How to Care for Schefflera Houseplants

Hi Judy,

We have a house plant that unfortunately has not received enough love lately. Between our 18 month old picking its leaves off and insufficient space near good lighting – we’ve been stressing this plant out! One of the stems has lost nearly all it’s leaves; the other is fairing a bit better. We’ve finally arranged our kitchen to move this plant to an area with more sunlight. We are always good at weekly watering, but wondering if you may have any tips for us on how we can bring this plant back to its health. We’re not sure what type of plant it is so unclear on where to start. Should we get rid of the stem that has lost its leaves or do you think it has a chance of reviving? Anything else you would recommend?

Thanks!
Jacob

Hi Jacob,

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Your plant is called a Schefflera Plant, nickname is Umbrella Plant. Scheffleras are slightly Poisonous HouseplantsIn her new book, Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat!, plant care professional Judy Feldstein shares information about twenty-five common houseplants, each with various levels of toxicity, and the possible consequences if your pet or child snacks on them. so please keep it away from your small child. Here are some tips for caring for Schefflera houseplants.

Light
Schefflera houseplants do well in medium light, but grow faster and develop more leaves in bright indirect lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light.. The Schefflera Amate variety needs less light than regular Schefflera houseplants.

Water
Allow the top 25-30% of the soil to dry out before watering Schefflera houseplants. Green leaves drop off and new growth turns black when Schefflera Plants are over-watered. Yellow leaves indicate a Schefflera houseplant is being under-watered.

fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small.
Fertilize Schefflera houseplants monthly in the spring and summer when they are actively growing with a basic houseplant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. During the fall and winter feed Schefflera plants every other month but only if the plant is producing new leaves.

Temperature
Schefflera houseplants prefer temperatures between 65-80 degrees. Schefflera Plants do not do well in temperatures below 55 degrees and should be kept away from cold drafts and heaters.

Humidity
Basic household humidity or higher is fine for Schefflera houseplants. If the air is very dry, place your Schefflera Plant on a tray of pebbles and water. Be sure the plant is sitting on the pebbles and not in the water.

Pests
Schefflera Plants are bothered by these houseplants pests: spider mitesSpider Mites, members of the Acari family, are small insects about 1mm in size. The most common indoor plant mite is the red spider mite (also called the two-spotted spider mite.). These pests lay their eggs on the under surface of leaves and produce fine webbing especially where the leaves are attached to the stem. Spider mites are hard to see with the naked eye, and may appear only as small red dots. They are more often recognized by the gritty feel of the leaf when you run your finger down it’s length, or by the appearance of discolored leaves due to the sucking action of the mites. The best way to prevent spider mites is to keep your plants clean and dust free. Treat spider mites by spraying every ten days for a month with a product such as Safer Insecticidal Soap., Mealy BugsSee a picture, learn to identify and treat Mealy Bugs, a houseplant pest that leaves sticky,white, cottony residue on houseplants., AphidsSee a picture, learn to identify, and read about Aphid houseplant pests in the Glossary of Houseplant411.com., scaleSoft Brown Scale is the most common scale that attacks indoor houseplants especially ficus, ivy, spider plants, ferns, aralia, and schefflera. It appears as small bumpy brown spots that appear to move. As the scale sucks on the sap of the plant it secretes a sticky substance called honeydew. The honeydew attracts black mildew. Because of the shell-like exterior, sprays are only partially effective against scale. Wipe off the lines of brown oval bumps with your finger, a cloth, or a child’s toothbrush then spray the plant with Neem Oil. Use the Green Solution to clean off the black mildew., and Fungus GnatsThis small dark skinny pest flies and jumps around plants and people driving us all crazy. Fungus Gnats develop in moist potting soil, feeding on root hairs and emerging as adults every 30 days. The best way to get rid of Fungus Gnats is to allow the soil to thoroughly dry out. This eliminates the eggs and gnats in the pot. Use yellow sticky cards to trap the Fungus Gnats that are flying around.. Insect prevention is always easier than treatment so examine the leaves of  Schefflera houseplants every time you water.

Diseases
Schefflera Plants are bothered by these houseplants pests: spider mitesSpider Mites, members of the Acari family, are small insects about 1mm in size. The most common indoor plant mite is the red spider mite (also called the two-spotted spider mite.). These pests lay their eggs on the under surface of leaves and produce fine webbing especially where the leaves are attached to the stem. Spider mites are hard to see with the naked eye, and may appear only as small red dots. They are more often recognized by the gritty feel of the leaf when you run your finger down it’s length, or by the appearance of discolored leaves due to the sucking action of the mites. The best way to prevent spider mites is to keep your plants clean and dust free. Treat spider mites by spraying every ten days for a month with a product such as Safer Insecticidal Soap., Mealy BugsSee a picture, learn to identify and treat Mealy Bugs, a houseplant pest that leaves sticky,white, cottony residue on houseplants., AphidsSee a picture, learn to identify, and read about Aphid houseplant pests in the Glossary of Houseplant411.com., scaleSoft Brown Scale is the most common scale that attacks indoor houseplants especially ficus, ivy, spider plants, ferns, aralia, and schefflera. It appears as small bumpy brown spots that appear to move. As the scale sucks on the sap of the plant it secretes a sticky substance called honeydew. The honeydew attracts black mildew. Because of the shell-like exterior, sprays are only partially effective against scale. Wipe off the lines of brown oval bumps with your finger, a cloth, or a child’s toothbrush then spray the plant with Neem Oil. Use the Green Solution to clean off the black mildew., and Fungus GnatsThis small dark skinny pest flies and jumps around plants and people driving us all crazy. Fungus Gnats develop in moist potting soil, feeding on root hairs and emerging as adults every 30 days. The best way to get rid of Fungus Gnats is to allow the soil to thoroughly dry out. This eliminates the eggs and gnats in the pot. Use yellow sticky cards to trap the Fungus Gnats that are flying around.. Insect prevention is always easier than treatment so examine the leaves of  Schefflera houseplants every time you water.

Soil
Use a well-aerated fast-draining indoor potting soil for Schefflera houseplants.

Pot Size
Schefflera houseplants can be found in pots 4”-14” in size.

Pruning
If a Schefflera Plant loses its bottom leaves or becomes leggy looking, don’t be afraid to aggressively prune the plant. When cutting back the thick stems or trunks of a Schefflera houseplant, make the cut a little above a plant node. New growth develops from the node.

propagationRead how to propagate houseplants by Plant Division at HousePlant411.com
Schefflera houseplants are propagated by stem tip cuttings.

poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 The Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants [Paperback]is an excellent reference to keep around if you have young children and pets. Plant Info
Schefflera houseplants are slightly poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 The Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants [Paperback]is an excellent reference to keep around if you have young children and pets. with a levelThese are general guidelines that describe how poisonous certain houseplants are. It's possible for an allergic reaction to occur from contact with any houseplant, toxic or non-toxic. If there is ever a concern, call: Poison Control Center: ******1-800-222-1222****** Level #1: Houseplants with low toxicity, may be mildly irritating, especially the sap of the plant. Level#2: Houseplants with medium to severe toxicity. Eating parts of these houseplants may result in vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, skin irritations, and breathing difficulties. Level #3: These houseplants are  very poisonous. When eaten, especially in large quantities,  severe vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, skin irritations, and breathing difficulties can occur. Level #4: These houseplants are extremely poisonous. Eating parts of these houseplants can be be life threatening. Every plant listed in our Popular HousePlant guide has a section explaining whether or not it is poisonous and, if so, how poisonous. Amaryllis, alocasia, dieffenbachias, crotons, ivies, azaleas, lilies, and philodendrons are just a few of the highly poisonous plants we use in our homes and offices all of the time. If you don't know whether your houseplant is poisonous, go to Ask Judy on the HousePlant411.com website, send her a picture of your plant, and she'll let you know if the houseplant should be kept away from small children and pets. See colorful pictures and get more information about poisonous houseplants in Don’t Feed Me To Your Cat! A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants   #1 toxicity.

You can read more about Schefflera houseplants in the Popular HousePlant section of the website.