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Help Needed on my dying plant!

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by TeaLeaf on November 08, 2004 01:01 AM
I have enjoyed my plant (a bit like a umbrella tree, but much bigger. see picture) for 7 years with a little maintenance. But over a year ago, the leaves started curing and turned to a lighter green. It is getting much worse now as all the leaves are drooping down. There are no visible bugs on or under the leaves. I tried to repot it once (3 mo ago), to give more water (I donít water much before) and move it to the sunnier location (2 weeks ago). It still seems dying gradually. Is there any hope to save it? How and What is the name of the paint? Please help. Thank you very much in advance.

please click the url to see the pictures before I figure out how to post them directly.
droopy plant  -  -  -
by Longy on November 08, 2004 11:22 AM
It looks to me like it's got a root problem. I'd cut off all the foliage, (it'll fall off anyway)reduce the length of the main stem to a size you'd like.Take it out of the pot and wash all the soil off the roots. Checkout the roots closely. There'll be a problem there. It could be a fungal disease. Whatever. Wash the roots and cutoff any big woody looking ones. Disinfect or preferably replace the pot. Use new potting medium and repot the plant. She'll be right. Take a close look at the roots and also the main stem at root level. Therein lies the problem. Dispose of the old potting mix and any offcuts in the rubbish. Goodluck:)
by Will Creed on November 09, 2004 05:20 AM
Tea Leaf,

Your plant is a Schefflera actinophylla or umbrella tree. Schefflera arboricola is a close relative with much smaller leaves.

The severe wilting of the leaves on your plant is caused by lack of water. If the soil was kept unusually dry for extended period of time, then that would cause the leaves to wilt permanently. even after it is watered.

On the other hand, if the roots are damaged from overwatering or from soil compaction, then that would prevent the plant from absorbing water no matter how wet the soil is. The result is the same - wilting.

If the leaves do not recover after a thorough watering, then it is best to prune each stem way back to a point below where the lowest leaves are attached. If the roots are healthy and you water properly, then new growth will emerge from just below the point on the stems where you made the pruning cuts.

Proper watering means letting the top quarter of the soil dry out and then watering thoroughly so that the entire rootball is saturated.

If you do not get healthy new growth, then that probably means the roots are severely damaged and the plant cannot be saved.

Make sure your plant gets lots of bright indirect light all day long and a few hours of direct sun is good.
by Longy on November 09, 2004 10:47 AM
Hopefully a good water is gonna do the deed for you Tea leaf. May i suggest a submersion of the pot in a tub of water for a while. If what Will suggests is the case, the soil may have become water repellant and just pouring water on it will only cause the water to run down thru the outside of the pot and out the drainage holes. I use a "water crystal" moisture retentive additive in my pots. It helps keep this from happening.
BTW. Umbrella trees are declared weeds here. They're from Nth Queensland in Oz and were brought south as indoor plants. Hard to kill apparently:)LOL.
by mich168 on November 10, 2004 05:11 AM
Ahh, now I know what one of my plants is! It started out as a cutting off of an office plant. The plant guy gave a stem to me and I stuck it in water. Took a couple of months for it to grow some roots, but it did, and I potted it. It's now on it's 2nd pot and still growing. The leaves on mine are smaller than the ones in the photo though. I seems to like a lot of indirect light, not too happy with direct sun. I water it when I pick up the pot and it feels light. So far it seems to be happy. Guess I am doing the right things.

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by suzydaze on November 10, 2004 04:07 PM
mine gets like that sometimes, they need light but not alot, mine is happiest when I can sit it out side in a shade and water it good. It'll get as big as the pot you have it in.

I'd fix it where it would drain good and water it everyday. Repotting at this time would not be a good idea, the plant is already stressed from the move.

I'll see if I can get a pic of mine posted at lunch time. I got mine when I had my oldest daughter in the hospital (you know that plant you get from where you work), that' what I got and it's 18 plus years old now because the oldest is 18 and it was already about a 2 foot plant then. It is now 6 to 6 feet tall and much too big, so I am refusing to re pot it.

I would not pull all the leaves off. It'll drop the ones it can't deal with all on it's on. Mine has on several occasions lost almost all of it's limbs, but I have pulled very few off. And have pulled none off due to droop. Usually if I pull one off it's because it's turned yellow already. Or it's in the way of a walk path.

here's a link to see mine

suzydaze's schefflera

* * * *
I try to take one day at a time -- but sometimes several days attack me at once.
-Jennifer Unlimited-
by TeaLeaf on November 10, 2004 11:42 PM
Thank you for all your comments. They are very helpful and encouraging.

Upon close inspection, the long stalks that connected to the leaves are mostly wrinkled and dried out, such that they cannot support the leaves and bent downward.

It might confirm that my tree is sick due to severely underwater for a long time (yes, itís my fault) or/and might have a root problem. That explains why it does not grow vigorously as itís name implies; Less than 20 stalks/leaves in 7 years! OTH, one of the reasons that I like this tree is its compact size.

I have been watering the plant thoroughly for 2 days, soils are all wet as I poked with a stick. However, I cannot tell if it is getting any better. Since it has being underwater for so long, I donít expect much. My plan is to wait for a week, if no improvement, I will cut most leaves but one or two, water it well and hopefully, it will come back.

Now, my next question is should I check for root damages before or after the cutting or do nothing and just keep my fingers crossed. And what exactly should I look for if I dig it out? I have no experience at all.

Maybe if the worst case comes true, I will just cut off the roots and grow new ones, or can I?

by Longy on November 11, 2004 10:48 AM
Hi Tealeaf,
as you said, just wait a while. Don't get into the roots if you're going with the under watered idea. My original reply was based on your suggestion that you had been watering regularly.
If a plant is getting ample water, but responding as if it is dry, then we have to ask why is the water not getting to the plant. This can be because the roots or the base of the plant are sick, unhealthy, rotted, infected, whatever.
So let's assume it hasn't really been getting enough water, and they do need a bit, depending on how much light they get. If that's all it is, a good drink should fix it.
Wait and see. The best thing about this forum is you can go one step at a time and interested people will help where they can.
Now if it all goes pear-shaped and the plant just aint doin it, then, and this can be applied to any dying plant,irrespective of which plant and when , it's gotta be worth having a look at a root system. Even if just to expand your own knowledge. There's stuff to see there. Questions to be asked, observations to be made and ultimately, knowledge to be gained.

Geez i hope it's just a question of watering though:) Have a cracker.
by suzydaze on November 11, 2004 05:39 PM
I don't think I would mess with the roots either, it'll just take some time for it to recover.

* * * *
I try to take one day at a time -- but sometimes several days attack me at once.
-Jennifer Unlimited-
by Jiffymouse on November 13, 2004 03:41 AM
i am with the others about leaving your plant's roots alone for the time being.

by Will Creed on November 14, 2004 04:08 AM

You have adequately watered the soil and given your Schefflera leaves a chance to perk up and they have not. However, they are still green. That tells me that the constant drought condition, until recently, left the leaf stems in a permanently wilted condition. However, new growth that comes in at the top should not be affected by past drought. It should be healthy and upright.

I suggest that you wait and see if this prediction is accurate. In the interim, be careful not to overcompensate for the prior underwatering. A plant can survive underwatering, but it cannot survive wet soil for too long. Now that you have re-wetted the soil, do not add any more water until the top 3 - 4 inches of soil feels dry.
by suzydaze on November 14, 2004 04:39 AM
Will Creed, My plant isn't the one dying. Thanks for the suggestions though. Mine's the 6 to 8 foot tall one.

* * * *
I try to take one day at a time -- but sometimes several days attack me at once.
-Jennifer Unlimited-
by Will Creed on November 18, 2004 04:05 AM

Please accept my apology. I got a little sloppy reading through multiple posts.

by TreeHelpinNYCPLEASE on November 30, 2004 04:06 AM
I haven't quite found the answer in previous posts, so I need to post a new Arboricola question.

Here's the background:

I've had a 6 ft Arboricola tree for about 4 months. In the beginning, it was losing a lot of leaves, but regrowing pretty quickly, so I just tossed that up to the 'acclomation process.' I live in a NYC apartment -- and it was the middle of summer -- I had AC on sometimes.

Anyway, the tree is by a window and I've rotated it 2x.

I've been religiously watering it 1x per week.

This is what happened:
The tree is right next to the radiator. I was monitoring it to see if it was being affected by the heat, and it didn't appear to be. I forgot to water it by 2 days, and I went to water, and I saw 4 of the branches turned from green to brown -- almost stick like (like the base of the tree) -- and all the leaves have turned brown.

There are, however, a lot of the branches which are still green and still have green leaves. (although I'm afraid they'll turn brown soon).

IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO TO REVIVE MY LOVELY TREE? I've moved it away from the heater, watered it -- but the branches now look like sticks, and don't seem like they can become green and growing again.

Any and all suggestions are appreciated.

I hope I've explained this problem clearly. Please ask me any questions.
by Jiffymouse on December 01, 2004 03:39 AM
your branches aren't going to come back. what i would do is trim the other branches to make the tree match.

once a leaf, limb, or whole plant is totally brown, crunchy, what ever, the best you can hope for is viable roots to grow a new plant. and in the case of houseplants, that doesn't happen very often.
by TreeHelpinNYCPLEASE on December 03, 2004 05:13 AM
Thanks for your reply. I appreciate it.
by Cliloute on December 07, 2004 12:19 AM
I'm not sure of the response, but my schefflera is turning into the same sight. And I think changes of temperature are the causes of the problem. My plant is by the window, and at night, it's getting very colder.

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by Jiffymouse on December 07, 2004 04:40 AM
it is possible that the draft from the window is causing your plant to wilt. cold drafts from uninsulated windows, cracks around windows and doors, or hot drafts from vents or radiators or registers have a negative effect on the plants because it is a one-sided thing. your best bet is to either find a way to better insulate the window/close off the draft or move the plant away from the draft. even if this means sacrificing some light. most plants are gearing up for reduced light at this time of year anyway.

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