ZZ Plant Overwatering: 4 Signs & Effective Solutions

Gardening goes far beyond just watering your plant and expecting that this is enough for them to survive. The needs of each plant differ according to its original habitat. The phrase ” less is best”  would apply to the watering schedule of the zz plant. This is one of the hard lessons that I learned as a gardener when I found that I had overwatered my zz plant.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia, or simply zz Plants, have gained popularity as a stunning foliage plant over the last few years. Overwater them, and you’ll see their leaves and stems begin to lose their vibrant, green color and start to turn yellow.

If you are curious to know more about the tell-tale signs and effects of ZZ plant overwatering , then read on.

Signs Of An Overwatered zz Plant

Overwatered ZZ plant

The zz plant does not require a complicated care routine. It is commonly noted amongst newbie gardeners that the health of the zz plant deteriorated as soon as they decided to overwater.

Overwatering zz plants can present a variety of symptoms, but I’ve listed the most common below.

  • Overwatering will cause the zz plant to develop soft, mushy brown spots on the stems, clearly visible from the soil line extending upwards towards the plant. The brown spots indicate that the stems or rhizome has been in contact with damp soil for too long, which eventually leads to root rot.
  • Another tell-tale sign of overwatering is the wilted look of the leaves and the drooping stems. The dropping of leaves is common amongst aging zz plants, but anything more than that you can attribute to overwatering.
  • The wilting of a leaf is often the zz plant’s survival mechanism to combat severe drought, sacrificing one leaf at a time until the water is found.
  • Once more leaves start to sag and fall, and the plant begins to turn yellow, this indicates that the root system is saturated with water and cannot absorb the necessary nutrients that will be instrumental in keeping the plant healthy.

If you are still noticing more changes to the health of your zz plant and are confident you haven’t been overwatering, then these symptoms indicate that there are other health issues.

Also Check: ZZ Plant Long Stems: the 2 Most Likely Causes And Solutions

Reasons Not To Overwater Your zz Plant

This drought-resistant plant originates from the semi-arid regions of Eastern Africa and is accustomed to long periods of dry conditions and bursts of occasional rain; as such, its ultimate survival depends on the efficient rhizomatous root system that absorbs and stores water and then distributes to the rest of the plant as the need arises.

Already having a natural in-house storage water system means that the plant controls its water intake and the levels of water that it can handle. Once this rhizomatous root system is full, there is no other place to store the water. This water will then filter to the rest of the roots, and you might end up with a catastrophic effect.

How Often Should  A  zz Plant Be Watered?

Unlike other plants, it isn’t easy to put a time-frequency as to how often the zz plant needs to be watered. The inability to do so is largely due to the rhizome’s ability to act as an in-house storage facility to the zz plant. The best way to ascertain if these water resources have been exhausted is by checking if the soil has completely dried out.

You can use the drying out of the soil as your determining factor towards the zz plant’s readiness for more watering. A survey taken by a group of university students established that although a zz plant can survive without months of watering, it might be best to follow a watering cycle of once every three weeks.

Only water every two weeks from spring to fall or until the soil has completely dried out. During the winter months, you can water the zz plant less frequently.

Can I Save My Overwatered zz Plant?

A common question amongst gardeners is if their zz plant has any chances of survival despite overwatering. Their survival depends on the extent of the damage to the root structure. If the damage is minimal, you may be able to restore it to its former glory. You can start by;

Gloves and gardening equipment

Accessing The Damage Of The Overwatered zz Plant

  • To determine the depth of the overwatering, you will need to determine the root course; by literally looking at the roots.
  • Start by removing the zz plant from the container; although the leaves and stems can give you the verdict on overwatering, you will need to delve deeper.
  • Instead of pulling up on the plant’s stems, it is advisable to remove it from its pot by flipping it upside down, allowing it to fall into your hands.
  • If your plant isn’t budging, run a butter knife around the inside edge, which will help separate the soil from the pot.
  • As soon as the zz plant is out of the container, check for signs of rot in the roots and rhizomes. If it is not visible, remove the excess soil around the roots with your fingers or gently rinse the plant’s base with water to remove as much soil as possible.
  • Once the soil has been completely removed, you will be able to ascertain the full extent of the damage visibly. The tell-tale signs of a rotted root would be the appearance of brown or gray mushy roots.

Reader Also Checked: Zz Plant Brown Tips: 4 Most Likely Culprits And Solutions

Steps To Try To Revive A zz Plant That Has Root Rot

Prolonged root rot may lead to the death of your zz plant. Although lethal, it is treatable. If the case is extreme, the zz plant can die off within ten days. If it does not survive, chances are it can be propagated.  Before you expect that scenario, you can still give the plant a fighting chance at survival by;

Pruning Of The Damaged zz Roots

When pruning a damaged zz root, you will need to ensure that the tools are sharp and clean, almost like performing surgery.

  • Remove any dying roots by cutting away at them. Remember, once a root has died, it will not grow back. Cutting them off gives the plant a better chance at survival.
  • Also, remove any brown and mushy rhizomes by adopting the process of quick and clean cuts.

 Re-Planting The zz Plant In A New Pot

Replanting zz plant
  • It is generally advisable to purchase a new pot as fungus from the affected zz plant will often remain in the pot even after removing the plant. If not possible to purchase a new pot, then clean the existing pot with a mild bleach solution of one part bleach and ten parts water.
  • Allow your zz plant to completely dry out before repotting into a container with a good drainage hole.

 Re- Planting The zz Plant In New Soil

  • Discard the old soil that contributed to the root rot, as this may still consist of the fungi.
  • Choose new soil that is lighter and moisture draining. Regular potting soil and half succulent blends are perfect.
  • Once repotted, water the zz plant lightly.

Pruning The Top Of The Plant

  • Remove all dead leaves and stems, especially if they have turned yellow.
  • Using sharp, clean scissors, you can prune the leaves from the base close to the stem or gently pull the infected stems from the soil.
  • Once you have followed this process, leave in the shaded area for a few weeks to allow the zz plant to bounce back from its initial near-death experience.

Conclusion on ZZ Plant Overwatering

zz Plants are known to be the “un-killable” houseplant, making them appealing for plant collectors. However, if zz plants were to have an Achilles’ heel, it would be overwatering. This plant thrives on neglect, making it the ideal choice for frequent travelers and people with busy lifestyles.

For any plant taken out of its original habit, its best way of survival would be to create an environment conducive to these conditions. It will still survive even if you forget to water it for three weeks.

You must admit that this is a long time for a plant to survive without water. But the zz plant seems to have mastered the art of survival in this area.

References & Other Resources


https://www.nal.usda.gov/legacy/topics/home-gardening/zz plant/