pebble tray.
Repotting You should repot your Schefflera when it outgrows its current pot. The ideal time to repot a Schefflera plant is during spring. You must water your Schefflera after repotting it to help it settle down.
Pruning You can prune your Schefflera whenever you see it leggy or crowded. You must also remove the dead and damaged parts from time to time to encourage new and healthy growth.
This table demonstrates the basic requirements of the Schefflera or umbrella plant.

Final thoughts

Schefflera, or umbrella plant is a hardy and low-maintenance plant that will thrive for many years if you provide it with the right care. Providing the correct lighting is a major part of its care requirements.

Schefflera plants don’t need too much sun as it can damage their health. I have already discussed the negative effects of too much sun on umbrella plants. So, you must take all measures to protect your umbrella plant from too much sun.

If you have a sunburned umbrella plant, you must relocate it, remove the damaged parts, and provide it with proper hydration to bring it back to health.


Reference: WikipediaSciencedirectBritannicaAmerican Society for Horticultural ScienceSchefflera taxonomic history.