Beginner-friendly plants like the Schefflera, or Umbrella Plant, usually become popular because of their easy-going nature. However, even Schefflera can perplex people with unexplained leaf drop.
Umbrella Plant (Schefflera) Overview
The Umbrella Plant (Schefflera) is a beginner-friendly plant group that tolerates a wide variety of conditions. It’s favored by novice and intermediate gardeners for its ease of care and fast-growing tropical foliage.
One common variation, Schefflera Arboricola, can grow several feet high but can be contained with regular pruning. The Schefflera Actinophylla grows even faster, and other varieties come in different colors, such as white and gold.
Causes of Leaf Drop
As with most houseplants, some leaf drop in Schefflera is standard. Plants only have so much energy for growing, and most plants will drop off old growth to conserve energy for new growth. Even young Schefflera can drop leaves when adjusting to a new environment.
However, excessive unexplained leaf loss can be cause for concern, as Schefflera will not grow new leaves in the same place as old, dropped leaves. Addressing leaf loss early on will help you keep your Schefflera looking bushy and healthy.
Cause: Too Little Light
One thing that makes Schefflera so popular is that it tolerates a wide variety of light and water conditions. A sun-starved Schefflera can go a long time before it shows any signs of distress.
Then, suddenly, it will start dropping lots of leaves at once. Should this happen, consider it your sign that your Schefflera may not be getting enough bright and indirect sunlight to thrive.
Move your Schefflera to a place where it will get more sunlight, preferably in the morning or late afternoon. Bright light is acceptable, as long as there’s something to diffuse the most intense rays.
You’ll know when your Schefflera has gotten a little too much sun. The leaves will start to look slightly scorched and splotchy, like they’ve got a sunburn. If you see that, move it a few inches back from the window.
Cause: Too Much or Too Little Water
Even the easy-going Schefflera, which can tolerate quite a bit of neglect, can get testy when over or under-watered. Yes, that’s right, both can cause leaf drop, so pay close attention to your plant to determine which is the culprit.
If you’ve not watered your Schefflera enough, you probably already suspect that’s the case because it takes a long drought to reach the point of distress. It’s far more likely that you’ve over-watered it than under-watered it.
Over-watering or improper drainage can cause your Schefflera’s roots to sit in water and rot. You’ll know that too much water is the culprit if the leaves turn black before they fall off. If that happens, take action immediately.
If your Schefflera is dehydrated, give it a good drink. It’s best to mimic a torrential downpour every time the soil is dry, making sure to soak the ground carefully, especially if it’s been a while.
Over-watering can be a trickier problem to remedy, especially because some Schefflera won’t show any signs of distress until their roots have rotted. However, you may still be able to intervene if you catch it quickly.
Pull your Schefflera out of the pot, and check for any mushy, black roots. Cut off any that have rotted and replant in a looser, well-draining soil, preferably mixed with some cactus or succulent mix. Then be sure to reduce your watering schedule, especially in the winter.
Cause: Too Cold or Drafty
Schefflera are tropical plants that love warmth and humidity and are unaccustomed to cold. If they get exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, they can respond by dropping leaves.
Likewise, if you have your Schefflera sitting in the path of a moving air current, such as near an air vent or where there’s a cross breeze, it may drop leaves as well. Schefflera are not fond of drafts of any temperature.
If your Schefflera is waving in the breeze, just move it somewhere more protected. Bring it indoors when it’s cold if you take it out in the spring. If the problem is a draft, it’ll perk right up.
While some leaf drop is standard under certain circumstances, you should investigate excessive unexplained leaf drop. The culprit is often too little light, too much water, or too much of a draft.
With a bit of careful inspection and some TLC, your Schefflera should perk up and show new growth in no time.