ZZ Plant Brown Tips: Causes And How To Fix It?

What if your ZZ plant’s leaves are turning brown and how can you fix this problem?

ZZ plants thrive well if you provide proper care for them. But if you neglect them for a long time they can be affected by some diseases. One of the most bothersome things for you will be the brown leaves on ZZ plants.

If the tips of the ZZ plant turn brown, probably your plant is saying that something is wrong with that. You need to find out the reasons for that and take certain precautions to save your plant.

In this article, we will discuss the reasons for the brown leaves on the ZZ plant and how to get rid of them.

Although the ZZ plants are disease-resistant, even they fall sick due to some factors. You can observe the brown tips of your ZZ plant, sometimes the leaves of your ZZ plant turn brown. You may observe brown spots on the ZZ plant, both on the leaves and stems. There are various reasons that we are going to discuss in this article. You will also find the solution to your problem if you read this article till the end.

What are the causes of the ZZ plant’s brown leaves?

There are many reasons for a ZZ plant with brown edges. Let us look at the factors below to find the reason why your ZZ plant has brown edges and help the plant by solving them!

1. Improper humidity levels

ZZ plants are grown at low humidity levels as they do not like humid conditions to live in. But every plant needs some amount of humidity, as humidity plays the main role in transpiration of that plant and your ZZ plant needs it too. A ZZ plant, when kept in dry circumstances, grows well only if it is provided with enough moisture. You can mist it if the climate is too dry. Otherwise, your plant can get dried and the foliage may turn brown and get wilted.

Most beginners do not provide enough moisture for the plant and often place them in a dry place as they have succulent characteristics. In such cases, you can observe that the edges of the leaves of your ZZ plant turn brown.

You may get bothered by this as you provide enough water every time and place it in a bright place and still, your plant is suffering from this problem. You can avoid this problem by following the tips below!

Tips to save your plant in this case:

  • If you observe your plant in this condition then replace it from the too-dry place. Avoid placing the plant beside a vent or under plant lights which cause dryness. Place it in an area with sufficient light and provide enough water.
  • To save your plant which has brown edges due to lack of humidity, try misting it. Yes, your ZZ plant may not need misting, but you have to mist it to make it feel better and get back its look. It may work slowly, you can mist it daily or more than once a day depending on its condition to make it healthier.
  • Place your plant on a humidity tray, which is nothing but a tray of water that contains pebbles that do not allow water to get in through the drainage holes, but increase humidity around your plant. You can take it off if your plant regains its health.
  • Try placing your plant near a humidifier. It too helps your plant from getting rid of the brown edges.
  • Provide proper care, and water it soon after the soil gets dry. You will observe the plant recovering from the brown edges.

2. Water-related issues


Watering plays a major role in maintaining a healthy ZZ plant. But it can be responsible for some problems due to lack of quality or quantity. Also, over-watering will damage your ZZ plant by turning your plant brown. Now, let us discuss some water issues that can make your plant brown.

a) Quality of water

Quality of water that you use for watering your ZZ plant matters in maintaining its health. Water contains minerals and other matter like chloride, fluoride, and salts that may not be tolerated by some plants. Although the ZZ plants can tolerate the substances like fluoride and mineral salts, some species of the ZZ plants are sensitive and can be damaged by the matter contained in the water. In this case, the leaves of your ZZ plant may turn brown.

If you continue to water the plant without knowing this fact it can surely develop adverse minerals in the potting mix of your plant, which is not good for your plant. But don’t worry, you can fix this problem with the following tips that we have mentioned which will help to save your plant.

Tips to save your plant in this case:

  • You need to stop using the tap water if you think that the reason for the problem lies in the quality of the water. Because tap water contains harsh matter that may be damaging your ZZ plant.
  • Use filter water to water your ZZ plant which is facing this problem. It will surely help the plant to get its old look. Purified water or distilled water can also help your plant to feel better.
  • Try watering your ZZ plant which has brown leaves, with rainwater. Because rainwater helps to avoid this problem. As it has no mineral salts, fluoride, or chloride.
  • Watering your plant with water which is at room temperature is ideal. Do not use cold or hot water as it may damage your ZZ plant too.

b) Improper watering

ZZ plants need water to thrive. It should be watered in a proper way to avoid problems caused by watering it. The mistakes we make while watering the plant result in the growth of brown-edged leaves or brown leaves. There are some tricks and tips to avoid making mistakes while watering your ZZ plant, check them out below!

Tips to avoid water-related issues:

  • Avoid watering it without checking the moisture level of the soil.
  • Water your plant until the excess water comes out of the drainage holes.
  • Water it slowly, so that the roots and soil absorb water adequately.

3. Sunburns in ZZ plants

ZZ plants are often considered semi-succulents, as they have succulent-like characteristics. These ZZ plants thrive well when placed in sunlight. So, place them in direct sunlight to help their growth. But if your ZZ plant is exposed to direct sunlight for a long time, sunburns may occur on the leaves and can make them look brown. The intense rays of direct sun will damage the outer layer of the leaves.

The tissues of the leaves which cannot tolerate the ultraviolet rays, get burnt, resulting in brown patches which are rough to touch. Sunburns may lead to leaf drops in some cases. You cannot recover the damaged tissues and bring back the old look, but you can save your plant from extra sunburns. Follow the tips that we have mentioned below to save your plant from sunburns.

Tips to save your ZZ plant from sunburns:

  • Immediately replace your plant. It is better to place the plant in the shade until it recovers. Later place your plant in a place that gets bright but indirect sunlight.
  • Let your ZZ plant get enough water and humidity, as the plant needs a cooling effect. Also, keep in mind that the plant which has a huge leaf loss may not need much water.
  • Avoid fertilizing your plant for a while, as it even burns the leaves of your ZZ plants.

4. Rust in ZZ plants (fungal diseases)

One of the interesting things about ZZ plants is that your plant may get plant rust. It is indeed a fungal infection that seriously damages the growth of the plant. If ignored, this fungus can lead to the plant’s death.

TLC treatment may not cure this disease. This fungal growth is one of the reasons for brown ZZ plants. It is a serious disease that cannot be cured easily. It needs a lot of patience to cure your ZZ plant. But, you can treat this fungal growth, if you follow the tips that we have mentioned below!

Tips to cure your ZZ plant from rusting:

  • Firstly you need to find out whether the browning of the plant is due to this rust or not. For that, you need to be attentive to your plant. In the starting stages of this disease, your plant may show white spots, especially on the undersides of its leaves. These spots may also be in red, orange, and black colors and turn into bumps and keep on increasing their size. During this time the leaf gets damaged and eventually drops off. This confirms that the disease is the ZZ plant rust.
  • After confirming the disease, wear gardening gloves and trim all the infected leaves, throw them in the garbage. Sterilize the scissors and the gloves, you have used to cut. Because this fungal infection can spread faster through water and air.
  • Spray rubbing alcohol or fungicides on the plant to avoid fungal diseases. Do not mist your ZZ plant in such cases. Make sure you wet only the soil but not the leaves. You can feed them with organic fertilizers that help to cure this fungal infection.
  • You can prevent this fungal infection, do not mist your plant in humid climates. Keep the plant in a place that gets plenty of air. Separate your plants, do not place them closely.
  • You can dust the plant with sulfur, which helps to resist the fungal growth.

5. Lack of nutrients in the soil mix of your ZZ plant


ZZ plants may suffer from a lack of nutrition. Generally, these cases occur due to delaying repotting, or if you ignore fertilizing your plant. The ZZ plant needs a lot of macronutrients and a small number of micronutrients to grow healthy. It is also one of the reasons for the browning of leaves. Nutrition deficiency, temperature, pH, and moisture results in the slow growth of this plant. Check out the tips below!

Tips for maintaining nutrition:

  • Fertilize your plant regularly.
  • Water enough to maintain your plant indoors.
  • Maintain the pH level of the soil between 6.0 to 7.0.
  • Place your plant in a place with a temperature range of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Pests and diseases in ZZ plants

Although the ZZ plants have the power to resist pests and diseases, they can also be affected by some of these. Pest may also cause the leaves of the ZZ plant to turn brown. Common pests like aphids, scale, mealybugs, whiteflies, black flies, and spider mites suck the fluids of the leaves and make them dry and brown. Some pests sit on the leaves which are brown and look like brown spots on the leaves. These pests can be treated by following some tips and tricks that we have mentioned!

Tips to get rid of pests and diseases:

  • Observe the places of pest growth and gently wipe them with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol. 
  • If the pests are larger, then try picking them up.
  • Spray insecticides on the infected areas. If the damage is more, then gently remove those areas with sharp scissors.
  • Place them in bright indirect sunlight to avoid these pests.

7. Pot requirements of ZZ plants

ZZ plants are often placed indoors to enhance the look of your home. So, they are often planted in pots. Sometimes, the pot you use to plant your ZZ plant may cause the browning of foliage. The size, shape, and material of the pot should be considered while selecting a better pot for planting your ZZ plant.

If the pot is not suitable for planting a ZZ plant, you can observe the brown spots on the foliage and the stems of the plant. Let us now know how to select a pot for planting your ZZ plant and some tips for maintaining the plant’s health!

Tips for potting your ZZ plant:

  • Do not choose a large pot for planting these plants. Because, large pots that are filled with soil, hold a large amount of water which is not good for your ZZ plant and might cause brown spots on the leaves and stems. The pot must be 1-2 inches larger than the root ball.
  • Always keep an eye on the root growth. Though the ZZ plants grow slowly, do not plant them in smaller pots. If you delay repotting for a long time, the root growth of your plant can be restricted by the pot and may lead to pot-bound or root-bound roots which stop the passage of water to the drainage holes that may result in browning of the leaves. So, repot with fresh soil mix every 2-3 years to maintain the health of your ZZ plant.
  • Even the material of the pot plays an important role in maintaining a plant indoors. It is better to plant your ZZ plant in a pot that allows the air into the soil. Clay pots, unglazed ceramic pots, and unfinished terracotta pots are preferred to plant the ZZ plants. They have porous walls that allow the air into them and help the soil to get dry faster. Thus, they prevent root rots and other root-related diseases and the browning of leaves.
  • You can use any pot to plant your ZZ plant which has a proper drainage system if you care enough. Make sure that the plant has proper drainage with more holes. The water after filling the roots and soil should be drained out through the holes. If not, the stored water may lead to many diseases that might harm your plant.
  • Fill the bottom part of the pot with a layer of gravel to prevent clogging of drainage holes.

8. Shock due to replacing in ZZ plants

ZZ plants cannot adapt to the changes in climate (when replaced), too quickly. It undergoes shock while you repot it, or to the sudden climate change. This may result in the browning and wilting of the foliage. Especially repotting shocks the plant, if it is not done properly. Follow the tips that we have mentioned below to avoid or correct this issue in ZZ plants!

Tips to treat shock in ZZ plants:

  • If you are going to replace your plant, gradually change the position of the plant to let it adjust to the circumstance so that you can prevent the shock.
  • Before repotting your ZZ plants, make sure you have got a suitable pot that has a good drainage system, for repotting it. Gently repot your ZZ plant, using the same type of soil mix, and bring back your ZZ plant to the old place.
  • Use organic fertilizers to get rid of the shock.


ZZ plants can be grown easily at home if you provide proper care for your plant. Sometimes some problems like the browning of the leaves may bother you and your plant. In this article, we have discussed all the problems that can make a ZZ plant turn brown and their solutions to make it healthy again.

We hope this article is informative to you. If you can know the problems beforehand by reading this article, then you can also follow our given tips to fix the issues of your ZZ plants. If you like this article, please drop us a comment below, and don’t forget to share this article with your friends and family!

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  • Vinni Balyan

    11 years ago when we left NY and started living in the suburbs, I developed the passion for gardening. I'm a mom of two, and a big time gardener here helping you pick you right battle in gardening. 🙂 Stay tuned.

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