ZZ Plant Turning Yellow? Here are the Causes & Solutions

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Indoor plants are your personal best friends. They sit by the window and accompany you on your life journey. But sometimes you might feel confused why your plant is not doing well.

Yellow leaves are the most common dilemma faced by indoor plant lovers. Whatever the problem, giving up on the plant is not an option. We’ll help you to find the issue that causes yellow leaves and solve it.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia or the ZZ plant is a celebrity among indoor plants. It's a tropical perennial plant that originated in eastern Africa. It's popular as a decorative plant because of its shiny leaves and ease of care.

It’s generally evergreen, but during droughts, the plant turns deciduous. It sometimes even survives droughts, thanks to the rhizome that stores water. The flowers are tiny and brilliant yellow to brown in color. Partially buried within the leaf bases, the flowers might go unnoticed.

This palnt also has medicinal properties and the plant is used as a treatment in some parts of the world. A poultice made from bruised plant material from the ZZ plant is used to treat the inflammatory illness known as "mshipa" in Tanzania.

It is known for its beauty and fresh look. The fleshy bulbous stem and oval leaves give a unique appearance to the plant. They are tough fighters when facing negative conditions and need very little care.

Mostly they are known for the low maintenance feature, but sometimes certain things can fade the beauty of your green friend. The best thing you should do is to regularly observe your plant. Let’s have a look at the possible causes of the leaves of your ZZ plant turning yellow and how you can fix it.

Common Causes & Fixes for ZZ Plant Turning Yellow

1. Overwatering

One of the possible causes of yellow leaves is that you might be watering the plant too much. ZZ plants usually live in dry conditions. They do not like excess moisture in the roots and the leaves.

They are known to live without much care and watering. If you overwater the plant, it will result in fungal infections on the plant which in turn will lead to the yellowing of leaves. Keeping ZZ plants in a moist atmosphere for a long time is also not a good idea.

Root rot is another terrible condition that could result from overwatering. Root rot happens when the plant's roots are immersed in water for more than the required time. It can happen due to two reasons.

Either you are watering the plant too often or the pot or soil is not draining the excess water well. If the roots start to rot, it will hinder the water supply to all parts. This will result in the yellowing of the leaves.

How to Control Root Rots in ZZ Plants?

Let us start by checking the soil in the pot. If the soil is dripping wet, then Nah! your plant isn't happy at all. To confirm root rot, we need a closer look. Pull the plant out of the pot gently without breaking stems or roots.

Wash it under running water to remove the soil around the roots. A normal healthy plant will have white-colored roots. If the plant is affected by root rot, then the roots will appear brown.

The rotten roots should be cut out precisely. Take a pruner and sterilize it before using it on the plant. Sterilizing is important because fungal infections can also create root rot.

Completely cut out the ones which are severely affected by the root rot. Keep the healthy and white roots. You can also make very small incisions on the white roots. These small incisions will promote the growth of new roots.

After this, take a pot with a good drainage system and space for the roots. But do not take pots that are a lot bigger than the size of your plant. Bigger pots will retain moisture for a long time and cause root rot. The new soil also should be well-draining.

Repot the plant into the new container and your plant is safe from root rot.

2. Underwatering

It is true that ZZ plants don't care about being neglected. But if you forget to water for a long time, then the plant will be unhappy.

Underwatering can also result in the yellowing of leaves. The leaves may start dropping once the plant gets too thirsty. If you identify the problem early, you can easily save the plant.

But do not flood the pot to make it up to the plant. Start watering slowly and let the plant adjust to the watering schedule. Within some days your ZZ plant will be fresh and green.

How often should you water the ZZ plant?

The key is to create a watering schedule. Not too little and not too much! Always check the soil before you water the plant. Water only when the soil looks half dry.

Watering once or twice a week is enough depending on the climate region. During winters, watering once a week is enough.

3. Too much light

Plants love sunlight, but houseplants are not a big fan of too much sun. ZZ plants love dark corners of the room where they don't get exposed to too much sunlight. If you place them near a very sunny window, the leaves will show discoloration eventually.

An hour of sunlight daily will be more than enough for them. If you keep it in sun for too long, then the leaves might get sunburnt or turn into brown color.

How much light should be provided to the ZZ plant?

Every plant needs the sun for photosynthesis, so do the ZZ plants. But make sure to keep them at a corner where not too much sunlight is available. Direct sunlight might damage the plant.

Indirect sunlight from a window will be helpful for the plant from leaf yellowing. Change the location to find out the perfect place for your ZZ plant inside the room. Low to medium light is ideal for a ZZ Plant. The ZZ Plant may thrive in low-light environments.

4. Improper fertilizing

Another possible cause of the yellowing of the leaves might be the imbalance in nutrients. Over-fertilizing or fertilizer deficiency can create problems. The fertilizer should be soluble in water and mild.

Apply a little bit less quantity than what is prescribed in the fertilizer package. This is to keep the plant safe from excess fertilizing. ZZ plants do not demand too many nutrients.

Fertilizing it once a month is enough. The plant will stay healthy even if you only fertilize it twice a year. But abandoning the plant for more than a year will cause the leaves to turn yellow and unhealthy. Do not fertilize more than once per month.

How to clean the fertilizer residue as a result of excessive fertilizing?

Do not worry if you were over fertilizing the plant all this time. There are still ways to save your ZZ plant. To remove the fertilizer residue, take the plant out of the pot and clean the pot well in running water.

Fill the pot with a fresh potting medium. Either you can plant it in the same pot again after changing the soil. Also, you can shift the plant to another pot. Here’s a list of the best pot planters for your indoor plants.

Should you clean the leaves of the ZZ plant?

Yes, you should!

They are dusty when coming from the growers' greenhouses. Pesticides, foliage cleaners, moisture pouring from the roof, and, most importantly, hard water make them unclean. You should also clean up the dust and filth that has accumulated on the leaves from your home.

Use a duster when there is a light dust build-up. You can clean the leaves using a wet soft cloth. This step has nothing to do with the health of the plant. But it does help a lot in keeping the pests in check. It also gives a better and fresh look to your plant.

Bonus Care Tips to Prevent Your ZZ Plant from Yellowing

Make sure to provide the right temperature to the ZZ plant. ZZ plants can survive harsh conditions. They even survive in very cold climate regions. The ideal temperature would be between 70 degrees F- 90 degrees F.

If the leaves of ZZ plants are consumed, it can be irritating to cats, dogs, and humans. Always remember that houseplants should always be kept out of reach of little children and dogs.

The ZZ Plant is a low-maintenance plant that is usually pest-free. Treat pests as soon as possible should they develop by spraying with an insecticide. Use natural insecticides like neem oil or Spinosad weekly. You can also wipe down the plant on a regular basis.


You might have figured out where you went wrong in ZZ plant care. You still have time to save your plant. Stick to basic care and let your plant grow freely.

The yellow leaves will gradually disappear and your plant will be healthy again. Comment down below what problem caused your ZZ plant a hard time and the way you solved it.

Happy Gardening!