In caring for our trees, we can smother and kill them with too much attention as easily as with neglect. Over-watering is a common example of this in both house plants and outdoor garden plants and trees such as flowering cherry. The telltale signs of over-watering and under-watering can mimic one another, making touch-testing the soil imperative to confirm a diagnosis. Over-watering a flowering cherry tree can occur because of too much or too frequent irrigation, poor soil drainage or unusual amount of natural rainfall--or a combination of all of these.
Wilted & Yellowing Leaves
The leaves on a flowering cherry will go limp in appearance and feel soft when a tree is suffocating from over-watering. The leaves will yellow, leaving green veins, and then go completely yellow or even a pale cream color.
Waterlogged cherry trees will begin to drop leaves typically after they have yellowed but also young leaves that are still greens. You will also notice that some of the leaves that remain on the tree can be knocked loose when barely touched or at the slightest breeze.
The deadly effect of over-watering is the root rot that can easily kill a tree. The most definitive sign of this is when the tree lists, as if it is unstable in the soil, or falls over. While it's rare for an over-watering problem to get this bad, when the roots have turned to mush it can occur. Saturated soil deprives the roots of oxygen and they begin to decay in the soil and lose their grip. When a 3-foot wood dowel driven down into the soil 2 feet comes out wet, over-watering and root rot is likely occurring.