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Can American Yews Be Overwatered?

Can American Yews Be Overwatered?

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Willie Moore
Latest posts by Willie Moore (see all)

American Yews, also known as Canada Yews, are evergreen ornamental plants native to the Eastern and Central parts of the US. These plants flourish in well-drained soils with average to moist water ranges. Since these plants prefer normal to moist soils, you may wonder whether American Yews can be overwatered. 

American Yews can be overwatered. When these plants sit in too much water, it can prevent the roots from receiving enough oxygen. Overwatering can occur if there’s too much rain or the soil has poor drainage. Such conditions can lead to problems like drooping, wilting, and yellowing of the leaves.

In this article, I’ll explain how much water American yews need and the signs that your American Yews are overwatered. Read on to learn more about what causes the overwatering of American Yews and how to fix the problem of overwatering. 

How Much Water Do American Yews Need?

American Yews have low to average water needs. As long as the plant is on well-drained, moist soils that aren’t waterlogged, it’ll flourish. After planting, they need regular watering to establish roots. 

Ideally, you should water the young plant deeply once a week. When the roots are established, you can water the plant when the top soil is dry. You may need to water the plant more frequently during hot and dry seasons and less frequently during winter.

It’s also good to water American Yews in late fall, just before the ground freezes. American Yews are winter hardy but watering them just before the temperature drops below freezing ensures that their roots have water to sustain them through winter. 

In other words, ensuring that your American Yews don’t receive too little or too much water is essential.  

What Can Happen When American Yews Are Overwatered?

Although American Yews can cope with some overwatering, they can’t tolerate too much water for an extended period. Several things happen when American Yews are overwatered, affecting the plant negatively. 

  • The soil around the plant becomes soggy. Too much water around your American Yews makes the ground soggy, allowing some pathogens to thrive. These pathogens can lead to fungal infections, resulting in the weakening of the plant and even plant death (source). 
  • American Yews can develop “wet feet” if overwatered. When “wet feet” occurs, the plant’s roots become saturated with water. Oversaturation prevents oxygen from reaching the roots, suffocating and damaging the plant (source).
  • Root rot could occur. If the overwatering continues, the plants could develop root rot, which is a fatal disease that attacks the plant’s root system (source). It can make the entire plant’s roots useless, disabling them from absorbing and sending nutrients to the other plant parts. Left untreated, it can lead to the plant’s death.

Signs That Your American Yews Are Overwatered

When American Yews are overwatered, you start noticing gradual changes in the plant. Some of the signs that your American Yews are overwatered include:

  • The plants start to droop. This is one of the first signs that your American Yews are overwatered. The leaves and the entire plant generally look lifeless.
  • The plants begin to wilt. When overwatering continues, the American Yews leaves look soft and limp.
  • The plant’s leaves begin to turn yellow. Since the roots of the plants can hardly breathe in waterlogged soil, they can suffocate and shut down. This interferes with the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients essential for chlorophyll formation, resulting in the yellowing or discoloration of the leaves.

See our complete guide to identifying the signs of overwatered plants.

Causes of Overwatering of American Yews

There are several things that could lead to overwatering of American Yews, as explained below.

  • Watering the plants too often. If you water your American Yews too often, the soil around the plant becomes saturated. This could lead to sogginess and waterlogging that could damage the plant.
  • Too much rain. Sometimes, when it rains for an extended period, the water can pool around the American Yews. Such a situation can lead to soggy and waterlogged soil that affects the plant’s roots negatively.
  • Soil compaction. If there’s soil compaction around your American Yews, it can lead to overwatering. Soil compaction is when soil particles press together, reducing water drainage and infiltration (source). If the soil is compacted, rainwater cannot drain properly, keeping the soil wet for longer.

How To Fix Overwatered American Yews

As mentioned earlier, overwatering your American Yews can lead to various problems. If you’re not careful, the plants can eventually die. Fortunately, you can fix some of the American Yews overwatering problems.

Avoid Watering the Plants Until the Topsoil Dries Up

Suppose you’ve been overwatering your American Yews, and you notice changes such as drooping, wilting, and yellowing of leaves. In that case, it’s best to stop watering them immediately to give them time to absorb the excess water and recover. 

Avoid watering them during the rainy season. Only water them again when the upper two inches (5 cm) of the soil feels dry to the touch. You can inspect the soil with your fingers or use a soil moisture meter.  

Relieve Soil Compaction

As stated earlier, soil particles sometimes undergo compaction and reduce water drainage, leading to waterlogged conditions. So, if you’ve been overwatering your American Yews or there has been too much rain, it’s best to take some steps to relieve soil compaction. 

You can do so by aerating the soil around the roots of the plants. Poke some holes in the soil’s surface to enable air to reach the plant roots. Give the soil some time to dry before adding more water.

You can use an aerator like Gardzen Spike Aeration (link to Amazon) to aerate the soil. This tool is versatile and easy to use. It can aerate your landscaping plants and lawns by removing small plugs in the soil, thus easing soil compaction.


American Yews are resilient and hardy plants as long as they grow in slightly acidic, well-drained soil. Although they prefer cool conditions and moist soil, they don’t like being overwatered. Constantly soggy and water-logged soil can damage or even kill these plants.

If you want your American Yews to thrive, water them at least once a week for the first year after you plant them so that they can establish their roots.

Once the plants have been established, water them deeply at least once a week, especially during an extended drought. Fix any overwatering problems quickly to save the plants.

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