Schefflera Yellow Leaves and Sticky Leaves! | My Green Patch - Gardening In The Maltese Islands

Friday, February 8, 2013

Schefflera Yellow Leaves and Sticky Leaves!

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schefflera scale
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The Schefflera hasn't been doing so well lately.  I have been noticing that it is looking rather depressed, hardly requiring any water, the leaves are turning yellow and dropping occasionally, and no new growth is showing. I used to think this plant was very hardy, and required very little maintenance, but I guess this is only true when the right conditions are met.

When I moved my plant indoors in September of last year I placed right next to a big window, so it could get as much light as possible.  About one month later I noticed that the leaves were turning yellow, and at first I attributed this to the fact that I wasn't giving it enough water.  Scheffleras, however, give out opposite signals when it comes to water requirements, if the leaves turn yellow or have yellow spots it means too much water, whereas leaves that turn blackish in color means that it is not getting enough.  

Another thing I noticed was that the leaves at the bottom started falling off.  This was definitely a sign of over watering, so I stopped watering the plant altogether.  This had little effect, and over time more leaves started going yellow.  I was now beginning to panic.  This plant was huge and healthy, the only thing I ever did to it was give it a good pruning, and I was starting to fear that I may have over done it.  

If this wasn't enough, I then noticed that the green leaves had this shiny coat on them, and were sticky to the touch.  Upon further investigation, the floor area around the pot was also sticky.  I had noticed this almost immediately, but I didn't think it was the plant that was producing sap.

I did some research, and I found out that the sap could actually be a scale insect infestation.  These insects suck the juices from the plant, and then secrete a form of sap on the leaves. Scale insects are brown stubs, like small buttons, that attach themselves to the stems of the plant.  Their bodies are quite hard and they can be seen easily with the naked eye.  As far as I can tell, my plant is clear. Aphids also produce a sticky substance called honeydew, but I found none on the plant.

Eventually I decided that the best course of action was to take it back outside.  I had this plant outside for three years, and it was quite healthy.  The moment I took it inside it started growing weaker.  A couple of weeks went by and the plant started showing signs of recovery.  It dropped the leaves that were too far gone, but those that remained started turning green again.  I did not water it at all during this time.

A few weeks later I started seeing new leaves starting to grow, and by now the plant was full of green leaves, and all the sticky substance was gone.  It rained a few times, and water seems to have given new life to the Schefflera.  I never saw any insects or brown spots that made me suspect that the plant was infested.

I now believe that the problem with the Schefflera was lack of light, and ventilation.  We hardly ever open the window where I placed it, and even though it was right next to a big window, the curtains, which are sheers, were still blocking too much light.  I'm glad that's all it was, I got a good scare with the results returned online, but you never can be too careful.

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