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Why does my umbrella plant have sticky leaves – and how to fix them!

Does your umbrella plant feel a bit… sticky? Here’s why umbrella plants have sticky leaves – and how to fix them!

Being one of the most popular houseplants, the Schefflera is known for its tropical beauty and leaves that simply hypnotize you.

The reason why it is such a popular plant is due to its durability and low maintenance requirements.

So, if this plant is so easy to take care of, you might be wondering why its leaves have begun losing their color and started getting sticky.

There are many reasons why this would happen to a plant. Thankfully, there are as equally many solutions!

Today, we are touching upon the subject of how to take care of your umbrella plant with sticky leaves! Let’s dive right in!

why does my umbrella plant have sticky leaves

Printable Umbrella Plant care guide

Join the (free!) KeepYourPlantsAlive+ community to access this exclusive printable plant care guide! Once you sign up, you can right click & save the JPG care guide. Or keep scrolling for more!

Umbrella Plant plant care guide

Causes of sticky leaves in umbrella plants

Once you notice that this is happening in your plant, it is time to take some action and inspect the situation!

Dealing with Schefflera sticky leaves means that you have to deal with a pest infestation.

What makes plant leaves sticky?

The sticky substance you see is excreted by insects and pests whenever they feed on the sap.

For those unfamiliar with this term, the sap is a fluid filled with nutrients, which you can find in different parts of the plant, such as the stems, leaves, and branches.

But, if you find the reason for your umbrella plant’s sticky leaves is pests, then you need to take action as soon as possible. Acting early is the only way to save your plant and prevent any further damage. 

When pests surround you Schefflera, they don’t take in all the sap, and they excrete sugar as honeydew.

This is what makes your umbrella plant have sticky leaves.

umbrella plant leaves

Signs of pest infestation on an umbrella plant

Pest infestation often manifests by visible brown spots all over the leaves. As soon as you notice this, along with the honeydew, it is time to take immediate action.

What pests cause sticky leaves on plants?

Some of the most common pests are:

  • spider mites
  • scales
  • whiteflies
  • mealybugs
  • aphids

If you leave the pests on your plant for a longer period and let them feed, the umbrella plant will eventually wither away.

Think about this – the honeydew attracts insects and ants, and this continues to produce mold and fungi on the leaves. Eventually, you will end up taking care of an extremely sick plant.

There are a few signs that can help you identify the specific pest causing your umbrella plant’s sticky leaves.

potted umbrella plant on a table


These are soft-bodied pests that have long and narrow mouthparts. They use them to pierce through leaves, stems, and anywhere they can.

You can find them on the undersides of the leaves. After the attack, you will end up with a plant that looks wilted, curled up, and severely damaged.


These are white and small insects with fluffy bodies which feed on the stems and leaves only. They have piercing mouthparts and you can easily spot them – they look like tiny little cotton clouds.

But, they are much more powerful than they look.

After they have invaded your plant, you might end up dealing with falling, yellow, and sticky leaves.

Spider mites

These little mites form a webby structure under the leaves and they tend to hide on the underside.

Now, the web might not be visible to the naked eye, so you should turn on your other senses.

Touch the underside of your plant and see for yourself – if it feels sticky, then you know that the spider mites are the cause of the infestation.

new growth on an umbrella plant


You can also find them on the underside of the leaves. They look like moths and give your umbrella plant sticky leaves due to the substance called honeydew in their composition.

After continuous exposure to this substance, the Schifflera will get affected by a fungal disease and develop a sooty mold.


With their hair-like mouthparts, scales feed on the tissue and suck on the sap, making the plant weaker.

How to determine if these are the mites attacking your umbrella plant? Look for tiny brown or yellow bumps on the leaves and the stems.

You may also notice it being duller, a little bit yellow in color, and with sticky leaves.

umbrella plant cutting

How to treat umbrella plants with sticky leaves

Now, when it comes to the treatment of umbrella plant sticky leaves, read carefully. The first thing you need to do is make sure you thoroughly clean it and remove the pests immediately.

Start by removing the honeydew since it attracts other pests and insects.

Schefflera sticky leaves are dangerous if left unattended, and you do not want any further damage done to your plant.

There are many treatments for getting rid of all these pests. If you can identify the pest on your plant, it’s much easier to treat the plant!


Put on some gloves and handpick them! After that, shower your plant with a powerful stream of water and place it in a bright space where it can completely dry out.

An alternative to this is using a mixture of neem oil, dish soap, and water.


if there is only a light infestation, then prune the affected leaves.

If the situation worsens, dip a paper towel in diluted isopropyl alcohol. Wipe away all the pests.

You can also use neem oil or, if you want to go a more natural way – release lady bugs!

Spider mites

A strong stream of water and a thorough wash are all you need. Of course, in this case, you can use horticulture or neem oil too.


A gentle approach is needed here – you should treat your plant in the morning or the evening as they lack the energy during that time.

Keep the plant away from the others and spray it with water to remove the whiteflies. Use yellow sticky traps to catch them, or even better, use your vacuum and suction them.


Start by pruning the affected leaves. You can wipe the infected areas with a cotton ball dipped in a water and detergent soap solution. You can also turn to rubbing alcohol, too.

Taking care of the umbrella plant stickly leaves is challenging, but it is helpful if you know how to approach it correctly. We are hoping that we have helped you today!

If you love your umbrella plants, you can download our free PDF umbrella plant care guide.

Printable Umbrella Plant care guide

Join the (free!) KeepYourPlantsAlive+ community to access this exclusive printable plant care guide! Once you sign up, you can right click & save the JPG care guide. Or keep scrolling for more!

Umbrella Plant plant care guide

Before you go…

Did you enjoy cleaning up your umbrella plant? It’s important to clean all of your plants regularly so they can best absorb sunlight! Check out our complete guide on how to clean plant leaves!

Thanks for reading!

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