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House Plants/My poor Schefflera Plant


umbrella probs
umbrella probs  
Hello. I bam worried about my umbrella plant. In the last couple of months, it has begun to develop brown-dried tips on many leaves. I am assuming that I might be over-watering it, but I water only about once every 10-12 days (winter time) and when the leaves looks a little droopy. This is a very new thing. I have had the plant now for 8 years and this is the first winter it does this.

I am wondering if it might have grown too big for its is about 6ft in height- grew like mad when I put it outside this summer- and is in a 10inch pot. It seems very happy up until the winter started. I have taken the leaves and their respective stalks off the plant that were turning brown and dried up. Could the issue be that I am overwatering and perhaps the dry conditions of the house over winter?

Additionally, I am wondering if I can cut the tip of the plant - the highest point of growth - I am wondering if this would inspire it to grow more shoots from the base and help it bush out. The stalk of the main plant growth is about 3/4inch thick at the top and green, unlike the base that is about 1.5inch thick and bark like. The problem is that it is getting to tall for indoors, and I want to work it back outside come spring but I am worried that it will grow to a height that will be too tall for a return indoors in the fall.

Hope my questions are clearly stated. I do appreciate your help on this. This plant has been buddy for many years and has survived many moves from one end of the country to the other!



You are not overwatering it. In that size pot it is root bound which is not a terrible thing. If you want it to grow larger then sometime after April 1st you need to repot it into a 12 inch pot. Don't do it before that because the roots are not growing due to the short days of winter. Right now you are actually underwatering it for the amount of plant you have.

Yes you can cut it back and it will encourage side growth. If it were mine I would cut 2 feet off of it to cut is back to no taller than 4 foot. You can cut as much as 3 foot off. That will also make it stop turning brown because you will have less plant for the amount of water.

I do recommend that you repot it into that 12 inch pot in the spring but after that since you do not want it to get too big you should remove it from the pot every 2 years and root prune it using a large butcher knife to cut 1 inch off all the way around the rootball and 2 inches off the bottom of the rootball then put fresh soil in the pot and put the plant back in the pot then put fresh soil around it. Then prune the top back to 6 foot tall or less. This will allow the plant to continue to grow but not outgrow the pot or the location where you keep it.

This should keep your schefflera healthy and happy for years to come. If you have more questions feel free to write again. Good luck!


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Darlene K. Kittle


I have been an Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years and I raise around 300 houseplants and bonsai trees a year including tropicals, succulents, and cacti. I have also been a professional plant care person for businesses in the Fort Wayne, IN area and currently professionally care for bonsai trees for my customers.


I am also studying the Japanese art of bonsai with tropical plants and is President of the Fort Wayne, IN Bonsai Club.

Fort Wayne, iN Master Gardeners. President of the Fort Wayne Bonsai Club. Allen County Master Gardeners

I am not a hortculturist. I am a Purdue University Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years. I have studied plants on a personal level by growing hundreds of plants annually for the last 35 years. I have also studied under several nationally known American Bonsai experts.

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