10+ Common ZZ Plant Problems and How To Fix Them!

Read this article about the list of the most common problems that ZZ plants face and how to fix and prevent those problems! Take a note and read till the end if you want to keep your plant healthy!

With glossy green leaves and interesting upright, curving stems, ZZ plants make delightful houseplants. Even though they are notoriously tolerant of neglect, this does not make them indestructible. 

It is common for ZZ Plants to have yellow leaves and root rot due to overwatering. They are also susceptible to brown leaves due to excess light, heat, over-fertilizing, or low humidity. 

Today I am going to tell you all of my secrets from my personal experience over the years with ZZ plants in my home. In this article, I will address all the common problems that ZZ plants face, as well as how to prevent and fix them. So, let’s begin.

10+ Common ZZ Plant Problems and How To Fix Them!

1. ZZ Plant Leaves Turning Yellow


In ZZ plants, yellow leaves are usually caused by overwatering. Usually, lower and older leaves are affected first. Moreover, brown leaf tips, lack of growth, droopy stems, and wrinkled leaves may accompany it.

Also, several factors can cause yellow leaves. These include excessive sunlight, pests, acclimation, and temperature stress.

Here’s why your ZZ Plant has this problem!

  • Yellow leaves are usually caused by overwatering, so check this first.
  • You can also look for other signs of overwatering, such as yellowing leaves and edema.
  •  If the roots rot, you will see drooping stems, brown leaf tips, especially on the younger leaves, wrinkled leaves, and the offensive odor of rotting roots.
  • In excess light, ZZ plant leaves will scorch and turn yellow/brown. A lot of direct sunlight is likely to cause leaf scorching on ZZ plants, rather than overwatering.
  • It is quite common for pests to feed on the leaves of your ZZ plants, causing yellow spots on them. Make sure the leaves and stems are free of pests by inspecting them on both sides.
  • An acclimation process is often required for newly purchased ZZ plants. As they adjust to your home’s conditions, they can develop yellow leaves or even drop leaves.

2. ZZ Plant Isn’t Growing New Leaves

ZZ Plant Isn't Growing New Leaves

It is most likely that insufficient light is preventing your ZZ plant from growing new leaves. So, it is best to give ZZ plants bright, indirect light. Moreover,  ZZ plants can not grow when it is cold or under any other stress.

In most climates, ZZ plants grow from early spring through mid-autumn. Lighting conditions have a large impact on the growing season, so if you use grow lights, you can extend them. Also, in equatorial climates, ZZ plants typically grow all year long.

If your ZZ plant gets plenty of light, you should then look for any other problems causing your plant stress and inhibiting growth. Keep an eye out for these things:

  • Are your ZZ plants root-bound? Your ZZ plant may not be able to grow anymore if you haven’t replanted it for many years. Without sufficient roots, your plant may not grow new shoots or leaves. If you see roots growing out of the drainage holes, repot your plant in a slightly larger pot to encourage new growth.
  • The use of fertilizer can prevent growth. The roots of your ZZ plant can be damaged by overfertilization, preventing new growth. For optimal growth, ZZ plants only require fertilization a few times per year.
  •  If you think you have overfertilized, consider flushing the soil. Also, it is very rare for a ZZ plant to stop growing due to nutrient deficiency in its soil. Hence, fertilize ZZ plants once in a while if you haven’t fertilized them for many years.
  • The acclimation process can prevent your ZZ plant from growing. During this time, a ZZ plant may not produce growth since it takes 4-6 weeks to adapt to your home’s conditions. Your plant will soon start growing if you provide it with comfortable conditions.
  • The growth of new leaves can also be hindered by drafts, pests, or diseases. If you notice any problems with your plant or surroundings, address them as soon as possible.

3. Your ZZ Plant Has Brown Tips


In most cases, brown tips on ZZ plants are caused by overwatering, especially on new growth. It is also possible for brown tips to develop as a result of underwatering, excess heat, overfertilization, or low humidity.

When there is not enough water, the leaf tips die and turn brown, making them the most vulnerable part of the plant. If too much water is lost from the leaves or they do not receive enough water, they will turn brown.

A common cause of brown tips on ZZ plants is overwatering, which may seem counterintuitive at first. However, if you overwater, the soil becomes soggy, which damages or kills the roots. 

Eventually, water abundance turns into water deficiency, and the already weak plant develops brown tips on new tender growth quite quickly.

Here are a few other tips for identifying brown tips on ZZ plants and preventing them!

  • Low humidity – Ensure that the room in which you keep your ZZ plants has a proper humidity level. ZZ plants don’t require high humidity for healthy glossy leaves, but if grown in arid conditions they can develop brown tips.
  • Make sure your plant is not exposed to any hot or cold drafts caused by heating or cooling appliances, or from drafty windows. To keep track of the temperature where my houseplants are kept, I use a digital thermometer. With it, I can see at a glance if my plant has been exposed to extreme temperatures. Also, it keeps track of minimum, current, and maximum temperatures.
  • Excessive light – ZZ plants thrive in bright, indirect light. In the presence of excessive sunlight, leaves lose an enormous amount of heat and water. As a result, brown leaf tips are often the result of roots struggling to keep up with water loss.

4. ZZ Plant’s New Growth Is Light Green

Initially, a ZZ plant’s new growth is light green and gradually darkens to match the existing foliage over time. Sometimes, nutrient-deficient ZZ plants develop excessively light growth or may not have evenly green leaves.

Consider nutrient deficiency if the foliage is very thin and spindly or doesn’t darken over time. To ensure that no other issues are hindering the plant’s growth, ensure all other areas have been addressed.

5. Exposed ZZ root bulb

Exposed ZZ root bulb

Repeated watering can expose the root bulb or rhizome of a ZZ plant over time. Your ZZ plant’s roots can also become exposed if it becomes root-bound over time. Normally, exposed roots/rhizomes are not a sign of disease.

If you water a ZZ plant from the top, the roots may become exposed. Every time you water your plant, some soil is washed away. The best way to prevent this is to add water a little at a time or water your plant from the bottom.

If your roots are exposed, it may mean you need to repot your plant as it has become rootbound. Check the roots of your plant to see if they are tightly coiled around the inside of the pot by gently removing them from its pot. To encourage healthy growth, repot if necessary.

If you are potting your ZZ plant, fill it to the level of its stems, so that just the rhizome is covered with soil. Don’t bury the stems too deeply. Leaving a few roots exposed is better than burying them too deep as this will promote stem rot.

6. The stalks of ZZ plants are falling over

The stalks of ZZ plants are falling over

ZZ plants typically fall over due to overwatering, which causes rotting stems that cannot support the weight of the plant. Also, plants grown in low light conditions can become tall and thin, reducing their strength.

As ZZ plants grow, they develop tall stems that curve slightly as they grow. Stems grow quickly, reaching a height of three to four feet within a growing season. Whenever they are grown in suboptimal conditions, they are susceptible to toppling over.

Due to your plant’s position relative to the light source, its stalks may also fall over. Generally, ZZ plants grow best when they have horizontal light from a window, with new growth growing toward the light.

Over time, this can cause the stems to grow at an angle and topple over and break. To prevent this, rotate your ZZ plant a little every few weeks to keep it growing upright. By doing this, you will produce a plant that looks better and is more visually appealing. Plus, stalks won’t fall over as easily.

Stalls often fall over, and sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s simply fate or if your ZZ plant is having a problem.

7. Curling leaves on ZZ plants

Curling leaves on ZZ plants

When ZZ plant leaves curl, it is usually due to a lack of water. To reduce the amount of water loss, the leaves curl to reduce the surface area. There are several causes of leaf curling, including drought, overwatering, excess heat, pests, and low humidity.

Often, leaf curling is accompanied by brown leaf tips and drooping stems on your ZZ plant. Also, it is crucial to determine if the plant is losing too much water, or if it cannot provide enough to the leaves. Additionally, it is very difficult to fix your plant without this information.

Check the rest of your plant and the growing conditions to uncover more clues. Some of the criteria are as follows:

  • Light – Direct sunlight will result in increased water loss, causing the plant to curl the leaves to reduce water loss.
  • Water – Check to see if the plants are overwatering or underwatering. There is a complete contrast between the treatments. Detecting underwatering is easy, but overwatering is difficult. Because an overwatered plant will have many of the symptoms of water deficiency once its roots are damaged.
  • In extremely arid conditions, particularly when temperatures are warm, ZZ plant leaves may curl. If you want to boost humidity, group your ZZ plants, use a humidity tray, and use a humidifier.
  • Plant pests – Many pests eat ZZ plants, sucking the juice from their leaves. It causes irregular leaf damage, yellow spots on the leaves, and signs of dehydration and stress. At least every few weeks, check your plant carefully for pests and isolate it immediately from any other plants.

8. ZZ Plant Stems Are Wrinkled

ZZ Plant Stems Are Wrinkled

If your ZZ plant has wrinkled stems, it is probably deficient in water. This can be caused by excess water loss due to high temperatures, too much light, low humidity, or lack of water due to underwatering or root rot. 

Water deficiency may cause other symptoms, so it will be necessary to consider symptoms and conditions together.

9. Root Rot of ZZ Plants


The most common problem with ZZ plants is root rot. It occurs when a ZZ plant grows in waterlogged, poorly aerated soil. Once the top half of the soil feels dry, ZZ plants should be watered only once. Make sure your plant has plenty of light, drains well, and has pots with plenty of drainage holes to prevent root rot.

People are often surprised when they learn that roots need oxygen to survive. Through photosynthesis, plants produce energy, but they also depend on oxygen to function and grow. It is extremely stressful for roots to grow in soggy or poorly draining soil, as oxygen is quickly depleted.

As the plants become increasingly stressed, they start to die off or succumb to opportunistic pathogens in the soil. The initial symptoms are associated with too much water. As a result, your ZZ plant’s roots start to rot, which spreads to its stems.

When your ZZ plant suffers from more severe root rot, you will often have to remove the plant. You should look for the following symptoms:

  • A yellowing of the leaves, especially on the lower and older leaves.
  • Edema or blisters on the leaves.
  • The tips of newer leaves are brown, particularly the newer ones.
  • The roots are unable to deliver enough water to the plant, resulting in curling leaves and wrinkled stems.
  • Flopping or drooping stems due to dehydration or decay.
  • There is a rotting smell coming from the roots.

Here are some tips for fixing and preventing this problem;

  • You will need to remove the pot from your ZZ plant.
  • Take a shovel and loosen the soil to inspect the roots. Look for brown/black, mushy, fragile roots that smell bad.
  • With sterile pruners, prune off all affected roots.
  • Wash the roots to remove the remaining soil. When repotting, use new soil because the bugs that caused the root rot are likely still present.
  • Use a clean, porous pot that’s just large enough for your plant and repot in a potting mix that’s well-draining. An excellent option is to mix equal parts coco-coir and perlite with about 10% compost or worm castings. If it drains well, you won’t have any problems.
  • Light and temperature should be moderate for your ZZ plant. Once the top half of the soil feels dry, water it.
  • The root system will need several months to recover before you see any new growth, but hopefully, it will produce new shoots soon.

10. Floppy / Drooping Stems

Floppy  Drooping Stems

This problem is caused by low light levels. Every week, rotate the plant to ensure all parts of the plant receive light evenly.

Another major cause of this problem is overwatering, which makes the leaves soft, preventing them from supporting the plants.

It is also possible that transplant shock occurs after repotting. Therefore, tie bamboo sticks to the stem of the plant immediately after repotting.

The stress caused by low or high temperatures may also contribute to this.

11. Foliage lacks luster

Foliage lacks luster

Due to dust accumulation, the glossy and dark leaves of the plant lose their shine over time. It dulls the appearance of the plant.

You can solve this problem by wiping the leaves once a week with a damp cotton cloth. By keeping the foliage shiny, you will also contribute to the plant’s ability to photosynthesize.


Q1. What is the cause of the yellowing on my ZZ plant?

Ans. Are there any yellow leaves? There is nothing to worry about if there are only a few yellow leaves falling off at the bottom.

If you see any of the following symptoms, you may have overwatered your plant and it is experiencing rot:

  • There is a lot of yellowing on the leaves
  • It looks like the stalks are turning brown and mushy
  • Several leaves are falling off easily

Reduce the frequency of watering and prune your plant. Before watering again, let the soil completely dry out.

Remember that overwatering is one of the most common causes of plant death in ZZ plants. Rather than overwatering, it is better to err on the side of underwatering.

Q2. What is causing my ZZ plant to turn brown?

Ans. The following are 7 common reasons for brown leaves:

  1. Bright sunlight
  2. Overwatering or underwatering
  3. The quality of the water
  4. A low humidity level
  5. Extreme temperatures
  6. Pests
  7. Bacterial or fungal disease

Cut off the brown parts of the plant.

Q3. How can I fix my leaning ZZ plant?

Ans. If your ZZ plant is leaning away from its light source, it is receiving too much sunlight. It can either be moved to a shadier spot or the curtains can be drawn if you don’t want to move it.

Q4. Why is my ZZ plant’s leaves curling?

Ans. ZZ plant leaves curl for several reasons, including:

  1. Overexposure to sunlight
  2. Lack of water
  3. Overwatering
  4. Cold temperatures
  5. Pests
  6. Rootbound plants

Q5. How can I save a dying ZZ plant?

Ans. Let’s check out the steps below that you must follow to save a dying ZZ plant!

  1. Inspect the plant carefully. If any leaves look diseased, remove them (don’t be afraid to cut them down).
  2. Take your ZZ plant out of its pot and loosen its roots.
  3. Prepare a fresh pot of well-draining potting soil for your plant. It may be a good idea to increase the amount of perlite in the soil to improve drainage. Also, make sure your pot has a drainage hole.
  4. Place the plant in the new soil and secure it. If the soil is dry, water it until it is moist.
  5. The next time you water, decrease the frequency and move the plant to a slightly sunnier spot.


These were common ZZ plant problems, and how to fix them. In general, ZZ plants are pretty hardy provided they receive no bright light and are not overwatered. It’s a great idea to use them in a bedroom because of their air-purification capabilities. Overwatering is the most common issue that occurs to ZZ plants. If you can identify this issue with the help of the information we have given in this article, then you can fix and prevent this issue easily! The best secret to keeping your plant healthy is to keep checking on your plant regularly and making sure that you are growing your ZZ plant in comfortable conditions and that its needs are met!

Hopefully, I have given you some helpful information to find out the causes of your ZZ plant issues and fix them. 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. 

Do you have any other questions about ZZ plants problems that I did not answer? Please let me know in the comments! 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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