I have an indoor shefflera.


I noticed that it sometimes get sick so I checked the roots.

The roots were practically escaping the pot and I noticed a kind of white film everywhere.

What is growing on the roots?

roots roots

Should I clean this up, maybe even cut the huge root that is outside of the soil?

Note, you see a lot of water because I just used a temporary plate to check the plant, the plant itself wasn't overwatered.

EDIT: Added picture of the real pots after comment.

Shefflera in pot

  • Have you had the plant standing inside an outer pot or tray which fits closely since you got the plant?
    – Bamboo
    Jul 9, 2018 at 14:39
  • Whoa! Excellent observation Bamboo! Major big applause. I do believe this plant is just fine and needs to be up potted very soon.
    – stormy
    Jul 9, 2018 at 22:05
  • @bamboo It was indeed in a second pot. I have added a picture of the pot.
    – Kev
    Jul 10, 2018 at 7:36

4 Answers 4


The white growth is not an issue, as Kevinsky says - you've added a picture of the outer pot it was standing in all this time; because the outer pot was close fitting, and water would have been sitting in it, roots have come out of the bottom and sat inside, wet or damp, and this white growth has formed. My advice is going to be very similar to that given in two of the other answers.

The reason your plant 'sometimes gets sick' is because it needs a new, bigger pot. Use a pot with drainage holes a size or two larger, and new potting soil, decant from the existing pot (it doesn't matter if you break the roots hanging out of the current pot) and repot, water in well. Allow the pot to drain down thoroughly, then place it back in a tray or outer pot.

When a plant has filled its current pot with roots, the ratio of soil to root is wrong, so it can be difficult for the plant to take up sufficient water because there's not enough potting soil to hold it for long. In this case, the roots have grown outside the pot because that's where water could be found. Ongoing, when you water, water thoroughly when the surface of the soil feels just about dry to the touch, then empty out the pot or tray it's standing in after 30 minutes so it's not left sitting in water.


As Bamboo says this plant has been standing in water and has grown roots into the "Water table". A little more air circulation and the white growths will not be able to compete.

A better solution is to repot the plant into a pot one size larger.

This plant responds well to being cut back so don't be afraid to cut some of the root ball off.


Get rid of that pot for sure. I would transplant into a pot a few inches larger in diameter, clay. Potting soil with no fertilizer or water holding gimmicks. Plain sterilized potting soil.

What are you using for fertilizer? Some formulations of fertilizer actually enhance or add fungus and bacteria. Your plant from what I can see looks healthy. When roots start coming out of the drain holes is a sure sign your plant needs up potting with fresh potting soil.

  • I have barely used any fertiliser on this plant since we got it, maybe once or twice in two years, the current soil must be pretty depleted.
    – Kev
    Jul 10, 2018 at 7:44
  • A bit of fertilizer, a balanced fertilizer of NPK will make a huge difference. All soil is depleted of chemistry plants need for photosynthesis to make their own food/energy source. There is no such thing as a 'fertile' soil. Dark, rich, friable, sure but nature doesn't waste chemistry and nature means to curb the population of plants. This is how it is done, by restricting the chemistry in the soil. The only way us humans can grow plants for our own use for our own food is to ADD fertilizer in the correct CORRECT amounts. "Less is best, more is death and none is dumb" my stupid ditty...
    – stormy
    Jul 11, 2018 at 1:53

yes, it is mycelium as root rot is a type of mycelium that's parasitic.

  • Black thumb, this isn't root rot rot. This is just roots escaped from the soil in the pot and I really think Bamboo nailed it! Imagine this pot being kept inside another pot. Fungus needs moisture. See the fungus is at the bottom is at the bottom where the water dries more slowly? Fungus is always among us. Very few forms are...detrimental. What makes you think this fungus is parasitic?
    – stormy
    Jul 9, 2018 at 22:10
  • 1
    @stormy I was trying to answer their question by a correction of their statement by saying if it was root rot it would be a type of mycelium. Jul 10, 2018 at 3:14
  • 1
    Of course black thumb! Are there 'parasitic' forms of soil fungus? I just drew a blank when you said that and I got lots of 'blanks'...love filling them however! Thanks BT!
    – stormy
    Jul 11, 2018 at 2:12
  • Hi black thumb! I understand your point, but it doesn't work well as an answer. Would you be willing to delete it and post it as a comment instead? That would be great. Thanks! Jul 13, 2018 at 19:03
  • -1. Please re-read How to Answer.
    – Stephie
    Jul 13, 2018 at 22:18

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