Why is my umbrella plant turning brown, And How To Fix It

Why is my umbrella plant turning brown, And How To Fix It

Known as a Schefflera plant, umbrella plants are low-maintenance plants frequently found in houseplants or outdoor gardens in warm climates. Even though Schefflera plants are easy to grow, they can become brown if not correctly cared for. Don’t worry if your umbrella plant has also started to turn brown – you can save it with the help of the following article.

As a general rule, what causes Schefflera to turn brown is often attributed to a combination of care-related issues and environmental factors. One common culprit is improper watering practices, where overwatering or underwatering can lead to browning of the leaves. Excess water can suffocate the roots and promote root rot, causing the foliage to turn brown and become mushy. Conversely, underwatering can result in dryness and browning as the plant loses moisture.

Additionally, low humidity levels can contribute to the browning of Schefflera leaves, particularly at the edges or tips. These plants thrive in higher humidity, and insufficient moisture in the air can cause the leaf margins to turn brown. Poor drainage, often due to improper potting or a lack of drainage holes, can trap excess water around the roots, leading to root rot and subsequent browning of the foliage.

Excessive sunlight and exposure to direct sun can also lead to brown spots or scorched areas on Schefflera leaves. Pests like spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects can stress the plant, causing discoloration and browning. Nutrient deficiencies, particularly lack of nitrogen, can manifest as brown or yellowing leaves. Additionally, sudden changes in environmental conditions, such as temperature fluctuations or drafts, can trigger stress responses in the plant, leading to browning.

Ensuring proper watering practices is crucial to address Schefflera browning by allowing the soil to dry out between waterings and maintaining adequate humidity levels. Providing bright, indirect light and protecting the plant from direct sun can help prevent sunburn and browning. Regular pest inspections and appropriate treatments can manage infestations, while balanced fertilization supports healthy foliage color. By taking these measures and fostering a stable and favorable environment, you can help your Schefflera regain its lush green appearance and thrive with vitality.

To address these issues and prevent browning, keep reading because we will analyze each issue in depth, including how to fix them.

Umbrella plants: what are they?

Umbrella plants, scientifically known as Schefflera, are a group of tropical plants cherished for their vibrant foliage and graceful appearance. These plants thrive in warm and humid environments, making them popular indoor and outdoor cultivation choices. One well-known variety is Schefflera arboricola, often called the dwarf umbrella tree. 

Umbrella plants are characterized by their distinctive foliage arrangement, where several leaflets radiate out from a central point, resembling an open umbrella. The leaves, typically glossy and lush, contribute to their ornamental value. These plants tend to experience active growth during the warmer months, known as the growing season, and may require special care to accommodate their increased need for water and nutrients.

Ideal as indoor plants, umbrella plants can flourish in homes and offices where they receive bright, indirect light. They add a touch of tropical elegance to interior spaces, and their relatively low-maintenance nature makes them popular among plant enthusiasts. While Schefflera arboricola is a well-recognized variant, umbrella plants encompass a broader range of species, each with unique leaf shapes, sizes, and patterns. Their foliage enhances indoor aesthetics and improves air quality by acting as natural air purifiers. With proper care, these tropical gems can thrive and display their iconic umbrella-like arrangement of leaves, creating an enchanting and lively atmosphere in any indoor setting.

Why is my Umbrella plant turning brown, and how can it be fixed?

Improper Watering

Improper watering is a common problem that can lead to the reddening of umbrella plant leaves. One of the most common reasons for this issue is overwatering. Giving the plant too much water or allowing it to sit in waterlogged soil can suffocate the roots, inhibit nutrient uptake, and result in stress, causing the leaves to develop a reddish hue. Conversely, underwatering, where the plant doesn’t receive enough water, can also trigger a stress response, leading to the exact reddish color change.

How It Can Be Fixed

To address the reddening caused by improper watering, it’s crucial to establish a proper watering routine. Allow the top inch or two of the soil to dry before watering again. When you water, ensure that excess water drains from the pot to prevent waterlogged conditions. Use well-draining soil and a container with drainage holes. Use room temperature water, and if possible, consider using filtered or dechlorinated water to avoid potential issues with tap water or hard water minerals. Regularly monitor the soil’s moisture level and adjust your watering frequency accordingly. Proper watering practices are essential to prevent stress-related reddening and maintain the lush green appearance of your umbrella plant’s foliage.

Low Humidity

Low humidity is one of the most common causes of umbrella plant leaves turning red. These tropical plants naturally thrive in humid environments, and when exposed to dry air, they can struggle to maintain optimal moisture levels. As the humidity levels drop, the plant may respond by developing reddish edges or tips on its leaves. This is a sign of stress as the plant attempts to conserve moisture and protect itself from excessive water loss through transpiration.

How It Can Be Fixed

Creating a more favorable environment is essential to mitigate the impact of low humidity on your umbrella plant. Increasing humidity around the plant can be achieved through several methods. One practical approach is to place a humidity tray filled with water and pebbles near the plant. As the water evaporates, it raises the humidity in the immediate vicinity. Regularly misting the plant’s foliage with room-temperature water can also boost moisture. Consider using a room humidifier to maintain higher humidity levels consistently. By addressing the issue of low humidity, you can help prevent stress-induced reddening of the leaves and ensure that your umbrella plant thrives in a more suitable and comfortable environment.

Poor Drainage

Poor drainage is a possible reason behind a reddening or browning umbrella plant. When the plant is in a pot without adequate drainage, excess water can accumulate around the roots, leading to rot. The plant’s ability to absorb nutrients and water diminishes as the root system compromises, resulting in stress and leaf discoloration. The entire plant, especially the lower leaves, may turn red or brown due to this poor drainage.

How It Can Be Fixed

To address the reddening caused by poor drainage, it’s essential to repot your umbrella plant into a container with proper drainage. Choose a pot with drainage holes at the bottom to ensure excess water can escape and the soil can breathe. Opt for well-draining soil, such as a mix specifically formulated for tropical plants or succulents. If you suspect poor drainage is the issue, gently remove the plant from its current pot and examine the root system. Trim away rotted or damaged roots and repot the plant into a new pot with fresh well-draining soil. To further enhance drainage, consider using terracotta pots, which allow water to evaporate from the sides. Transferring the umbrella plant to a larger pot can also provide more space for the root system to grow and establish itself in a healthier environment. By taking these measures, you can rectify the issue of poor drainage and help your umbrella plant regain its vibrant green color while fostering optimal root health.

Too Much Sun

Exposing your umbrella plant to too much direct sunlight can cause red discoloration on its leaves. While these plants enjoy bright light, excessive exposure to intense sunlight can lead to sunburn, especially in front of a window with intense sunlight. The leaves may develop brown or reddish patches, indicating damage to the leaf cells due to excessive light absorption. Too much sunlight can quickly cause the plant to lose water through transpiration, leading to stress and potential leaf discoloration.

How It Can Be Fixed

To address the reddening caused by excessive sunlight, providing your umbrella plant with the right amount of light is essential. Place the plant where it receives bright, indirect light, such as near a window with sheer curtains or in a spot that receives filtered sunlight. If you’re concerned about insufficient light levels, supplement with a grow light designed for indoor plants. Alternatively, if the plant has been exposed to too much sunlight and shows signs of stress, you can gradually acclimate it to lower light conditions. Move it to a shadier area and allow it to recover over time. Monitoring and adjusting the amount of light your umbrella plant receives will help prevent further reddening and ensure that it thrives in an environment with suitable light levels for optimal growth.

Pests and Diseases

Pests and diseases, such as fungal infections and bacterial diseases, can redden umbrella plant leaves. Spider mites are a common pest that can infest the plant, feeding on its sap and causing stress. The plant may exhibit reddish or brownish discoloration on its leaves in response to this pest infestation. Additionally, certain fungal diseases can lead to browning and reddening, especially if the plant is exposed to prolonged periods of high humidity or if the foliage remains consistently damp. These pathogens can weaken the plant’s immune system and trigger stress-related responses, including changes in leaf color.

How It Can Be Fixed

Addressing the reddening caused by pests and diseases involves proactive measures to control and prevent infestations. Regularly inspect your umbrella plant for signs of pests, such as webbing, tiny insects, or discolored leaves. If pests like spider mites are detected, isolate the affected plant and treat it appropriately, such as washing the leaves with a gentle soap solution or using neem oil. For fungal diseases, improve air circulation around the plant by ensuring proper spacing and avoiding overwatering. Applying a fungicide formulated for indoor plants can help control the spread of fungal infections. Quarantine new plants before introducing them to your existing collection to prevent potential disease transmission. By promptly addressing and managing pest infestations and fungal issues, you can help your umbrella plant recover its healthy appearance and safeguard it against future stress-related reddening.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies can lead to the reddening of umbrella plant leaves. When the plant lacks essential nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, or iron, its ability to carry out vital physiological processes is compromised. This can result in stress responses, including changes in leaf color. Nitrogen deficiency, for example, can cause older leaves to turn red or purple as the plant reallocates nutrients to prioritize newer growth. Similarly, insufficient potassium can lead to brown or reddish leaf edges, while iron deficiency can manifest as interveinal reddening.

How It Can Be Fixed

To address reddening caused by nutrient deficiencies, providing your umbrella plant with the proper nutrients it needs to thrive is essential. Repotting the plant in fresh soil can help replenish nutrient levels. Choose a well-balanced, nutrient-rich soil mix formulated for indoor plants to ensure your umbrella plant can access essential elements. Additionally, you can introduce a balanced liquid fertilizer designed for foliage plants to provide the necessary nutrients. Follow the recommended application instructions on the fertilizer packaging to avoid over-fertilization. Regularly monitor the plant’s foliage for signs of nutrient deficiency and adjust your fertilization routine accordingly. By ensuring your umbrella plant receives adequate and balanced nutrition, you can help it regain its lush green color and overall vitality.

Best Way to Grow Umbrella Plant

Best Way to Grow Umbrella Plant
Best Way to Grow Umbrella Plant

The best way to grow an umbrella plant (Schefflera) involves providing the right conditions, care, and attention. Here’s a guide to help you successfully cultivate a healthy and vibrant umbrella plant:

  • Light: Place your umbrella plant in bright, indirect light. While it can tolerate lower light conditions, too much direct sunlight can lead to leaf burn. A spot near a window with filtered light or a few feet away from a well-lit window is ideal.
  • Temperature and Humidity: Maintain a consistent room temperature between 65-75°F (18-24°C). These plants prefer higher humidity levels, so consider using a humidity tray, regular misting, or a room humidifier to increase humidity around the plant.
  • Watering: Allow the top inch or two of the soil to dry out before watering. Water thoroughly, ensuring that excess water drains from the pot. Avoid soggy conditions, as poor drainage can lead to root rot.
  • Soil: Use a well-draining potting mix formulated for tropical plants or succulents. Adding perlite or sand can improve drainage. Report your umbrella plant every 2-3 years or when it outgrows its current pot.
  • Fertilization: Feed your umbrella plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer during the growing season (spring and summer). Follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging for proper dilution and frequency.
  • Pruning: Regularly prune your umbrella plant to maintain shape and encourage bushier growth. Remove any yellowing or dead leaves to promote overall plant health.
  • Pest Control: Watch for spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects. If infestations occur, treat the plant with neem oil or insecticidal soap.
  • Propagation: Umbrella plants can be propagated from stem cuttings. Allow cuttings to dry and callus before planting in a well-draining mix. Keep the soil lightly moist until new growth emerges.
  • Container: Choose a pot with drainage holes and ensure it’s an appropriate size for your plant. Consider using terracotta pots, which allow excess water to evaporate.
  • Air Circulation: Provide good air circulation around the plant to prevent stagnant air and reduce the risk of fungal diseases.


Hey, My name is Liat and I am addicted to house plants! I have at home more than 50 different types of plants of all kinds - succulents, cactus, tropical plants, orchids and more! Feel free to share the blog with friends on social networks.

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