What Causes Schefflera Leaves To Turn Black?

Chlorophyll is the reason for the vivid green hue of many plants leaves. If they begin to change brown, yellow, or black, it’s an indication that something is wrong.

Since Schefflera plants can thrive in virtually every indoor environment and the reason their leaves are becoming black is an obvious signal that there’s an issue in the plant’s health.

The black leaves on Schefflera are a sign of the presence of frost or damage from cold. Furthermore, a range of leaf diseases, including bacterial leaf blight as well as Alternaria leaf spots, could result in blackened leaves. Schefflera leaves turning dark can be caused by environmental conditions like low humidity, low sunlight, as well as heat stress.

Continue reading to find out the reason why Schefflera leaves turn dark and the best way to fix the issue.

Causes of Leaves Turning Black

Low Light

This is the most difficult situation for any plant that loves to flourish in bright, well-lit environments.

Schefflera is a tropical plant that thrive with lots of light, therefore leaves that don’t get enough sunlight can become dark and then fall off.

Similar to many other species, Schefflera also requires light in order for food production and chlorophyll.

If you fail to meet that you have enough light, the leaves will eventually change from brown to yellow and eventually to black.


Set your Schefflera in a spot with plenty of sun. The windows facing south is the ideal spot for houseplants to flourish, including Schefflera.

It is possible to set up an artificial light source in case your home isn’t getting enough sunlight access.


Low Humidity

As a tropical plant Schefflera is a fan of hot temperatures and high humidity.

In the event that your Schefflera is located in a region with low humidity You may notice that the leaves begin to darken and then drop off.

Due to low humidity, the leaf cells lose more water than usual. This can result in destruction to the cell structure and even end up dying, and you will notice as the leaves begin to turn black.


Set your schefflera in a tray filled with pebbles and water to boost humidity. Spraying leaves can also work however, don’t wash the leaves; just a light misting will suffice.

A humidifier could solve this issue for other houseplants too.

Heat Stress

Schefflera thrives in moderate to bright light and thrives in full sun. Research has shown that Schefflera plants are able to withstand temperatures ranging from 45 to 105 degF (16degC 40-45degC) without being affected by heat or cold injury.

When your Schefflera is subject to extreme temperatures and the fragile leaf cells begins to break down. The cells that die do not display a vibrant green colors.


The leaves that have been damaged by heat or sunburn will not recover, so it is best to trim them off.

Plant your plant in a place with enough light, but not enough heat that could cause heat shock.

Cold Damage

When exposed to extreme cold, leaves will look wilted and soaked with water. The definition of extreme cold in Schefflera is temperatures that are below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10degC).

Since below the temperature below this temperature, the Schefflera ceases to photosynthesis.

The leaves turn black or brown and then become crisp and then die.


Don’t immediately trim away the damaged leaves, because it protects the plant from further injury.

The Schefflera to a warmer location and ensure that it is temperature-controlled to at least 50°F (10degC).


Houseplants hate drafts, simple and straightforward. They’re referred to as ‘house plants’ because they thrive in indoor environments and hot or cold drafts can harm their plants. Air blasts that are hot can cause burns to leaves. The drafts may also cause Schefflera leaf to curled.


Make sure that you ensure that you keep your Schefflera away from windows that are open and doors, air conditioners, fireplaces, radiators, heat vents, appliances, etc.

Place your Schefflera in an area that is protected from drafts or put up an enclosure to stop drafts from radiators striking the plant.

Root Rot

I speak about this issue frequently, but it is a serious illness that could lead to death when left untreated.

Root rot is caused by overwatering or poor drainage. It can also be caused by soils that are soaked with water and can’t absorb oxygen into.

The fungal infection attacks its root systems, transforming them into an odourless, black mucusy mess.

Root rot can affect the functionality that the roots have. It is no longer able to absorb the necessary elements or water.

The Schefflera leaves begin to change from brown, yellow, and eventually black.


To prevent root rot, be cautious not to over-water your plant. Also, allow it to dry out between irrigations.

Your Schefflera requires water and oxygen to flourish. This is why it’s important to let it dry between the waterings.

If you notice that the root is rotting it is necessary to cut off all affected roots using an sterile pair of pruning shears or scissors and then replant the Schefflera in an unclean container.

This technique can be used to determine if you have healthy roots left.

Black Spots on Leaves

Alternaria Leaf Spot

The most common form of Alternaria leaf spot is on leaves, but it can be seen on stems too. It is a fungal infection that is caused by Alternaria Genus.

It’s easy to spot If you know where to spot it. If you notice conspicuous brown spots on the underside of leaves It’s only the beginning.

In a few days, the same spots will be visible on the upper part of the leaves as well.

The spots eventually increase in size and then become black, and the conidia of fungi appear.

A high humidity of 90% and temperatures above 85-84degF (28-30degS) is a good environment for Alternaria to develop.


It is essential to tackle this type of fungal disease with an effective fungicide such as Liquid Copper Fungicide.

Be sure to put your Schefflera in an area that is well ventilated. Make sure that your plant is not in close proximity to any heating appliance.

Don’t keep the plant near other plants as fungal spores can easily spread throughout the air.

Cut off any the excess leaves so that the plant receives enough light and fresh air.

Bacterial Leaf Blight (Caused by Pseudomonas Cichorii)

Initially, they appear as tiny areas of water that then expand and then turn black.

Leaf drop that is severe is frequent in plants that are that are affected by Blight. Its appearance is similar to those of plants that are infected by Alternaria Leaf spot.


If you notice the first signs of the disease Cut off the branches and leaves. The cut area should be treated by using a 1% solution of copper sulfurate (100 grams per 10 litres of water).

or A 0.7 percent solution of ferrous sulfur (70 grams per 10 g of water). The best option is to keep the dry foliage and get rid of any infected leaves.

Insect Infestation

Schefflera is a magnet for a range of pesky insects. Aphids, Caterpillars and Fungus Gnats, Mealybugs, Mites, Scales, Shore Flies, and Thrips are just a few of the insects attracted to the Schefflera.


Pear-shaped insects range between light green and brown. It is more likely that you will detect a moldy smell or honeydew prior to noticing the aphid problem.

The growth of mold through the secretion of aphids causes leaves to appear black.

Scale Insects

Small, flat, tan to brown insects stick with plants, and feed upon the plant’s flesh. Soft scale varieties secrete honeydew that sooty mold thrives in.

Fungus Gnats

Small, black flies are able to fly or run across the the soil. These insects’ larvae feed off the roots, hairs of the root, leaves, and lower stems.

In the process, plants can be more prone to diseases that could make them in a black color.


The clumps of white, cottony hairs appear on the leaves of plants and on stems. They are found on lower leaves and the roots of plants that are found in moist, warm habitats.

They cause havoc through feeding on the juices of plants. Similar to aphids, honeydew and sooty mold can be seen.

Mealybugs can also be vectors for different plant diseases. In severe infestations can lead to parts in the plants to end up dying.

Mites (Broad Mite)

They are so tiny that they are largely under the radar until there is a significant injury to plants. Broad mites cause necrosis to the foliage of the vegetative shoot the apex.

Mites (Two-spotted Spider Mite)

Similar to its larger mite cousin These mites are small and don’t get noticed at first. The damaged foliage may become yellow or show streaks.

It’s easy to misinterpret the webbing created by this mite as dust under leaves, so make certain to wipe them off. Miticides can be effective in removing these insects.


Neem oil and pesticides can be effective in eliminating insects. Neem oil is the best alternative because it’s an organic repellent.

It can be sprayed directly on aphids, mealybugs and mites to eliminate them.

Salt in the Soil

The soil you use to cultivate the Schefflera is what will affect the health of your plant. If there is excessive salt in the soil, you’re likely to face issues.

The tap water, fertilizers and potting mixes are all laden with salts, which is why you have be cautious when fertilizing and watering your Schefflera.

Take a look at the top of the soil. Are there white spots? This could be a sign of an accumulation of salt.


Verify fertilizer rates to be sure that there aren’t excessive quantities of salt.

The water source should be less than 1000 ppm of soluble salts.

Leach the pots using 4 to 6 inches of water to lower the salt levels.

Make sure to apply SRFs (slow-release fertilizers) uniformly over the soil’s the surface.

Environmental Issues

Schefflera is a plant that requires a large amount of sunlight because of its dense foliage. If it’s located in an area with poor weather conditions whether outside or indoors it won’t thrive.

When I refer to poor, I am referring to constant rain or continuous cloud cover that blocks sunlight from reaching the plant.


Make use of artificial lighting to ensure that the Schefflera receives sufficient illumination.

Black Sooty Mold

If this type of mold has begun to grow on your Schefflera leaves, they appear to be covered with an ash-like coating.

Sooty mold is an invasive plant-based mold. It thrives in the secretions that pests (aphids and scale) produce.


Get rid of the insects which are the cause before you get rid of the mold.

After the pests have gone, it is time to clean off the particulate matter that has become sooty.

Tips Neem oil is great in getting rid of both insects as well as fungal.

Excess Water

Overwatering plants is a frequent problem for cultivators. It is recommended to provide your Schefflera plenty of water, but make sure that you don’t go overboard.

In the event that you’re Schefflera suffers from excessive watering the leaves will become black and then fall off.


Check the soil’s pH before watering it with your finger in the soil, until you reach your fingernail.

If the soil is still dry, it’s not watered at this point. A watering schedule of once a week is sufficient.

If your Schefflera receives lots of bright sunlight or is growing in full sun it is important to provide it with more water.

Overdrying the Soil

Schefflera prefers moist soil. The soil that is dry too long means that every time that you water it, the water won’t completely wet the soil.

Dry soil is the main cause of dehydration. Plants that are thirsty show their suffering by wilting and drying out. Leaves may look scorched, ie. black, due to the absence of water.


Make sure the soil is damp. Check the soil for whether it’s dry or damp.

Lack of Nutrition

Certain plants require a little assistance by fertilizers, which are essential nutrients.

The darkening of leaves could indicate that Schefflera’s are missing something.


Liquid fertilizers and SRFs are great options for Schefflera plants. Furthermore, high amounts of fertilizer (roughly one-and-a-half teaspoons Osmocote 19-6-12 in a four-inch container) resulted in a significant decrease of Alternaria, Pseudomonas, and Xanthomonas leaf spot diseases. (Source: University of Florida)


As with overwatering, overfertilization is a major issue. Inundating your Schefflera with a plethora of nutrients could cause burnt leaves that appear as black. The buildup of salt also happens when you fertilize too much.


Take note of the label’s instructions regarding when and how often to fertilize. Keep in mind that the lower amount of light your Schefflera receives it receives, the less fertilization is required and vice versa.

Damping-off Disease

The cause of this disease is various pathogens, can reduce or kill seedlings in the process of germination.

Organisms such as Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Alternaria, Phytophthora,and Fusarium are the cause of this illness that thrives in humid and cool climates.

Seedling diseases can affect their quality in mature plants. Therefore, if your Schefflera was affected by a damping-off disease when it was a seedling, it is now more vulnerable to a variety of issues.


Unfortunately, there’s no solution for plants that contracted damping-off when they were seedlings.

How to Prevent Blackening of Schefflera Leaves

If you’ve made it to this point, you have the most effective ways to stop Schefflera leaves turning that black hue. Below are some tips to remember.

  • Make sure that your schefflera is receiving moderate to bright light.
  • Avoid long periods of intense, direct sunlight to avoid sunburn.
  • The temperature should never be below 50 degF (10degC) to avoid the effects of cold.
  • Place your schefflera in a place in which there aren’t any drafts.
  • Do not allow your Schefflera be submerged in water. take it out of the drain plate and dispose from any extra.
  • Dry the soil between irrigations.
  • Do not let your soil become too alkaline . Avoid using freshly-made manure, lime, and Ash.
  • Make sure the foliage is dry. mild misting is good.
  • Remove any brown, yellow, or black leaves to avoid the attracting of the fungus and gnats.
  • Schefflera thrive best at temperatures ranging from 65degF to 90degF (18degC 32degC – 65degF).

Go Green!

If you adhere to the guidelines in this article, I can assure you the Schefflera will thrive. With plenty of light, a warm temperatures, adequate water, and a draft-free space the black leaves will become an old thing.

I would like to wish you and your Schefflera all the best in the coming days!



Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)