Houseplants forum: Schefflera Issues

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Name: Mike
Yukon, Oklahoma
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DocHarvey
Jun 13, 2016 1:34 AM CST
In an attempt to be thorough and have my hopeful flaw identified I'll share the whole history of this plant. My father in law gave my wife and I this schefflera he started from the trimmings of his office plant. I have been trying to get it to grow for a year now with little success. For the first 2-3 months I had it in moderate afternoon sun light via a NW facing window. The leaves gradually turned black and dropped, and it would not put off new growth. Thinking it needed more light, I put a small lamp over it. I had it that way for 6-8 weeks with no change. I then moved to the living room with very little natural light, and I placed the lamp on it. It perked up and started putting off new leaves. I've had it there for 6 months or so and each new leaf is progressively smaller (see pics). The latest doesn't even have a full set of 5 leaflets (see pics). Google tells me it needs more sunlight, which would be counter intuitive to previous experience. But I moved it back to the NW window with the curtains drawn during the afternoon to prevent it from getting direct sun exposure. It has been there for about 5 days and the leaves are beginning to turn sideways (see pics).

I water when the top 1-1.5 inches of soil are dry. Usually about once every 2 weeks. Temperature in the house ranges between 72 and 75. Honestly, I'm not great with indoor plants so I'm at a loss. The goal for this plant is to get it to a point where I can trim it to begin encouraging it to branch. Right now I am struggling for respectable leaves. Anyone out there know their umbrella plants well enough to tell me what to do?

Thanks in advance for any input or advice.

Mike

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Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
Jun 13, 2016 5:36 AM CST
My guess is that it does need more light. Where do you live? Could you put it outside in the shade for a while? Gene
Name: Mike
Yukon, Oklahoma
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DocHarvey
Jun 13, 2016 9:20 AM CST
Thanks for the reply Gene

I live in Oklahoma. The wind and heat here might be enough to do it in. I can always stabilize it, but will it stand up to 90 and 100 degree weather?

Mike
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Jun 13, 2016 9:45 AM CST
Hi & welcome!

Yes, this looks like the bigger one, S. actinophylla. Invasive in FL (so we know it loves heat, humidity.) You might not have a long enough warm season to ease into tons of direct sun, but being outside in mostly shade would be great if possible! For winter, try to place as close as possible to an E/S/W window.
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[Last edited by purpleinopp - Jun 13, 2016 10:14 AM (+)]
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Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Jun 13, 2016 9:55 AM CST
@DocHarvey, though you have told us you are in Oklahoma, please take a moment to go to your "Profile", and update your public profile by listing your city/state. That way, every time you post, your location will be shown in the upper right-hand corner.

Do you have any fairly large trees on the property? Scheflera do best with bright, indirect light and lots of humidity. Unfortunately, it appears that your plant is getting neither. Early morning or VERY late afternoon sun works wonders for these tropical plants. If you can put that plant under a tree(s), where it gets nice shading from the leaf-canopy, it ought to flourish. That's the way I grow mine. The hotter it is, the more transpiration is taking place, and thus, though it may seem that there is not much humidity outside, under a stand of tress, the humidity is jacked up. When we are in the mid to upper 90's, I can stand under my oaks, and literally feel the moisture produced by that transpiration. It will be 10-20 degrees cooler under those trees.
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Name: Mike
Yukon, Oklahoma
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DocHarvey
Jun 13, 2016 11:02 AM CST
Thank you all for the insight. drdawg, I lost both of my trees to ice storms last winter. No luck there. But I've got a NW facing shaded area on my patio that gets 3-4 hours of afternoon light. I'll try that spot and see what happens.

Again, thanks for the tips!

Mike
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Jun 13, 2016 12:08 PM CST
Just getting it outside and into bright light will help. Be careful with that west exposure. Because this plant has been an indoor plant, you don't want that afternoon sun on the plant until after 4:00PM, and after 5:00PM is even better. Keep in mind that you'll need to water the plant more often and if possible, spray the whole plant with a gentle, rain-like spray from your hose every day.

Good luck, Mike. Thanks for getting that location posted. Thumbs up
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Jun 13, 2016 12:39 PM CST
Hello Mike, when you say the first 2 to 3 months at a north facing window, what months were those? Were those during the winter or cooler months? At times, houseplants naturally slow down in its activity during the cool months, with the duration of natural light weak, and north facing window at that. As they slow down their growth, got to adjust and lessen watering regimen too. When the warmer months return and you see more active leaf growth, then you can go back to a more stepped up watering, though water with care, these plants are quite drought tolerant once established.

I grow my Scheffleras outdoors here in a container year round, by a south/south west direction, but it does get some good shade during our hottest time of the day from our city trees. Our humidity here is dismal, and we hardly get rains here from late April to late Oct, so I try to do my watering during early part of the day, before the sun hits the plants, or in late afternoon, since sunlight is longer and overnights are warmer. My plants outdoors endures our high 90's to triple digit temps, so if I know our temps will go high and dry like that, I do thorough watering of the plant, not everyday but at times twice a week. Once temps go back to the more amiable low 80's then I can go back to once a week watering. I also try to spritz the branches of the plant, it is so quick to dry anyways here, and it seems the plants like it. If my humidity is good, I would not need to do it, like during our mild winter when our rains arrive, but during the long dry days, it helps the plant.

So for your plant, grow them indoors during your colder days, and try to give it a summer growing period outdoors, doing it gradually so it can acclimate and transition nicely. Adjust watering as season changes. This plant does not like to be in too soggy conditions.
Name: Mike
Yukon, Oklahoma
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DocHarvey
Jun 13, 2016 1:41 PM CST
Hi tarev, we got the plant early July of last year. From July to September it stayed in the NW facing window (our home sits on a street that runs NE/SW). During that time the leaves, from the bottom up, turned brown and fell off. That's when I put the lamp on it to attempt to give it more light. Outside I have a spot picked in the backyard that is getting a little afternoon light. It's even on our patio, so we can still enjoy it!

Now I just need a replacement plant in the living room that will tolerate the lack of light. Smiling
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Jun 13, 2016 1:57 PM CST
Ah okay, plants adjust when their growing conditions change. Glad you already picked a good spot outside for it.

Sansevierias, Dracaena marginata, ZZ plant, Pothos, clivias those can take indoors pretty well.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
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drdawg
Jun 13, 2016 2:28 PM CST
Many of the bromeliads aka "urn plants" tolerate shade very well. Ficus 'Alii' aka "Banana Leaf Ficus" also seems to do well in less than bright light. Ficus lyrata aka "Fiddle Leaf Ficus" will tolerate less light in the fall and winter months, but really does much better if it can spend the spring and summer outside, requiring about the same conditions as the scheflera.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional interior landscaper
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WillC
Jun 18, 2016 7:25 AM CST
In nature, plants put down roots and stay in one location throughout their lives. Changing their location when potted tends to stress them out as they are forced to adapt to each change in light. In addition, plants tend to react to environmental changes very slowly, so they require patience. As much as anything, yours has suffered from too many experimental changes in location, especially light.

I recommend that you find a location in your home that provides north or east window light and keep that window completely uncovered throughout the daylight hours. Rotate it in place weekly so that it grows straight. Judging from the size of the pot, it probably needs water when the top half to one inch feels dry.

If you move it outside, you will introduce too many environmental variables and then you will have to move it back inside again when the weather turns cold forcing it to adjust yet again.

Finally, don't try to "fix it" with fertilizer or repotting. Just find a good location for it and exercise patience as it slowly adapts to that location.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Jun 18, 2016 10:25 AM CST
I think some of the anecdotes are regarding S. arboricola.
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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
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purpleinopp
Aug 26, 2016 12:57 PM CST
How are things going with your plant, Mike?
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