Amate Schefflera - help problems and growth

kiddo333June 13, 2011

I have a beautiful Schefflera "Amate", which I purchased about 2 months ago. This is a "huge" tree, about 14 1/2 feet tall. It's trunk is more of a gray, bark color. It's an indoor tree, as I have 20ft vaulted ceilings. It sits in my foyer and gets light most of the day from the front door windows and second level windows. I polished the leaves of the tree with a very, very light coat of mayo and only on the top of the leaves - I then wiped them to where there was no visible signs of mayo. About a week later, I noticed about 7 different leaves - each on different branches, fading to a florescent yellow. The rest of the leaves appear fine. I removed these yellowing leaves. What could be the cause of this? the mayo? I went back over every leaf with a wet paper towel, just in case this was the cause. I don't see anymore yellowing as of yet - but would like to know if anyone knows why this healthy tree may have done something like this.

Also, I just noticed a brand new "growth" coming from the top of the tree. This new growth looks perky and healthy, although a little lighter in it's shade of green. The growth is just about a week old. Is this normal? And does anyone know how often new growth is expected to appear on a tree this size?

Thank you so much - Lorra

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Lorra..Other than the Mayo, did you add/make changes?

I don't believe in leaf shines, even if they're non-chemical. Pores can clog. Leaves need to breath to remain healthy.

Of what I read about Amate, their leaves are naturally shiny, and should be washed and dried with water. A little dish soap won't hurt, as long as it's rinsed thoroughly.

The only other reason leaves would yellow is if the soil stays wet.
The Schefflera Amate, should be watered until water seeps from drainage holes, then allowed to dry completely. Moreso than standard/dwarf Scheffs.

They are beautiful plants, and grow huge. The King of Scheffleras. :)

One thing I read is the Amate is more resistant to Spider Mites. It doesn't mean Amate won't get mites, but it is more resistant.

This is one plant I don't have...In the past when new growth formed, was it a lighter shade of green?
Lighter green in some plants is normal; as they mature leaves darken. From what I understand, the amate has naturally dark green leaves at maturity. Wait a while to see if they darken..

Inspecting foliage for insects is a must. It won't be easy since your tree is, well, a tree..tall. You'd need a ladder to check the top foliage. Or a Basketball player. lol

I'm assuming there's no way to hose this plant? Lugging your tree outside would be a challenge.

Proper watering is most important. The soil really needs to dry between.
Does the pot have drainage holes? If it doesn't, you'll need to either repot or drill holes in its container. The roots will rot if they stay wet.

Do you have a picture? Your Scheff sounds lovely. Toni

PS. Since you've had this tree 2-months, it's possible its only problem is acclimating to its new environment.
Hopefully, that is its only problem. Give it time. Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 12:30PM
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Hi Toni, Thank you so much for your reply. Other than the mayo, I haven't done anything else to the tree. My husband and I just lifted it out of the exterior whiskey barral the original container sits in to check the holes. It does look like it's got good drainage holes, but we drilled a few more in. The container it is planted in is 24 inches in diameter and just barely drops into a whiskey barrel lined with plastic so it can drain into the barral. When we lifted in up, I did not see a puddle of water in the barrel, in fact, it was dry. I stuck my fingers in the holes of the original container and the soil was wet to the touch, but I watered it just two days ago. The last time I watered it before that was 11 days earlier. I'm wondering if with that size pot, could I be watering it too often? The top couple of inches are completely dry, but it may be that the soil down lower is still very wet. Since I can't move it outside to water it and lifting it alone is a two man job and a difficult one at that - do you have any suggestions on how best to time the watering and to have any idea just how much water I need to give it. Also, if watering was the problem for the yellowing of the leaves, would there be a reason only one branch of leaves turn yellow while the rest of the other ones remain dark green? No visible sign of any bugs - and I did get a ladder out and checked the top and bottoms of all leaves.

This is the very first time I have seen new growth so I don't know if the color is natural for this early stage or not. I guess only time will tell. Do you have any idea what the growth cycle is like? Now that I have brand new growth, when would I expect to see another new growth form from the top of the growth it just did? Only asking to keep an eye on if it seems to be growing at a typical rate - if there is such a thing?

You're a blessing - thank you!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 8:46AM
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Hi Lorra. You asked if one branch would yellow due to over-watering.
Usually, yellowing or browning starts somewhere, but you are right, leaves yellow on all parts of a plant..
Is it possible the branch cracked or damaged? Cracking would be a simple solution..all you'd have to do is remove it. But of course, things aren't always simple. :)

So, your Scheff is in two pots..Exterior and interior.

I used to work at a plant store. We'd get plants/trees in two pots. To keep a plant/roots from sitting in water, we'd set a sheet of styrofoam inside the exterior pot, then set the interior pot on the styrofoam.
Sometimes two or three sheets were needed.

A 24" pot is large. The first few inches/top of soil dries, 'sometimes within a couple days.' But the center and bottom 'soil' can be soaked.

The best way to test for moisture is by inserting a thin stake/stick deep into the soil.
If the stake comes out wet/muddy, mid to lower soil is wet..if it comes out dry, it's time for a drink.

Have you ever baked a cake? Same concept. The instructions suggest sticking a tooth pick in the cake to tell if it's done. If the tooth pick comes out clean, the cake is ready, if moist, bake longer.

The same applies to soil. Because a 24" pot is deep, finger testing isn't adequate. A long stake is needed.

So, even if the soil is dry on top, test before adding more water.

Watering by schedule is a no-no. Homes differ..Temps, humidity, sun, plus soil and pot material.
Since Amate doesn't like wet feet, water when stake comes out clean/dry.

When you do water, soak the entire root ball. Check soil with stake about 10 days after watering. If it's wet, wait a few more days and retest. Continue testing until the stake comes out clean/free of soil.

It was a very good idea you inserted your finger in the drainage holes. That had to be fun tilting such a big pot. :)

Since it's w/o insects, it's possible your Amate was over-watered. For the time being, I'd test before watering, and see how it does.

Do you know if fertilizer was added? Do you see small balls or pellets in the soil?
Eventually, you should add a balanced or All Purpose Fertilizer. Once a month is fine. Read dossage before adding..I use half-strength.

As for the lighter leaves, time will tell. As long as your Scheff is getting sufficient light, it should do fine. Hopefully, the leaves will darken in color.
Supposedly, Amate has naturally shiny leaves.

Like watering, growing rate depends on light conditions, and a few other factors. As long as its container isn't too large, (two sizes bigger than the rootball) it should produce new growth.
Most indoor/potted plants, grow at a slower pace than those in the ground. Depends on its environment.

This is optional, Lorra. I'm a firm believer in misting leaves. Especially during winter months. It's your choice, but spraying keeps leaves clean, unclogs pores from dust particles, lessens insect infestation and helps, somewhat, with humidity.
A humidifer can't be beat, but misting/showering perks up plants.

I really hope your Scheff is okay. The Amate is one of the prettieist Scheffleras around. Wish I can be more help. Toni

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 3:18PM
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Thanks again Toni - you rock!

I was laughing when you asked about baking. Betty Crocker I am NOT! I think I could kill a cake faster than a tree - lol. I think I probably have over watered and will use the stake test from now on. I have a total of 52 house plants, so I'm going to switch from watering on a schedule and do the same with all my plants. I live in Virginia and was thinking of adding a "birds of paradise" to my collection. Do you know much about them? Are they forgiving or very tempermental? And is there a particular variety you like best?

I am a mister - but never even thought of misting the scheff. It's ladder time again!!!!

I use miracle grow - all purpose liquid plant food, but the last time I used it, I followed the directions and not at 1/2 strength.

I just took 3 pictures of my scheff - one of the whole tree, one of the branch that is yellowing and one of the new growth. I'm not sure how to add them to this post. Is it easier for me to just email you them directly rather than posting them to this thread?

Thanks again from the "not so good at baking - plant collector" - lol

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 7:23AM
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Hey Kiddo.
Posting pictures: Sign up with Photo Bucket or Flickr. PB is free. Flickr is also free, but unless you're a paying customer, a limited amount of pictures are allowed. Maybe 300 pics.
Once you're signed up, posting a pic on GW is simple. Believe me, if I can figure it out, you can. lol.

Don't feel bad about baking a cake..Heck, my cakes come in a box, lol.

I'd love to see your Scheff..By the way, how is it doing? Did you check to see if the branch with yellow leaves, cracked? I can't imagine having to climb a ladder everytime it needed must really LOVE your Scheff to go through so much trouble.

52 plants...great start. :) Hang around here long enough and you'll have 552 Are they all large? Which are your favorites?

Did you ever see misters with hoses? They're fantastic. There's a little knob to control water pressure. They're a little more money than a standard sprayer, but longer-lasting, and I like the way water dispenses. Home Depot sells these sprayers.

Kiddo, fertilizing half-strength is something I choose to do. It's not mandatory. Some people divide by four, and fertilizer once a week. Others divide by half and fertiliize once every two weeks.
Manufacturers are out to make $, so naturally they want people to use as high a dose as a plant can endure.

I have two Strelitzias..Nicolai, 'large leaves, white flowers,' and Reginae, 'orange & blue flowers.'

Care is about the same. Both Birds are 15+ yrs all the years, neither bloomed. But I'm lax when it comes to fertilizing, so that could be one reason they haven't flowered.
They're sun lovers. If you're looking for a large Bird, go with Nicolai. Each leaf is a minimum of 20" long, and 10" wide.
The smaller, Reginae, has long, narrow leaves. Leaves are firmer than Nicolai's.

Birds leaves tend to rip. Even if not outdoors, it's instinct. 'Mature.' Nicolai leaves are more apt to rip than its cousin, Reginae.
There are other species, but I don't know anything about their care.
Flowering or not, Birds are beautiful plants, look great in a sunny window.

Are you thinking about getting one? If so, you should also consider Musa/Banana, especially red leaf. I just purchased a Siam Ruby Red..It's a young plant, yet foliage is red. Birds and Bananas are related.

Kiddo, you have a great sense of humor..I like people who enjoy laughter...You're funny..Even if you can't bake a Toni

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 3:06PM
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Hey there Toni -

Okay now you really want to see my talent by figuring out PB and then downloading it to your site. LOL this should be interesting . . . I'll work on that this weekend.

I did inspect the branch and didn't see any cracks or breaks. However, I did just figure something out that may or may not have anything to do with the yellowing. Let's see if my typing/explaining skills are stronger than my baking and photo loading skills. Here goes.

My scheff has one main tree trunk. About 1/2 way up it branches of into two seperate trunks which each has all the stems and leaves. The larger branch, which reaches a total of 14 1/2 feet is the one that just started a brand new stem of leaves from it's top. During the stage, just before the new growth opened up, is when I noticed that one stem of leaves on this part of the tree started to yellow. All 9 of the leaves turned yellow, so I snapped this entire branch off. (broke my heart to do so - just so you know.) Then the tree looked beautiful for a week or so. Now, the other branch that shoots off of the main tree branch - let's talk about that. I just noticed that it too is just starting with a branch new growth off the top of that branch. Oddly enough, it is now on this branch that I have one stem of leaves, who are turning yellow. Is there ANY chance that new growth from the top, could be causing the yellowing of leaves on one of the older branches? In with the new, out with the old so to speak?

A good visual would be if you looked at the letter "Y" This is what my tree looks like. The main trunk is the bottom of the "Y" and the two other off-shoots from there are where all my stems, with the umbrella leaflets are. It's the oldest, or bottom branch on both off shoots that had the "yellowing" and now both seem to be going through a stage of creating a new set of stems and leaflets. Does this make sense? If not, I quit baking, photo-bucketing, ladder climbing, and explaining. LOL.

Have a super day!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 2:17PM
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