Although ZZ plants are low-maintenance house plants, they’re no exception!
Many gardening enthusiasts, especially new gardeners, make the mistake of overwatering their ZZ plant believing that they’re taking good care of it. On the contrary, overwatering can actually kill a ZZ plant.
So, what are the signs of ZZ plant overwatering? And how can you fix it?
Read on to find out.
ZZ plants aren’t particularly picky about the type of soil they grow in. The only thing a ZZ plant requires from its soil is good drainage. The roots and rhizomes pick up the water they need from the soil, and the rest should be drained to prevent the roots from rotting or getting an infection.
To ensure that your soil is well aerated and drains the excess water effectively, mix it with a fast-draining type of soil, such as sand. That way, you’ll have a soil mix that allows fast drainage of water and leaves room for your ZZ plant’s roots to grow.
If you’re unsure whether you’re overwatering your plants, there are a few telltale signs that you would notice. These signs include:
When you overwater your ZZ plant, you practically soak the roots in water. The moist soil surrounding the roots would then lead to fungal infections, causing your plant’s roots to rot and, in severe cases, can kill your plant.
To check on your plant’s roots, pull it out of the soil and examine the roots and rhizomes closely. Are they sturdy or mushy and droopy? Are they brown or white? Do they smell weird?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, your plant’s roots are drowning from overwatering.
Another sign of ZZ plant overwatering appears at the base of its stem, which is the closest part of the plant to the soil.
If that part of the stem is wrinkled and shriveled and has brown burnt spots, this means that the plant is getting too much water.
Similar to the base, the rest of the ZZ plant’s stem is affected when you overwater your plant. Healthy ZZ plant stems should be strong enough to hold the leaves upright. It should be rigid enough to snap if you try to break it.
To test out the stem, gently squeeze it with your fingers. If it’s too soft or swollen, then your plant has taken up more water than it could hold.
Although it’s common to see a few dark spots on the stems of your ZZ plant, if you notice yellow spots that turn black over time, that’s not a good sign.
As we’ve mentioned before, excess water allows fungi and bacteria to grow within your soil and infest your plant. So, if you notice that your stems and leaves have yellow spots that gradually darken over time, your plant has a fungal or bacterial infection from overwatering.
The answer to this question depends on how badly your plant is damaged. If you notice these signs in an early stage, there’s a big chance to restore your plant to its healthy state.
However, if you don’t see any signs of recover within a week or two at most, unfortunately, your plant’s roots have rotted completely, and you can’t undo the damage at this point.
As soon as you notice any of the signs mentioned above, you must take action. The sooner you try to fix an overwatered ZZ plant, the better the recovery results.
First things first, move your plant to a porous pot. To be sure that your plant won’t suffer from overwatering in the future, use porous pots to drain the extra moisture and protect your plant from suffocating.
If you don’t have a porous pot at the moment, poke some holes in your current pot for fast draining until you buy a porous one.
Since the old soil is saturated with water, and possibly fungi or bacteria, you’ll need to dig out your plant and move it to new, fast-draining soil.
You could go for something like coarse sand or cactus soil and perlite for aeration and fast drainage.
- Uproot the plant and run its rhizomes underwater to check it
- Cut off any diseased roots that look brown or soggy
- Repot your plant in the fresh fast-draining soil you’ve just prepared.
4 – Prune Dead and Infected Leaves and Stems
Cut off any dead leaves and stems with a sterilized knife or clippers so they don’t compete with healthy ones.
You need to focus all of the plant’s energy on healing and nurturing the healthy parts.
5 – Adjust Your Watering Schedule
After saving your ZZ plant, there are a few tips to prevent this from happening again.
- Water your plant only when it’s dry, and limit the watering to one month during winter.
- Wait till the top two inches of the soil are dry to water your plant
- Water your plant from the bottom first by putting the pot over a dish or sink full of water for one minute. Then, place it on a tray to drain the excess water.
Caring for plants for the first time has its learning curve, but it gets easier. Mistakes like overwatering your plants or over-exposing them to sunlight are fairly common. So, if you’ve overwatered your ZZ plant, don’t worry. There’s a solution that could save your plant.
Now that you know how to notice any signs of ZZ plant overwatering and how to save your plant if it ever happens, you shouldn’t be worried anymore if it ever accidentally happens again.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.