If you are a Schefflera plant owner, you might have noticed curling leaves on your plant. And if it gets too common, it can be a concern.
Generally, old leaves of Schefflera can naturally curl and fall off; younger or mature leaves curl due to dehydration, over-fertilization, diseases, and lack of humidity. Once you identify the exact issue, you can fix it by providing the right growing conditions to the plant.
In the article, we will discuss the different reasons that cause the gorgeous leaves of Schefflera to curl and suggest remedies to solve the problem. So, keep reading.
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Why are my Schefflera leaves curling?
Schefflera plants are tolerant of various situations because they are easy to grow.
But leaf curling is a common problem that the plant undergoes when its needs are unmet, or it faces some internal issues.
Leaf curling in plants occurs due to internal or environmental reasons.
If the plant is kept in the wrong spot where the lighting, humidity, temperature, etc., are not correct, it may begin curling as a sign of stress.
Due to fungus attacks, diseases, or nutritional deficiencies, the leaves also curl up.
It is vital to identify the reasons to cure this problem.
Leaf curling happens in different patterns like downward curl, upward curl, and curling at the tips.
If you notice the pattern carefully and study the different causes, it is possible to fix it.
Let us now understand all the reasons that can lead to the curling of the leaves in your Schefflera plant.
Schefflera plants are native to the tropical and subtropical regions of China, Taiwan, and Australia, so constant moisture in the soil is important for them.
They do not like bone dry soil, and leaf curl is a common indication of dehydration.
If the Schefflera undergoes underwatering for a consistently long period, the leaves will get crispy, dry, and yellow.
The leaves begin to curl inwards in such situations due to attempts to retain moisture and reduce transpiration.
This happens during scorching summer seasons when plants get dehydrated due to intense sunlight and hot air.
How much water does Schefflera need?
You can easily tackle the problem of underwatering once you understand how much water your Schefflera needs.
Being tropical plants, they like moisture in the soil but do not like soggy soil.
Here are some of the steps you can follow to prevent underwatering issues.
- When you water the underwatered bone dry plant, pour some water from the watering can and allow the soil to soak up all the water.
- Wait for a few seconds, then water thoroughly until it runs out of the drainage holes. This helps the soil absorb the water thoroughly.
- If the plant was left underwatered for quite some time, poke some holes in the soil with a chopstick. This helps increase the airflow in the soil.
- Bottom watering is a great technique if your plant is heavily underwatered. For this, place the pot in a bigger vessel filled with water. This helps the soil and the roots to absorb the water and moisture.
- If you tend to forget to water your plant, then maintain a calendar or an alarm that will help you remember which days you should water.
- Self-watering pots are another great way for plant owners to keep their plants hydrated.
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Sometimes Schefflera leaves tend to curl when the soil stays overly soggy.
These plants like well-draining light soil, so soggy clumpy soil can harm them.
Overwatering can be caused due to multiple issues like poor soil quality, poor drainage system, too frequent watering, low ventilation, light, etc.
It is one of the most common causes that kill houseplants, so you must immediately act on it if you notice overwatering.
Tips to prevent overwatering
Let us discuss the ways to prevent overwatering your Schefflera.
- Always water your Schefflera only when the plant needs it. To check the moisture content of the soil, put your finger in the soil and see whether it sticks to the finger or not.
- Using a moisture meter is another good way to read whether the soil requires watering.
- After you water the plant, always empty the cache tray, which holds the excess water that runs out. This is an important step that we often skip, which leads to overwatering and root rot.
- Do not keep the plant at a spot where there is low light. Low light reduces the evaporation rates, making the soil stay wet for longer.
- Keep the plant at a spot with proper air circulation and let the soil dry out between watering.
- Take immediate steps if you sense the plant faces root rot due to overwatering.
- Prune the rotten roots and repot the plant in fresh soil.
- Always use pots with a drainage hole. The fancy decorative pots without drainage holes are dangerous for your plant.
- Change your watering schedule as and when the weather demands. In summers, the plant would need more watering. However, you have to cut down on fall, winter, or rainy weather.
- Use light potting mixes to keep the soil light, well-draining, and also retain moisture.
Too little or too much light
Light plays an important role in the healthy growth of your Schefflera.
Too much or too little light can make your plant’s leaves curl up.
Schefflera plants in nature grow in the dappled light under bigger trees, so they do not like harsh sunlight.
Too much light can make the leaves curl downward around the edges and get brown, crispy, and sunburned.
Similarly, extremely low light can harm the plant too.
It decreases the plant’s capacity to make food, so the leaves curl upwards, grow leggy towards the source of light, and get weaker.
Low light can also increase the chances of pest attack and root rot.
Correct lighting for your Schefflera
Schefflera plants, just like most other houseplants, require bright indirect light.
Keep the plant at an east-facing or south-facing spot away from direct sunlight.
If your plant faces low light conditions, you can also install artificial lights on your plants.
Protect the plant from direct scorching sunlight falling on them.
Low humidity is a common problem for tropical plants grown as houseplants because these plants like high humidity and our homes have dry hair that is not suitable for these plants.
Although Schefflera is a tolerant plant, that does not mean it can thrive in low humidity.
They need at least 50-60% humidity to grow, and they begin exhibiting several problems if they do not have that.
The low humidity levels around the plant suck out the moisture out of the plant, so the leaves curl to retain moisture.
How to give sufficient humidity to Schefflera?
Umbrella plants need a lot of humidity around them which is unfortunately not present naturally in our homes.
So let us see how you can give sufficient humidity to the plant.
- Using a humidifier is the most long-lasting way to increase humidity. You have to buy a good quality humidifier, fill it with distilled water, and keep it near the plant. You can also increase and decrease the level of humidity as per requirement.
- Grouping the Schefflera with other moisture-loving tropical plants is another good way to increase humidity. This gives them a vibe of their natural habitat, which is very beneficial. However, you must be certain that none of the plants have any disease or pest before grouping them, as it gets very easy to spread from one plant to another.
- Misting the Schefflera is another popular way of increasing humidity. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. The effect of misting is short-lived as the water evaporates quickly, so in the extremely hot season, only misting the plant might not be enough. Another fact you must remember is that you should mist only in the early morning so that the water evaporates during the day because I the leaves stay wet for too long, it may lead to other fungal and bacterial infestations.
- Using a pebble tray is another effective option to increase humidity around your plant. You must fill a large tray with pebbles, add water, and keep the pot on top of this layer of a pebble. Ensure the water does not touch the pot directly, making it wet and leading to fungal infections.
Schefflera plants grow in warm tropical areas and are highly intolerant to cold weather.
The ideal temperature is between 65°F to 90°F, and anything above or below this range can harm the plant’s health.
In areas that experience extreme cold and frost, these plants need to be grown very carefully.
They must be protected from frost, as a single exposure to frost can kill them.
They cannot tolerate temperature fluctuations.
Thus, the plant begins to curl its leaves as a sign of stress and protect against moisture loss.
Protecting Schefflera from low temperatures
If you reside in an area that experiences harsh cold, here are a few tips to protect the plant in winters.
- If the temperature goes extreme low, you must not leave the plant outdoors and bring it indoors.
- Keep it away from areas with temperature fluctuations like windows and doors.
- Keep it at a spot where the temperature is warmer than the rest o the house.
- Try to give it a few hours of early morning sunlight to give it some warmth.
- Don’t keep them too close to heaters and fireplaces, and they can suck out the moisture from the plant and make them further dry. If you want to give them warmth, keep them in the same room but a few feet away from the heating sources.
- Reduce watering as the evaporation rate reduces while keeping the soil wet for longer hours.
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Though they are tropical plants, it is important to remember that they cannot withstand high heat.
This is why they must be protected from scorching heat as that will cause leaf burn, yellowing, and drying up of the plant, leading to leaf curl.
Direct heat or extremely hot air sucks out the moisture from the plant rendering the crispy and lifeless.
- Protect the plant from direct sunlight falling on them. In nature, they grow under bigger trees. Thus, they do not tolerate diet sunlight.
- If you keep them near a window, use a sheer curtain to shield them from the sunlight.
- Do not keep them at a spot where they will get the scorching afternoon sun.
- During summers, make sure the plant is kept in moist soil.
- Humidifier, misting, and correct watering help the plan to keep it cool and hydrated.
Also read: Can I Put My Schefflera Outside? (+How To)
Plants grown in containers have limited access to nutrients, unlike those that grow in the wild.
Over time, the soil begins to lose its nutrients with watering and erosion.
Schefflera needs nutrients like Nitrogen, Sulphur, Potassium, Phosphorous, etc., to grow sufficiently.
So when the soil starts getting exhausted, the plant does not get sufficient food and energy, which causes the leaves to shrink and curl up.
It is important to change the soil of your pot every 3-4 years because it begins to lose all the essential minerals gradually.
The nutrients required for the healthy growth of these plants are found in fertilizers and good-quality potting soil.
You must feed the Schefflera during the growing season to give it all the boost to bounce back and flourish.
Also, while potting, prepare a good quality potting mix.
This is fresh and rich in minerals.
Schefflera plants are medium feeders. They do not need a lot of fertilization, so fertilizing too frequently can lead to many problems.
Overfertilization can scorch the plant’s roots, and the leaves may get burnt as well.
It also dehydrates the plant, making them dry and weak, and leaves curl up to protect against moisture loss.
The correct way to feed your Schefflera
Let us discuss the correct way and time to feed your Schefflera plant.
- Feed your Schefflera only in the growing season. Feeding them twice a year, once in March and once in September, is enough for this plant.
- Feed them with a balanced NPK 20:20:20 or a handful of compost.
- You can also feed your plant with organic fertilizers like cow manure, worms, and vegetable and fruit compost.
- Never fertilize this plat in the winters as they remain dormant and inactive this time. Fertilizing will not let the plant use them up, which would stay in the soil and burn the roots.
- Always water your plant a day before fertilizing and not fertilize in dry soil.
The most terrible nightmare for plant growers is probably unwanted pest attacks, and Schefflera, although a hardy plant, is not immune to these nasty bugs.
Pests like mealy bugs, spider mites, scales, gnats, and thrips attack this plant and result in leaf curling.
They attach themselves to the leaves and suck out the sap and nutrients from the plant, gradually rendering it weak and floppy.
Let us discuss how you can cure pest infestations and prevent leaf curling.
- Keep the plant clean: Pests attack plants when the leaves stay dusty and wet. Wipe the leaves clean this prevents pests’ infestations and increases the photosynthesis process.
- Wash the plant: if you notice pests wash the plant focusing on the leaves and the undersides
- Neem oil: It is an effective organic treatment that repels all pests. Spray it well all over the plant and continue this for 4-5 days until you see pests clearing up.
- Soap water: If you do not have neem oil, you can use soap water solution and spray them on the Schefflera.
- Pesticides: If you find the pest infestation not clearing despite using the above solutions, you need to use pesticides from the market.
As we have discussed, leaf curling can indicate multiple problems in the plant. We need to examine the condition and identify the cause of concern for the plant.
Once you recognize the problem, you must take necessary actions to fix the issue and prevent the curling of the plant’s gorgeous leaves.
Leaf curling dulls the visual beauty of the plant, but if left untreated, it can also lead to serious issues. Therefore fixing the problem is very important.