help! cats killing my schefflera?

GERDINGWIFEFebruary 11, 2014

I was given a 29 year old schefflera named George a few years back. He's in a HUGE pot - about 2-1/2 ft tall and about 2 ft diameter, and he stands about 6-1/2 ft tall. His previous owner was very good at braiding and training and pruning so he was very pretty when I got him. He did very well for the first 3 years or so, but recently (the last month or so) he's not looking good AT ALL. I'm not sure what exactly is wrong, but I think it might be because of my cats.

About 2 years ago, we adopted a pair of cats. They quickly decided that George was a nice place to pee. As soon as I realized what was happening, I took him outside, flushed the soil, added fresh to the top and then created a cardboard insert to cover the soil and keep the cats out. He survived and still thrived.

Last October, we moved (so he's gone through that trauma recently as well) and discarded the cardboard. Once again, the cats found George's soil. I, again, flushed the soil, topped him off, but this time I tried to find another solution for keeping the cats away from him. I added peat moss to the top of the pot, and stuck a million and two plastic forks (tines up) in the top as well. This didn't help, so I flushed for a third time, took half the soil out this time, topped off again and created another cardboard barrier just like the first one - only this one is out of a kitty litter box (as opposed to the pizza box from the first one).

He seemed to have bounced back in the first 2-3 months, (he has a huge south window wall) but now it's pretty apparent that he's severely dying. Most of his leaves are drooping (almost soggy feeling) and falling off, and he has other stems that are drying out and turning brittle. There are no bugs that I can see. I'm watering a little less often than I was in the last house (every 10 days or so as opposed to once a week) but the same amount each time. I'm not sure what to do. Did the flushing hurt him? Is there something on the cardboard that he's reacting to? It doesn't make sense to me that having the cardboard on the top would be the issue since he's lived like that for the last 2 years and been fine, but could that be it? Is he just old and dying?

The kicker is that I have 7 other scheffs and they are all thriving.

Can I still save him and how?

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I'm sure Al and others will come to help you. The only advice I can give would be that it needs a major cutting back, there are other posts about that if you want to check them out

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 8:11AM
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Gerd, poor Schefflera!!

George has been through so much. Potting and re-potting, pee'd on, boxed in then relocated.

Flushing the soil may not be enough, but to re-pot again is a lot of work for you, and stressful for your plant.

However, re-potting may be Georges only hope. Does soil smell like ammonia?

If it was my plant, here's what I'd do. Re-pot in fresh, well-draining-fertile soil. Wash container, in and out.
If cats smell pee, they may feel the pot is their second litter box.

After soil is firmly packed, it'd get a hearty drink.
I'd then sprinkle Cayenne Pepper around the edge of pot.. A smart cat smells pepper before approaching..he/she/they will make a u-turn.

When the cardboard method is done, a sturdy piece of cardboard must lay flat on the pot.
I used a large, flat piece, cut a circle for trunk, then placed on top of pot..this way, no part of soil was present.

Your kitty-cats must love your Feisty little guys/gals.

Are your cats spayed/neutered?
Is George still before a south window? Toni

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:17AM
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I'm just a newbie here but...assuming this is the same plant...I want to mention that schefflera are toxic to kitties.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 10:49PM
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