Why does my Schefflera have yellow leaves? Causes and Solutions

Last Updated: May 27, 2022

If you notice your Schefflera developing yellow leaves it can be concerning and you might not be sure what is causing it. There are a few things which can lead to yellow Schefflera leaves so it’s important to find the right cause before you change anything about how you care for your plant. Below you will find all of the most common causes of yellowing on a Schefflera as well as how to diagnose and fix the problem!

Overwatering can cause yellow Schefflera leaves

Too much water is one of the main reasons why Schefflera plants develop yellow leaves. They don’t need to be watered a huge amount and won’t mind if you forget every so often. So if you accidentally overwater, or the drainage holes are blocked by something then the roots may start to rot. This prevents the plant from getting any of the needed nutrients which causes yellowing in the leaves.

A simple way to know if the soil is waterlogged is by smelling it. If the potting mix smells damp and musty then there’s a good chance it has been waterlogged for a while. Take the plant out of the pot to double-check. If the soil is waterlogged and clumpy then you want to replace it straight away. It’s important that you monitor the moisture levels in your plant going forward so you can adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

Yellow leaves can indicate watering issues

This is slightly different from overwatering as it is more about how quickly the soil goes from dry to soggy. If you have underwatered your Schefflera then you don’t want to all of a sudden drown it in water to compensate. This can cause shock as the change in your plant’s environment is very sudden. This shock can be causing the yellow leaves. Instead, you want to gradually increase how much or how often you water your Schefflera.

Low humidity can cause some yellow leaves

If the edges on your Schefflera’s leaves are yellow rather than the whole plant, then a lack of humidity in the air might be the cause. Schefflera’s can survive happily in the average humidity of your home but will struggle if the air is particularly dry. This can happen if the heating is on a lot during winter or there isn’t much ventilation.

The best methods for increasing humidity for a Schefflera and avoiding more yellow leaves developing is to mist or make a pebble tray. We recommend misting a few times a week using a spray bottle. The number 1 tip when it comes to misting is doing it in the mid-morning. This allows enough time for the water to evaporate off before it gets cold at night. Cold damp leaves will often rot!

To make a pebble tray all you need is a plate and a few handfuls of pebbles. Fill up the water halfway up the pebbles on the plate and pop your Schefflera on top. The water will slowly evaporate around your plant!

Direct light can cause yellow patches on your Schefflera

Another cause of yellow leaves on Schefflera plants is sunburn. This can happen when your plant receives too much direct light. If the yellowness on the leaves is quite patchy and looks as though the leaf has been scorched then direct light is most probably the cause. Trim away the worst affected leaves and move your Schefflera to a slightly shadier spot. They like bright light but it must be indirect (especially in summer).

Yellow leaves can also indicate pests

Another slightly rarer but worrying cause of yellow Schefflera leaves is a pest infestation. Pests such as aphids, spider mites or scale insects may be hiding on your plant and sucking on the leaves. This exhausts the leaves and causes them to go yellow or form tiny holes in the leaves. To spot them use a magnifying glass and inspect the undersides of the leaves and the stem joints. This is where you are most likely to find them.

Treatment of pests can vary but the first thing you must do is isolate your plant and keep it far away from any of your other houseplants. Check other plants over which were close to your Schefflera as pests can move around plants if they are close. Then trim off the worst affected leaves to curb the infestation a little before showering your plant and treating with an insecticide.

If you have caught the problem early then there is a good chance your Schefflera will return to its usual health. However, if the pests have taken over the majority of the plant then this is more unlikely. There have been times where we have had to get rid of a plant because the infestation was widespread and the risk of spreading it to other houseplants was too big.

Some yellowing may just be natural ageing

If it is the lower leaves on your Schefflera that are turning yellow then this may be simply natural ageing. Over time, your plant will drop some of its oldest leaves in favour of growing bigger healthier new ones. This is completely natural and isn’t something you did wrong or anything to worry about. The rate of natural ageing should be a 1 or 2 of the oldest leaves every few months. Monitor the rate of yellowing to see if it is speeding up or well above this rate as there might be another cause you need to look out for.

So those are the most common reason why your Schefflera has developed yellow leaves. If you have caught the issue early then your plant should recover quickly with a few changes here and there. We recommend trimming away the worst affected yellow leaves so your plant doesn’t waste any energy trying to keep these alive and can instead focus on growing new healthy (and hopefully green) leaves!

If you want to find out more about caring for your plant or treating other common problems then check out our Schefflera Care Guide.

If you can’t seem to fix the issue and things are just getting worse, then you might choose to propagate your Schefflera so that you can save some of the healthy parts of your plant.

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