Hi. I have had an umbrella tree for about a year now. It was doing very well, and was full of leaves — now it looses leaves every day, and is looking quite naked. At first I thought it was because I was watering it too much, but I’ve since stopped, and changed the pot and the soil — however, I’m not seeing much improvement. It’s leaves are still falling, every day at least two or three fall. Is there anything I can do to bring it back to health? Thank you!
Thanks for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners. Leaf drop often occurs in response to stress. It looks like your plant was growing well and then something in its environment changed. Has your plant been relocated recently ? If it has, it can take many weeks to adjust to its new spot.
Over and under watering can both cause leaf drop. Your umbrella plant (Schefflera spp.) needs to dry out a bit before you water thoroughly and then let the water drain off. If your plant has been recently relocated, its watering requirements may have changed. I think changing the pot and soil was a good idea. Did the roots look healthy when you did this ? Root rot is often the result of over watering, so it’s a good idea to check for any roots that that look mushy and brown and cut them off. The soil should be fast draining and it’s best if the pot allows drainage. It’s also a good idea to repot every year or two to allow room for root growth, so that the roots don’t become potbound which will limit overall growth. The new pot should only be a couple of inches larger, which helps prevent overwatering.
The right light is critical to plant health. Schefflera needs bright light but very little if any direct sun. In front of an east window is a good location.
I can’t be sure from your picture but I don’t see any obvious signs of insect damage, however it’s worthwhile checking your plant closely for this. The most common insects for Schefflera are mealy bugs, scale and mites. The link below has information about these insects. Look under Diseases and Pests.
Since your plant is already at ceiling height and has a long stretch of bare stem where new leaf growth is unlikely, you might want to consider pruning. Schefflera responds well to this and it can be done anytime. Use clean sharp pruners and cut just above any leaf or node. This should help to create a more bushy appearance and control size.
Here is a website with information about care for umbrella plants that might be helpful.
Best of luck in restoring your plant to good health!