White Spots on Schefflera Leaves: Causes and Treatment

By | Updated May 14, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Fungal diseases, pest infestations, and environmental factors such as overexposure to sunlight, poor watering habits, and nutrient deficiencies can cause white spots on Schefflera leaves.
  • Early detection of white spots on Schefflera plants is crucial in preventing further damage caused by these issues. Regularly inspecting your plant for signs of infection or pests will help catch the problem early before it spreads.
  • Effective treatment for white spots on Schefflera leaves includes immediately removing infected leaves or stems, applying appropriate fungicides or pesticides based on the underlying cause, maintaining proper lighting, and watering practices. Good hygiene measures also help keep the plant healthy.

With their lush green foliage and umbrella-like growth, Schefflera plants are a popular choice among indoor plant enthusiasts. 

However, white spots on Schefflera leaves can cause concern for many plant owners as they indicate stress and potential problems that may affect their overall health.

Here we’ll delve into the various causes behind these unsightly white spots – from fungal diseases and pest infestations to environmental factors – and provide effective treatments to restore your beloved Schefflera to its former glory.

Causes Of White Spots On Schefflera Leaves

White spots on Schefflera leaves can have various causes, including fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, leaf spot, and rust or pest infestations like spider mites and mealybugs. 

Environmental factors, such as overexposure to sunlight, watering problems, and nutrient deficiencies, can also lead to white spots on the leaves.

Fungal Diseases

Fungal diseases are a common culprit behind the appearance of white spots on Schefflera leaves. 

These infections can compromise the health and beauty of your beloved umbrella tree, making it essential for plant owners to address them quickly and effectively.

Powdery mildew, for example, is a widespread fungal infection that manifests as a powdery white or gray film on your umbrella tree’s foliage, forming white spots.

Another fungal disease affecting Schefflera plants is the Alternaria leaf spot.

Early detection and intervention are essential when dealing with fungal diseases in your Schefflera plant. 

To keep your plant looking its best and catch any potential infections early, it’s essential to check its foliage regularly. 

This will help you avoid more severe problems like sporotrichosis caused by the Sporothrix fungus, and can be identified by white spots on Schefflera leaves.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a common fungal infection that can plague Schefflera plants and other houseplants. 

This unsightly disease presents itself as a powdery white or gray film on the foliage, including leaves and stems.

It generally starts with small circular spots, which gradually expand if left untreated.

Indoor plant owners should be vigilant in recognizing the early symptoms of powdery mildew to prevent further damage to their Schefflera plants. 

A humid environment combined with poor air circulation is a breeding ground for this fungus, so monitoring humidity levels and ensuring enough space between your potted plants to allow airflow is essential.

If you notice powdery white spots forming on your umbrella plant’s foliage, immediately remove infected plant parts and apply fungicides designed for indoor use.

Leaf Spot

Leaf spot is a common fungal disease affecting Schefflera plants, causing unsightly brown spots on leaves and stems. 

One of the primary culprits behind this issue is Alternaria Panax, which leads to the formation of brown spots surrounded by a yellow halo.

Plant owners must maintain proper hygiene and sanitation around their Schefflera to tackle leaf spots effectively. 

Regularly inspecting your plant for signs of infection can help you catch the problem before it spreads further.

If you notice any affected leaves or stems, remove them immediately and dispose of them properly – avoid composting them, as this could contaminate your other plants. 

In severe cases, applying fungicides may be necessary to treat the issue.


Rust is a fungal disease that commonly affects plants, including Schefflera. 

It appears as reddish-brown spots on the leaves and can eventually cause them to turn yellow and fall off.

This disease thrives in warm and humid conditions, making it a common problem in tropical climates or during wet seasons. 

If left untreated, rust can spread quickly throughout the plant and infect nearby ones.

To combat rust on your Schefflera plant, remove any infected leaves immediately and dispose of them away from other plants to prevent further contamination. 

Also, ensure proper ventilation for your plant by avoiding clustering with other potted plants too close together, which could prevent airflow between each of the plant’s foliage.

Pest Infestations

Pest infestations are a common cause of white spots on Schefflera leaves. 

Spider mites, mealybugs, scales, and aphids are notorious sap-sucking pests that can attack the umbrella tree.

These pests suck sap from healthy veins and undersides of the leaves, causing discoloration that appears as white or yellow spots on the foliage. 

In addition to causing unsightly damage, these pests will stunt growth and increase leaf drop if not treated early enough.

To control pest infestations, remove and dispose of any infected leaves immediately. 

Then apply insecticidal soaps or organic pesticides to prevent further attacks.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are among the most common pests that can cause white spots on Schefflera leaves. 

These tiny arachnids suck sap from the leaves, causing them to turn yellow and eventually become covered with webs.

Early symptoms of spider mite damage include tiny white dots on the underside of the leaves or small yellow-brown mottled patches. 

The two-spotted spider mites can cause tiny white or yellow spots on the leaves, giving them a stippled or mottled appearance.

Infestations are often more severe in hot and dry conditions, so it’s important to keep your plants well-watered and frequently misted during dry periods to prevent these pesky bugs from infesting your Schefflera plant.


Mealybugs are tiny, soft-bodied insects that can cause white spots on Schefflera leaves. They feed off the plant’s juices and reproduce quickly in warm, moist environments.

Not only do these pests damage foliage and stems, but they also produce a sticky substance known as honeydew that attracts other insects like ants and causes sooty mold to grow on the leaves.

To manage mealybugs, remove any visible insects manually using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or diluted dish soap solution. Using horticultural oil or insecticidal soap regularly will help control infestations without causing harm to your plant.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors play a significant role in developing white spots on Schefflera leaves. These factors include overexposure to sunlight, poor watering practices, and nutrient deficiencies.

When Schefflera plants are exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods, they may develop sunburns that manifest as white or yellowish patches on the leaves.

Furthermore, nutrient deficiencies also contribute to white spots formation because lack of essential nutrients weakens plant immunity and makes them more susceptible to pest infestations and fungal diseases.

Maintaining proper lighting conditions by placing Schefflera plants in bright but indirect light minimizes their risk of developing unsightly white spots caused by excessive exposure to direct sunlight.

Additionally, ensuring adequate watering by regularly monitoring soil moisture levels helps prevent dehydration or overhydration-induced issues from arising.

Overexposure To Sunlight

One common cause of white spots on Schefflera leaves is overexposure to sunlight. 

The intense heat and UV rays from direct sunlight can burn the leaves, resulting in discolored spots or patches.

To prevent sun damage, it’s best to gradually increase light exposure by moving your plant closer to a window with filtered light. 

If you notice brown or shriveled patches on your Schefflera’s leaves, consider moving it to a shadier area or using sheer curtains to diffuse the light.

Watering Issues

Proper watering habits are crucial in preventing white spots on Schefflera leaves. 

Overwatering can lead to soft, dark-brown areas, which are prone to fungal diseases and pest infestations such as root rot and fungus gnats.

On the other hand, underwatering can cause brown spots on leaves or straw-colored patches on foliage due to dehydration. 

To prevent further issues, it’s essential to maintain a consistent watering schedule by checking the soil moisture level with a finger or a moisture meter before watering.

A good rule of thumb is to allow the topsoil of the potting mix to dry out slightly between watering sessions while providing enough water so that excess drains out from drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.


Overwatering is among the most common causes of white spots on Schefflera leaves. 

When a plant receives too much water, it can lead to root rot and cause the plants’ roots to suffocate due to lack of oxygen.

The excess moisture can also promote bacterial and fungal growth on the soil surface, spreading onto the foliage.

To prevent overwatering, ensure your Schefflera is planted in a container with good drainage holes. 

Check if the top inch of soil is dry before watering, indicating it’s time for more hydration.

In addition, avoid splashing water directly onto the leaves during watering to keep them free from moisture-related diseases like powdery mildew or leaf spot disease.


Schefflera plants are susceptible to various environmental stressors that can cause white spots on their leaves. 

Underwatering is one of the most common causes of discoloration in Scheffleras, which occurs when a plant receives insufficient water.

When a Schefflera plant does not receive enough water, its leaves will droop and look wilted. 

Over time, this dehydration causes the leaves to develop crisp spots or brown edges.

To prevent underwatering problems with your Schefflera plant, you must regularly learn how much water your vegetation requires.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies are among the many causes of white spots found on Schefflera leaves. 

These deficiencies can occur due to imbalanced soil pH levels or poor fertilization practices.

Magnesium deficiency is one example that can cause yellowing or white striping of lower leaves in field crops. 

At the same time, a shortage of essential nutrients such as iron, manganese, and zinc can lead to leaf discoloration and spotting.

Nutrient deficiencies can also manifest as purple or bronze coloration on the underside of older leaves caused by Anthocyanin accumulation.

How To Treat White Spots On Schefflera Leaves

To effectively treat white spots on Schefflera leaves caused by fungal diseases, removing and disposing of infected leaves and applying fungicides is essential.

For pest infestations, removing infected leaves and applying insecticides or organic pesticides can help control the problem.

Fungal Diseases

Fungal diseases are a common cause of white spots on Schefflera leaves. Some common fungal infections Schefflera can contract are powdery mildew, leaf spot, and damping-off.

Powdery Mildew is caused by a fungus that appears as a powdery white or gray film on the foliage. 

Leaf Spot disease, caused by Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, creates black or brown circles with yellow edges on the inner part of Schefflera leaves before spreading to encompass the whole leaf within days.

Damping off is caused by several types of fungi, including Pythium spp., Rhizoctonia solani, and Phytophthora spp., causing young plants to shrivel and die off at an early stage.

Removing affected parts immediately is essential to treat fungal diseases in Scheffleras so they will not infect other parts of your plant.

Remove And Dispose Of Infected Leaves

One of the most critical steps in managing white spots on Schefflera leaves is to remove and dispose of infected leaves. 

This helps prevent the spread of fungal diseases like Alternaria leaf spot and damping-off, which can cause extensive damage to your plant if left unchecked.

You should also make it a habit to inspect your plants for signs of disease or infestation regularly.

In severe cases where much of the foliage has been affected, it may be necessary to prune back the entire plant

Ensure you sanitize your pruning tools with rubbing alcohol or bleach before use, preventing cross-contamination between healthy and diseased parts of your plant.

Apply Fungicides

If the white spots on your Schefflera leaves are caused by fungal diseases such as powdery mildew or leaf spot, applying fungicides can be an effective solution. 

Fungicides work by killing or preventing the growth of fungi.

It is important to choose the right type of fungicide and follow the instructions carefully when applying it to your plant.

However, before using any chemical treatment on your plant, ensure you have correctly identified the cause of the problem and exhausted all other non-chemical solutions first.

Additionally, always wear protective gear such as gloves and a mask when handling chemicals for safety reasons.

Pest Infestations

Pests can also cause white spots on Schefflera leaves, which can be tricky to eliminate. 

Spider mites are one example of an eight-legged pest that attacks the underside of Schefflera leaves, causing tiny white dots.

Conversely, Mealybugs can gather in white, fluffy clusters on stems and leaves and can be challenging to remove indoors.

To manage these pests, it’s important to first identify them correctly before choosing a treatment option. 

Insecticides like horticultural oil or insecticidal soaps can be used for spider mites and mealybugs.

Biological control is another option for managing mealybug infestations.

Remove And Dispose Of Infected Leaves

As a plant owner, removing and disposing of infected leaves immediately when you notice white spots on your Schefflera leaves is important. 

This helps prevent the spreading of diseases like powdery mildew, leaf spot, rust, and other fungal infections that can cause irreparable damage to your beloved plant.

To properly remove infected leaves from your plant, use pruners or scissors that have been disinfected with rubbing alcohol before and after each cut. 

Cut the diseased part of the leaf off at its base without damaging any adjacent healthy tissues.

After removing all visible signs of disease or pests from your Schefflera plant, thoroughly clean up any debris around it before disposing of them in a trash bag or plastic container away from other plants.

Apply Insecticides

If pests such as spider mites or mealybugs are causing white spots on your Schefflera leaves, applying insecticides can help to control the infestation. 

Insecticides containing ingredients like neem oil work as systemic insecticides that kill pests through contact and ingestion.

It’s important always to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer when using insecticides, as overuse can lead to phytotoxicity or damage to plant tissue. 

Additionally, it’s a good practice to isolate infected plants from healthy ones before treating them with insecticides.

Environmental Factors:

Environmental factors such as lighting, watering, and nutrient deficiencies can cause white spots on Schefflera leaves. 

Overexposure to sunlight can lead to sunburn and crisp spots on the foliage, while inadequate lighting can result in brown and yellow leaves.

In terms of watering issues, overwatering or underwatering can contribute to stress on the plant, leading to white spots. 

Nutrient deficiencies are also common causes of leaf problems in Schefflera plants.

To prevent these environmental factors from affecting your plant’s health, it’s crucial to maintain proper lighting and watering conditions for optimal growth.

Adjust Lighting And Watering Conditions

Proper lighting and watering conditions are crucial to the health of your Schefflera plant. 

Too much or too little light can cause white spots on leaves, while improper watering can lead to root rot and yellowing leaves.

To ensure your plant stays healthy, ensure it gets the right amount of sunlight for its specific needs. 

A good rule of thumb is to place it near a window with bright but indirect sunlight.

Watering frequency will depend on humidity and temperature, so checking the soil before watering each time is essential. 

Overwatering can lead to root rot, so be sure not to water until the top inch of the soil has dried out completely.

Conversely, underwatering can also cause yellow leaves and leaf drop – so find the right balance for your plant’s unique needs by looking for cues like wilting or crispy spots on leaves.

Provide Proper Nutrients

Schefflera plants thrive when provided with adequate nutrients. 

A plant deficient in essential minerals such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium may exhibit yellowing leaves or stunted growth.

Adding high-quality fertilizers to the potting soil can help Schefflera plants receive the nutrients necessary for healthy growth. 

Fertilizing during the growing season every few weeks can also promote healthy foliage production.

It is important to note that over-fertilization can damage root systems and cause leaf burn, so it’s vital to use only recommended amounts of fertilizer based on plant size and type.

Preventing White Spots On Schefflera Leaves

To prevent white spots on Schefflera leaves, it is important to ensure that the plant receives adequate lighting and watering, keep an eye out for pests, maintain good hygiene and sanitation, and regularly check for signs of disease.

Maintain Proper Lighting And Watering Conditions

Maintaining proper lighting and watering conditions is crucial to prevent white spots on Schefflera leaves. 

These plants require bright, indirect light, so be sure to place them in a spot that receives ample natural light but away from direct sunlight.

Regarding watering, Schefflera plants prefer slightly moist soil without being too wet or dry. 

Overwatering can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases, while underwatering can result in dehydration, causing crisp spots on the foliage.

Always check the soil moisture level before watering your plant and ensure proper drainage holes are present in your pot for excess water to flow away.

Monitor For Pests

Regularly monitoring your Schefflera plants for pests is critical in preventing white spots on their leaves. 

Pests like spider mites and mealybugs can quickly infest your plant, causing unsightly damage and stunting growth if left undetected.

Check the underside of leaves and stems for any signs of tiny bugs or sticky substances, which could indicate an infestation. 

If you notice anything suspicious, immediately remove the affected areas or treat them with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil before the population grows too large.

Practice Good Hygiene And Sanitation

Good hygiene and sanitation practices are essential to keep Schefflera plants disease-free. 

One of the most common diseases affecting Schefflera plants is Alternaria panax, caused by fungal spores that thrive in warm, humid conditions.

To prevent the spread of this fungus, removing any dead or infected plant parts is crucial as soon as possible.

In addition to regular cleaning, it’s important to avoid overcrowding plants and improve air circulation around them. 

This can be achieved by spacing out your Schefflera appropriately and removing any excess debris on the ground which may harbor pests or harmful bacteria.

Regularly Inspect Plants For Signs Of Disease

Regularly inspecting Schefflera plants for signs of disease ensures their health and longevity. 

As a plant owner, it’s essential to watch for any abnormal changes in the leaves, such as discoloration or spots.

By catching these issues early on, you can take necessary steps to prevent further damage and potential spread to other plants. 

Inspect your Schefflera plants at least once or twice a month, checking the upper and undersides of leaves for any dead tissue, mold growth, or sticky residue left from insects.

Final Thoughts

Various factors, such as fungal diseases, pest infestations, and environmental stressors, can cause white spots on Schefflera leaves. 

To successfully treat these issues, it is essential to identify the underlying cause and apply the appropriate treatment plan.

Be sure to maintain proper lighting and watering conditions, monitor for pests regularly, practice good hygiene and sanitation measures, and inspect plants frequently for signs of disease.

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