ZZ Plant Pests and Diseases – How to Deal With Them

What are the most common ZZ plant diseases and pests, and how can you control them? Come on, let’s find out!

Every plant owner has to deal with bugs at some point in their lives. Even your ZZ plant could be infected. 

Aphids, mites, whiteflies, scales, mealybugs, and gnats are some of the bugs attracted to ZZ plants. You can keep your ZZ plant pest-free by not overwatering, keeping it in a well-ventilated area, misting diluted neem oil solution, and checking regularly.

In the beginning, it is difficult to see these pests with our eyes until they overtake your plants completely. Also, where these pests came from is hard to guess.

They are so stubborn that they will return after a few days even if you make them rush away. Therefore, it is necessary to kill them instead.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an entomologist to get rid of these pests. Today, in this article, I am going to cover every pests and disease occurring to ZZ plants and will help you to fix these problems to get your plant to thrive again. So, let’s begin!

Pests and diseases occurring to ZZ plants!

Some common diseases like scales and aphids can attack ZZ plants making them sick or unhealthy. Let us know about these pests and diseases in detail!

1. Scales

ZZ plant Scales

Among the most common pests that attack ZZ plants are scale insects. Despite looking similar to aphids and whiteflies, these tiny insects are quite different. Approximately the size of a pinhead, brown scale feeds on ZZ plant sap.

Their common name comes from the distinctive, scale-like covering they grow while drinking. Usually, you will find them on the underside of leaves. 

Scale can cause drooping or yellowing foliage, distorted leaves, foliage dieback, and leaf loss if left untreated for too long. Depending on the circumstances, you may have to prune your ZZ plants.

In addition, scales may leave honeydew on leaves, causing sooty mold fungi to grow. Even though sooty mold itself doesn’t harm the plants, it can block light from getting to the leaves, affecting photosynthesis.

Scales come in two types:

  • Hard scales: Hard scales have an oyster-like coating that protects them and is often called armored scales.
  • Soft scales: There is no protection on these scales. These scales have a waxy coat on them to protect themselves from specific problems they encounter in nature.

Using a soft toothbrush, cotton swabs, or cotton balls, wipe away the scale with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol or soapy water. To prevent re-infestation, check and clean every few days.

2. Blights

ZZ Plant Blights

Although southern blight is not too common, it can affect ZZ plants. Often, blight is caused by excess moisture trapped between leaves. Temperatures that are too warm, high humidity, and poor air circulation can make blight worse.

In some cases, blight may cause yellowing and browning of lower leaves. In a few weeks, the lower part of the plant may appear mushy. There may be rot in the roots and rhizomes with time.

Treat blight by removing the affected leaves and clearing the soil of dead foliage. Water your ZZ plant every third time with hydrogen peroxide added to the water. Make sure the water is directly applied to the soil. Allow the soil to dry between waterings to prevent blight.

3. Aphids

ZZ Plant Aphids

In the case of yellow spots or marks on your ZZ plant’s leaves, you might have aphids. Look for these tiny green, brown, or black insects on the underside of the leaves. It may take a close examination to see them, since they are tiny and blend in.

Similarly to scale, aphids feed on plant leaves, sucking out the sap. As a result, the leaves get distorted, their foliage curls up, and their growth is stunted.

They may also excrete honeydew, which can cause sooty black mold. Wipe away aphids with soapy water or insecticide soap.

4. Mealybugs

ZZ Plant Mealybugs

Mealybugs also feed on the sap of your ZZ plant. These hairy, sticky insects look like tiny white ovals attached to your plant. Their favorite feeding spots are where leaves attach to stems and along leaf veins. You can find them in the crevices of your plant.

As a result of mealybugs, plants suffer stunted growth and wilted, yellowing leaves. Also, you may get ants on your ZZ plants due to the powdery substance they excrete.

Use soapy water or insecticide soap to wipe or spray leaves to kill mealybugs.

5. Whiteflies

ZZ Plant Whiteflies

It is rare for you to experience a whitefly infestation on your ZZ plant. Although whiteflies resemble gnats, their white wings make it easy to identify them.

During the adult stage, the whitefly feeds on the foliage of plants. In some cases, leaves will turn a pale yellow or white color as they fade.To treat whiteflies, mix 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap with 1 gallon of water. Allow the mixture to dry on the top and bottom of the ZZ plant’s leaves. Repeat the spray every two to three days until the fly population has died down.

6. Spider mites

ZZ Plant Spider mites

A spider mite is a small, oval-shaped bug with a pale or reddish-brown color tone. On the lower side of the leaves, they feed on plant tissues and sap.

On the underside of the leaves, you will see them spinning a white web. As with other ZZ plant pests, they also secrete honeydew, which attracts ants and molds.

Winter is the time when these mites lay their eggs, which hatch in early spring. It won’t take them long to multiply and take over your ZZ plant once they begin their life cycle.

You will see the following problems on a spider mite-infected plant:

  • Spots on leaves
  • Leaf discoloration
  • Falling leaves
  • Leaves curling
  • Plant wilting

7. Fungus gnats

ZZ Plant Fungus gnats

Fungus gnats can enter your home through the soil ZZ plants grow in. As they feed on decaying organic matter, they often infest soil mixes and containers.

ZZ plants can’t be damaged by adult flies, but they are annoying because they multiply quickly and like to buzz around the house. Also, the larvae can damage plant roots in large numbers.

By controlling soil moisture and organic matter, you can control fungus gnats. In plant containers, you can place small yellow sticky traps for catching adult flies. Place chunks of raw potato on the plant’s soil to attract larvae. Additionally, replace the chunks every few days.

How to deal with ZZ plant pests?

How to deal with ZZ plant pests

In this article, we have discussed some of the most common pests that damage our ZZ plants. Now that we know what we are dealing with, we can learn more about how to get rid of them all.

1. Using shampoo solution to get rid of pests and diseases

To wash bugs, especially mealy bugs, mix one tablespoon of shampoo with four ounces of water. Prepare a spray bottle with the solution and get ready to fight.

The concentration of shampoo in the solution may also depend on the severity of the infection. For best results, shake the bottle well before applying the solution to the plant.

Apply it all over your ZZ plant, including the underside of the leaves. In a few hours, you will notice these bugs dying, as well as the number of ants declining.

For complete results, repeat the method once every three days for two to three months. Make sure you spray your ZZ plant in the morning every day.

To ensure your plant remains active, rinse off the solution with distilled or purified water.

2. Using neem oil to get rid of pests and diseases

Neem oil is considered among the best organic insecticides and fungicides.

A toxic component in it acts as a mind-disturber for these pests. It prevents the bugs from sucking sap from the plant, prevents them from reproducing, and eliminates the eggs before they hatch.

Also, it may be possible to protect your ZZ plant from all kinds of insects if you use neem oil appropriately.

Here’s how to use it on plants: Mix 3-5ml of neem oil into one liter of water and mix thoroughly. Put it in a spray bottle and use it twice or three times a month.

Growers often make the mistake of using neem oil after their plants are already infested with bugs. It may work sometimes, but sunlight breaks down neem oil’s toxic component after 2-3 days.

The bugs also return to work when the effect goes down. For this reason, neem oil should be used as a preventative measure.

If you are using neem oil to get rid of bugs in your ZZ plant, use it in the morning. Or spray it every 2-3 days for a month to eradicate the bugs.

3. Using rubbing alcohol and dish soap to get rid of pests and diseases

The best part about this method is that you don’t have to go to the store or order it online. The only things you need are a spray bottle, rubbing alcohol, mild dishwashing liquid, cotton balls, or tissue paper.

  • By using cotton balls and rubbing alcohol, remove all the bugs visible on the plant.
  • Wipe the plant with the cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol. Be gentle as the parts of the plant can be torn or broken if you rush. Alcohol dissolves the pests’ protective covering so that their axons instantly kill them.
  • The next step is to make a specific solution using dish soap and rubbing alcohol.
  • In a 500 ml bowl, mix 500 ml of water with one cup of rubbing alcohol and a few drops of dish soap.
  • Fill the spray bottle with the solution after mixing all the ingredients well.
  • Finally, spray the plant properly with the solution.
  • You may not be able to see most of them with your naked eye, so don’t miss even a single part.

4. Using sticky traps to get rid of pests and diseases

Many growers use these traps for pest management because they are inexpensive, non-toxic, and easy to use.

To form a protective barrier around the plant, these simple traps can be hung or strategically placed around it.

It is worth a try if you are concerned about flying bugs. Worry not, they aren’t poisonous.

Moreover, growers often favor the yellow-colored trap because it attracts bugs and because it’s sticky, it traps them.

5. Using hydrogen peroxide to get rid of pests and diseases

In most medicine cabinets, hydrogen peroxide is used to clean wounds. Additionally, it can be used as a gardening organic product.

There are no harmful chemicals in it for humans or pets. Another inexpensive way to keep bugs away from plants.

Although hydrogen peroxide is a chemical, it quickly forms water and oxygen, making it safe for organic gardening in varying concentrations.

It is a colorless, odorless liquid, commonly used for disinfecting medical equipment and houseplants.

There is no complexity to its working principle and it is easy to understand. In adults, hydrogen peroxide is not appreciated.

When you notice harmful pests on your ZZ plant, spray some hydrogen peroxide solution on them.

Essentially, hydrogen peroxide is water with an extra oxygen atom, and that extra oxygen atom is harmful to eggs and larvae.

Mix a tbsp of hydrogen peroxide with a gallon of water to make an effective spray.

Shake it, then pour it into a spray bottle, and you are ready to go. Even though it rapidly degrades, twice a week is sufficient.

6. Shower the plant to get rid of pests and diseases

The method may or may not kill all the bugs, but it can wash away most of them. All you need to do is spray high-pressure water on the plant.

Make sure you handle it carefully or you might end up damaging your plant. After washing the pots, make sure there is no standing water left in them.


ZZ plants are not susceptible to pests and diseases and have very few problems. The low maintenance nature of the ZZ plant makes it a popular houseplant. You can maintain the health and resilience of your ZZ plant with the right growing conditions.

By creating optimal growing conditions for your ZZ plant, you can control pests and diseases. In other words, you need to choose the right soil mix: well-draining soil that never gets waterlogged. 

In addition, ZZ plants can’t thrive if they’re overwatered. Furthermore, you should be extra careful with newly propagated ZZ plants.

When ZZ plants receive the right amount of light, they are more resistant to pests and diseases. For ZZ plants, indirect light or low light is best. Lastly, feed your ZZ plant only twice a year with diluted, balanced fertilizer.

Hopefully, I have given you some helpful information on pests and diseases occurring to ZZ plants so that you could fix them easily and prevent them as well. If you would like to read more, this website is full of helpful information about houseplants, how to grow, the most common problems occurring to them, and how to fix them. You are welcome to ask questions about ZZ plant pests and diseases in the comments section as I would love to hear from you. Also, don’t forget to share this article on social media, and with your friends and family!

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  • Manish Lakhera

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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. πŸ™‚ Stay tuned.

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