Umbrella Plant Leaves Turning Black – Causes and Solutions

The umbrella tree or plant, also known as Schefflera, is a lovely, hardy, and simple plant to grow. In warm climates, they can be grown indoors or outside in gardens. Some Schefflera species can develop into large trees.

Schefflera leaves typically have a deep green color, but if they start to turn black, there may be a problem with the plant

What Causes the Blackening of My Umbrella Plant Leaves?

What Causes the Blackening of My Umbrella Plant Leaves

The majority of umbrella plant leaves have a bright green color because of chlorophyll. Something is wrong if they start to turn yellow, brown, or black.

Since umbrella plants can grow successfully in almost any indoor environment, the fact that their leaves are turning black is a definite sign that the plant is ill.

Schefflera’s black leaves are a sign of damage from the cold or frost. Blackened leaves can also be caused by many foliage diseases, including Alternaria leaf spots and bacterial leaf blight. 

Low humidity, a lack of light, and heat stress are a few environmental factors that contribute to Schefflera leaves turning black. Learn the causes of and solutions to the blackening of umbrella plant leaves by reading on.

Why Do Leaves Turn Black?

Why Do Leaves Turn Black

1. Reduced Humidity

The umbrella plant enjoys high humidity and warm temperatures because it is a tropical plant. You might observe that the leaves start to turn black and fall off if your umbrella plant is in a low-humidity area.

The leaf cells tend to lose more water than usual when the humidity is low. You will notice the leaves turning black because it can harm the cell structure and eventually cause some of them to die.


  • To increase humidity, set your umbrella plant on a tray of pebbles with water. Although soaking the leaves is not necessary—merely a light misting will do—spraying the leaves also works.
  • Additionally, purchasing a humidifier can address this issue for all of your indoor plants.

2. Light Dimly

Any plant that prefers to thrive in well-lit environments should avoid this situation at all costs. As umbrella plants are tropical plants, their leaves can turn black and drop off if they don’t get enough light to grow. 

Schefflera, like other plants, depends on light for the production of food and chlorophyll. If the necessary amount of light is not provided, the leaves will eventually turn brown, then black.


  • Put your umbrella plant in a location that receives a lot of sunlight. The best place for your indoor plants, including umbrella plants, to thrive is a south-north window.
  • If there isn’t enough natural light in your apartment, you might think about installing artificial light.

Also Read: Umbrella Plant Light Requirements

3. Warmth Stress

Schefflera does well in full sunlight and prefers medium to bright light. The umbrella plant plants can grow in temperatures between 16 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit (45 and 40 degrees Celsius), according to studies.

Your Schefflera’s delicate leaf cell will start to deteriorate if it is subjected to conditions of extreme heat. Death leaf cells won’t exhibit a vibrant green hue.


  • It is best to remove leaves that have been burned by the sun or scorched by heat.
  • Put your plant in a location that receives adequate light but is not overly hot to prevent heat shock.

4. Cold Injury

Extreme cold will cause leaves to wilt and become soggy. The umbrella plant can withstand cold conditions as low as 50°F (10°C).

Because of the Schefflera’s inability to continue photosynthesis below this temperature, these leaves will eventually turn brown or black, become crispy, and die.


  • Pruning damaged foliage should be delayed because it protects the plant from further harm.
  • Place the umbrella plant somewhere warmer, and make sure it’s at least 50°F (10°C) there.

5. Drafts

Quite simply, houseplants detest draughts. They are known as “house plants” because they do best indoors and are harmed by cold or hot draughts. The leaves will burn in hot air bursts. Additionally, draughts can make the umbrella plant leaves curl.


  • Be careful not to let your umbrella plant get too close to things like open windows, fireplaces, air conditioners, heater vents, radiators, appliances, etc.
  • Move your umbrella plant to a draft-free location, or erect a barrier to stop draughts from radiators from affecting your plant.

6. Root Decay

Although I bring it up frequently, it is a serious illness that, if left untreated, can be fatal. Overwatering, poor drainage, and oxygen-deficient water-logged soil all contribute to root rot.

This fungus attacks the root system, causing it to rot and become a mushy, black mess. Root rot impairs the root system’s normal operation. It can no longer consume water or the necessary nutrients.

The umbrella plant leaves consequently begin to turn yellow, brown, and black.


  • Be careful not to overwater your plant to avoid root rot. Dehydrate it between waterings as well.
  • For maximum growth, your umbrella plant needs both water and oxygen. Therefore, it’s crucial to let the soil dry out in between waterings.
  • If root rot occurs, you must cut off all affected roots with sterile scissors or pruning shears before replanting the umbrella plant in a fresh container.
  • If there are still some sound roots, you can employ this method.

Also Check: Umbrella Plant Watering Guide

Leaves with Black Spots

Leaves with Black Spots

1. Leaf Spot of Alternaria

Alternaria leaf spot mostly affects leaves, but it can occasionally appear on stems as well. The Alternaria genus is responsible for this fungus-based illness. If you know where to look for it, you can find this very quickly.

Now, it’s just the beginning if you notice concentric brown spots starting to appear on the underside of the leaves. The upper side of the leaves will also start to develop the same spots a few days later.

Conidia of fungi eventually appear as the spots enlarge in size and turn black and grey. Temperatures above 82-84°F (28-30°C) and high humidity above 90% are favorable conditions for the occurrence of Alternaria.


  • Use a powerful fungicide, such as Liquid Copper Fungicide, to treat this type of fungal infection.
  • Place your umbrella plant in a space that has good ventilation. Additionally, be sure to keep any heating devices far from the plant.
  • Due to the rapid airborne spread of fungal spores, keep the plant far away from other plants.
  • Additionally, remove any extra leaves to ensure that the plant receives adequate light and air.

2. Infectious Leaf Blight (Caused by Pseudomonas cichorii)

Start out as small, wet areas, but quickly grow bigger and eventually turn black.

Additionally typical in plants affected by blight is severe leaf drop. Similar to plants with Alternaria leaf spot disease in terms of appearance.


  • Eliminate the leaves and branches as soon as you notice the disease’s first symptoms. Apply a 1% copper sulfate solution to the cut site (100 g per 10 L of water).
  • Alternatively, a ferrous sulfate 0.7% solution (70 g per 10 water). Maintaining the dry foliage and removing all infected leaves is your best bet.

3. Infestation of insects


Schefflera are known to draw a wide range of bothersome insects. Pests attracted to the Schefflera include aphids, caterpillars, fungus gnats, mealybugs, mites, scales, shore flies, and thrips.


Insects with pears vary in color from light green to brown. A sooty mold or honeydew infestation is more likely to be noticed before an aphid infestation. The mold, which grows in the aphids’ secretion, can give the leaf a black appearance.

Scale Bugs

Small, flat, tan to brown insects that feed on plant flesh when attached to plants. The sooty mold thrives in the honeydew that the soft-scale variety secretes.

Mushroom Gnats

Small, black flies dart about or scurry across the soil’s surface. These insects’ larvae consume lower stems, leaves, root hairs, and roots.

As a result, plants might be more vulnerable to ailments that can cause their leaves to turn black.


On the leaves and stems of plants, there are white, cottony clumps. They can be seen on the lower leaves and roots of plants that thrive in warm, humid environments.

They destroy by consuming plant juices. Honeydew and sooty mold will start to appear, just like aphids. Mealybugs are also carriers of some plant diseases, and they can kill parts of a plant in cases of severe infestation.

Mites (Broad Mite)

Broad mites are so small that they won’t be noticed until the plant has suffered significant harm. The vegetative shoot apex’s foliage becomes necrotic due to broad mites.

3. Mites (Two-spotted Spider Mite)

These mites are extremely small and initially go unnoticed, much like their broad mite cousin. Foliage that has been damaged may turn yellow or get flecks.

Because it’s simple to mistake the webbing this mite produces for dust beneath the leaves, be sure to wipe them down frequently. Miticides work well to keep these pests under control.


  • Neem oil and pesticides are both useful for eliminating pests. The better choice is neem oil because it is a natural insect repellent.
  • Mealybugs, aphids, and mites can be directly sprayed with it to kill them right away.

4. Soil with Salts

The quality of your umbrella plant will depend on the soil you use to grow it. You’ll experience issues if the soil contains an excessive amount of salt.

You need to exercise caution when watering and fertilizing your umbrella plant because salts are present in tap water, fertilizers, and potting soil.

Take a look at the soil’s surface. Do you notice any white spots? This might be a sign of salt buildup.


  • Make sure there isn’t too much salt by checking fertilizer rates.
  • Soluble salt levels in water sources should be less than 1000 ppm.
  • Pots should be diluted with 2-4 inches of water to lower the salt content.
  • SRFs (slow-release fertilizers) should always be applied evenly to the soil surface.

5. Environmental Concerns

Due to its dense foliage, the umbrella plant is a type of plant that requires a lot of light. It won’t thrive whether it’s indoors or out if the environment has poor weather.

When I use the word “dreary,” I’m referring to periods of nonstop rain or cloud cover that block the sun from reaching the plant.


  • To make sure the umbrella plant receives enough light, use artificial illumination.

6. Dark-Colored Mould

The leaves on your umbrella plant will appear to be coated in ash when this mold develops on it.

A specific type of plant mold is sooty mold. It thrives in the substances produced by pests like scale and aphids.


  • Before getting rid of the mold, get rid of the pests that are the root of the problem.
  • You can then wash off all the sooty mold components once the pests are no longer a problem.

7. Too Much Water


Overwatering plant is a problem that many growers encounter. Giving your umbrella plant plenty of water is a good idea, but be careful not to overdo it.

The leaves of your umbrella plant will turn black before dropping off if it has been overwatered.


  • Dip your finger into the soil up to your knuckle to feel the texture of the soil before you water it.
  • It hasn’t yet been watered if the soil still feels damp. One watering per week is sufficient.
  • You must then provide your umbrella plant with more water if it receives a lot of bright light or grows in direct sunlight.

8. Excessive Soil Drying

Schefflera favors moist soil. If you allow the soil to dry out too much, the soil won’t get a good wet the next time you water.

Dehydration essentially results from dry soil. And thirsty plants wilt and dry up as a way of expressing their suffering. Due to the lack of water, leaves may appear scorched, or black.


  • Maintain soil moisture. To determine whether the soil is too dry or too wet, feel it.

Check Out: How to Choose Best Soil for Schefflera Plant

9. Poor Nutrition

Some plants could use a little extra assistance from fertilizers, which offer vital nutrients.

Blackened leaves may indicate that your umbrella plant is deficient in something.


  • The best fertilizers to use on umbrella plants are SRFs and liquid fertilizers.
  • A significant decrease in Alternaria, Pseudomonas, and Xanthomonas leaf spot diseases was also observed at high fertilizer levels (roughly one and a half teaspoons of Osmocote 19-6-12 per four-inch container).

10. Overfertilizing


Overfertilizing is a significant issue, just like overwatering. Your umbrella plant may develop burned leaves that may appear black if you overfeed it with nutrients. Overfertilizing can also result in salt buildup.


For information on when and how often to fertilize, carefully read the label instructions. Keep in mind that your umbrella plant will need less fertilization and less light the less light it receives.

11. Dripping-off Illness

This illness is brought on by several pathogens that weaken or kill seedlings as they germinate.

This disease, like moist, cool environments, is brought on by organisms like Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Phytophthora, and Fusarium.

Diseases that affect seedlings reduce the quality of mature plants. So your umbrella plant would now be vulnerable to a variety of issues if it acquired a damping-off disease as a seedling.


Sadly, plants that developed damping-off as seedlings cannot be cured.

How to Stop Schefflera Leaves from Blackening?

If you’ve read this far, you now know the best strategies for avoiding the dreaded blackening of umbrella plant leaves. The following are things to keep in mind.

  • Ensure that your Schefflera gets moderate to bright light.
  • To avoid getting burned by the sun, stay out of the sun for extended periods.
  • To avoid cold damage, the temperature should always be higher than 50°F (10°C).
  • Maintain your umbrella plant in an area free from draughts.
  • Avoid letting your umbrella plant sit in water; empty any extra into the drainage plate.
  • Dry the soil between waterings.
  • Don’t use new manure, lime, or ash to prevent the soil from becoming overly alkaline.
  • Keep the foliage relatively dry; a light mist is preferable.
  • Remove any leaves that are yellow, brown, or black to avoid attracting fungus gnats.
  • Temperatures between 65°F and 90°F (18°C and 32°C) are ideal for umbrella plant growth.


The most likely causes of blackening umbrella plant leaves are an excessive amount of direct sunlight, water stress, excessive fertilization, or diseases.

The best course of action is to enhance your plant‘s growing environment. Don’t overfertilize it, and make sure to give it the proper amount of water and light.

Let us know in the comments section below if these tips helped you and our plant.

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  • Vaishnavi

    Vaishnavi is a student of organic chemistry. She is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic gardener who enjoys sharing plant information and ideas. She also enjoys writing inspirational poems. She portrays her love for plants and nature through her poems.

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