Ask a Question forum: Help me save my schefflera?

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Sep 14, 2015 3:06 PM CST
I've had this schefflera for about a year now.

It's my first and only plant, and I am very ignorant about plant care.

For the first many months, it was doing great. Gave it water and sunlight
and it was happy.

But a few months ago I moved from PA to CO.

So my plant went about 1700 miles across the country in the back of an airstream.

Though I'm not taking care of it any differently now, it seems to be struggling.

It's losing leaves. Some of the leaves are turning lighter in color and eventually seeming
to dry out and fall off, some others have taken on an unusual wavy quality. And overall
the plant just seems more droopy and less happy than it used to.

I'm hoping that someone here who knows much more than me can tell me what the plant
is getting too much/too little of by the symptoms it has and educate me on how to get
it back to health.

A couple piece of background:

This plant is sort of a rescue. I noticed my roommate cutting it down one day and stopped her
and kept it for myself.

So it used to be a lot bigger on the top than it is now.

And I've wondered if maybe the pot that it's in is no longer big enough for the roots, and if it
maybe needs to be repotted?

The other thing is like I said, this plant took a LONG trip down the road to CO. I had it packed
in as best I could so there would be as little vibration as possible, but I've wondered if that couldn't
have caused a problem.

I don't know if it needs to be repotted, more or less water, etc.

If anyone has any advice on what may be causing these symptoms and what to do about
them I'd be grateful, thanks.

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Name: Kim
Iowa (Zone 5a)
I kill ornamentals... on purpose.
Enjoys or suffers cold winters Spiders! Critters Allowed Birds Houseplants I helped beta test the first seed swap
Region: Nebraska Keeper of Poultry Rabbit Keeper Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Procrastinator Garden Ideas: Level 2
Sep 14, 2015 3:56 PM CST
Welcome to All Things Plants.

I am probably the last person who should attempt helping you. I have a terrible time with house plants, but am trying to improve the odds. I can keep a couple things alive now. :D Have you actually pulled the plant and roots out of the pot? I've done this with different plants and it turned out ok. I recently learned my "indoor weed" was so root bound and that is why it was beginning to die. It's in a new larger pot and hopefully it will make it.

I am sure others will come along to give you more thorough help.

Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
The WITWIT Badge I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Dog Lover Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Seed Starter
Sep 14, 2015 5:17 PM CST
Well, I dragged my Schefflera from California to Oregon to Washington and it's still growing fine (needs some radical pruning, tho). I'm inclined to agree with Kim that taking it out of the pot and just examining the roots is a good idea. They certainly seem to be able to take a great deal of abuse (obviously, since I still have mine!), but if it's too root-bound in the existing pot it could either be suffering from too much or too little water. From what I've read, too much water is worse than too little.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
Sep 14, 2015 5:32 PM CST
Be careful about the water. I don't water mine very often. Less than once a month. What you are seeing may be as simple as a change in location. Mine reacts to being moved by dropping lots of leaves. It sheds a lot coming inside for the winter and loses some more when it goes outside after it gets warm enough. Light, humidity in the air- those kinds of things - are probably different with the move. New growth will be adapted. It wouldn't hurt to pull it out and look, but unless you see a lot of soft rotted roots, it's probably okay and you have plenty of time to upsize the container to a larger one. Either way, if it were mine I'd hold off on the water for a while. I have two varieties and have been completely amazed at how well they do without much water. I'm in Texas - the drier, hotter part. In summer it grows outside under oak trees. In winter, well, I just do the best I can Smiling .
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
Sep 14, 2015 6:24 PM CST
Hi cluelessjo, Welcome! to All Things Plants!

LOL, we are all clueless about plants some times ... even this old gal who has been growing plants for @ 48 years! Green Grin!

Dwarf Umbrella Tree (Schefflera arboricola) grow as landscape plants here in Florida and they are pretty tough. After enlarging your very last photo of the entire plant, I tend to agree with everyone else that you tree may need a larger container. You can slip it out of it's pot and see if the roots were crowded in there and if so, pot it up with fresh soil into a larger pot. You might find that you have more than one plant crowded in that container; it seems that's how the nurseries grow them anymore, they stick three or four small plants into a pot to make for a fuller plant and as they grow larger, the roots get all tangled together and it does look like one wide plant. I had a large (@5 feet tall and 3 feet wide) Schefflera one time and decided to repot it into fresh soil and got 4 separate plants from the one. The roots and trunks were sooo tangled together that I had to actually yank them apart and I potted them up separately.

Schefflera are tropical plants and they like high humidity so that could be the cause of the leaves turning brown and dry with crispy edges. You can raise the humidity around the plant by sitting it on a tray of moist pebbles, adding a little more water every so often as it evaporates. Another way to help with humidity is to get a spray bottle, fill it with water and mist the tree once in awhile. Keep it out of drafts and away from heat vents, which causes the plant to stay too dry also.

Good luck in your new Colorado home and I hope that your Schefflera perks up and brings you a lot of enjoyment.

~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Playing in the dirt is my therapy and I'm in therapy a lot!
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Sep 15, 2015 7:15 AM CST
I agree with Lin's last comment about humidity. You moved from a more humid place in PA to a much higher, drier place in CO. High altitude enhances dryness in the air - the air is simply less dense. (we lived in Utah for 20 years before moving here, and our kids still live there, a very similar climate to Colorado)

So, sitting it on a tray with pebbles that you keep full of water (the water not touching the bottom of the pot) will very likely help your plant, too. A little extra humidity is good for people as well, btw. Big Grin

But first, yes, I would look at the roots and re-pot if you see lots of roots going round and round in the pot when you slip it out. IF you haven't been giving it any fertilizer, it might need some of that, too. But IF you do re-pot, check the potting soil bag, because sometimes it has fertilizer already added. That will be enough for your plant going forward for probably 6 months.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener Xeriscape
Sep 16, 2015 2:13 PM CST
I am thinking your plant is still acclimating to your location. My scheffleras grows outdoors here in a big container, part sun/part shade, in a west/southwest orientation protected by the shade of city trees and humidity here is quite dismal. It is quite drought tolerant too. That's is why I like it..that is all we have here, dry heat and more heat, and it thrives well. I do have to water it more often in summer, had to adjust watering as season changes.

The container does seem tight, but as everyone suggested check the roots, and you may want to separate one of them, if there are several there already.

What is the orientation of that window? Can you move the table a bit closer to the window?

May 11, 2016 9:56 PM CST
Schefflera goes well in warm climate and it reaches a height of about 10-15 feet high. Avoid over-watering schefflera. It is drought tolerant but does not grow well in wet soils. If you are growing it outdoors it does need to be fertilized though adding mulch around the shrub would be a good idea as it controls moisture and add nutrients to the soil. There are some things that you need to watch out about this plant though it is toxic if ingested and its leaves and plant sap can cause minor skin irritation on contact. Its toxicity is kind of low and the irritation generally lasts about a few minutes but it is a plant to avoid if you have kids. Or if you do need the plant badly just make sure that your kids don’t go anywhere near it. I know the climate of colorado canbe pretty dry.So I have included an article on how to conserve water while taking care of your plants( hope it interests you. Smiling

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