Also known as the Umbrella plant due to their unique leaves, the Schefflera is an incredible houseplant. They aren’t too difficult to take care of either; once you have found a perfect spot for it and a good watering routine, you shouldn’t encounter too many problems. However, your Schefflera may start to lose some leaves if it is not happy so look out for this warning sign. The main causes are overwatering, poor drainage, not enough light, temperature issues and natural ageing.
Not enough light
Schefflera thrive in bright, indirect light and will struggle with anything less. Insufficient light levels will start to cause your Schefflera to shed some of the older leaves to keep their energy reserves for the new healthy growth. This is actually one of the most common causes of leaf drop for Schefflera but one that is hopefully quite an easy fix depending on the light situation in your home. Make sure your place them somewhere where they will receive several hours of bright sunshine and this should restore health pretty quickly.
Schefflera are fairly hardy plants and won’t die if you overwater them once in a while. However, consistent overwatering will mean they start to lose their leaves and their roots will start to rot. Schefflera need to be watered no more than twice a week in the hottest months of the year, and less frequently in autumn and winter.
Overwatering can very quickly lead to root rot which is very harmful to your Schefflera. It will cause the plant to become unstable, causing leaves to drop. If you think that you may have overwatered your Schefflera it is best to replace the soil straight away rather than just sit and wait for it to dry up over time.
Make sure to check the moisture in the soil before you water your Schefflera. There are two really easy ways to make sure that it definitely needs water. First check the moisture at the top of the soil, if it is still damp then wait a few days before watering again. You can also lift up your Schefflera to check the weight of the plant before and after watering. You will then start to be able to gauge how heavy the soil is when it is in need of water.
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Sometimes it may not be your watering schedule that is causing your Schefflera to lose its leaves, but the poor draining of the soil and pot. You can very easily increase the amount of drainage in your Schefflera by mixing in a small amount of perlite, this will make it far easier for water to flow through and out of the drainage holes of your pots (you should also check to make sure your pots have drainage holes). Another easy step is to add a few small stones or pebbles to bottom of your pots, this helps in making sure that the drainage holes are never blocked by soil or any loose debris.
Although clay or terracotta pots can be a little bit more expensive or breakable, their upsides are much more than just the aesthetic. The clay they’re made of is permeable which means that some of the water in your soil can evaporate through the sides of the pot. This isn’t the case for the plastic pots that most use, which instead hold in all of that moisture. So sometimes it is worth investing a little more to make sure that the roots of your Schefflera are not sitting in too much moisture.
Another reason why your Schefflera may be losing its leaves is due to inconsistent temperatures. If your Schefflera is getting too much sunlight, it may cause it to overheat which can cause shock and leaf drop. This often happens if your plant is directly by a south-facing window so be careful that it is not receiving too much direct sunshine.
If you’re not already, make sure to open your windows every now and then to make sure that the air in your room is circulating properly. This reduces the risk of hotspots forming in the room where your Schefflera is sat. The ideal temperature for Schefflera is between 18°C – 24°C, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to keep in a good range.
Just as warm air can be harmful to your Schefflera, cold drafts can also damage its health, particularly in winter. Make sure your Schefflera isn’t placed next to a particularly drafty window or door. You can always pick up a digital thermometer to check the temperature around your Schefflera.
As your Schefflera matures, it may occasionally lose a lower leaf as a natural sign of ageing. This is absolutely nothing to worry about but make sure that you keep track of how many leaves have dropped and how often this is occurring. If you feel it is losing too many leaves, double-check the environment around your Schefflera as it could be a sign of one of the issues detailed above. There is no harm in giving the soil and roots a once over to check for signs of root rot and keep an eye on any changes in light or temperature that may be affecting its health.