Why is My Aralia Plant Losing Leaves?

I don’t know what this is, but trying to nurse it back to health. Moved it to a sunnier location, it is in the plastic pot it came in so sat that in a larger pot, since water drained though onto the floor. I cut off the dead branches. There was still too much water in the bottom of the larger pot, and it smelled foul so I cleaned that out. Seemed to be doing better but now I am finding dead leaves. Too much water or not enough? Does it need fresh dirt?

Hi Linda,

Spider Aralia
False Aralia

Your plant has many different names:  Schefflera elegantissima, False Aralia, Dizygothica elegantissima, Spider Aralia.

From your description, it sounds like the plant became over -watered when it was sitting in the excess water that collected in the bottom of the larger pot. The ideal solution would be to remove the plant from its pot, get rid of all of the wet soil (esp off of the roots), trim any roots that look dead, and allow the plant to sit out bare root over night. Repot into a container of dry, loose soil that drains quickly. A Spider Aralia likes to be root-bound in small pots so your pot (which must have drip holes in the bottom) should only be an inch or two larger than the root ball of the plant.

Do not water for about a week; after that, keep the soil barely moist but never soggy. Water well, until the water comes out the drip holes in the bottom of the pot, and then allow the top 2″ of soil to dry out before watering again. During the winter, when the plant is resting, allow the soil to dry out even more before watering.

If you want to use your large decorative pot that has no holes in the bottom, here’s what to do to prevent your plant from sitting in the excess water. If you can remember, drain the excess water from the large pot about 10 minutes after you have watered. The other way is to put a 2″ layer of small gravel in the bottom of the pot so the smaller pot is sitting on the gravel and not the excess water. You’ll still have to check on water build up every few weeks. Place the plant in bright indirect light. Feed every 2 weeks in the spring and summer, when the plant is actively growing, with a well- balanced liquid plant food. Feed monthly in the fall and winter. Always dilute the plant food to 1/2 the recommended strength.

You can read all my care tips for False Aralia in the Popular Houseplant section of the website.