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Why Is My Schefflera Losing Leaves? (Causes+Fix)

Schefflera, popularly known as umbrella plants due to their unique leaves, is one of the most lovable plants in the houseplant community. They are sturdy plants, but they will likely start losing their leaves if you ignore their basic needs.

Schefflera will lose its leaves if it doesn’t receive favorable growing conditions and proper care. 

In general, Overwatering, insufficient light, temperature stress, and overfertilization cause Schefflera to lose their leaves. Provide your Schefflera with correct watering, sufficient light, ideal temperatures, and proper fertilization to prevent loss of leaves.

Schefflera are not very demanding, and a little effort can keep them healthy and in good shape. In this article, I will discuss the possible reasons that can cause your Schefflera to lose their leaves and the solution to fix the same.

Schefflera losing leaves

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Why my Schefflera plant is losing its leaves?

It is painful to see your umbrella plant losing all its leaves, especially when you don’t know why.

This mainly happens when they fail to identify the underlying cause troubling them.

Exposing the plants to unfavorable growing conditions and lack of proper care can cause the loss of leaves.

Let us now look at the possible causes to understand the problem troubling your Schefflera.

  • Overwatering
  • Underwatering
  • Insufficient light
  • Wrong potting soil
  • Low temperatures
  • Low humidity
  • Improper fertilization
  • Stress 
  • Pest infestation
  • Natural aging

Let us now discuss each of the above causes and their possible cure.

Overwatering

Schefflera soggy soil and overwatering

Schefflera are hardy plants and won’t die if you overwater them a few times.

But constant overwatering will cause them to lose their leaves.

The excess moisture in the soil will block the oxygen supply, due to which the roots will get suffocated.

The roots will get damaged and unable to take water and nutrients from the soil.

Without nutrients and water, the plant will suffer from leaf loss.

Long-term overwatering will further encourage root rot, and various pests and diseases will infest the plant.

Solution:

  • First, remove your Schefflera from the pot to inspect its root system. If the roots look white and crispy, they are completely fine. You just need to put your plant under bright light so the soil can dry up. 
  • But after inspection, if you find that the roots are decaying, prune them off and keep the healthy ones.
  • Spread the healthy roots on paper and apply fungicide over them to kill back the remaining pathogens. Once the roots dry, plant them in fresh potting soil.
  • Always check the soil moisture level before watering the plant. You can check the moisture by finger or a moisture meter. Water the soil if the first 2 inches of the soil are dry.
  • Always use a pot with drainage holes to drain the excess water from the soil. 

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Underwatering

Schefflera dry soil

Schefflera are drought-resistant plants, but if you leave the soil dry for too long, their leaves will wilt and drop.

When you underwater your umbrella plant, the roots suffer from dehydration due to insufficient moisture in the soil.

As a result, the roots fail to carry water and nutrients to the plants, becoming weak and losing their leaves.

Dry soil, curly leaves, droopy, crispy, and yellow leaves are some signs of underwatering.

Solution:

  • If the potting soil has turned dry, take a stick and poke some holes into it.
  • Water the plant continuously for a few days until the soil turns moist. Do not put plenty of water at once. Otherwise, the water will drain off quickly without soaking the soil.
  • You can recover your plant by putting it under a sink with 3-4 inches of water. Keep the plant in the sink for 30-40 minutes so the soil can thoroughly soak the water from the drainage holes in the pot. 
  • Avoid keeping the plant in bright light for someday until the soil becomes moist.
  • You can also use a self-watering pot to prevent underwatering.

Insufficient light

Schefflera low light

Schefflera prefers to grow in bright, indirect light.

Anything less will cause them to lose their leaves.

Light is crucial as it gives energy to the plant for carrying out physiological processes.

Without proper light, the plant will not be able to perform photosynthesis, due to which its growth rate will slow down.

As a result, the plant will shed some of its leaves to save energy for the new growth.

Also, the low light condition will encourage overwatering situation.

In low light, the soil will not dry quickly and remain soggy for a longer period which will attract pathogens to the soil, worsening the condition.

Solution:

  • Place your Schefflera in a location where it will receive bright, indirect light throughout the day.
  • The ideal place for Schefflera is an east-facing window. Avoid keeping the plant near a south-facing window as it allows direct light, which can burn its leaves.
  • During winters, when light levels are low, you can provide light by placing the plant outside for a few hours in the morning.
  • Use artificial light if natural light is not sufficient for the plant.

Wrong soil mix

Schefflera soil

Schefflera may start to lose leaves if you are using the wrong potting mix for growing them.

Schefffleras prefers to grow in a rich, loose, well-drained potting mix.

If the soil drains too fast and fails to hold sufficient moisture, the plant will get dry and will start to lose leaves.

And if the soil is too heavy and holds too much moisture, the soil will remain wet for a longer time, hampering the root system.

As a result, the plant will not be left with sufficient energy to hold back its leaves.

Solution:

  • If the soil is too compact and tight, use perlitesand, or peat moss to improve drainage.
  • If the soil drains too fast, add clayey soil or compost to increase the soil’s moisture-holding capacity. 

Inconsistent temperatures

Schefflera high temperature

Inappropriate temperatures can cause Schefflera to lose their leaves.

If the temperatures are too high, the plant will overheat, which will stress the plant and suffer from the loss of leaves.

This mainly happens when you keep your plant near a south-facing window where it can receive too much direct light.

Just as warm air is harmful to Schefflera, cold drafts too can cause them to lose leaves.

Keeping Schefflera near frosty windows, open doors, air conditioners, and refrigerators can shock them, causing loss of leaves.

Solution:

  • Try to maintain temperatures between 65 to 90°F for Schefflera. 
  • Avoid keeping your Schefflera near heaters, radiators, air conditioners, and refrigerators. The hot and cold air coming from such devices will stress the plant.
  • Do not the plant near frosty windows, leaking windowsills, or open doors. Keep the plant in a well-insulated room during winters.
  • During summers, avoid keeping the plant too close to the window as the heat rays from it can harm your plant. Keep the plant a few feet away from the window or put curtains to prevent heat rays.

Low humidity

Schefflera humidifier

Schefflera native to tropical regions prefer to grow in high humid conditions.

They need at least 60-70% humidity to thrive.

If the humidity level drops below 50%, the plant will start to drop its leaves.

When humidity levels are low, the environment becomes very dry, due to which the transpiration rate from the plant increases.

As a result, the plant suffers from dehydration and starts losing its leaves.

Low humidity problem mainly occurs during winters when the moisture content in the air is low.

Solution:

  • Try misting your umbrella plant’s leaves with a spray bottle twice a week to restore moisture in the leaves.
  • Group your Schefflera plant with other houseplants. All the plants will transpire and will add humidity to the surrounding.
  • You can keep your Schefflera in a saucer filled with stones and water. The saucer’s water will evaporate and add moisture around the plant.
  • You can use a humidifier to maintain your Schefflera’s ideal humidity level.

Improper fertilization

Schefflera fertilizer

Both overfertilization and under-fertilization can cause your Schefflera to drop its leaves.

Schefflera will require fertilizers if the potting soil does not have nutrients. 

And in such cases, if you under-fertilize the plant, it might not get the nutrients needed for its growth, due to which it will start to lose its leaves.

On the other hand, if you overfeed Schefflera, the extra salt from the fertilizers starts to accumulate in the soil.

The salts will burn the roots system because they will fail to supply water and nutrients to the plants causing them to lose their leaves. 

Solution:

  • Wash the soil thoroughly with water to flush the extra salts until the drained water starts to flow more clearly through the pot.
  • Avoid fertilizing the plant for a few weeks until it has recovered.
  • If you notice white crystals on the soil surface, flushing the soil will not work. In that case, repot your plant in a new pot and fresh soil mix.
  • Fertilize Schefflera during the spring and summer season as it is their active growing period. Use a diluted liquid fertilizer with an NPK 20:20:20 for your plant.
  • Avoid fertilizing the plant during the winter as it is the dormant season, and they do not show growth.


Stress 

Schefflera are sensitive plants that will get stressed if you repot them or move them to a new location.

They might start to drop their leaves as a reaction to a change in their growing environment.

Whenever you repot your Schefflera, you need to give it time so it can adjust to its new environment and get back healthy again.

But if the plant is continuously shedding its leaves, it indicates that the new spot or the pot is not appropriate for its growth.

Solution:

  • Repot your Schefflera only during their growing season, which is their active season, and they easily recover from repotting stress.
  • When you repot your plant, give it time to acclimate to its new environment. 
  • Avoid fertilizing the plant for a few weeks after repotting as the fresh soil usually have lots of nutrition.
  • Avoid repotting a plant already stressed due to a lack of other growing requirements.
  • Avoid keeping your plant from a place where temperatures are always fluctuating. Try to maintain a consistent temperature around them.

Pest infestation

Schefflera are somehow resistant to pests, but they are not completely immune.

Pests such as thrips, mealy bugs, spider mites, and scales can attack them. 

Unfavorable conditions such as overwatering, low light, low temperatures, and low humidity attract pests to the plant.

The pests feed on the leaves and suck out sap from the plant that contains essential nutrients needed for survival. 

Without nutrients, the plant loses its energy and becomes weak and vulnerable, dropping all its leaves.

Solution:

  • Isolate your plant in one place and inspect the leaves thoroughly for pest infestation.
  • Give a shower to your plant by placing it under running water so the pests can fall off the leaves.
  • Dip cotton balls in rubbing alcohol and wipe the affected areas on the leaves to eliminate the remaining pests.
  • Prepare a solution of water and Neem oil and spray every month to keep pests away.
  • Provide your plant with bright indirect light and avoid keeping it in low light and damp conditions.
  • Check the leaves of your Schefflera regularly and prune those leaves that the bugs are making their home.

Natural aging

The leaves of Schefflera will themselves drop from the plant at the end of their growing cycle.

The old leaves will give their place to the new ones, known as natural aging.

These leaves will get detached from the plant when they will not have any energy to hold back water and nutrients.

These leaves will turn yellow, and their edges and tips will get discolored before falling from the plant.

You should not worry whenever you see them falling, as it is natural.  

Final words

It is a serious issue when your Schefflera is losing more leaves than growing new leaves. That’s why you should act immediately to ensure that you are taking the right steps to diagnose the problem.

With a bit of careful inspection, you will be able to find out the exact cause of leaf drops in your plant. The culprit behind uncertain leaf drop can be one or more such as poor light, overwatering, hot or cold drafts, etc.

Provide your Schefflera with the correct growing requirements to prevent the problem of loss of leaves. Ensure your plant receives correct watering, ideal temperatures, sufficient light, moderate humidity, and adequate nutrition.

With proper care and attention, you can save your Schefflera from any challenges in their pathway.


Reference: WikipediaSciencedirectBritannicaAmerican Society for Horticultural ScienceSchefflera taxonomic history.