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Why is my umbrella plant dying!?

Umbrella plants are easy care – but they can still have struggles! Here’s why your umbrella plant is dying – and ways to fix it, no matter the cause!

I love our umbrella plant because it is easy to care for and easy to propagate.

It’s a bit different from your average house plant since it’s more of a tree than a vine, but still has a tropical aesthetic.

These plants are usually very easy to care for, low on demands, and in general a great beginner friendly houseplant.

But, that doesn’t mean that they can’t have problems.

Here’s what might be causing your umbrella plant to die – and how to fix it!

why is my umbrella plant dying and how to fix it

Printable Umbrella Plant care guide

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Umbrella Plant plant care guide
potted umbrella plant on a table

Why is my umbrella plant dying!?

The best way to determine why your umbrella plant is dying is to identify the symptoms of the problem and then you can back into the cause.

The most common symptoms of a sick umbrella tree are:

  • Yellowing leaves
  • Brown leaves
  • Leaf drop
  • Black spots on leaves or stem
  • Wilting leaves
  • Sticky leaves
umbrella plant leaves

Yellowing leaves

Yellowing leaves are caused by a lack of nutrients. This could mean not enough light, not the right amount of water, room to grow, or nutrients.

If you have yellowing leaves and very hard, dry, compact soil – it is underwatered. If the soil is soggy, it’s over watered.

Has the lighting or temperature changed recently? This change could have caused the yellowing.

Pull the plant out of the pot and see if the roots look like they have grown too robust for the pot.

Here’s my complete guide on why umbrella plants get yellow leaves!

Brown leaves

Brown leaves usually indicated that a plant is dry. This means too much heat, too much light, or not enough water.

Umbrella plants also get dry leaves if a branch is broken or snapped, so check for physical damage.

Here’s an in depth article on the causes of brown leaves on umbrella plants.

why is my umbrella plant getting brown leaves

Leaf drop

Leaf drop usually follows leaves turning yellow or brown. Check them for the issues listed above to help narrow down the cause.

Check out my whole article on what causes umbrella plants to drop leaves.

why is my umbrella plant dropping leaves

Black spots on leaves or stem

Black spots that are mushy or soft indicate rot, which is almost always caused by over watering.

Here’s more details on why umbrella plants turn black.

Why is my umbrella tree turning black

Wilting leaves

Wilting is an early sign that your plant is unhappy, before it starts dropping leaves. Wilting umbrella plants can be caused by:

  • Overwatering
  • Over fertilizing
  • Pests
  • Underwatering
  • Transplanting
  • Cold

Check out all of the details of how to figure out what’s making your umbrella tree wilt here.

Why is my umbrella plant wilting

Sticky leaves

Sticky leaves are almost always caused by pest infestations. Check the underside of the leaves for microscopic insects or webs.

Read my guide to getting rid of sticky leaves on umbrella plants here.

why does my umbrella plant have sticky leaves

How do I bring my umbrella plant back to life?

Once you have identified the problem with your umbrella tree, here’s what to do.


The best fixes for an overwatered umbrella plant are:

  • Take a break from watering
  • Dump any pooling water
  • Move the plant to a warmer spot to accelerate drying
  • Change the soil
  • Run a fan

Pull your umbrella plant out of the soil. Determine if the soil is very very wet and if the roots are black and mushy (rotten).

You will want to gently remove any rotten roots. If there are no roots left, place the plant in water to propagate and grow new roots.

Take a minute to be sure that your pot has drainage holes that are not blocked at all. A lack of proper drainage is the top cause of overwatered plants.

Here’s our guide on how to drill drainage holes in ceramic pots.

If the soil is sopping wet, I’d give up on it. Rinse the roots clear of any soaking soil and re-pot with fresh soil.

If the soil is only mildly wet, you can leave the plant as-is, but let it dry out a good bit before watering again!

Here’s my tips on how to dry out wet soil.

root rot plant


The best fixes for an underwatered umbrella plant are:

  • Water thoroughly
  • Repot with fresh soil
  • Mist or run a humidifier

Remove any dead or crispy leaves. Water the plant thoroughly, until water comes out of the drainage holes.

After the thorough watering has dried up a bit (the next day), examine the soil. Is it still hard and compact? If so, I suggest repotting with fresh, absorbent soil.

dried out string of bananas plant

Lighting issues

Once you determine if your plant needs more or less light, move it to a better spot! Remember that umbrella plants grow best with bright, indirect light.


Separate your plant from all of your other plants to prevent the spread of pests. Treat the pest depending on what it is.

You can see my guidance on treating umbrella plants for different pests in this article!

sticky calathea leaf


If your umbrella plant is root bound, it needs to move to a pot 1-2 inches wider in diameter.Use this as an opportunity to gently loosen the roots and remove old soil, before replacing it with fresh, nutrient-dense soil.

Any more questions about your umbrella tree?

Thanks for reading!

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