How To Save Your ZZ Plant From Root Rot: Step-by-Step Guide

How To Save Your ZZ Plant From Root Rot

Hey there, fellow plant enthusiasts! If you’re a proud owner of a ZZ plant (zamioculcas zamiifolia), you know these green beauties can bring life and charm to any indoor space. However, even the most experienced plant parents can run into a bit of trouble, and one common issue that ZZ plant lovers face is root rot. But worry not! With a sprinkle of knowledge and a dash of care, you can save your beloved ZZ plant from the clutches of root rot and get it back on the path to thriving. So grab your gardening gloves and dive into this step-by-step guide!

What Causes Root Rot on ZZ Plants?

Root rot can wreak havoc on our beloved ZZ plants, but understanding its causes is the first step towards prevention and ensuring their long-term health. Let’s explore the various factors contributing to ZZ plants’ root rot.


Overzealous watering is a common culprit behind root rot. ZZ plants are native to arid regions, and their roots are adapted to periods of drought. Excessive watering saturates the soil, depriving the roots of oxygen and creating a favorable environment for fungal growth. Remember, ZZ plants prefer to dry out between waterings rather than being constantly moist.

Poor Drainage:

Inadequate drainage is another leading cause of root rot. When the potting container lacks drainage holes or has insufficient drainage material, excess water becomes trapped, leading to waterlogged conditions. This stagnant moisture restricts root respiration and encourages fungal pathogens to attack the roots.

Root Damage:

Physical damage to the roots can provide an entry point for fungal pathogens. Rough handling during repotting, accidental injury, or disturbances in the root zone can weaken the plant’s defense mechanisms and make it more susceptible to root rot. Handle your ZZ plant’s delicate roots with care during any maintenance activities.

Use of Poor-Quality Soil:

Using low-quality or inappropriate soil can increase the risk of root rot. Soil that retains too much moisture or lacks proper drainage properties can suffocate the roots and create an ideal environment for fungi to thrive. Opt for well-draining soil mixes formulated explicitly for houseplants, or amend the soil with materials like perlite or pumice to improve drainage.

Read the guide I wrote on The Best Potting Soil Options for Healthy ZZ Plant

Fungal Diseases:

Certain fungal pathogens, such as Pythium and Phytophthora, are notorious for causing root rot in ZZ plants. These pathogens thrive in damp conditions, and attack weakened or injured roots, leading to their decay. Avoid introducing contaminated soil or infected plants into your ZZ plant’s vicinity to minimize the risk of fungal diseases.

How To Save Your ZZ Plant From Root Rot: Step-by-Step Guide

How To Save Your ZZ Plant From Root Rot, Step-by-Step Guide
How To Save Your ZZ Plant From Root Rot, Step-by-Step Guide

Here are six easy-to-follow steps to save your zuzu plant from root rot! 

Step 1: Detect the Drama

First things first, we need to determine if your ZZ plant is suffering from root rot. The most common cause of root rot is overwatering, which leads to waterlogged soil and suffocated roots. Gently remove your ZZ plant from its pot and examine the roots. Healthy roots should be firm and white, while rotting roots appear brown, mushy, and unpleasant. If you spot any signs of rot, it’s time to take action!

Step 2: Trim and Tidy

Once you’ve identified the affected roots, it’s time to trim away the damaged parts. Grab a pair of clean, sharp pruning shears or sharp scissors and carefully remove the brown, mushy roots. It may seem daunting, but trust me. It’s for the best. Remember to sterilize your tools before and after using them to prevent the spread of any potential pathogens. Don’t worry if you trim a significant portion of the roots – your ZZ plant is a survivor and will bounce back!

Step 3: Repot with Care

After trimming your ZZ plant’s roots, it’s time to repot it in fresh, well-draining soil. If your old pot does not have drainage holes, move your ZZ plant to a new pot with proper drainage. Choose a pot with drainage holes to prevent water pooling at the bottom. Opt for a pot slightly larger than the previous one to allow room for growth. Fill the bottom of the pot with a layer of rocks or pebbles for additional drainage. Then, place your ZZ plant in the pot and fill it with a well-draining potting mix. Gently pat down the soil around the roots, ensuring they are adequately covered.

Replanting the ZZ plant will help it not recover and prevent it from dying due to root rot.
Repotting the ZZ plant will help it not recover and prevent it from dying due to root rot.

Step 4: Adjust Your Watering Routine

Adjusting your watering routine to prevent future encounters with root rot is essential. ZZ plants are native to arid regions of Africa and can handle drought-like conditions. Allow the top inch or two of the plant’s soil to dry out before watering. When it’s time to water, give your ZZ plant a good soak until water drains out of the bottom of the pot. Ensure that excess water is not sitting in the saucer or tray. Remember, ZZ plants are more tolerant of underwatering than overwatering, so it’s better to err on the side of caution.

Step 5: Find the Perfect Spot

ZZ plants are known for their adaptability when it comes to lighting conditions. They can thrive in bright, indirect sunlight and low-light areas. However, direct sunlight should be avoided as it can scorch their leaves. Find a cozy spot for your ZZ plant to receive the right amount of light without exposure to harsh rays. Additionally, ZZ plants prefer temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C), so aim to keep them in a comfortable environment away from cold drafts or heat sources.

Step 6: Patience and Perseverance

Saving your ZZ plant from root rot is a journey that requires patience and perseverance. It may take some time for your plant to recover and show signs of new growth. During this period, keep a close eye on its watering needs, lighting conditions, and overall health. Remember to give it some extra care, love, and encouragement along the way. Before you know it, your ZZ plant will thrive again, bringing joy and greenery to your space.

Will Overwatered Leaves Recover in Overwatered ZZ Plant?

Fear not, fellow plant enthusiasts! Despite the woes of overwatering, your resilient ZZ plant can bounce back. While overwatered leaves may turn yellow or wilted, there’s hope for recovery. Adjust your watering routine, allowing the soil to dry out before watering again. Trim any severely damaged leaves and watch as new growth emerges. Remember, ZZ plants are masters of rejuvenation. Your ZZ plant will regain its vibrant foliage and charm with patience. Embrace the journey of recovery and witness the resilience of your beloved plant!

What are the early signs of root rot in the ZZ plant?

Early signs of root rot in ZZ plants can be subtle but essential to catch to address the issue promptly. Here are some early signs to look out for:

  • Yellowing leaves: One of the first indicators of root rot is yellowing leaves. The discoloration usually starts at the leaf tips or edges of the leaves and gradually spreads throughout the foliage. If you notice consistent yellowing, it’s time to investigate the root system.
  • Wilting or drooping: Root rot affects the plant’s ability to absorb water and nutrients, leading to wilting or drooping leaves. Your ZZ plant may appear limp and lackluster, even when you’ve been watering it properly. Wilting can occur even if the plant’s soil is moist, as the damaged roots cannot transport water effectively.
  • Stunted growth: If your ZZ plant isn’t growing as vigorously as it used to or new leaves are smaller than usual, it could be a sign of root rot. The compromised root system hinders the plant’s ability to take nutrients, resulting in slowed growth.
  • Foul odor: Root rot is often accompanied by a distinctly unpleasant smell. Detecting a musty or rotten odor when inspecting your ZZ plant’s roots strongly indicates root rot.
  • Soil moisture imbalance: Overwatering is a common cause of root rot, and a telltale sign is an excessively wet soil. If the soil consistently feels soggy or waterlogged, it’s a sign that your plant’s roots are not receiving enough oxygen, leading to potential rotting.

It’s crucial to catch these early signs to prevent the root rot from progressing and causing further damage to your ZZ plant. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to examine the roots and adjust your care routine accordingly.

How to Prevent Your ZZ Plant from Getting Overwatered Again

How to Prevent Your ZZ Plant from Getting Overwatered Again

Oh, the perils of overwatering! We’ve all been there, showering our plants with love and water, only to realize we may have gone a tad overboard. But fear not, my fellow plant enthusiasts! Here are some tips to help prevent your ZZ plant from getting overwatered again.

  1. Mindful Moisture: The key to preventing overwatering is to be mindful of the moisture levels in the soil. Before reaching for that watering can, check the soil with your finger. If it feels dry about an inch or two down, it’s time to water. Hold off on watering for a little longer if it’s still slightly moist. ZZ plants can handle some drought, so slightly drier soil is better than a soggy one. By measuring the moisture the plant receives with a moisture meter, we can determine the exact amount of moisture that the plant receives.
  2. Drainage Delight: Ensure your ZZ plant is potted in a container with proper drainage holes. Good drainage allows excess water to escape and prevents it from pooling at the bottom. If your pot doesn’t have drainage holes, consider repotting your ZZ plant into one that does. This simple change can make a world of difference in preventing overwatering.
  3. Mind the Frequency: Adjust your watering frequency based on your ZZ plant’s needs. Remember that ZZ plants prefer to be slightly underwatered rather than overwatered. Instead of following a rigid watering schedule, observe the plant’s condition and let it guide your routine. Allow the top inch or two of the soil to dry before watering again.
  4. The Finger Test: The finger test is your best friend when watering your ZZ plant. Before reaching for that watering can, stick your finger into the soil’s surface to gauge its moisture level. If it feels dry, it’s time to water; if it’s still moist, hold off. Trust your finger’s judgment, and you’ll avoid drowning your ZZ plant.
  5. Embrace Patience: Sometimes, we water our plants out of habit or worry, but ZZ plants thrive with patience. Allow them to show you their thirst signals before reaching for the watering can. Remember, it’s better to underwater and adjust accordingly than to overwater and risk root rot.

You can prevent future overwatering mishaps by implementing these tips and becoming attuned to your ZZ plant’s needs. Your ZZ plant will thank you with lush, vibrant foliage and a resilient spirit. Let’s keep those watering cans in check and enjoy the beauty of a perfectly hydrated, thriving ZZ plant!

5 Golden Rules for Growing a Healthy ZZ Plant

With proper care, your ZZ plant will also grow new healthy green leaves
With proper care, your ZZ plant will also grow new healthy green leaves

ZZ plant care is not difficult. Here are 5 tips that will help you grow your ZZ plant and enjoy the beautiful glossy leaves for many more years in the easiest way:

  1. Light with Love: ZZ plants are versatile in lighting. They can tolerate both bright, indirect light and low light conditions. However, keep them away from direct sunlight, which can scorch their leaves. Find the perfect spot that provides them with just the right amount of light, and watch them shine!
  2. Sip, Don’t Drown: ZZ plants are tough cookies that prefer slightly underwatered over overwatered. Allow the top inch or two of the soil to dry out before watering. When it’s time to quench their thirst, please give them enough water, allowing excess water to drain out of the pot. Remember, ZZ plants can handle a little drought, so don’t smother them with too much love!
  3. Stay Cozy and Warm: ZZ plants enjoy temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C). Keep them away from cold drafts or hot radiators, as extreme cold temperatures can stress them out. Provide a cozy and comfortable environment, and they’ll reward you with their luscious greenery.
  4. Say No to Root Rot: Overwatering is the enemy of ZZ plants (and many other plants, too!). Ensure your ZZ plant has well-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes. Remember to trim the rotten roots of your plant and adjust your watering routine to keep those roots happy and healthy.
  5. Occasional TLC: ZZ plants are relatively low-maintenance, but a little TLC (tender loving care.) now and then goes a long way. Wipe their leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust and keep them looking their best. Occasionally, please give them a gentle shower to provide high humidity, which they appreciate. Show them some love, and they’ll reward you with their vibrant presence.

Following these golden rules will give you a healthy and happy ZZ plant that thrives in your home or office. So, embrace the joy of caring for this resilient beauty, and let the ZZ plant bring its natural charm into your life!


Why is My ZZ Plant Turning Brown?

Before we embark on our rescue mission, let’s address the first question that might be on your mind: why is your ZZ plant turning brown? Well, the most likely culprit is overwatering. ZZ plants are tough cookies that hail from arid regions of eastern Africa, adapting them to survive drought-like conditions. So when we drown them with too much water, their roots suffer. Brown, mushy roots are a clear sign of trouble. Factors like poor drainage, compacted soil, or containers without drainage holes can also contribute to root rot.

Is my ZZ plant over or underwater?

The eternal watering question! Regarding our beloved ZZ plants, it can be tricky to determine if they’re getting too much or too little water. Here’s a quick guide to help you solve the mystery. First, feel the soil – if it’s dry an inch or two down, your plant is thirsty; if it’s consistently soggy, you might be overwatering. Next, check the leaves – drooping means underwatered, while yellow leaves or mushy stems indicate overwatering. Peek at the roots for brown, mushy ones and a foul odor – signs of overwatering and potential root rot. Remember, ZZ plants can handle a bit of drought, so it’s better to slightly underwater than overwater. Keep an eye on your watering routine and find that perfect balance for healthy leaves for your ZZ plant!

In conclusion, 

There you have it—a step-by-step guide to rescuing your precious indoor plants from root rot. With some plant TLC and these handy tips, your ZZ plant will return to its vibrant self in no time. So, roll up those sleeves, get ready to nurture, and enjoy the rewards of a happy and healthy ZZ plant. Happy gardening, plant enthusiasts!

How To Save Your ZZ Plant From Root Rot
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Hey, My name is Liat and I am addicted to house plants! I have at home more than 50 different types of plants of all kinds - succulents, cactus, tropical plants, orchids and more! Feel free to share the blog with friends on social networks.

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