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6 Causes of a ZZ Plant Growing Sideways

6 Causes of a ZZ Plant Growing Sideways

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The ZZ plant is one of the most popular indoor plants and is known for its low maintenance and air-purifying qualities.

However, even the most resilient plants out there can experience some issues from time to time, a common example here is seeing your ZZ plant growing sideways.

There are a few reasons why ZZ plant stems droop. In today’s guide, I’ll walk you through those reasons along with ways to fix them.

Is It Okay If My ZZ Plant Grows Sideways?

Although some people might find it aesthetically pleasing, if your ZZ plant is growing sideways, it’s usually an indicator that something is wrong.

This is because, in perfect conditions, the ZZ plant should always grow straight up. In other words, leaving the plant in its current situation will lead to further issues down the road, depending on the factor that causes it.

Why Do ZZ Plants Grow Sideways?

Now that you know that ZZ plants shouldn’t be growing sideways, here’s a quick look at the main culprits behind this phenomenon and what you can do about them.

1 – Inadequate Watering

The most common reason why ZZ plants grow sideways is related to how often you water the plant.

ZZ plants are originally native to semi-arid regions in Africa where the region receives little rainfall. However, ZZ plants have a sophisticated rhizome system that stores water to overcome long periods of drought.

If you overwater the plant, it’ll become waterlogged and start drooping. You can identify that by checking the soil, which would be damp or soggy.

While the plant withstands a lack of water, it can’t go on forever. If the plant is drooping and the deep layers of the soil are too dry, your plant simply needs to be watered more often.

How to Fix It

To avoid root rot, you’ll need to repot the plant in new dry soil and avoid watering it for a few days. You should also remove any rotten (dark-colored) roots and yellow/brown leaves.

The ideal watering regimen for ZZ plants is to water every 2 to 3 weeks, but you should also factor in sunlight, soil drainage, and climate conditions for adequate watering

2 – Excessive Fertilization

If you feed your ZZ plant too often, the salts in the fertilizer will accumulate around the rhizome, draining its water content and preventing it from absorbing water.

This results in malnourished, weak stems that can’t support their weight, leading to drooping.

How to Fix It

To avoid this problem, you should tune down your fertilization frequency and feed the plant once every 4 to 6 months.

Luckily, ZZ plants are not picky eaters and can grow well with general-purpose, diluted liquid fertilizers.

3 – Physical Stem Damage

Another popular reason why ZZ plants end up drooping is contracting some physical damage due to trauma.

This often happens due to pets or children messing with the plant. This is because the damaged stems interrupt water uptake channels, which weakens the plant’s stem and causes it to droop.

How to Fix It

First, you should know that ZZ plants are poisonous to humans and common pets, so you need to check that they’re safe and contact a healthcare professional if they display any signs of toxicity.

As for the plant, you’ll need to cut off the damaged parts, as they take a huge toll on the plant and hardly recover.

4 – Exposure to Extremes of Temperatures

The temperature at which you leave your ZZ plant can heavily impact its growth and stem strength.

This is true whether the temperatures are above 85 °F or below 40 °F. In that case, you may also notice leaves shriveling and falling off.

How to Fix It

Simply transfer the plant to a spot with a favorable temperature range, which is between 60 to 75 °F.

You should also make sure that the plant isn’t placed near external air drafts, which could be too hot or cold for the plant. You should also remove any wilting or curling leaves to help the plant regain its strength quicker.

5 – Lighting Problems

ZZ plants thrive in indirect sunlight, whether it’s medium or highly bright. However, exposing the plant to direct sunlight can cause it to droop significantly. This is often accompanied by scorched leaves, which is the telltale sign of excessive sunlight.

How to Fix It

Transfer the plant to a spot with more adequate exposure to sunlight. Use shaders and blinds to keep the light indirect and soft to protect the plant.

6 – Transplant Stress

Ideally, you need to re-pot your ZZ plant once every year to accommodate its growth. This should be right before its growing season (spring) for optimal results.

While it’s for the good of the plant, transplanting is usually accompanied by a period of stress where the stems end up drooping.

How to Fix It

Luckily, transplant stress is a temporary natural reaction to repotting, so you don’t have to do much here rather than giving your plant time to accommodate, which is usually as little as 4 to 7 days.

Final Thoughts

This marks the end of today’s guide that shows you all the reasons why your ZZ plant ends up drooping and growing sideways.

As you can see, there are various aspects that can affect the plant’s growth patterns and affect the stem’s strength. By following the tips provided above, you’ll be able to detect and fix them with relative ease!

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