The ZZ plant is one of the most popular ornamental plants for all the good reasons. The plant is known for its remarkable hardiness and ability to adapt to different conditions.
However, even the toughest of plants can wilt and lose their natural rigidity for a variety of reasons, and the ZZ plant isn’t an exception.
If your ZZ plant is wilting and you’re trying to recover it, this guide will help you by walking you through all the different factors causing this issue. So without further ado, let’s jump right in!
If your plant is wilting, the first thing you should suspect is water problems. When it comes to ZZ, the plant is more likely to suffer from more water than the lack of it.
Too much water in the soil causes waterlogging where the plant becomes unable to push water and nutrients upwards, so the plant loses its tensile strength and starts drooping.
This can happen if you’re watering the plant too often or you’re using a soil mix or a pot with poor drainage.
- Remove the plant from the current soil and transfer it to a new pot with drainage holes
- Allow the soil to dry completely before watering it again
- Check the roots for signs of root rot and get rid of any black or mushy parts
The ZZ plant has an excellent tolerance to drought. However, it still needs occasional water to sustain its functions and thrive.
- Water the plant’s soil deeply and thoroughly, enough to make the soil wet but not soggy or dripping water heavily from drainage holes.
- Remove dead leaves
- Follow a proper water schedule while watering the plant later on. Ideally, you should water the plant when the top 1.5 inch of the soil is dry (every 2 to 3 weeks in winter and 1 to 2 weeks in summer).
Since ZZ plants are fairly small and slow growers, you might think that they need a small pot. However, as they grow, the plant creates a vast root network in the soil.
When the roots outgrow the pot, the plant won’t be able to draw water and nutrients properly. As a result, the stems and leaves start to wilt. Additionally, you’ll notice stunted growth with some yellow leaves.
- Repot the plant in a larger pot (the plant will take some time to recover due to transplant shock, so you have to be patient)
- Remove the dead leaves and fully yellow ones
ZZ plants can survive low light conditions for some time, but this is not the optimal condition to keep it.
In fact, the ZZ plant needs around 6 to 10 hours of indirect light per day. When the plant gets less than that or is kept in a fairly dark room, the stem will start to droop and the entire plant will wilt.
One telltale sign that the plant isn’t getting enough light is that the color of the leaves will be slightly pale, compared to the original color, and gradually turn yellow.
- Move the plant to a location with brighter light, or use fluorescent light bulbs in the dimly lit room
- Choose a location that doesn’t get direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves. Instead, pick a pot with plenty of indirect light.
- Use blinds and sheer curtains to turn direct sunlight into indirect or softer light, which increases the places where you can keep the plant.
Fertilization is essential for ZZ plant nourishment and the plant may not survive without it, but too much fertilizer can do more harm than good.
Excessive fertilization causes the plant to grow rapidly without having a proper root system to sustain healthy growth.
The high concentration of salts also prevents the plant from absorbing water from the soil, which causes wilting. Fertilizer burn can also be visible on leaves, causing brown/rusty tips.
- Avoid fertilizing the plant more than once per month
- Limit fertilization to every 6 months outside the growth season
- Use diluted liquid fertilizers, preferably balanced N-P-K options.
ZZ plants thrive in a humidity level between 40% to 50%, which is similar to the average room’s humidity.
However, some places at home can have a fairly high humidity range, such as kitchens and bathrooms.
Wilting caused by high humidity is usually accompanied by the development of mold around the plant.
- Transfer the plant to a room with a proper humidity level
- Avoid spraying the plant more often
- Keep the plant in a well-ventilated room to avoid humidity build-up
- Avoid using mulch on the plant’s soil because it raises the soil’s humidity
- Install a hygrometer to check the humidity level and adjust it accordingly
The perfect temperature range for ZZ plants is between 60 to 75 °F. However, it can tolerate a range of 40 to 85 °F for some time. If you keep the plant near these extremes, the plant won’t die, but it’ll wilt significantly.
- Transfer the plant to a room with a temperature within the plant’s comfortable range.
- Keep the plant away from cold air drafts, such as air conditioning and windows in cold winters
- Install a room thermometer where you’re keeping the plant, and avoid placing the plant in a room with plenty of sunlight and little ventilation because it raises the room’s temperature
Lastly, the ZZ plant is also prone to wilting caused by shocks, traumas, and physical damage. This can happen if you knocked the plant down or if you have a curious pet at home. In that case, the pet might try to chew on the plant’s leaves and damage its stems.
- Transfer the plant to an area that children and pets can’t reach
- Check your children and pets for any signs of irritation caused by interacting with the plant, as ZZ plants are toxic to humans, cats, and dogs.
This marks the end of today’s guide that walks you through all the different reasons why ZZ plants are wilting.
While there are various reasons behind this issue, you can use this guide to identify the root cause and eliminate it. Luckily, you can recover the plant in most cases, especially if you act early!
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.