Why Your ZZ Plant is Droopy and How to Fix It
ZZ plants are dramatic, low-maintenance houseplants capable of tolerating a range of conditions – making them ideal for novice plant parents. Also known as the Zanzibar Gem, these fascinating African plants have gorgeous glossy dark green leaves, and are rich in meaning and symbolism. But even the toughest, easiest plants can sometimes look a little under the weather. If your ZZ plant is drooping, we’ll explain the possible causes whilst also suggesting solutions to perk your plant up.
- Why is my ZZ Plant Drooping – The Essentials
- About ZZ Plants
- Common Reasons Your ZZ Plant is Drooping
- How to Fix a Drooping ZZ Plant
- Drooping ZZ Plant FAQs:
- Drooping ZZ Plants – The Final Word
Why is my ZZ Plant Drooping – The Essentials
The main reasons a ZZ plant might start drooping are overwatering or insufficient light. ZZ plants need minimal watering and easily succumb to root rot if overwatered. Other reasons your ZZ plant is drooping include underwatering, incorrect fertilizing, and poor overall growing conditions.
About ZZ Plants
ZZ plants (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) are stunning and unique plants that come from tropical regions of Africa. ZZ plants are beloved for their beautiful dark green glossy foliage and upright stems. Because ZZ plants have minimal care requirements, they can make brilliant plants for beginners.
ZZ plants are the sole members of the Zamioculcas genus, which is part of the Arum family (Araceae). These plants are native to the eastern and southern parts of Africa. ZZ plants have thick underground rhizomes that store water, making them exceptionally drought-tolerant plants.
As houseplants, ZZ plants provide a range of benefits, including purifying the air and reducing stress. ZZ plants also represent growth and luck in feng shui. They’re also relatively straightforward to propagate if you’re interested in expanding your ZZ plant collection.
ZZ plants are considered mildly toxic, so it’s always prudent to keep them out of reach of eager pets in your home.
Common Reasons Your ZZ Plant is Drooping
Overwatering is one of the most common reasons why your ZZ plant is drooping. Overwatering is particularly debilitating for ZZ plants, causing the soil to become waterlogged and poorly aerated. This leads to problems like root rot and makes the ZZ plant more susceptible to diseases and pests.
ZZ plants have underground rhizomes that look a bit like potatoes. These rhizomes absorb water, sustaining the ZZ plant through periods of drought. That’s why ZZ plants only need to be watered once the soil is almost completely dry.
As well as drooping or mushy stems, other symptoms of overwatering include yellowing leaves and browning on the stems.
Even though ZZ plants are incredibly drought-tolerant, they won’t survive without being watered occasionally. Underwatering can be just as much of a problem as overwatering, especially during the summer.
If the stems of your ZZ plant are drooping or look shriveled or wrinkled, you may be underwatering. Other symptoms of underwatering include dry, brown leaf tips and shriveled leaves that may drop off one at a time. Check to see how dry the soil is, especially around the drainage holes of the pot.
Avoid underwatering your ZZ plant by giving it a drink once the soil is almost completely dry. Although you might only need to water your ZZ plant once or twice a month, it’ll be enough to prevent underwatering.
3) Incorrect Lighting
Another common reason why ZZ plants start drooping is incorrect lighting. Although ZZ plants can handle most lighting conditions, they do best in bright, indirect light, or partial shade.
Without enough sunlight, a ZZ plant may start drooping or producing smaller leaves and leggy growth. If a ZZ plant gets too much sun, especially during the afternoon, the leaves will start to burn, turning brown and dropping off.
Provide your ZZ plant with the right amount of sunlight by placing it near an east or north-facing window. This allows the ZZ plant to get some bright, indirect sunlight during the morning when it’s less intense.
4) Lack of Nutrients
Along with sunlight and water, ZZ plants depend on a blend of nutrients and minerals to fuel their growth. These nutrients are provided by the soil and can be topped up with fertilizer. If a ZZ plant isn’t getting enough nutrition, the leaves may start drooping and turning yellow.
ZZ plants don’t need regular doses of fertilizer – just two doses during the growing season is enough. If you fertilize too often, the salts in the fertilizer can damage the plant. This can be detected by identifying yellow spots or burns on the leaves.
5) Incorrect Temperature or Humidity
Problems with incorrect temperature or humidity could also cause drooping leaves or stems on your ZZ plant. ZZ plants require warm temperatures between 65 and 85ºF and medium humidity levels (40 to 50%).
Drooping or wilting leaves can occur when a ZZ plant is exposed to temperatures below 45ºF. The foliage may also appear shriveled or yellow. Cold drafts can worsen this, so keep your ZZ plant away from drafty windows, especially in the winter.
Humidity that is too high can contribute to problems like root rot and overwatering, which also cause drooping. Avoid misting your ZZ plant or placing it in a bathroom – average household humidity is usually sufficient.
6) Root Rot or Poor Drainage
Root rot is a debilitating condition caused by waterlogged soil, poor drainage, and a lack of airflow around the roots. If your ZZ plant is drooping and the soil feels damp, take a look at the roots. If the roots are brown, mushy, and smelly, your ZZ plant has root rot. Trim away the affected roots and repot the ZZ plant.
Providing adequate aeration and drainage for a ZZ plant means giving it the right soil mix. You need something that drains well but still holds enough moisture for the rhizomes to suck up. A blend of two parts standard potting mix to one part coarse sand and one part perlite works perfectly.
7) Plant Needs Repotting
ZZ plants are slow growers and usually only need repotting every two or three years. If your ZZ plant needs repotting, it will often become root bound and start drooping. Root-bound plants struggle to get enough water or nutrients unless they’re moved to a bigger pot.
If you can see roots peeking through the drainage holes, gently tease the ZZ plant out of its pot. If the roots are crowded together without much soil visible, the plant needs repotting. This is best done in the spring and summer.
8) Pests or Diseases
ZZ plants are incredibly hardy and suffer from very few pests and diseases. However, your plant may start drooping if a disease or infestation does appear. This may be caused by pests that attack the roots, like fungus gnats. Pests like mealybugs can also cause drooping or wilted leaves.
To get rid of fungus gnats, use sticky traps to kill the adults and replace the top inch or two of soil to clear away the eggs. Try not to overwater, as fungus gnats love rotting roots. Mealybugs can be dealt with using insecticidal soap or neem oil.
How to Fix a Drooping ZZ Plant
As they say, prevention is better than cure, and with due care and attention, ZZ plants can live for years. That’s why the best way to fix a drooping ZZ plant is to ensure that it has ideal growing conditions. Even if a ZZ plant has started drooping, ensuring its needs are met can quickly remedy the problem.
The primary considerations for ZZ plants are the right amount of water and sunlight. ZZ plants don’t need watering very often – only when the soil is almost completely dry. Use a moisture meter to check when to water, even if you only end up watering once or twice a month.
ZZ plants thrive when given bright, indirect sunlight. An east-facing window is ideal, but a north-facing window in a reasonably bright room also works. Morning sunlight is less intense than the afternoon sun, so avoid south-facing windows.
ZZ plants need warm temperatures and medium humidity levels to grow at their best. The temperature should be maintained between 65 and 85ºF. Cold damage can set in if the temperature drops below 45ºF. Average household humidity between 40 and 50% is more than enough.
Giving your ZZ plant the right amount of nutrition also helps prevent drooping stems or leaves. ZZ plants should be fertilized once or twice during the growing season in spring and summer. Every two or three years, repot the plant so that it doesn’t become root bound.
Drooping ZZ Plant FAQs:
What causes ZZ plant leaves to droop?
Overwatering, underwatering, or incorrect light levels are the leading causes of drooping leaves in ZZ plants. Drooping can also occur if the plant isn’t given the right temperature, humidity, or nutrient levels.
What does an overwatered ZZ plant look like?
An overwatered ZZ plant has drooping or mushy stems or yellowing leaves (you’ll want to consider pruning these). Browning on the stem is another giveaway, as are brown, mushy, and smelly rotting roots.
How do I know if my ZZ plant is dying?
A dying ZZ plant will usually lose its vibrant dark green color, becoming sickly and yellow. If your ZZ plant is dying, it will also start dropping leaves or suffering from drooping stems.
Will droopy ZZ plant leaves recover?
The droopy leaves can recover if the correct steps are taken, and the ZZ plant is placed in ideal growing conditions.
How do you fix a droopy ZZ plant?
A droopy ZZ plant can be fixed by tackling whatever issue is causing the plant to droop. This is usually overwatering, underwatering, or insufficient sunlight. Give the plant ideal growing conditions, and it will recover.
Drooping ZZ Plants – The Final Word
ZZ plants are incredibly hardy houseplants that can recover quickly even if they start drooping. If your ZZ plant is drooping, it’s usually due to overwatering, underwatering, or incorrect sunlight levels. These problems can be solved by examining the plant, determining what’s wrong, and adjusting the environment to remedy the issue.
If you’re looking for your next ZZ plant, see our in-depth guide to the best plant shops delivering ZZ plants nationwide.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.