ZZ Plant Yellow Leaves – Causes & How to Fix

The ZZ plants are famous for being very durable and adding zing to your home or workspace in the best and most unique manner. One thing you need to know is that you will still need to work on the plant. 

An important aspect of caring for your ZZ is taking care of its is ensuring that your plant is healthy enough to not have yellow leaves, Here is everything you need to know about ZZ.

What do we know about ZZ Plant? 


A member of the Zamioculcas genus, the Zanzibar gem is a flowering plant in the family Araceae, containing the single species Zamioculcas zamiifolia. ZZ is known to be a  tropical perennial plant native to eastern Africa, from southern Kenya to northeastern South Africa.

ZZ plants are known to have stems that grow in a graceful, wand-like shape that begins with a thick and bulbous base and then happens to taper to a point. 

Along the stem grow fleshy, oval-shaped leaves that successfully make the plant look like stylized feathers. The entire plant possesses a waxy, shiny coating that manages to make it appear to resemble those made of plastic. 

ZZ plants are known to be slow-growing plants that prefer bright, indirect sunlight. One of the benefits of the ZZ plant is that it can thrive in many lighting conditions.

If you ever plant or repot a ZZ, you should go ahead with it in the spring or summer when it’s in an active growth phase. 

These plants are known to be poisonous to humans and animals if ingested. Here are some things, in addition to the information already available, how does one care for a ZZ plant?

How to care for the ZZ plant? 

ZZ plants are famous for being low-maintenance, easy-to-care-for houseplants that even gardeners with the blackest thumbs (someone who is unable to grow plants) can keep alive with minimum care. 

All they need to do about care is adequate light and a good watering every couple of weeks. However, you don’t have to worry too much if you forget to water your ZZ plant—these plants grow from rhizomes, which happens to help them to store water under the soil, making them drought-tolerant plants.

ZZ plants have a naturally shiny exterior concerning their leaves but can become dull as dust accumulates. Be careful that you never clean the leaves of a Zanzibar gem with a commercial leaf shine because that will just clog the pores of your plants. Instead, gently wipe away dust and debris with a damp washcloth to restore its shine.

Though it thrives outdoors in Africa, it’s best if you grow the plants indoors. If you want to grow it outside, plant it in a container that can be brought indoors when there is a drop n temperature.


ZZ plants, as their durable nature suggests, are not overtly picky about their potting medium as long as it is a well-draining one. The plant is known to do just fine when potted in standard potting mixes available in most nurseries in your town. 

Just make sure that the soil in which your plant exists does not clog, because if it does, the accumulated water will end up giving your beautiful plant root rot, and nobody needs that. The fungal infections will destroy your plants.

Read More: About How to Choose Best Soil for ZZ Plant


ZZ plants are known to be tolerant of a wide range of lighting conditions, which makes them well-suited to be indoor plants. The plants can grow well, even in low-light conditions. 

When placing the plant in your house, be sure to choose a bright, indirect light spot, preferably in a room that possesses south-facing windows. Avoid direct sunlight, because however durable the plants are, the leaves might end up scorched. 

Also Check: How Much Light Do ZZ Plants Need?


ZZ plants usually do not require regular fertilizing to thrive throughout their life. However, if you’re planning to increase the size or vigor of your plant, fertilize your ZZ plant with a variety of indoor plant fertilizers diluted to half-strength one to two times during its active growing season. 

Liquid fertilizer works best with your ZZ Plants. Liquid fertilizer tends to come in two forms: powder or concentrated liquid. In either case, the fertilizer needs to be mixed with water and poured onto your plants. 

Because you have to mix it yourself, liquid fertilizer gives you the most control over how much you can give your ZZ.


These plants are very tolerant of droughts and can handle infrequent watering thanks to their thick rhizomes. You should, as a habit, water ZZ plants once the soil dries out completely—usually once every two weeks, depending on their growing conditions. 

Conduct a finger test, to be sure that the soil has been dried out completely. It’s better to water your plant less than give it too much water, especially if the plant is as drought-tolerant as this one. 

Yellow leaves in ZZ Plants


The most common problem that your ZZ Plant might have to face is yellow leaves. One of the most common reasons for yellowing leaves in ZZ plants is overwatering which ends up in root rot. 

However, yellowing leaves can also be a sign of several other problems like underwatering, and more rarely can be due to extremes of temperature, light, or fertilizing issues.

Common reasons for yellowing leaves

When your plant presents itself with yellow leaves, it is most likely linked to your watering schedule. Adjusting when and how much water you provide your ZZ plant with can go a long way toward reversing the damage and reviving your green friend.

Listed below, are a few possible reasons why your ZZ plant leaves might be yellowing and what you can do about it.


As ZZ plants are programmed with the ability to thrive in dry conditions, they can have an adverse reaction to excess watering. This is mostly due to root rot and a resulting fungal growth that occurs when the plant’s root system is exposed to wet soil for an extended period.

Whether it is you watering your plant way too often or the soil isn’t draining well, wet roots are the number one cause of root rot, which then stops the steady supply of water and nutrients to the leaves and the remaining parts of the plant.

When root rot sets in, the root system will simply not function as well as it should. This leads to leaves yellowing due to a lack of water absorption and further nutrition reaching essential areas of the plant. Sometimes the leaves that are yellowing will even fall off.

What are you supposed to do if root rot from overwatering is the cause of yellow leaves:

  • You have to start by doing a thorough soil check. Does the soil feel very wet when poked with a finger? If yes, you have to remove the plant from the pot so that you can take a closer look at the roots of the plant. Healthy roots are usually completely white all the way through the soil. If that isn’t the case and you see brown areas of rot, then you have a root rot problem. Root rot ends up disabling your roots, but if caught in time, it can be reversed and your plan will be saved.
  • Use pruners to cut the rotten part of the roots neatly. Remove the roots that seem to be worst affected and cut incisions in healthy roots to encourage new growth of roots. Make sure to wash your pruners after cutting the rot away and using them on other plants. This is because the fungal growth contributes to root rot and can be easily spread if it contaminates your pruners and other equipment.
  • Replant the ZZ plant into a pot that has sufficient drainage holes. Discard the contaminated soil and use fresh soil for the cut-out plant. You should be careful to use a well-draining growing medium to prevent a recurrence of the problem. Water the soil, but only to make sure that it is slightly damp. You must allow the soil to completely dry out before you go on watering it again. Conduct a finger test to ensure the soil is dry.

Read More: About Overwatered ZZ Plant: Signs & How to Save the Plant


A ZZ plant doesn’t need a lot of water, so it happens too often that you forget about watering the plant altogether. Drastic lack of water often leads to leaf color change, shriveling, and dropping. This can be quite distressing for anyone who loves their greens!

If your plant’s soil feels extremely dry, underwatering could be the problem. The good news is that by tweaking your watering schedule, your ZZ plant can bounce back very easily, easier than when it has root rot.

This is what you need to do if your ZZ plant is turning yellow from underwatering:

  • You can start watering the houseplant slowly, but don’t drench the soil immediately. When a plant is dealing with a lack of water, it can be quite tempting to do the exact opposite and start overwatering it. But be sparing with your water.
  • Make sure that you tip off any excess water from the drainage saucer. Never allow the plant to sit in water.
  • If you want to give the health and nutrition of the plant a boost, you can add soluble fertilizer to your water mix. Only mix the fertilizer to half the dosage strength suggested on the package.

Check Out: More About Underwatered ZZ Plant: Signs & How to Revive It

Exposure to sunlight for too long

ZZ plants can generally very tolerate a range of light conditions. They can bear low light quite well, making them an excellent houseplant for duller corners of your home. However, they are not very tolerant of excessive direct sunlight.

If your ZZ plant is exposed to sunlight for more than 4 hours per day, consider lighting as being a cause for yellow leaves. 

With exposure to excessive light, the plant will be more likely to have brown patches or brown tips on the leaves, clear signs of sunburn, and scorching to your plant’s leaves.

If you are in doubt, move your ZZ plant to a location that gets sufficient bright but indirect light. This will get rid of this potential problem and will hopefully aid the recovery of your plant.

Nutrient imbalance

Although the plant is quite tolerant of imperfect growing conditions, it is still entirely possible to get yellow leaves due to nutrient deficiency, or excessive application of chemical fertilizers.

You should as a rule only fertilize ZZ plants monthly, with a well-balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Dilute it up at no more than half the recommended strength on the package, to avoid the risk of a nutrient burn.

If you are careful about fertilizing your ZZ plant more than once or twice per year, it is highly unlikely that nutrient deficiency is the reason for your plant’s yellow leaves. 

If you have been fertilizing your ZZ plant too often or more than once per month or using an excessively strong solution, flush the pot out with plenty of water, to remove all the excess nutrients. 

Alternatively, you can even repot your ZZ plant in fresh, well-draining potting media.

How to deal with yellowing leaves?

We already know what one has to do if root rot has set in, but what do you do with the rest of the plant? Yellowing leaves and discolored stems are also serious problems and need to be dealt with. 

To begin with, remove the ZZ plant from its pot to rescue it from the soil condition if overwatering has been the problem. Following are the tips to correctly treat your ZZ plant:

  • Get rid of all the affected areas. You can start by pruning off the yellow leaves. If all the leaves are yellow, you may need to leave some on. The plant requires at least some leaves for photosynthesis.
  • Check the stems of your ZZ plant for contamination. If any of the stems seem yellow, clip them off where they grow right down at the tuber. The plant should regrow in an extremely healthy manner once recovery is underway.
  • You must act quickly when your ZZ plant starts showing any possible signs of being sickly. When you witness the first sign of yellow leaves, spend some time investigating the possible underlying causes. 

If you figure out what exactly is the reason why the leaves are changing color, you can work out a treatment plan that works for your specific plant.


What sort of fertilizer works best?

Liquid fertilizer works best with your ZZ Plants. Liquid fertilizer tends to come in two forms: powder or concentrated liquid. In either case, the fertilizer needs to be mixed with water and poured onto your plants. Because you have to mix it yourself, liquid fertilizer gives you the most control over how much you can give your ZZ.

How to get your ZZ plants to grow faster?

Even though the plants are not known for quick growth, there are a few things that you can do to encourage and speed them up along the way. Fertilizing your plants is an excellent option to go about that. 

But one thing you need to remember, more fertilizer doesn’t always mean more growth. Too much fertilizer might end up burning your plant’s foliage and root system, stunting growth instead of fostering it.


A ZZ plant can become a great addition to your home and brighten up your living space. But though it is a low-maintenance plant, it might sometimes experience certain issues. If your plant’s leaves start showing yellowing leaves, it’s most likely related to improper watering. 

Be prepared to change your watering schedule and hopefully your beloved ZZ plant will return to health once more. But don’t be too rigid about this, just make sure that you know all possible reasons for the affliction and deal with the issues in the best possible manner.

Let us know in the comments below in case you have any more questions regarding your ZZ plant and we would love to answer them. 

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  • Maansi

    Maansi is a botanist with a strong passion for understanding and preserving the natural world. She holds a Master's degree from the prestigious Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in India and has a wealth of experience in her field. For the past two years, she has been working with the Adani Landscaping Project, where she has been able to apply her knowledge and skills to create sustainable and beautiful outdoor spaces. Maansi is dedicated to using her expertise to make a positive impact on the environment and is constantly seeking new opportunities to learn and grow as a professional. She is also a great communicator and able to convey complex scientific concepts in an easy to understand manner.She has worked with Jayoti on Recent Advances on Floriculture and Urban Horticulture in Global Perspective Highlights and Recommendations https://www.researchgate.net/publication/360313545_Highlights_and_Recommendations_Recent_Advances_on_Floriculture_and_Urban_Horticulture_in_Global_Perspective_Highlights_and_Recommendations She has also worked with Shobha on Effect of Climate Changing on Horticultural Crops in India-A Review https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331987868_Effect_of_Climate_Changing_on_Horticultural_Crops_in_India-A_Review

  • 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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