My Schefflera plant is sick. Can you help me to save it?

I’ve had this plant for >25years. We’ve been through a lot; insects, sunburn, cold houses. I’m not sure what the problem is this time, but I suspect it’s too big for the pot it’s in.

Last month, I thought it wasn’t getting enough light. I bought a grow light for it, but it is still dropping leaves and looking sickly.

So, question two… when i do go to re-pot it, can I break it into 2, different plants and place into 2 new pots? The roots are growing close together, and I may have to saw the bundle to make 2 out of it. I appreciate any comments and insight.

Here are some photos:

The brown patches on the leaves look like the air is too dry and it may not be getting enough water because it is so root bound. You need to repot, root prune, and divide. Don’t forget to prune the branches when you prune the roots. They need to balance. Use fresh potting soil.

Also, scheffleras are super sensitive to random breezes, I had one drop about a billion leaves one season because a fan up in the loft was blowing through it.

If you want another one, you can clone them by taking a branch off the original plant, trimming off the bottom most leaves and burying it a pot of soil–keep it very moist because it can’t support itself through even the slightest dryness since it doesn’t have roots yet.

But yeah, given the enormous size of that thing you need to get it into a much larger pot. I’ve found that mine responds very well to regular feeding of a weak solution of Floranova Grow–about a half teaspoon to a teaspoon per gallon of water. The stuff is cheap and it’s great for houseplants that tend to not get much nutrition at all, especially after they’ve become rootbound and have eaten up everything in the potting soil.

It looks from one of the photos like the plant is in a rather shallow container, in any event probably too small for the plant, which likely is rootbound. You can remove it from the pot to check.

If there’s a dense mat of roots and little soil to be seen (what you have looks like it needs refreshing), then it’s advisable to work out some of the old soil from the rootball and/or root prune (here’s some advice on how to do that). Based on the apparent size of the plant it probably would benefit from at least a 10 inch diameter pot and good quality lightweight potting soil.

After it’s in its new pot, I’d water well, place it in bright light (no sun for now), trim off the unattractive/dying foliage and not water again until the soil surface has dried out.

Yea, it is pot bound. Get a bigger pot or 2. New soil. And prune judiciously.

Might also consider cutting it back pretty significantly–that will allow it to bust out with lots of foliage lower down the branches and make it more compact and lush looking. Cutting it back makes the current rootball more in proportion to the canopy so it’s less likely to root bind in the new pot quite so quickly. I have a schefflera arbicola that’s almost five feet wide by two feet deep and that’s after I cut probably 30% of it off sometime last year. I did take one branch and rooted it in another pot and now the damned thing has taken off and has grown like five feet up a wall on one big main branch. I’m going to chop it off at about 18" tall to encourage it to branch out a bit. I’ve discovered these critters are pretty tolerant of being hacked to bits so long as they get enough water and sun. Mine is probably 15 years old or so, but I have a pothos that I originally gave my granny back in 1984–I filled up most of a 50 gallon compost bin with it last time I cut it back but you’d never know I ever touched it and some of the leaves are the size of dinner plates. It’s a crazy ass plant, and just about everyone I know has at least one plant cut off it. Granny plant, I think it might be immortal–at one point it was down to one stringy little branch with a few anemic leaves on it but it got better. :wink: