Schefflera Black Spots and Leaf Drop


Hi there,

I have a beautiful big Schefflera plant that I bought two months ago. It had some leaf drop which initially I thought was adjustment to the new location, but since then it has developed black spots and black leaf ends. The spots seem to start as small raised white/beige spots which then develop black around them.

I sprayed with insecticidal soap but I suspect it may be a fungus. Is there anything I can do to save it? I have been removing the affected leaves but soon it won’t have any leaves left.



Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners. It appears your Schefflera is suffering from a form of leaf spot. This can be fungal, bacterial, or viral in origin. Based on your photo and description, your plant most likely has bacterial leaf spot, which is caused by a bacterium called Xanthomonas campestris. The notable characteristic is spots that initially appear light and then develop a darker colour. Unfortunately, fungicidal sprays cannot treat this type of leaf spot. Once the plant is infected with the bacterium, little can be done. The only option is to throw out the plant (avoid composting it). However, before you do this, you may want to check with the store where it was purchased. Some plant nurseries offer a short-term guarantee on houseplants, so you might be able to get a replacement or partial refund.

For more information on diseases that affect Schefflera (also known as Umbrella Plant), please refer to this webpage by the PennState Extension.