Houseplants forum: Scheflera - overwatering?

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Name: Angelina
Central Arkansas (Zone 7b)
angelina715
Aug 21, 2015 7:49 AM CST
This small scheflera hasn't been feeling very healthy. I think it may have gotten overwatered while I was out of the office. The pothos and croton it shares desk space with are both healthy, as are the plants on the wall shelving above, so I don't think light is an issue, and they're all in Miracle Gro potting soil (same as a scheflera I have at home which isn't having the same issue). I wish I'd thought to take the pic before I removed the brown leaves this morning.

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[Last edited by angelina715 - Aug 21, 2015 7:52 AM (+)]
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Aug 21, 2015 8:47 AM CST
Welcome! Angelina.

Are these cuttings that have just been rooted? I do see new growth on one of the plants, so that's good.

In my experience growing scheflera over several decades, it is extremely hard to over-water IF the soil is well-draining. They actually love constantly moist (not wet) potting soil. To my eyes, the potting media does not look like Miracle Gro potting soil, at least in the scheflera pot. I don't see any perlite and it looks like there is some sort of bark there. Perhaps Miracle Gro has changed its formulation. Actually, if that is bark, I like it in my potting soils. I do put quite a bit of coarse perlite in all my houseplant mixes, but I customize all my potting mixtures depending on what I am growing.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Aug 21, 2015 9:07 AM CST
Hi Angelina, your schefflera seems to be okay.. Sometimes symptoms of underwatering and overwatering looks the same, with leaves going brown and dropping, or maybe the plant is just dropping older leaves.

Observe it a little more and since you have this plant indoors, the soil needs to be moist and allowed to dry out a bit. I grow my schefflera outdoors in a container year round and it is very hot and dry here. It is rather drought tolerant once growing very well, so just be mindful of watering, since you say you are using Miracle gro potting soil.
[Last edited by tarev - Aug 21, 2015 9:08 AM (+)]
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Name: Christine
Saugerties, NY zone 5a
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Christine
Aug 21, 2015 9:15 AM CST
Looks good to me also
[Last edited by Christine - Aug 21, 2015 9:16 AM (+)]
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Name: Angelina
Central Arkansas (Zone 7b)
angelina715
Aug 21, 2015 11:19 AM CST
Thanks all! It keeps putting out new growth, but the dropping leaves when I came back from vacation had me worried. I'd forgotten to leave any instructions so a coworker just guessed on what to water where.

drdawg... You're right. I thought all the plants I'd brought to the office were the Miracle Gro ones, but I checked and this one and the croton are mixed soil. My spouse mixed two partial bags together - one my pricier Miracle Gro and the other the bag I use for my 8-year-old's balcony flower boxes (I still remember his puzzled look "But I was saving you space in the storage room!"). I'd forgotten when I repotted the croton and the scheflera that I'd used that mixed bag. It does have a lot of bark mixed in, and I think it was from Dollar General (a birthday gift from one of my teenagers, who thinks buying "dirt" is weird). It is an offshoot from a larger scheflera that got knocked over on the balcony at home and since it was already loose, I just repotted it separately. The "parent" plant is thriving outdoors.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Aug 21, 2015 12:41 PM CST
Whew, though I don't use pre-packaged mixes, at least I know I'm not "losing it". Whistling I actually like your mix better. It looks like a good combination though I would want that perlite in it just to keep it open and well-draining. Scheflera plants are tough cookies and I have only found one sure way of killing one, other than pulling it up and tossing it. They don't take freezes well. I had several dozen last fall, had no way to over-winter them, and left them out, knowing they would not survive the winter. They didn't. Sighing!
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Name: Angelina
Central Arkansas (Zone 7b)
angelina715
Aug 21, 2015 12:52 PM CST
I'm still trying to figure out how the "balcony accident" happened...it's porch style, so has walk-up access, and we came home one Saturday to find my scheflera, snake plant, and what I'm pretty sure is a lemon-lime dracaena all knocked over. The scheflera was the only one to suffer any damage (which is why this one looks like the top is missing... it all got broken up.)

I miss having access to a big yard. My mother's greenhouses when I was a kid meant she was always mixing her own, but my little storage closet just doesn't have enough room to store a lot of extras for my plants. I suggested renting a garage... hubby is still whimpering that I need an entire garage just for plant stuff. Hilarious!
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Aug 21, 2015 1:01 PM CST
I have a feeling that some animal got into your plants. We plant-lovers never have enough room, Angelina. Sighing!
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
(Zone 4b)
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locker
Aug 21, 2015 2:29 PM CST
Thumb of 2015-08-21/locker/efcba1

I recently got this plant as a grand opening gift for my coffee shop. It has lost so many leaves and immediately started to decline when I got it about a month ago. I have two pics of it....one is today and the other one is about a week after I got it....I have never had good luck with this type of plant Sad Any suggestions on saving it? I don't know if it's too little water, too much...more light? Help!
Thumb of 2015-08-21/locker/9f9b5f

Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Aug 21, 2015 2:56 PM CST
Welcome! locker

Scheflera need bright, indirect light. Therefore, if/when outside, shade it between 11:00 AM and 4:00 PM. A few hours of early morning or very late afternoon sun is great. For me at least, they did best when I kept the potting soil constantly moist. I also frequently fertilized my plants. Think: "Weakly-Weekly". With a large plant, it is common for the older, lower leaves to drop. These large plants can be sort of messy.

These plants are vigorous growers and the roots tend to fill the pot very rapidly. Your plant may be root-bound but the only way to tell is to remove the plant from the pot (if you haven't already done so). Just hit the side of the pot with the heal of your hand, rotating the pot as you do so. This will loosen the root-ball and the plant should simply lift out easily. If the plant is root-bound, with the roots thick and beginning to circle the inside of the pot, you need to re-pot into a pot that is 4-6" greater in diameter. If the roots are circling the ball, tease them out so that they can grow more naturally, down and out. You want a well-draining potting soil but you don't want the soil to remain sloppy-wet. An open, well-draining soil can remain moist without drowning the plant.
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If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Aug 24, 2015 10:40 AM CST
Hi locker, Welcome! to All Things Plants!

Dwarf Umbrella Tree (Schefflera arboricola) are grown as landscape plants here in Florida in bright locations with protection from hot afternoon sun and they do like high humidity and consistently moist soil. Your first photo shows a plant in-ground and it looks to be quite dry so I'd say give it a good soaking every couple of days and it should perk up. I just noticed your location listed as zone 4b so just be aware that Schefflera will not survive winters that far north. You can dig and pot it up to bring indoors before cold weather hits but be prepared that it might drop leaves for awhile due to transplant/location shock.

The plant in your second photo may be dropping lots of leaves due to a variety of conditions. Soil may be too dry, the lack of air circulation around the plant, or minor shock due to transitioning from a greenhouse/nursery situation to a home climate but it should be okay if growing conditions are met. Give it a location of the brightest light available and keep the soil moist but not soggy and it should recover and sprout new foliage. Keep the plant away from heating vents and to raise humidity levels around the plant you can place the pot on tray of moist pebbles; as the pebbles dry, replace with a little fresh water.

Again, Welcome!

Lin
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