Ask a Question forum: Umbrella tree major leaf drop

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Chelby
Jan 13, 2017 9:54 AM CST
I recently moved. It was the coldest day of the year. My beautiful umbrella tree that I've had for over 10 years got to cold and now the leaves are dropping off. It's breaking my heart. I want to save it. Is there any hope, if so, what can I do?
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)

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plantladylin
Jan 13, 2017 10:37 AM CST
Hi Chelby, Welcome!

Is it possible for you to upload a photo of your plant? It would better help us to offer suggestions and advice if we can see photo(s) of the plant in question. There are a few plants/trees with the common name of Umbrella Tree: https://garden.org/plants/sear...

The two Umbrella Trees that I'm familiar with are Umbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla) and Dwarf Umbrella Tree (Schefflera arboricola). They do suffer if subjected to cold temp's but as long as they don't experience extended periods of cold they usually recover and produce new foliage.

Don't give up on your plant just yet, If it wasn't subjected to extreme cold for long periods it's probably just in a state of shock right now. Be patient and keep it in a warm location and new leaves might begin to emerge. You could try snipping back a branch to see if the wood is still viable. If a branch is dry and brittle and breaks easily, that branch is probably dead but that doesn't mean the entire plant is dead; the main trunk and roots could possibly still be viable and able to sprout new growth.

We had Umbrella trees growing in the backyard at a house where we lived for 43 years. In our area, winter 2010 was pretty cold by Florida standards and we had quite a few nights of extreme cold temp's during January and February that year. This is what one of the Schefflera trees looked like the first night we had frost and a few weeks later when we had a hard freeze. I thought the tree was a goner for sure but with the warmth of spring it regained it's beauty. Eventually we had to cut it down and kill the stump because it was growing next to our pool area and the roots damaged the cement pool deck.

January 12, 2010 and ........................ February 6, 2010
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Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
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sallyg
Jan 13, 2017 7:11 PM CST
agreed, if the cold was brief, the leaves may drop but should grow anew. Careful with watering while there are no leaves, as it also won't need much water then.
wow, Lin.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
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Chelby
Jan 14, 2017 7:18 PM CST
Hello and thank you. I'm glad I found this site. Thank you to everyone who responded.
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Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
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sallyg
Jan 14, 2017 8:37 PM CST
that's a bit awkward, you'll be left with a bare section of stem up on top. I would let it grow out and get healthy again, and maybe prune later to take out bare places.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Jan 16, 2017 1:03 PM CST
Hello Chelby, that is okay if there are some bare sections. Give it time to recover. In time, it will try to grow new leaves at those bare node points.

Mine did a leaf drop too, I think more due to our long hot and dry spell here last year, seems like sporting bare branches, but I just left them be, and eventually as conditions improved, new growth showed up and down the bare branches. We were away too for about a month in summer, so it really suffered big time. It often does that when it experiences such changes and fluctuations in its growing environment.

Photo 04Oct2016: new growth as it recovers when I finally got around to gently watering and spritzing those branches.
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Photo today, 16Jan2017, it is cold right now here, we get to 35F overnight but we warm up nicely to mid 50F to mid 60F at times and more light is coming through since our city trees are deciduous, so it helps my plant feel some much needed warmth. It has been raining too last week, and it enjoyed it. Winter being our rainy month. But my plant has been conditioned year round to grow outdoors, so it has been conditioned already during the cold season weather.
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In your case, it is the reverse, getting cold burnt/damaged..so just give it time to acclimate once more. Keep it as warm as you can, but don't overwater. Try to be patient with it. It will eventually bounce back.


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