ZZ Plant Root Bulb Exposed: Reasons & How To Fix

Are you concerned about your ZZ plant root bulb being exposed?

But do you know the ZZ plant has a different type of root system compared to other houseplants?

Do not worry, this is not a major issue and your ZZ plant won’t die because of it. But it is better to avoid or prevent this issue. Due to your negligence, the ZZ plant can get root bulbs exposed.

Exposed root bulbs are like an open invitation for pests and diseases to attack. They can be harmful to the plant and also cause damage to it. Although the ZZ plant is extremely hardy, it still needs to be looked after.

So, in this article, we will discuss what is a root bulb, what are the reasons for the root bulb of your ZZ plants getting exposed and how can you fix this problem! Let’s begin!

What Is A Root Bulb?

zz plant root bulb

There are several reasons why the root bulb of the ZZ plant is exposed but before understanding that first, let’s know what exactly a root bulb is.

Well, root bulbs are usually round or oval, with a pointed end that is regarded as the bulb’s top. The side of the bulb that develops roots when planted in the ground is the bottom part of it. Normally, the bulb’s base contains a little bud that will grow into the plant’s flowering section.

Scales present on the modified leaf structures that store food are layered around the bud. Sometimes, a thicker skin covering known as a tunic surrounds the entire bulb, providing the bulb with protection. Offsets, which are fresh, young bulbs that grow close to the basal plate, are how these real bulbs spread. These offsets will eventually create their own when they are large enough.

These root bulbs usually occur due to frequent watering causing the soil to wash away. However, when the plants show a sign of root bulbs being exposed, which indicates the plant is unhealthy. It also shows that the plant has become root bound. Root bound is caused by lack of attention and other factors that affect the plant greatly.

Reasons For The Root Bulb Of A ZZ Plant To Be Exposed

The root bulbs of the ZZ plants get exposed due to a variety of reasons. If your plant experiences this issue, then it means your plant is not healthy. We have mentioned below some of the reasons why the root bulbs of ZZ plants get exposed.

1. Overwatering the ZZ plants

The most fundamental requirement of plants is water. The plant cannot survive and flourish as it should if there is no water available. The plant will eventually droop and wilt away without water because it is essential to provide all the minerals it needs to survive. You must make sure the plant gets the right amount of water each day because occasionally, plants might become harmed by either overwatering or underwatering.

The drought-tolerant succulent ZZ plants do not require regular watering. Also, you should have drainage holes in your container to let the excess water flow out because overwatering can cause damage to the plant. As when the dirt mixes with the water and is released via the drainage pores because of frequently watering the ZZ plant. The root bulb becomes more visible as the soil level declines due to the often removal of soil by watering.

So to avoid the bulb from showing, try to minimize the watering of the ZZ plant. Water the plant only once or twice a week. Overwatering causes the depletion of the layer of soil causing the root bulb to be seen.

2. Pot Size of the ZZ plant


The pot in which the plant is placed also plays a vital role in the development of the plant. The growth of the plant depends on the size of the container in which the plant is held. Because the roots of the plants need wide and free space to spread. They require a place to move around without getting tangled. If the pot is small in size that leads to tangled roots and root bound, which are not good for the plant. While a larger container gives the roots the needed breathing space.

It is okay to grow the ZZ plants in a small container but do not keep the plant there for a long time because as the plant grows and needs, it will tend to move out of the container resulting in exposing the root bulb easily. So try to repot the ZZ plant every 2 to 3 years for better and nourished growth without any problems.

3. Root Bound in ZZ plants

Root Bound in ZZ plants

Root bounding is a problem for ZZ plants. The plant grows slowly, but the rhizomes expand more quickly and fill the pot. Rhizome roots can force the bulb up and can grow downward. You’ll see the tops of the rhizomes emerging because they were weakly planted. Although the plant doesn’t quickly outgrow containers, the rhizomes can be a justified reason for more frequent transplanting.

4. Unstable Gardening Hose for ZZ plants

You can grow the ZZ plant outdoors or indoors. Hoses are frequently used to water plants outside. When watering the ZZ plant with a higher pressure hose, it is simple to wipe away the thin coating of soil. This leads to the showing of the root bulb of the ZZ plant, making it vulnerable to pests and other diseases that it can attract towards it.

How To Prevent Root Bulb Of A ZZ Plant From Exposing?

There is always a way by which you can fix your root bulb from exposure. When you notice the bulb peeking outside of the soil, then quickly take measures at an early stage to prevent any harm to the plant. The faster the damage is controlled, the better it is for plant development. We have mentioned below some of the ways you can consider preventing the root bulb of the ZZ plant from exposing.

1. Repotting The ZZ Plant

All plants require repotting because they can be kept both inside and outside. Repotting helps bonsai to build their nutrition and grow more quickly. The soil needs to be changed as part of this procedure since it is worn out by the plants using up all the nutrients. Also, it helps to remove the undesirable and damaged roots, to restrain their development and expansion.

The ZZ plant’s pot shouldn’t be too large or too little. A large pot can cause root rot, but a small pot can cause bulb exposure and root bounding. When the bulbs are close to the pot’s walls and you can feel them, choose a medium-sized pot and replant it. Doing this will prevent any future damage to the plant and help in its growth. Repotting of the ZZ plant should be done every 2 to 3 years.

Repotting the ZZ plants will help us remove the unwanted and harmed roots that are affecting their growth. And also, it will help us change the pot to an adjustable one where the roots of the ZZ plant can grow freely and without any exposure to the root bulb.

2. Change In Water Equipment

Location of where you keep your ZZ plant affects how much water it needs. Every 2 to 3 weeks, or whenever a significant portion of the soil becomes dry, you must water the plant. The rhizome holds moisture, so the plant won’t perish if you forget to water it. Until water begins to emerge from the drainage holes, thoroughly wet the area as the excess water causes the removal of soil layers. A cup or watering can be used in place of a hose to water the ZZ plants.

3. Dividing The Bulbs

When two or more bulbs are planted together, ZZ plants look better. There may be more rhizomes hidden beneath the soil if you received your plant as a gift or bought it from a store. The ZZ plant root bulb may become exposed as a result of this.

So to divide them, we have given some steps below for you to follow:

  • Plants should be taken out of the pot and washed thoroughly so that any remaining dirt may be readily removed. 
  • Then, gently separate the bulbs. You can also use a knife to separate the root bulbs if they are joined together. You have to be very careful while performing this step not to cause any damage to the plant’s root system.   
  • Give the exposed areas a few hours to dry. Then, you can prepare the containers with a new soil mixture.  
  • You should put the exposed sections back in the pots once they have dried up significantly. Over a few weeks, water these plants and monitor their development.


Q1. How Long Does It Take For a ZZ Plant To Root?

Ans. It will take around 2 to 3 weeks for the roots to grow in the soil. You will have to be patient with the root growing process. Also, the climate and seasonal changes can affect the ZZ plant of root development. 

Q2. Should the rhizomes be exposed?

Ans. Rhizomes grow near to the surface, therefore you don’t want to plant them in their new pots too deeply. And for the roots to effectively grow, you typically need to plant them 1 to 2 inches deep in the soil with the top of the rhizome exposed to the surface.

Q3. How do I know if my ZZ plant has root rot?

Ans. Check the roots after carefully removing the plant from the pot. White is the color of a healthy root system. It is rotting if the roots are already turning brown to black and are very slimy and squishy to the touch. Secondly, the roots will smell bad. That’s how you know if your ZZ plant has root rot.


From the above-provided information, you might have now understood why the root bulbs of the ZZ plants get exposed and what measures you can take to prevent it. Remember, even though the ZZ plant may be hardy and survive neglection but is your job to provide the plant with the proper care and attention for it to grow healthily. Try using the methods mentioned in this article above if your plant is facing such an issue. Hope the information given was helpful to you and cleared all your doubts regarding the same.

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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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