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How To Save An Overwatered Schefflera? (Signs, Causes & Fix)

Overwatering is one common mistake that plant owners make, which can harm their plants. Schefflera will show signs of stress in response to unfavorable situations created due to overwatering.

To save an overwatered Schefflera plant, follow the steps listed below:

  • Stop watering your umbrella plant to let the soil dry out.
  • Move it to a brighter spot so that the soil can dry quickly.
  • Prune back the damaged, wilted, and yellow leaves.
  • Take out the plant from the pot and inspect its roots for root rot.
  • If roots are damaged, trim those and repot your Schefflera in a fresh soil mix and new pot. Make sure that the pot has drainage holes.
  • Observe your Schefflera’s health after repotting. 
  • Check the soil before watering and water the soil only if the top layers are dry.

If you have overwatered your Schefflera, read this article to understand the signs, causes, and solutions of overwatering.

Schefflera plants

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What are the threats of overwatering in Scheffleras?

We often overwater our Schefflera, thinking that providing the soil with more water will encourage faster growth, and this is when we make that mistake.

Overwatering can damage the roots of your plant and can be the cause of its death.

Let us understand the risks you put on your Schefflera when you overwater it.

1. Overwatering can saturate the roots

When you overwater your Schefflera, the oxygen level in the soil reduces, due to which the roots struggle to breathe and suffocate.

As a result, the roots get damaged and fail to transfer water and nutrients to the plant.

2. Overwatering leads to infections 

When the oxygen level drops in the soil and the roots stop breathing, the saturated soil creates an anaerobic environment where diseases and microbes develop and thrive.

You can prevent this situation by providing the plant with proper watering, well-drained soil, and good airflow to the roots.


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3. Overwatering encourages various pests

Pests need a damp environment to multiply and breed, and overwatering will create an ideal condition for their growth.

Pests like mealybugs, thrips, spider mites, and scales like to feed on Schefflera.

They are sap-sucking insects that feed on the plant’s stem and leaves and suck nutrients and water making it completely weak.

Your plant can even die if you don’t get rid of the pests.

What are the signs of overwatering in Schefflera?

Schefflera soggy soil and overwatering

Schefflera will show signs of stress if they experience overwatering problems.

Signs of overwatering can be similar to underwatering, so you must carefully inspect the plant to determine the exact cause.

You need to figure out the early signs of overwatering to restore the health of your Schefflera plant.

One easy way to distinguish overwatering from underwatering is by checking the soil’s moisture level.

You can check the soil moisture level by finger method or by using a moisture meter.

If the soil feels damp and soggy, it indicates that you have an overwatered plant.

An overwatered Schefflera plant will show the following signs:

What are the causes of overwatering in Schefflera?

Frequent watering causes overwatering in Schefflera.

But, there can be many other reasons that can lead to overwatering.

Let us now look at all the factors that cause overwatering in Schefflera:

Watering too frequently

Schefflera watering

Overwatering occurs if you frequently water your umbrella plant without checking the soil’s moisture level.

Schefflera prefers to grow in soil that is neither too moist nor too dry.

If you water the plant before the top soil dries, it will get overwatered.

Schefflera are hardy plants and will not die if you overwater them once in a while.

But consistent overwatering will deteriorate your plant’s health.

In general, you should water your Schefflera once a week.

Ensure the soil is 50-70% dry before you water it.

Also read: How Much Water Does A Schefflera Plant Need? (Watering Guide)

Poor drainage system

A pot with no drainage holes will create an overwatering situation.

Without drainage holes, the excess water will not be able to pass through the pot, and the roots will get saturated with water.

The oxygen flow stops when the soil accumulates excess water and the roots suffocate.

Such roots become weak and vulnerable to deadly diseases like root rot. 

Therefore, you should always select a pot with drainage holes to keep your Schefflera away from overwatering.

Also read: What Kind Of Soil Does A Schefflera Plant Need? (+Ideal DIY Soil Mix)

Size of the pot

A very large pot has a higher chance of causing overwatering.

A large pot will hold more soil than the small one.

Since the pot will hold more soil, it will also hold more water.

Therefore, the soil will take longer to dry out, and if you keep watering the plant, the soil will remain soggy, leading to overwatering.

So you should always select a pot 1/3 wider than the plant’s root ball and not more than that.

Also, do not select that is very small in size.

Otherwise, the roots will not get space to grow and will get root-bound.

Also read: What Kind Of Pot Do You Use For Schefflera? (Size, Material & More)

Material of the pot

Overwatering also depends on the potting material you use to grow your plant.

Pots made up of organic substances retain more moisture due to their porous nature.

Terracotta or clay pot will absorb the soil’s excess moisture and allow good airflow as they are highly porous.

On the other hand, plastic, cement, glass, or ceramic pots are non-porous and does not allow proper airflow among the roots.

They can encourage overwatering due to their non-permeable nature.

Schefflera will need less water if you grow it in a plastic pot than in a terracotta pot.

It is important to prepare a watering schedule depending on the pot you use for your plant to prevent overwatering.

Incorrect potting mix

Schefflera soil

The soil mix for Schefflera should be such that it not only holds enough moisture for the plant but also drains off the excess water.

If the soil mix is too heavy and compact, it will hold more water which causes overwatering even if you follow a correct watering schedule.

 If you think heavy soil mix is the cause of overwatering, you can add perlitesand, or compost to the soil to improve its drainage.

The best thing you can do is repotting the plant in a fresh soil mix with ingredients that support retention and drainage.



Watering during the dormant season

Watering the plant frequently during the winter season can lead to overwatering.

Schefflera remains dormant during winter because of low temperatures and less sunlight.

Since they do not receive ideal growing conditions, they rest, remain inactive, and need less water than other seasons. 

Also read: How Fast Do Schefflera Grow? (Schefflera Growth Rate)

How to fix an overwatered Schefflera plant?

If you have an overwatered Schefflera, you need to stop watering the plant to prevent further damage immediately.

Allow the soil to dry out at least 50% before the next watering.

Schefflera, like to stay mostly dry and hate staying wet.

Before you water your plant, check the soil’s moisture level by inserting your index finger 2 inches deep in the soil.

If the soil feels wet, avoid watering your Schefflera.

Water the soil only if it feels dry to touch.

You can also use a moisture meter for accurate knowledge of the soil moisture level. 

Let us now look at some ways to fix an overwatered Schefflera plant.

  • Stop watering your Schefflera plant to prevent further damage. If you continue watering the soil, its roots will get damaged, and you will lose the plant.
  • Allow the plant to dry out naturally.
  • Tilt the pot slightly so that the excess water drains out.
  • Check the drainage holes to know whether they are clogged. Clean the drainage holes if they are clogged, as clogged holes will not let the excess water drain out from the pot.
  • Keep your plant in an area where humidity is less. When there is less humidity, the plant will transpire more, and the excess moisture can dry out through the stomata. Turn off any humidifier as it will accelerate the process.
  • Place your Schefflera in a brightly lit area under indirect sunlight so the soil can dry quickly. Avoid keeping the plant in direct sunlight; otherwise, the leaves will scorch.
  • Poke some holes with a stick in the soil so that the air can easily travel in the soil. Airflow will help the soil dry out faster and provide sufficient oxygen to the roots.
  • Avoid fertilizing your Schefflera while it is recovering. Fertilization is important as it provides essential nutrients to the plant, but fertilizing an already damaged plant will harm the roots even further. Fertilize your Schefflera only when it becomes healthy again.
  • Prune back all the damaged leaves as they won’t turn healthy again. Trim off the yellow and brown leaves with a pair of sharp, disinfected pruners. Pruning the damaged leaves will help your umbrella plant focus on new growth rather than wasting energy on the damaged ones.
  • Change the soil mix if it is responsible for hampering Schefflera’s health. A wrong potting mix can encourage overwatering. The ideal soil for Schefflera is sandy loam soil with a slightly acidic pH level. If the soil mix is heavy, you can mix sand, perlite, or mulch to improve its drainage. 

How to fix a Schefflera with root rot?

If you are overwatering your plant for a prolonged period, its roots will be attacked by a root rot disease.

In this condition, the plant emits a very stinky smell.

The roots turn dark brown and become soft when touched. 

Some signs of root rot include stunted growth, wilted leaves, falling leaves, stinky soil, and mushy and brown roots.

If you have a Schefflera with root rot, follow the steps given below to fix the issue:

  • Firstly, remove your Schefflera from the pot and inspect its roots for root rot.
  • Remove the excess soil from the roots by shaking the plant gently with your hands. You can also wash the soil but be careful not to harm the healthy roots.
  • Hold a pair of sharp scissors and disinfect them with rubbing alcohol solution.
  • Carefully prune off the rotten roots and damaged leaves with the scissors.
  • Clean the healthy roots with a fungicide to kill the remaining pathogens.
  • Allow the roots to dry out completely before you repot them.
  • Take a new pot and fill it with freshly prepared potting soil.
  • Plant your Schefflera carefully in the new potting mix.
  • After repotting, water your Schefflera plant and keep it under bright, indirect sunlight.

How to prevent overwatering in Schefflera?

Schefflera moisture meter

Here are some tips you can follow to prevent overwatering in your umbrella plant:

  • Select a pot with drainage holes for growing your Schefflera.
  • Make sure that the drainage holes in the pot are not clogged. Frequently check the holes and if it gets clogged, clean them. You can keep the pot over pebbles to prevent blockage of drainage holes.
  • Keep your Schefflera in a place where it receives bright, indirect light and good air circulation.
  • Do not overcrowd your Schefflera by keeping it with many other plants, as it can reduce the airflow.
  • Choose a potting mix that is well-drained and supports moisture retention.
  • Try to maintain temperatures between 65-90°F for the healthy growth of your Schefflera plant.

How much time will an overwatered Schefflera plant take to recover?

How much time your Schefflera will take to grow back its healthy leaves will depend on the amount of damage it has faced from overwatering.

The recovery of your plant will depend on certain factors such as:

  • Resilience: Hardy plants usually take a shorter time to return from a stressful period to a healthy, flourishing state. In comparison, sensitive plants take a longer time to recover.
  • The extent of the damage: The amount of damage your plant has faced due to overwatering is crucial to understanding the time it will take to recover. If you identify the signs early, the plant will recover its health early. But if the plant has been overwatered for too long, you might have to prune the damaged roots, which will take time to recover.
  • Post care: Once you treat the plant, you need to provide it with aftercare for faster recovery. 
  • Species: The recovery rate of the plant also depends on its species. The plant that grows rapidly will take lesser time than plants that grow slowly. 

Final words

Schefflera are fairly easy to grow and maintain plants. However, if you let the plant stay wet and drown in water, it will experience overwatering. This condition will affect the plant’s health and will suffocate its roots. 

You need to take quick action as soon as you notice your Schefflera health is deteriorating. Avoid watering the plant and provide it with sufficient light and air to let the excess moisture from the soil dry out. 

However, if your plant has an advanced level of overwatering, you need to prune off the damaged roots and leaves and repot the plant in a new pot if you want to protect this beauty. 

Once your Schefflera has recovered, take good care of your gorgeous plant and watch it flourish.


Reference: WikipediaSciencedirectBritannicaAmerican Society for Horticultural ScienceSchefflera taxonomic history.