Schefflera suddenly dying

BusyWhitAugust 17, 2013

First, I have a black thumb and have tried very hard to keep a few plants alive and healthy on my patio, which gets no direct sun and only has light shade. I have had a schefflera planted outside for two years. It has done quite well until recently. I was gone for a month and my husband cared for it and I think he watered it more often than he should have. The plant is dying from the top down. All the new shoots are turning black and drying out, and the leaves are drying out and dying. Under the leaves there appears to be white spots. I am not familiar with plant diseases so any suggestions as to the potential cause of the sudden downturn in the plants health is much appreciated.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

No one can tell you what the primary cause is without a lot more information. It's almost certainly a combination of poor soil, inappropriate watering practices. The spots are scale insects.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 7:16AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hi & welcome to Gardenweb! From what's visible in the pic, your Scheff didn't get that way in just a month, but too much water could have gotten it to the point where it's much more noticeably unhappy. If you don't have anywhere with more light for it, improvement would be iffy, if possible at all.

"First, I have a black thumb and have tried very hard to keep a few plants alive and healthy on my patio, which gets no direct sun and only has light shade." There's no such thing as a black thumb, just an uninformed grower. Also, if the conditions aren't suitable to a plant, it won't do well, regardless of what thumbs are around. Many plants do well in lower light. Having some that like it, instead of struggle, would be a lot rewarding for you, IMHO!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 7:35AM
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asleep_in_the_garden

Had a larger sheffy last year that totally succumbed to scale after everything I tried. Sheffys are SO susceptible to them and once you have them OMG it's so hard to get rid of 'em.

The remaining plants that had scale went outside when it warmed up and the natural method kicked into effect(their colonies were discovered and devoured by predators).

Fight the good fight.
It's worth trying(although I certainly wouldn't hold it against you if you tossed it and got a replacement).

Good luck! :)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 8:33AM
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BusyWhit

Thank you all. This plant was suggested to us by a nursery as doing well in low light. We've been trying different plants for three years now, built boxes for them rather than planting them into the ground, followed fertilizing instructions and yet still have had little success. Our elephant ear and clivia are doing well. As to the schefflera, I've been given so many different opinions on watering from different gardeners since then that I am sure watering practices are part of the cause. Despite this, I will try to fight the scale as I am sure my husband will put his foot down at any more plants if I have to toss this one! So sad as it was so perfect for the space the past couple years, it masked an ugly wall.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 2:02PM
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BusyWhit

On second thought, after reading more about scale, I think I have to toss it to save what few plants we have that are happy.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 2:09PM
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asleep_in_the_garden

Quarantine it away from the others,yes.

Give up? ...No. :)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 2:23PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

That's understandable. If you're not a plant-o-phile, it can take a few tries to find the right thing, or at least eliminate what won't work. To hide a wall in low light, nothing fancy or expensive is necessary, you could use heart-leaf Philo trained on the support of your choice, or dangling from a hanging pot.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 7:18PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hawaiian Ti plant is another good candidate (Cordyline fruticosa) with pretty red leaves. (The tall one in this pic, which is a pretty small plant, compared to some specimens.) Having 3-4 in a pot makes a nice, full shrubby looking thing, (and you'd know better than to sunburn all of the leaves on yours when you brought it home.)

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 7:22PM
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BusyWhit

Thank you all!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 12:10PM
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