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Why are there tiny brown spots on umbrella plant leaves?

Got problems with you Schefflera? Here’s why there are tiny brown spots on umbrella plant leaves and what to do about them!

Schefflera plant is known as an easy care house plant with strong, glossy leaves.

But what happens when you start noticing some changes or problems with your plant’s leaves?

As a plant lover, one of the most disappointing discoveries you can make is noticing tiny brown spots on umbrella plant leaves.

This is not only aesthetically unpleasing, but it can also mean your plant is sick or damaged.

But what could be the cause of such distress? 

To help you get an answer to your question, we’re here to unravel the mystery of those tiny brown spots you noticed on your umbrella plant leaves. We’ll explain the causes, the severity of conditions, and how to treat them!

why your umbrella plant has brown spots

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Umbrella Plant plant care guide

Why are my umbrella plant leaves turning brown?

Here are the most common causes of brown spots on your umbrella plant leaves and how to deal with them correctly!

potted umbrella plant on a shelf

Fungal leaf spots

If you notice some large brown spots on your Schefflera plant, they are most likely fungal spots.

Usually, they form on the top of the leaves and are surrounded by thin yellow circles.

It is a condition that usually attacks the bottom leaves of your greenery. Being a fungus, it means that it thrives in humid and warm environments.

It starts to show up as small brown spots, with the condition expanding as the spots become larger.

Keep in mind that this is a fungal disease, so it is transferred through gardening tools and contact with other plants.

Poor air circulation is yet another reason for this to happen, so make sure you know how to address this problem – such as by running a fan to improve air flow.

If left untreated, it can kill off the entire foliage, and the affected leaves will start curling up, eventually falling off.

How to manage this and care for the umbrella plant?

Remove the affected leaves and repot the plant. Keep it away from other plants and avoid overwatering.

Bacterial leaf spot

Noticing some dark brown spots on the undersides of the Schefflera leaves should raise an alarm.

The most common reason for this is a bacterial disease, and the first sign is dull gray water-soaked lesions on the plant’s lower leaves.

As the disease progresses, these turn into brown spots.

Typically, these start developing due to poor watering practices and are spread via transplants. If you leave this untreated, the leaves of your Schefflera will fall off.

How to manage this and care for the umbrella plant?

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this condition. However, you can take some precautions to stop this from happening in the first place.

Avoid watering the leaves of your plant or letting the water stay soggy, lower the humidity levels of the area, and safely remove all heavily infected foliage.

close up of a potted umbrella plant on a shelf

Root rot

Even though this sounds pretty ordinary, it is still an issue you might face, so it’s important to know how to deal with it.

The umbrella plant is known for being a tropical plant that loves moist conditions. The emphasis here is on the moistnot wet.

If you add too much water to your shrub, the soil will become soggy, and the roots will start to rot.

Your plant will become malnourished because of the excess water, and it will signal to you that something is wrong by creating some brown spots on the surface of its leaves.

They will continue showing up even after you have dealt with the situation until the plant adjusts to the improved conditions.

This means that you need to be patient and wait for the issue to resolve after you’ve done all that’s in your power. If left untreated, the brown spots will take over the plant and die.

How to manage this and care for the umbrella plant?

Look for signs of poor drainage. If there are no drainage holes on the bottom of the container and you continue pouring water over the plant, it is no wonder that you’re overwatering it.

To address this issue, remove the plant from the container first. Inspect the roots and remove the affected ones.

Place the Schefflera in a proper container with fresh soil, and consider adding some hydrogen peroxide to clear up the rot.

close up of a potted umbrella plant on a shelf


Scalding, or leaf burn, on the surface of the Schefflera leaves happens due to overexposure to direct sunlight.

If you notice some brown or ivory-white spots, they’re probably sunburn spots.

This usually happens in late spring or summer, so be more cautious during this time.

This can also happen if you move your plant outside without making a slow transition.

As a result, the leaves overheat, and the edges start turning brown and become crunchy.

If you don’t treat this, you might end up with a completely dried-out plant.

How to manage this and care for the umbrella plant?

Detecting it while it is in the early stages is key. The best thing you can do is remove the scorched parts of the leaves – they won’t ever go back to their normal, lush green shape, so there’s no point in keeping them.

Shield your umbrella plant from direct sunlight and wait for its recovery. 

close up of a potted umbrella plant on a shelf

Frost damage

Being a tropical plant, the umbrella tree doesn’t enjoy severe temperatures (especially cold ones). That is why you need to keep it inside during the colder months.

If you notice widespread brown spotting and the leaves falling off very fast, then you might be dealing with frost damage.

Moreover, you can also notice that the leaves become distorted, and the tree starts to peel and crack. 

How to manage this and care for the umbrella plant?

Once spring arrives, move the plant outside. Water it thoroughly. Avoid exposing it to drafts and cold temperatures.

Pest damage

Pests can sometimes attack the Schefflera, so you need to consider this a possible damage cause.

These pests feed from the sap of the plant, leaving almost no nutrients for it to thrive. They do this by making holes and creating brown spots on both sides of the foliage (depending on the pest type).

If you notice some honeydew excretion that seems like a little black mold, then you are dealing with an infestation.

If you leave it unattended, the plant cannot fight this on its own. It will die.

How to manage this and care for the umbrella plant?

Remove the pests with a Q-tip soaked in rubbing alcohol. Shower your Schefflera with water, and use neem oil and insecticidal soap.

As you can see, tiny brown spots on umbrella plant leaves can occur for many reasons.

Knowing how to identify the cause and taking the appropriate steps to remedy it is the only way you will nurse your plant back to health!

Thanks for reading!

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