Why is my Schefflera turning yellow??? HELP!

San Francisco, CA

Hi there,
I am wondering if anyone has an idea why my schefflera is turning yellow. The plant is a few years old and recently the bottom leaves are turning yellow and eventually fall off. the yellow is working its way up. They all used to be green and it is not the variegated variety. Nothing much has changed in terms of lighting. I attached a picture. Thanks for any input!

Thumbnail by SirSedum
Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Could be overwatering, that's always the first thing I suspect when someone says their leaves are turning yellow and then falling off. The other possibility is that it needs some fertilizer, but I'd investigate the watering first.

San Francisco, CA

Hey thanks for the tips. Yes well we keep it in the front window and it gets lots of sun, however it is filtered because the blinds are usually closed. I am going to try a bit of fertilizer as well as keep an eye on the water. We aren't watering much but I'll watch it. One of our nephews won it for us a couple of years back at a carnival contest so the wife wants to keep it healthy. Thanks again!

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I would definitely check the watering--since it's the bottom leaves that are yellowing and falling that's more likely a sign of overwatering, lack of fertilizer will usually show up first on the newer leaves at the top of the plant. Next time you think you ought to water, stick your finger down a few inches and see if it still feels wet. Scheffleras can actually get by without much water--I think you'll read otherwise in some places, but one that I've had as a houseplant for several years and one that I had as an outdoor container plant at my old house get/got by fine with very infrequent watering.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi SirSedum, I agree that you could have a watering problem, you also say your plant is by a window, maybe it is getting too cold overnight when heating goes off, maybe too dry an atmosphere with heating on, I would also look at the leaves that are yellow to check for red spider mites, you would see very fine webs before you see the mites, they are so tiny to the naked eye, also, have you ever re potted this plant as you said you have had it a couple of years, if not, I would, also new compost in new pot should help as well as a little feeding, maybe half the dose to start with, sometimes with lack of the proper light, these plants do loose leaf and go very leggy, so it is a case of trial and error, at repotting, start to give it a light misting to keep it from drying out in a room that has dry heating. Good Luck, WeeNel.

(Zone 1)

I have a HUGE Sheff in my back yard and the leaves are turning yellow and falling like crazy .... it's very dry here and even though our Irrigation system is on twice a week I don't think this Sheff is getting enough water. I've had the same problem with my potted Sheff's .... I am lazy when it comes to watering them and they will have leaves that turn yellow and fall also. I do think your problem is either too much or too little water.

Here's a picture from last summer. Tomorrow I will go out and take a pic of it now with the yellow leaves all over the backyard!

Thumbnail by plantladylin
San Francisco, CA

Hey thanks for all the pointers. That is one heck of a schefflera you have in your yard plantladylin!! Fortunately I do not have spider mites on this plant. I am sure of that as I used the magnifier and there are no webs. I do need to repot as I have never done so. Also, I think that we are watering a bit much, and furthermore, the temperature has been funny in this apartment as our pilot light went out and we are waiting for the gas company to relight it. We are in CA so the heater is not such a crucial thing this time of year, but it does get chillier at night. Well thanks all, and I'll keep you posted on how it goes--SirSedum

Taft, TX(Zone 9a)

I am positive what happened to my little 6" pot on the front porch....it didn't get watered as it was hiding behind plants....plenty of light but no water made many leaves turn yellow and now they are brown....just haven't cleaned it up yet....you can see that the yellowing stopped the minute I watered it!!!

****** Overwatering is most always the problem......just not this time....

Thumbnail by gessiegail
(Zone 1)

Hey Gail .... That Ficus is one I have grown a lot of over the years! I only have one of the solid green leaf ones left ... it's real small, and growing like a Bonsai. I had huge ones years ago, and finally threw some out and gave our elderly neighbors some. They grow sooooo fast that the roots were always splitting the sides and bottoms of the pots! I also hated that they were so temperamental about location too. I have a habit of moving plants all around out on my deck and the Ficus Benjamina seem to hate being moved ... they get shocky and start dropping leaves like crazy .... what a mess! I have one large variegated one left out on my deck. Moved it from one side of the deck to the other a couple of weeks ago and it did just that .... leaves all over the place. They recover quickly, but it's not worth the hassle. In some areas of Florida they grow outside in the ground and get really huge! My Sister & Brother in Law had a hedge of them along a fence in their yard years ago and one really big one towering over the house in their back yard! It's amazing how jungle like it is just a couple of hours South of where I live!

Taft, TX(Zone 9a)

How funny....i didn't realize this was a ficus.....no wonder it wasn't a happy camper......I have had big ones and I didn't dare move them once they settled in.....sorry, this is not a shefflera.....I should know better!!!!
Thank you my friend, Lin.....

(Zone 1)

hee hee ... It's still a nice plant Gail, and I may be wrong about it being a Ficus ... it just looks like one to me. We were discussing too much water and lack of water ..... so it still fits into the conversation! Shefflera, Ficus .... still green, growing things!

Taft, TX(Zone 9a)

You are such a 'gentle' loving spirit, Lin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Zone 1)

So are you Miss Gail! So are you!

Amarillo, TX

I have a schefflera that is indoors and under constant light. I am not overwatering. The entire plant is turning yellow with very little green. It is a schefflera acinophylla variegata so it is varigated. Plant seems to be healthy. Any one know why it is turning totally yellow? Is it too much artificial light?

Mount Vernon, OH

scheffleras like bright light but not direct. (unless in winter- a little bit)If overwatering they will tend to get blackened tips to it or spots with yellow leaves. It could also be from stress of a cold draft or window. It could be also not enought light, or too much. Make sure that the roots are fine and it doesn't sit in water after watering it.

Also ,if you can (you said it was a few years old) put it in a pot with new soil.

Also, yellow could be a sign of not enough water.

This message was edited Dec 9, 2009 5:17 PM

Leicester, NC(Zone 8a)

I have had plants that do well from window light in summer but turned in fall and winter as light changed coming in window ( I guess from sun sitting lower in the sky). Had to move them away from window at this time to a less lit location where they returned to filtered light.

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