My schefflera is saying goodbye

Discussion in 'Indoor and Greenhouse Plants' started by helpmyplantpls, Jan 18, 2019.

  1. helpmyplantpls

    helpmyplantpls New Member

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    Hello All


    I’m utterly desperate about my schefflera so decided to ask for some help here. Also, apologies if my English isn’t the best.

    We bought the plant in August this year. The pot contained 3 separate plants and I repotted them into a bigger container. The plants were quite tall and grew into 5 ft tall ones. They about 13 ft away from the south-looking window (a big window, taking up the whole living room wall), so it is as bright as it’s possible (in the winter ), without being in direct sunlight. Unfortunately the air is dry in the flat, and I couldn’t really do anything with that, apart from occasionally spraying the leaves with water but I stopped that activity when the below described problem appeared.

    From the very beginning I had some minor issue of losing leaves but since there were new growth on the top, I tried not to worry too much. Some of the leaves we lost were almost perfect looking, some were completely brown – not the crispy brown but rather the soft kind. These leaves would start to brown at one end (the end where they are connected to the stem), and then this browning would spread across the whole leaf before it drops – later the leaves on the same stem would also go through the same, and eventually the whole stem would fall off. The real problem started in December (I live in Europe, Poland, it is winter here now). I noticed that on one of the plant I basically lost all the leaves (together with their stem) strangely in the very middle of the plant: I still had leaves on the top and on the bottom, but the middle was bare. And right there, in the middle, one day I saw the trunk turning dark brown in a spot, and daily this spot spread up and downwards. This is where I decided to take some sample leaves and picture to the garden center where we bought the plant. The guy told me I should water it less (which I find a bit strange because I was so scared of root rot that I eventually went down to watering it once in every 2-3 weeks), and he didn’t think it was fungus or bacteria. Honestly, I don’t have much trust in his words because the same guy told me to use standard flower soil for repotting, whereas on every forum on the internet I saw I should use much looser ground.

    Anyway, I went home and we lifted the plants out of the pot to check for root rot. I didn’t find any mushy or brown roots on any of the 3 plants. The roots were white, if a bit dry. Since the last water was about a week prior to this root check, the ground among the roots was still a bit wet, everywhere else absolutely dry. So we decided to pot the sick one in a separate container. Since the browning didn’t stop and the top leaves didn’t look too healthy, I decided to cut off the whole upper half. I actually cut the plant right above the highest healthy-looking leaf on the bottom part, so basically the plant went from 5ft back to 1.5 ft height. Now we are 5 days after this activity, and I see that the browning of the trunk returned: it started to spread from the cut downwards. I understand that this plant is most probably a goner as also the bottom leaves look brown and dying. I’m writing to this forum because I’m scared that in case the same thing will happen to the other 2 plants, I will just be sitting by and watching them die, having no clue what to do with it. Any of you maybe have any idea what this might be? Thanks for any suggestions!
     

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  2. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Contributor 10 Years

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    Welcome to the forum. I don't know what the problem is but the following document may give you an idea.

    Schefflera Production Guide
     
  3. mrsp2006

    mrsp2006 New Member

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    I would keep cutting the stem till you find healthy green tissue. If you have any bugs and use a commercial or homemade spray on them, remember the spray only kills the live, flying or crawling critters. A lot of them lay eggs in and under the soil. Buy a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide and spray the soil thoroughly. i will not harm the plant, but will kill any critters in the soil, including fungus gnat eggs. watering with hydrogen peroxide every so often will also loosen the soil a bit, giving the plant more air bubbles, so the roots are not smothered. Hope that works. Also, i am not an expert by any means, but to me the brown on the leaves looks like it could be sunburn. Maybe move it further away from the window while it's recovering :)
     
  4. Michigander

    Michigander Active Member

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    Your problem is called winter. The trees were grown in greenhouse conditions, or as perfect as possible, and your conditions are less ideal. Your plants are Arboricola, the new name for what used to be called dwarf Schefflera, and is now separate from Schefflera, Hawaiian Umbrella plant.

    To begin with, stop messing with it until serious spring gets here. Don't cut the stem until after you know where the top of the live plant ends, then just trim off the excess dead/dried stem. not down to green which would then die back to some other point. Do not do major work on potted plants unless they are in a high-growth period. Do not feed plants unless they are in a growth condition and period. Leaves are not forever. Many will last more than a year, but the plants seem to be "evergreen", a term of art, because they replace leaves faster than they lose leaves, so they are never bare. Arboracola is a tropical/equatorial plant. In it's native range, the intensity of sunlight and the length of day are never less than the sunniest day in Poland on June 21st. Today, you will have sunshine for about 10 hours while in the plant's native range it would have 12 hours, at an intensity higher than your June 21st. Think about that, and move the trees the 13 feet to the window. If you want a plant 13 feet from the window, buy Cast Iron or Dumb Cane plants.

    The two greatest killers of houseplants are: Ta Dah-h-h... buying plants that people do no have suitable conditions for, and a close second; over-watering. Plants like to have a cycle of wet, dry, wet, dry, ad infinitum. Arboracola is very tolerant. You need to calculate the volume of the soil in the pot and deliver 15 to 20% of the water volume on some open schedule, depending upon season and interior/exterior conditions. It will use the water faster in the growth period. Do not soak the whole soil-ball. If the leaves develop crispy leading edges, that means too much water. It will droop slightly when dry. This is a sign to water, but not an emergency. Learn to look at the whole plant from a distance and mark in your mind's eye the level of some specific set of foliage when the plant is well-watered. Look again when you think it needs water, it will be at some lower level. Once you get used to this system, you'll both be happier.

    This is the time of year when buds in the axils would be expanding and new leaves begin growing, slowly. Wait until you see this and begin feeding with any commercial liquid at label levels. (One leaf = one petiole and ~five or ~eight leaflets)
    Don't rotate the plant to equalize sun on all sides: the interior leaves will get used to lesser light levels and you'll have fewer dropped leaves. Relax, the plant will recover.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 1, 2019
  5. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    @Michigander, are you saying that is a new genus name, or a new common name? Spelled Arboricola, yes? I have corrected the typo.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2019
  6. Michigander

    Michigander Active Member

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    A new, separate genus called the old common name. I remember because they are always changing nomenclatures and us ordinaries find it amusing. At the same time that they switched Arboricola out of Schefflera the switched Aralia elegantissima into Schefflera. I had one of each so it's memorable for me. I'm sorry, but I can't find the particulars right now. Google searches have changed. They used to be a mile wide and an inch deep, but now they aren't a mile wide anymore. They're still an inch deep...
     
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  7. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    @Michigander, I can't find any website using Araboricola as a genus name. Do you have a reference for that?
     
  8. Michigander

    Michigander Active Member

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    No, it's been some years. I don't normally have an interest in nomenclature and can't remember how or why I bumped into it here. Sorry :(
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019

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