Yellowing ZZ Plant Leaves: Causes & Solutions

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Cause One

Watering Problems

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Cause Two

Environmental Stress

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Cause Three

Root Bound

ZZ plants are generally defined as “unkillable” and quite forgiving when it comes to care, but they still need consistency and attention to thrive.



If your ZZ plant leaves turning yellow, it means that you kind of went hard on it and it’s really unhappy.



This can be caused by several factors, including too much or too little water, low humidity, root bound, or even pests.



Even iron plants could die from lack of care! 


As such, identifying deep causes and troubleshooting them is a crucial part of your journey as a green thumb! 


Let us help you uncover reasons that can cause ZZ plant yellow leaves and tips on getting your plant back in good health.

Common Causes of ZZ Plant Yellow Leaves

There are several potential causes for this phenomenon, and by identifying the root cause, you can take appropriate measures to address it. 

Keep in mind that each case may vary slightly depending on individual circumstances, so observe your plant closely and adapt accordingly to ensure its optimal growth and beauty.


One common cause of ZZ plant leaves turning yellow is underwatering.


ZZ plants are known for being incredibly resilient and can tolerate neglect, but they still require regular watering to thrive. Lack of water can cause the leaves to turn yellow and eventually brown.


How do I know that ZZ plant is underwatered?


  • Check the soil moisture level by sticking your finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels dry, then it’s a sign your plant needs watering.
  • Look out for other signs such as drooping, wilting, or yellowing leaves from the bottom up and feel dry or crispy to the touch

Sometimes you can tell from the general appearance that your plant is dehydrated, and adjust your watering routine accordingly.


Start by giving your ZZ plant a thorough watering until you see water draining out from the bottom of the pot. This ensures that all parts of the root system receive sufficient moisture.


Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering again to prevent overwatering. It’s important not to create a fixed schedule for watering as different environmental factors can affect how quickly the soil dries out.

Instead, monitor your plant closely and only water when needed.


Note: A good rule of thumb is to water when the soil feels slightly dry but not completely parched.


While it’s important to keep our leafy friends hydrated, too much water can lead to ZZ plant leaves turning yellow and stressed.

But, how to recognize if your ZZ plant is suffering from overwatering.

If you notice that the leaves are turning yellow and feeling mushy or soft to the touch, chances are you’ve been a bit too generous with the watering can. 

Another sign is a foul odor emanating from the potting soil.

Addressing the problem

  • Check the moisture level of the soil by inserting your finger about an inch or so into the soil – if it feels moist, hold off on watering until it dries out a bit.
  • Ensure that your pot has drainage holes at the bottom so excess water can escape freely.
  • Keep an eye on environmental factors that might affect the rate at which the soil dries out. 

Cooler temperatures slow down evaporation and transpiration rates, meaning your ZZ plant may require less frequent watering during winter months compared to summer. 


  • Take some time to observe how quickly its soil dries out after each watering session and adjust accordingly. 

Low Humidity

One of the common culprits behind ZZ plant leaves turning yellow is low humidity.


ZZ plants are native to regions with tropical climates, where humidity levels are high. 


When grown indoors, especially in drier environments like heated homes or offices, the lack of moisture in the air can stress the plant.


To create a suitable moisture environment for your ZZ plant, there are a few simple tricks you can try. 


  • Consider placing a humidifier near your plant to regulate the levels of humidity. 
  • Groupe your plants together. When plants are grouped closely, they create a microclimate that traps moisture and increases overall humidity.
  • Place a tray filled with water near your ZZ plant. As the water evaporates, it adds moisture to the air surrounding your plant.

By implementing these strategies, you prevent those pesky yellow leaves from appearing on your ZZ plant.

Lack of Light

ZZ plants are actually pretty forgiving when it comes to lighting conditions. They can tolerate low-light environments better than most houseplants out there.


But without enough light, they can’t photosynthesize properly and this can result in ZZ plant leaves turning yellow. 


So, how do you make sure your ZZ is getting the right amount of light?

Ideally, it thrives in bright indirect light. This means placing it near a window with filtered sunlight or in a well-lit room away from direct sunlight.


If your ZZ plant is situated in a dimly lit area, it might result in yellowing leaves. Move it to a brighter spot.


If you don’t have access to natural sunlight or if the available light isn’t sufficient for your plant’s needs, another option is using artificial grow lights specifically designed for indoor plants. 


When using grow lights, position them about 12-18 inches above the top of your ZZ plant and keep them on for around 12-14 hours per day to mimic daylight hours.

Pest Infestations

One of the deep causes behind ZZ plant leaves turning yellow is pest infestations.


Mealybugs are often found nestled between the leaves or hiding in the crevices of your ZZ plant. They appear as small, fluffy white bugs resembling tiny balls of cotton.


To get rid of them, you can use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and gently dab it onto each bug you spot. 


You can also spray a mixture of water and dish soap onto the affected areas to smother them.


Spider mites spin fine webs between leaves and cause significant damage to your ZZ plant’s foliage.


To tackle them, try using a jet of water or wiping down the leaves with a damp cloth to physically remove them from your plant. 


You can also employ insecticidal soap or neem oil spray as effective remedies against spider mites.


Aphids love gathering in clusters on new growth and undersides of leaves. 


If you spot them invading your ZZ plant, spray them off with a gentle stream of water from a hose or by wiping them away with a damp cloth soaked in soapy water. 


Keep an eye out for any signs of pests regularly by inspecting both sides of the leaves and stems for small crawling creatures or any unusual spots or webbing. 

Root Bound Plant

When your ZZ plant’s leaves start turning yellow, it could be a sign that the roots are feeling a little cramped.


ZZ plants have a tendency to outgrow their pots, and when the roots become overcrowded and tangled, it can hinder proper nutrient absorption and airflow. 

But fear not!


Transplanting your root-bound ZZ plant is a simple and straightforward process.

 Here’s what to do:


  • Carefully remove the ZZ plant from its current pot.
  • Gently loosen the soil around the roots, being cautious not to damage them. 

You might notice that the roots have formed a tight ball or are circling around the bottom of the pot.



This is an evident sign of being root-bound


Addressing Root Bound Problem

    • Select a new pot that is slightly larger than the current one.
    • Fill about one-third of the new pot with fresh, well-draining soil mixture suitable for houseplants.
    • Place it in the center of the pot and gradually fill in with more soil mixture around it until you reach about an inch below the rim of the pot.
    • Gently press down on the soil to secure your plant in place. 
    • Water to help settle its roots into their new surroundings.
  • Keep an eye on your recently transplanted ZZ plant for signs of stress or shock following this root liberation operation.

Transplanting a root bound ZZ plant may seem like a daunting task at first but remember that you’re doing it for its own good.


By providing more space for those hungry roots to spread out and absorb nutrients, you’re giving your ZZ plant the opportunity to flourish and regain its vibrant green foliage. 


So roll up your sleeves, grab a new pot, and give your yellowing ZZ plant a fresh start!

Tips for Facilitating ZZ Plant Recovery from Yellow Leaves

Are your ZZ plant leaves turning yellow?


This is a sign for immediate action to save your ZZ and bring back its lush green foliage.


Here are some helpful tips to guide you through this process.


  1. Examine the overall health of the plant. If you notice mushy or blackened roots, it’s crucial to trim them off to prevent further spread of infection.
  2. Ensure that you allow the soil to dry out between watering sessions without it becoming bone-dry for extended periods as this can stress the plant further.
  3. To facilitate recovery and prevent overwatering, consider using well-draining soil mixtures specifically formulated for houseplants like ZZ plants. These mixes typically contain perlite or sand, which aids in proper drainage while retaining some moisture for healthy root development.
  4. Place your zz near a north- or east-facing window where it can receive bright but filtered sunlight throughout the day without being exposed directly to harsh rays.
  5. Create a more humid environment around your ZZ plant, using a humidifier or misting the leaves regularly with room-temperature water to increase moisture levels.
  6. Be patient and observe how your plant responds over time. It may take several weeks for new growth to emerge and replace the yellow leaves.
  7. Meanwhile, refrain from fertilizing your ZZ plant until it has fully recovered. Fertilizers can further stress a weakened plant, hindering its ability to bounce back.

By following these tips and providing proper care, your ZZ plant can gradually recover from yellow leaves and regain its vibrant green appearance. 


Note: Remember, each plant is unique, so monitor its progress closely and make adjustments as needed to ensure its well-being.


In most cases, it is not recommended to cut off yellow leaves prematurely.


Yellowing leaves are often a sign of an underlying issue with the plant’s health, such as overwatering or nutrient deficiencies. 


Instead of removing the yellow leaves right away, focus on addressing the root cause of the problem and providing appropriate care to encourage new growth.


If the yellow leaves become completely brown and crispy, you can carefully trim them close to the base using clean scissors or pruning shears. 

With proper care and rapid reaction to underlying issues, it is definitely possible for yellow ZZ leaves to recover and turn green again.


However, there may be instances where severely damaged or diseased leaves might not recover completely.


In such cases, it’s best to remove these irreversibly damaged leaves gently using clean pruning shears or scissors. 


Removing them will redirect energy towards healthier leaves, promoting new growth and overall plant health.


Remember, the key to encouraging your ZZ plant’s yellow leaves to turn green again lies in identifying and addressing the root cause of the issue. 

The watering needs of a ZZ plant can vary depending on various factors such as the size of the plant, the pot it’s in, and environmental conditions. 


Generally, ZZ plants prefer to be kept on the drier side rather than being overwatered.


To determine if your ZZ plant needs water, you can check the moisture level by sticking your finger into the soil. If it feels dry at least an inch deep, then it’s time for some hydration.


However, if the soil still feels slightly moist or damp, hold off on watering until it has dried out a bit more. 


As a general rule of thumb, you should allow the top inch or so of soil to dry out before watering again. ( Approximately water every two to three weeks.)

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