ZZ Plant Dying – Causes and How to Fix Them

Are your ZZ plants turning brown and drooping leaves? Do you feel your ZZ plants are dying? What are the signs and what are the causes? How can you save your ZZ plant from dying? Let’s find out!

One of the great things about ZZ plants is their ability to endure even the worst of conditions. Even after you return from a month-long vacation, your ZZ plant will welcome you back!

However, not all plant owners can maintain their ZZ plants. If you are one of those struggling to keep your ZZ plant alive, then hold on tight. Here, you are going to learn all of the secrets about the ZZ plant dying.

Start by understanding why your ZZ plant is dying. If you see drooping leaves or sunburn, it might be due to inadequate lighting. Yellow leaves or brown tips could be caused by insufficient watering. As soon as you figure out the problem, give your plant the right living conditions.

There can be a variety of reasons that could negatively impact your plant. However, if you can identify the true reason for the plant’s ill health, you can revive the ZZ plant and keep it healthy.

So, in this article, I will show you how to figure out why your ZZ plant is dying and what you can do to save it. So, let’s begin!

What inside this?

Is my ZZ plant dying?


Dying ZZ plants will give you many clues that they are in pain. Observe how the plant’s leaves are affected and show signs of stress. It might be possible you have noticed but didn’t pay any attention to the following signs:

  • Your ZZ plant’s leaves are turning yellow!
  • Root rot is occurring!
  • Stems start to shrivel! 
  • Brown blemishes on foliage can be seen!
  • Leaves are starting to shred!

Now let’s take a closer look at what these signs are trying to tell you!

1. Your ZZ plant’s leaves are turning yellow!


The leaves of ZZ plants are green. The color and texture of a ZZ plant will tell you if it is healthy. For mature leaves, the color is mostly dark green, and the texture is glossy and thick.

However, you might notice some leaves turning yellow. Depending on the plant, it can affect the leaves of a single stem or the leaves of all stems. 

A yellowing plant leaf doesn’t mean it’s dying already, but it indicates something’s wrong. Often, this happens when plants are overwatered.

2. Root rot is occurring!

When the root rot is not detected in the early stages, the plant can die before it is recognized as a problem.

There are many causes of root rot in ZZ plants. These include overwatering, poor drainage, insufficient drainage holes, and pathogenic infections. In addition to drooping stems and smelly soil, root rot can cause mushy roots as well.

3. Brown blemishes on foliage can be seen!


Your plant can have brown tips or brown edges from time to time. It doesn’t turn into a spot. These symptoms indicate your plant is receiving too much chlorine or fluoride in its water. 

When this problem persists, the leaves become extremely dry, and they fall off when touched.

By recognizing and detecting the problem early, you can prevent your ZZ plant from wilting. However, you may end up losing your ZZ plant if you don’t pay attention.

4. Stems start to shrivel

There is a common problem of stem shriveling in ZZ plants. It happens if the plant isn’t getting enough water.

When this happens, you will notice the stem’s thick parts shrivel and get cavities all over. Eventually, it will be drained of water and become dry.

Also, it can happen if the plant is placed in a warm area with direct sunlight, causing the leaves to evaporate.

When water evaporates, nutrients evaporate too, and plants absorb nutrients and water from rhizomes and stems, which store water. As a result, the stems begin to shrivel.

5. Leaves are starting to shred!

Leaves are starting to shred!

Observe how the leaves of the plant are drooping and getting thinner. Normally, ZZ plant leaves are thick, similar to succulents, but in this case, they will become thinner.

The reason could be that you do not water the plant enough. Or you may have extremely low humidity in your area. 

During low humidity, the plant’s water evaporates. Lack of water causes plants to take water from their leaves, stems, and rhizomes, resulting in a tired appearance.

How can you revive a dying ZZ plant?

There is no way to kill ZZ plants quickly because they are sturdy plants. However, when a plant is dying or is close to dying, it will take time to revive it.

It is important to find out the primary reason for the suffering before you can find a solution.

When you know why your plant is suffering, it is easier to solve the problem than to try every solution.

Let us know the problems that can occur to your ZZ plants so that you can identify and fix these problems easily!

1. Over-watered ZZ plant

Due to their efficient rhizomatous root system, ZZ plants can go without water for long periods. Their leaves are fleshy and lustrous, and they store water as well. Overwatering is not good for these plants.

These plants can go months without water and still be healthy, but they may start wilting with a few extra waterings.

Symptoms of Over-watering ZZ plants!

  • Root rot
  • Brown leaves
  • Yellowing foliage
  • Leaves shedding
  • Stunted growth

How can you fix this overwatering issue?

  • Make sure the pot is completely dry.
  • Provide enough light for the soil to dry. To improve lighting, you can use grow lights.
  • Aerate the soil from the top to increase airflow and moisture absorption.
  • Inspect the drainage holes.
  • It is a good idea to remove pale and brown leaves.

How can you prevent this overwatering issue?

  • Before moving your plant, find out how much water it needs.
  • Give your ZZ plant a thorough watering.
  • Make sure the pot’s drainage system is working. Within 1-2 minutes of watering, excess water should drain away.
  • Under the soil, let the plant completely dry out.
  • Make sure the soil is in good condition by using a finger or skewer. 
  • From the top, dig your finger/skewer/stick 3-4 inches into the soil. Take it out after a few seconds. Having soil stick to it indicates that the soil is still moist.
  • When in doubt, let it dry more rather than water.
  • Whenever someone tells you something routine, do not believe it blindly. Depending on where you live, it varies.
  • Depending on the living conditions in each place, it may differ from place to place. 

2. Under watered ZZ plant

Drought conditions may cause ZZ plants to suffer. However, you will hardly notice any changes to their appearance.

Also, we know that ZZ plants thrive even if they aren’t watered for months at a time. This is why some plant owners let their plants go for weeks without watering.

In the long term, ZZ plants will be damaged if they are left underwater. Lack of water will affect other plants’ functions, such as nutrients and airflow. What they will go through will be discussed below. In addition, we will discuss possible solutions to the problem.

Symptoms of Under-watering ZZ plant!

  • Droop and curled leaves
  • Pale leaves
  • Soil pulling away
  • Leaves falling over
  • Slow growth
  • Brown edges

How can you fix this underwatering issue?

  • If there are any damaged leaves, trim them first.
  • It’s now time to rehydrate your ZZ plant thoroughly with water, which means draining out the excess water.
  • If you are dissatisfied with this watering method, use the bottom watering method.
  • Fill a tray with water and place it on the table. Place the plant over the tray (roots should not touch the water). Give it an hour. Through capillary action, roots and soil absorb water. Let the plant dry after removing the tray.

How can you prevent this underwater issue?

  • Make sure the pot has a drainage system.
  • Make sure the soil mix is aerated and light.
  • When your ZZ plant is thoroughly dry, give it a drink.
  • Make sure the plant has enough air circulation.
  • Occasionally, you can check the soil’s moisture level with the moisture meter. By doing this, you will never forget to water your plants.

3. Lighting issues of ZZ plant


ZZ plants will grow faster in good light conditions. When exposed to good light, they flourish. However, if too much of it is given, free radicals may even damage the plant.

You will not see your ZZ plant dying from too little sun. Yet, you may see some other signs that may not indicate good health.

Symptoms of lighting issues ZZ plant!

Overexposure to light:

  • Sunburn
  • Brown blotches
  • Poor vigor

Lack of light:

  • Droopy leaves
  • Browning leaves
  • Poor growth

How can you fix this lighting issue?

  • Your ZZ plant might need a shed or another spot if it got a sunburn.
  • Install a shade over your outdoor plants or move them indoors if they are kept outside.
  • To filter the light intensity, move your plant away from a window or use a sheer curtain.
  • Place your ZZ plant in a spot where it receives full-day indirect sunlight if it does not receive enough.
  • Moreover, it should be placed in the east or north.
  • If your home does not receive enough light, use growth lights.
  • Also, you can place a lamp under your plant to provide plenty of light.

How can you prevent this lighting issue?

  • A moderate amount of light is ideal for your ZZ plant, but it shouldn’t be too intense.
  • In the case of wilting leaves only occurring during the hottest hours of the day, too much light is to blame.
  • Ensure that your plant receives 6-8 hours of indirect light every day.
  • Direct light for a few hours is not harmful.
  • Be sure to monitor your plant when it is moved to its new location.
  • It is best not to move the plant at once. Shift the plant gradually to make it comfortable with the environment.

4. Root rot occurring in ZZ plants

Root rot occurring in ZZ plants

Root rot is like a red alert for any plant parent. It occurs when rot or fungal growth has almost destroyed the root system.

Overwatering is the prime cause of this problem, but other factors contribute as well.

Symptoms of root rot occurring to ZZ plant!

  • Slow growth
  • Yellowing foliage
  • Smaller leaves
  • Wilted leaves
  • Thinner canopy
  • Pale leaves
  • Decaying branches
  • Weak plant

How can you fix this root rot issue?

  • Check the soil condition to see if it is root rot. Using your finger, press the soil inside. A moist area might indicate root rot.
  • Examine the roots of the plant by taking them out of the pot.
  • A healthy root system is white, and firm, and comes out easily if touched. But brown, mushy roots are indicative of root rot.
  • For new growth, cut out the rot and damaged roots with sterilized scissors.
  • To eliminate bacteria and fungus, soak the healthy roots in fungicide.
  • In addition, wash the used scissors to prevent contamination.
  • To prevent the recurrence of the same problem, pot the plant in a porous pot (preferably) with a fresh well-draining soil mix.
  • Make sure the pot has a proper drainage system. Moreover, water only when the soil is completely dry.

How can you prevent this root rot issue?

  • You need to follow the right watering schedule.
  • By watering regularly, you will prevent roots and soil from decaying.
  • Make sure your plant gets enough light, whether it’s natural or artificial.
  • Your plant’s pot must have a good drainage system.
  • Keeping soil wet is never a good idea. 

5. Pest infestations in ZZ plants


Most pests are quite annoying and stubborn, as they can hide beneath leaves and remain unnoticed for long periods. By sucking the sap from the plants, they weaken and make them vulnerable.

Suddenly, your plant will look ill. This causes the plant to lose its ability to grow and supply nutrients, which causes it to die.

Symptoms of pest infestations ZZ plant!

  • Lifeless leaves
  • Browning and yellowing of foliage
  • Speckled leaves
  • Decaying leaves and stems
  • Slow growth

How can you fix this pest issue?

  • Check the condition of the infected plant for a minute after separating it. A large number of damaged leaves would indicate a severe infestation.
  • Due to this, the plant may not survive. If there is a healthy stem or leaf present, you can propagate it by taking a cutting from the plant.                
  • Trim the severely damaged leaves if the condition is not severe.
  • By washing the plants with strong streams of water, you can eliminate a lot of pests.
  • Spray neem oil all over your plant every few days until all the pests are gone.
  • If you have an infestation, you can use horticultural oil spray on the plant all over until it is eliminated.
  • To remove stubborn pests, you can use cotton dipped in alcohol to clean the leaves and underside.       

How can you prevent this pest issue?

  • Check your plant regularly to see how it is doing.
  • As a preventive measure against pest infestations, you can use horticultural oil spray or neem oil spray.
  • Fertilize your ZZ plant once a month and don’t overwater it.
  • Ensure that the plant receives good air circulation.
  • Ensure that soil and cuttings are not contaminated before propagating them.

6. Unsuitable temperature around the ZZ plants


To thrive and stay healthy, ZZ plants require the right temperature level. In the winter, too much cold may damage the plant, which ceases to function. If your plant is exposed to inappropriate temperatures for a long time, it could even die.

Symptoms of unsuitable temperature in ZZ plant!

  • Discolored/Disfigured leaves
  • Puckering of young leaves
  • Brown blotches in mature leaves
  • Wrinkled leaves
  • Distressed plant

How can you fix this unsuitable temperature issue?

  • Place the plant in a warmer spot, or in a place where it is least susceptible to cold.
  • For monitoring cold temperatures, light the furnace and keep the plant a few feet away.
  • If any leaves are damaged, prune them.

How can you prevent this unsuitable temperature issue?

  • Make sure your plant is not exposed to cold breezes.
  • During cold weather, your ZZ plants will thrive in a well-ventilated, shelter-lit spot.
  • Keep the plant away from furnaces, radiators, and any other heating systems.
  • Keep the plant away from the window. As the cold breeze directly affects the leaves’ health, they should not touch the window.

7. Humidity issues in ZZ plants

Different humidity ranges are not a problem for ZZ plants. However, extremely low or high humidity levels can create a perfect environment for pests.

Plants show signs that the humidity level is not appropriate, so monitoring is necessary.

Additionally, we must create favorable conditions for the plant’s health by moving it to a favorable environment.

Symptoms of humidity issues in the ZZ plant!

  • Fungal diseases
  • Pests infestation
  • Brown tips
  • Dried leaves

How can you fix this humidity issue?

  • You can use a pebble tray to increase humidity around your ZZ plant.
  • Place small stones in a tray 1 inch deep. Set the plant on the tray and fill the tray with water. As the water evaporates, the plant will become moist.
  • By grouping a few plants, you can accomplish the same thing. This is the cheapest method.
  • Transpiration is the process by which plants release moisture. Consequently, the humidity around the plant increases.
  • Make sure your plant stays happy by purchasing a hygrometer to measure the humidity and temperature in the room.

How can you prevent this humidity issue?

  • If you want to move the plant to a humid room, you can buy a hygrometer that will show the humidity level.
  • Humidity levels between 40%-50% are ideal for ZZ plants, but they can tolerate some fluctuation.
  • To maintain the right humidity level around your ZZ plant, you can use a humidifier.
  • Avoid misting or splashing the plant with water.
  • Keep the plant away from extremely high humidity for as long as possible.

Important tips to keep your ZZ plant healthy!


Keep these tips in mind if you want your ZZ plant to thrive:

  • Make sure your ZZ plant is not overwatered or underwatered, as both can cause problems.
  • It is important to use soil that drains well. A clayey soil will retain water, so avoid using it.
  • ZZ plants don’t like direct sunlight, so don’t expose them to it. Keep them in a bright area with indirect light instead.
  • Don’t use water that contains chlorine or fluorine. 
  • To ensure that your ZZ plant can breathe, it needs to be kept in a well-ventilated area. Neither humidity nor any other problem will arise as a result of it.
  • During the growing season, use fertilizers once a month.
  • If the soil lacks nutrition, you can replace it with a new and better potting soil if the plant is repotted every few years. The ZZ plants like to remain potted, but if they are not noticed, this may cause problems.
  • Make sure the plant receives plenty of light. For the process of photosynthesis, the plants require light. The lack of light will slow their growth.
  • Cut any infected areas, such as leaves, stems, or roots, with a clean and sharp scissor or knife to avoid infecting the entire plant.
  • Try to re-pot the ZZ plant if it has severe root rot or bacteria and fungus infection. The old soil might be contaminated and can re-infect the plant. 


Q1. Can ZZ Plant recover from overwatering?

Yes, the ZZ plant can recover from overwatering. Depending on the soil mix, pot, and watering practices, overwatering can happen. The easiest way to revive an overwatered ZZ plant is to improve drainage in the pot and water it less frequently. Your plant will bounce back with green, healthy foliage once you address the issues in the ZZ care program. 

Q2. How often should you water a ZZ plant?

It is best to water your ZZ Plant every 2-3 weeks, letting the soil dry out between waterings. In brighter light, you should water more frequently, and in lower light, less frequently. A thirsty plant will have wilting leaves, wrinkled leaves, and a dry potting mix. While a wet plant or yellow leaves indicate overwatering. 

Q3. Will yellow ZZ leaves turn green again?

There is a good chance that yellow leaves are related to your watering schedule when they appear. By adjusting when and how much you water your ZZ plant, you can reverse the damage and revive it.

Q4. Can I save my ZZ plant?

The first step to saving ZZs is to allow the plant to completely dry out. When the plant is dry, prune back dying leaves and stems and repot it into a pot with a drainage hole. Those with rotted roots or rhizomes will need to take additional steps.

Q5. Can a ZZ plant recover from root rot?

The problem is that root rot can’t be reversed. So if you leave it in its current state of decomposition, it’ll kill the whole plant.


Now you know the possible reasons behind the death of your ZZ plant. Also, you can now easily fix and prevent the problems by following the steps that I have given above. The most important step is to first identify the causes and so, go through the list above to find out the root cause. 

Also, it is very important to control the amount of water you apply. Always water less or don’t water when in doubt. Between waterings, the plant should be allowed to dry. Observe what your plant looks like and what environment it feels most comfortable in, rather than following any routine.I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about this fabulous houseplant. Do you have a ZZ plant at home? Let us know how you saved your ZZ plant. Please share any care tips you have in the comment section down below. Also, don’t forget to share this article on social media and with your friends and family!

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  • Prachi Parate

    Prachi Parate is an enthusiast writer. She is a native of a science background, where botanical science was one of her favorite subjects. It was always Prachi's dream to combine her passion with a career. Hence, her fascination with plants led to a career as a writer. Also, she believes that taking good care of yourself is key to happiness. Time spent in nature is one of her favorite self-care practices. It is her goal to transform her learning into content that helps readers.

  • 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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