The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source
site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.
Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
BRASSAIA AND SCHEFFLERA
C. A. Conover, A. R. Chase and L. S. Osbornel
University of Florida, IFAS
Agricultural Research Center Apopka
ARC-A Foliage Plant Research Note RH-1983-C
The popular Brassaia actinophylla (Schefflera) has been widely grown fr
many years in Florida as an indoor foliage plant, while Schefflera arboricola
(Dwarf Schefflera) has been of major importance since the mid 1970s. Both:
schefflera and dwarf schefflera can be grown in full sun, but most plants are
produced in 47 to 55% shade (approximately 6,000 foot-candles). High quality
plants can be grown at this light level with a 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer, such
as 9-3-6 or 18-6-12 analysis at a rate of 1800 to 2400 lbs N/acre/year
(equivalent to 41 to 55 lbs N/1000 sq ft/year) plus micronutrients. Both
slow release and liquid fertilizer sources have been successfully used.
Higher fertilizer levels will be necessary to produce plants of good quality
if higher light levels are provided, but plants will not be acclimatized.
Potting media used for schefflera must have good aeration, especially if
plants are grown where they are subjected to rainfall, since root loss may be
extensive during rainy periods when soil oxygen' levels are low. Schefflera
will tolerate 35 to 1050F without chilling or heat damage, but best growth and
quality occur between 65 and 90F.
MAJOR PHYSIOLOGICAL PROBLEMS
1) Low root oxygen levels
Symptoms Wilted or droopy appearance following rainy periods with
subsequent non-pathogen root loss. Occurs on plants grown outdoors,
in shadehouses or in greenhouses when plants are watered excessively
and grown in potting media with poor aeration.
Professor and Center Director, Assistant Professor Plant Pathology, and
Assistant Professor Entomology, respectively.
Control Corrective measures are similar tc
since pathogens almost always invade dama
be prevented by utilizing potting media %
pore space and reducing water application
2) Cold weather yellowing of plants
Symptoms Plants develop an overall light c
when soil temperature drops below 60F dL
Control Keep soil at 650F or above, or spr
mixture containing iron, manganese, copper
after soil temperatures rise above 650F,
normal green color without treatment.
3) Excessive soluble salts
Symptoms Brown edges on newer foliage and
beneath large amounts of slow release fey
Control Check fertilizer rates to be sure
water sources to be sure they are below
containers with 2 to 4 inches of water t(
Spread slow release fertilizers evenly or
4) Fertilizer imbalances
Symptoms Tall, thin and medium green plan
while plants with dark green, soft, flop!
receiving excessive amounts.
Control Recheck fertilizer rates, compare
DISEASES OF SCHEFFLERA AND DWA
There are several important diseases of sc
which are found on plants in Florida. The most
treatment for root rots,
ied roots. The problem can
th at least 10% noncapillary
'een to yellowish appearance
'ing cold winter periods.
ty plants with a microelement
' and zinc. About 2 weeks
plantss will return to the
)artial root death, especially
tilizer on one side of a-pot.
they are not excessive and-
)00 ppm soluble salts. Leach
rapidly reduce-salts levels.
s are often lacking in fertilizer
/ leaves are probably
to recommended level and apply
efflera and dwarf schefflera
serious of these is Alternaria
leaf spot. Although there are several fungi causing other leaf spots of these
plants, they appear to be most serious on plants produced under open conditions
and subject to rainfall and wind such as those found in South Florida. The
only serious bacterial disease of these plants occurs on dwarf schefflera and
is caused by a species of Pseudomonas. All of the diseases listed here can be
avoided through use of strict sanitation, including growing in enclosed
structures off the ground with sterile pots and potting media and keeping
MAJOR FUNGAL PATHOGENS
1) Alternaria leaf spot (Alternaria panax)
Symptoms Large, dark brown to black leaf spots anywhere on the leaf
and sometimes on stems. Severe infections commonly result in leaf
drop and give the plant a sparse appearance which can be confused with
similar leaf loss associated with root rot. Leaf spots appear wet and
can spread in a few days to encompass the entire leaf.--This disease
occurs on both schefflera and dwarf schefflera.
Control Several chemicals control Alternaria leaf spot on schefflera,
but generally cause some phytotoxicity. Maneb compounds appear to be
the safest, although none are currently labeled for schefflera.
Keeping the foliage dry will completely control this disease without
any need for fungicides.
Symptoms Poor germination and emergence or seedling Toss after emergence.
Many organisms including Alternaria, Fusarium, Phytophthora, Pythium
and Rhizoctonia are responsible for this disease.
Control Diagnosis of the causal organism is the most important step
toward control of damping-off diseases. Benlate, Banrot, Subdue and
Truban are all registered for use on these plants and each controls
certain of the damping-off pathogens listed. Banrot or a combination
of Benlate and Subdue or Truban offer a broad spectrum of root rot
3) Phytophthora leaf spot (Phytophthora parasitica)
Symptoms Essentially the same as Alternaria leaf spot except that the
leaf spots generally appear on lower leaves close to the ground first.
The disease occurs on both forms of schefflera.
Control Again, many fungicides cause phytotoxicity on schefflera, but
Banrot or Subdue should provide control of Phytophthora leaf spot.
Treatments must include drenching potting media and the-soil around
the pots if the plants are grown on the ground. Zineb is not labeled,
but has been shown to provide good control.
1) Pseudomonas leaf blight (Pseudomonas cichorii)
Symptoms Leaf spots are found primarily on margins of dwarf schefflera
and are initially small, water-soaked areas, rapidly enlarging and
turning black. Severe leaf drop is common and the overall appearance
of plants is quite similar to those infected with Alternaria leaf spot.
Schefflera is also slightly susceptible to this bacterial disease.
Control Bactericides can be used, but are not very successful in control-
ling this bacterial leaf spot. Control must be based on maintenance
of dry foliage and removal of infected leaves and/or plants from the
growing area to reduce spread to healthy plants.
PHYTOTOXICITY OF FUNGICIDES AND BACTERICIDES TO SCHEFFLERA
Copper (some formulations) Chipco 26019
Manzate Copper (some
Subdue 2E formulations)
Truban Daconil 2787
Pesticides were tested at recommended rates and intervals.
MAJOR INSECT AND MITE PESTS
There are a number of serious mite and insect pests which attack schefflera.
Most of these are easily controlled on other host plants, but B. actinophylla
presents problems as it is one of the most susceptible foliage plants to pesti-
cide damage. In the section for each pest, a few of the many registered and
effective pesticides will be listed. For a complete listing, please consult
the references at the end of this report.
Symptoms Aphids are pear-shaped, soft-bodied insects-which vary in color
from light green to dark brown. Infestations frequently go undetected
until honeydew or sooty mold is observed. Aphids can cause distortion
of new growth or, in extreme cases, infested plants will be stunted.
Control There are no materials which give good control without causing
some phytotoxicity. Orthene seems to be one of the-safer materials.
Symptoms Mealybug egg masses appear as white, cottony masses in leaf
axils,. on the lower surfaces of leaves and on roots. Honeydew and
sooty mold are often present, and infested plants become stunted and,
with severe infestations, plant parts begin to die.
Control Systemic materials are preferred. Examples of chemicals which
have systemic activity are: Dimethoate, Disyston, Metasystox-R, and
Orthene. Bendiocarb appears to be as effective as some of the systemic
Symptoms Infested plants become weakened or stunted.and begin to die.
Scales can be found feeding on leaves, petioles or stems. Their -
shapes, sizes and colors are variable, but many are hard to distin-
guish from the plant material on which they are feeding.
Control See Mealybugs.
Symptoms Infested leaves become curled or distorted, with silvery-gray
scars where feeding has occurred.
Control Many materials are registered and effective in controlling
Symptoms Two spotted spider mites are very small and sometimes go
unnoticed until plants begin to turn yellow or become speckled due to
the feeding of this pest. Webbing, loss of leaves and plant death
can occur when mite populations reach high levels.
Control Mites can be controlled with either Vendex or Pentac. The
critical point in any control program is to obtain thorough coverage
with the spray. The best control program is to minimize the possibility of
introducing mites into the growing area on infested material.
PHYTOTOXICITY OF INSECTICIDES AND MITICIDES TO BRASSAIA ACTINOPHYLLA
Safe Unsafe Questionable
Dipel Dimethoate EC Diazinon EC
Disyston EC Enstar Dursban EC
Kelthane EC FC-435 Oil Dylox LS
Malathion EC + Furadan G Lannate
FC-435 Oil Kelthane WP Malathion EC
Pentac WP Metasystox-R EC Omite WP
Systox EC Morestan WP Orthene SP
Temik G Plictran WP Sevin WP
Thuricide EC Resmethrin EC Vydate EC
Vendex WP Tedion EC
Pesticides were tested at recommended rates and intervals.
1. Chase, A. R. 1983. Phytotoxicity of some fungicides .used
foliage plants. ARC-Apopka Research Report, RH-83-2.
2. Short, D. E. 1978. Phytotoxicity of insecticides and miticides to
foliage and woody ornamental plants. Extension Entomology Report #57.
3. Short, D. E., L. S. Osborne, and R. W. Henley. 1982. 1982-83 Insect
and related arthropod management guide for commercial foliage and woody
plants in Florida. Extension Entomology Report #52.
4. Simone, G. W. 1982. Disease control pesticides for foliage production-
1982. Extension Plant Pathology Report #30.
Mention of a commercial or proprietary product or of a pesticide in
this paper does not constitute a recommendation by the authors, nor
does it imply registration under FIFRA as amended.