The Q&A Archives: Schefflera Losing Leaves

Question: I have a schefflera that is about 6' tall. Several months ago I treated the plant for scale (was very sticky on & around the plant) with almost daily misting with mix of alcohol and oil soap. The plant seemed to recover well with new growth and shiny leaves. Now the plant is losing older leaves very rapidly while at having a rapid growth spurt of new leaves at the tips, thus the stems are becoming very bare. Also, the new growth wilts very rapidly.
The dropped leaves are somewhat sticky, not as bad as before, but the hard scale is not obvious as before. I have resumed the alcohol/soap treatment, but am not seeing improvement as before. Also, I have had the plant for several years and have never seen rapid growth of new leaves as is now occurring.
Thank you for your advice.

Answer: As a plant drops older leaves, sending out new growth to compensate for the lost photosynthesizing ability is typical. There are many types of scale. Horticultural oil is used against most soft-bodied scale, but is not always 100 percent effective. In the immature "crawler" stage, insecticide works better. You might also try wiping the leaves individually to remove as much of the scale as possible. Don't forget to treat underneath the leaves, where scale often hang out. Unfortunately, scale can overwinter on plants and basically reproduce year around, so you have to keep at it. As for the wilting, has your plant been in the same pot? It might be rootbound and water isn't soaking the roots and soil, instead running out of the pot. You might consider transplanting into fresh soil. If the roots are wrapped around each other, carefully score the rootball vertically, or unwrap them. Hope this info helps.

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