Root Rot in ZZ Plants

When you notice that your ZZ plant has indications of root rot such as wilting or yellowing, take it out of the pot, wash it and then examine the roots. If there is a smell, rotten, or mushy areas must be removed. The remaining rhizome must be planted in a fresh and porous pot that has new dry, well-drained soil.

The most serious threat to the nearly impervious ZZ Plant can be root rot. The condition is silent and quickly turn your beautiful, shiny plant to a sour, yellow shadow of the original. Let’s look at the steps to recognize this problem and fix the problem before you’re too late.

How To Check ZZ Plant For Root Rot

Root rot can develop rapidly, and since it is asymptomatic beneath the surface of the soil, you might not be able to notice it until later. Most of the time, ZZ plants plod along with ease and can withstand different conditions, and can even tolerate some neglect. Therefore, any changes in the color or stiffness should be assessed promptly.

If you notice signs of root rot on the ZZ plant, it’s imperative to immediately examine the roots to determine whether the plant is saved. When root rot begins to develop it could be fatal since the disease rapidly spreads throughout the succulent root rhizome.

In order to check the health of your ZZ plants for root decay, it is important to know the root rot process and what you should look for when looking at the roots that are exposed. Like the name implies, this disease can cause healthy roots of the plant to begin decaying and expands from the affected areas to healthy areas.

When you remove your plant from the pot to examine its roots, look closely for any other possible causes that could be causing its condition to deteriorate. Eliminate any other cause such as a parasite infestation or a wrong light source before proceeding to your next action.

zz snake plant

Above Ground Symptoms of ZZ Plant Root Rot

If you suspect that you may possibly excessively watered the ZZ plant and you notice any of the below signs above the soil, you must take the time to examine the roots:

  • The plant begins to yellow from the beginning to the top
  • The presence of rotting or mushiness at the base of the stem
  • Stem weakening or falling over
  • Shrunken or curly leaves look wilted stems
  • The algae or mold could be found in the area around the bottom of the pot.
  • An unpleasant, rotting smell can be detected near the soil

In the event that your ZZ plant displays any of these symptoms then it’s time to examine the roots to confirm your suspicions.

How To Check ZZ Plant Roots For Root Rot

The process of checking the roots of any houseplant is best carried out as gently as you can to avoid stressing the plant more. The goal is to remove the roots of the plant from the soil, inspect them and then take the appropriate action and then repot them in the same process.

It is recommended to wear gloves while working with your ZZ plant because the juices that come of the plant can create skin irritation.

Make sure not to take your plant out of the pot by pulling it upwards by the stems. Place the pot on its side, and gently lift the contents without pressing any of the plants. In the event that your ZZ plant isn’t releasing you can slide a knife along the edge of your pot in order to let it loosen.

After it’s out then you must clean off the roots so you are able to inspect the roots. To accomplish this, you need to put them in slightly warmer tap water. The flow of water should be smooth at all times Be sure to keep the roots in place during the process to ensure that the stems do not break off.

In determining if a root is rotten The most important factors to consider are the appearance, its color, the way it feels and it smells. Healthy ZZ rootstocks should feel solid and not display any evidence that sponginess or slime have formed on any area of the root after it has been rinsed.

If you’ve ever purchased potatoes in a bag and found one that had begun to turn brown it is very like what the root rot on the ZZ plant rhizome might appear to be. If you gently run your fingers across the ZZ root’s surface, you might notice slimy or mushy areas.

The point of your finger might be capable of piercing the area of the root by a gentle probe.

A ZZ plant that is affected by root rot may also have brown or grey-colored roots. A darker shade replaces the normal white hue as the roots begin to decay.

If your plant is suffering from advanced roots rots, then it might not be feasible for you to salvage the roots, the best choice is to grow an entirely new plant using healthy leaves that remain present on the plant. If there are still strong healthy, white parts that are part of your root, then you might be in a position to save your ZZ plant by acting quickly.

How to Treat ZZ Plant Root Rot

If you’ve discovered root decay within the ZZ plant, it’s imperative that you take immediate steps to eliminate the affected parts. The rotten, mushy bits have to be removed, while the healthy ones require special attention throughout the process of recovery.

Let’s take a look at 8 ways to offer the ZZ plants the greatest chance of survival in the event of root decay.

  1. Set up your work area Get everything you require and arrange it on the surface. You’ll need the following:
  2. Knife or sharp blade
  3. Sterilizing solution such as ruby alcohol to cleanse the blade after every cutting.
  4. Fresh fast-draining potting soil.
  5. A new pot is the best option to eliminate the possibility of the plant getting infected again with the same container or soil It is recommended to put it into clean, dried soil, in a brand new pot.
  • Take ZZ plant from its pot. ZZ plant from the pot and wash the roots. This has to be done with care. The stem’s base might not be as securely connected, so be sure to take care to handle the base of the plant carefully while washing it with a tepid bath.
  • Examine your roots on the ZZ plant. Healthy roots will appear white when washed. They should have a sturdy texture. If the roots of your plant are healthy, make sure the pot is of the right size, and the soil is in good condition and then plant it again. Find other reasons that could be behind the decline of your ZZ plants decline.
  • Cut the damaged Parts from the root – this is the point at which you’ll need to do some surgical procedures on the ZZ plant roots. If you notice any discolored, mushy or slimy areas will have to be cut off neatly and only leave healthy parts.

Make sure you remove all soft parts completely. Cut through the healthy tissue until you can be sure there isn’t any rotting on the edges of every affected area. After each cut, scrub your blade with your sterilizing agent.

  • Pot the ZZ plant If you’re in the same container, clean it with bleach to get rid of any trace from the fungus. Remove the soil from the pot that was originally.

Dip the healthy root sections in the Fungicide solution to make sure that there are no trace of root rot remains. After that, use a clean and well-drained potter’s mix and plant the ZZ plant.

  • Cut back some leaves If you’ve required the removal of large parts of the ZZ plant’s root, it has greater chance of regaining its health when there are less leaves supporting. Utilizing a sterile scissor cut back between one-third and half of the leaves that are higher.
  • Repot the pot lightly and water it well. Make sure your drainage holes remain clear and there isn’t a chance that excess moisture is accumulating within the container. Don’t water the soil again until the soil is dry to the touch.
  • Set up in the ideal conditions Your ZZ plant should be kept in the best conditions to offer the greatest chance of healing. While ZZ plants are renowned for their durability and typically withstand difficult conditions, when they are recovering from the effects of root rot it is best to keep it in a warm area in a place that receives lots of indirect light.

Causes of ZZ Plant Root Rot

It’s not only ZZ plants that suffer from root rot. It is a frequent, and often fatal condition that can affect various kinds of houseplants.

Root rot may originate from two causes: excess water or soil that is infected. The consequences and treatment for the illness will be identical regardless of source, however understanding the cause makes you more at preventing recurrence at a later date.

Excessive Water As A Cause Of Root Rot

When one thinks about root rot everyone immediately imagines that overwatering is the primary cause. But, overwatering isn’t the only reason why roots may become infested. ZZ owners are shocked to discover that their plant is suffering from root rot, despite their meticulous irrigation routine.

The roots of plants require oxygen. If the soil surrounding them is always wet and muddy the roots start to die. When any organic matter is gone, the process of decomposition begins and the rot that has developed in one area of the root is quickly spread to healthier parts.

There’s nothing wrong with occasionally watering the ZZ plant, particularly when the soil was let to completely dry prior to. The issue arises in the event that your plant is in a damp soil for long durations, and the soil is not properly air-conditioned.

ZZ plants contain tubular rhizome roots which conserve water, and therefore can withstand dry spells. In excess watering around the roots may happen totallyunintentionally even if you adhere to a strict time-based watering regimen.

Let’s look at the ways that the soil of your ZZ plant can become a bit waterlogged.

  • Overwatering – The most common root rot cause within ZZ plants is excessive watering – frequently, we overwater our plants. We do our best to care for them, but do not want them to become dehydrated by giving them excessive amounts of water. The moist environment is an ideal breeding ground for root decay.

Even if you’re on a set schedule for watering you should be checking the soil regularly with the tips of your fingers prior to watering. Make sure to add water only when it is dry beneath the surface.

  • Irregular Drainage Systems – As crucial as it is for you to provide your plant with water but it’s equally important that the excess water be drained through the pot out of the root. The roots will absorb water as they move through.

Make sure that the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot to ensure they are not blocked. The water that gets trapped inside the pot can quickly cause issues. Make sure that, the pot is placed on the base of a saucer, it’s filled with water so that the base of the ZZ plant pot isn’t sitting in a water pool.

If you are using pebbles to increase the humidity of the ZZ plant, make sure that the base of the pot is elevated above the cover of stones.

These beautiful features should have sufficient pebbles to keep the pot elevated above the water. The water should be capable of flowing through the pot before it flows out onto the bottom tray.

  • Extreme Humidity – You might not be aware of it, particularly when the ZZ plant is in an extremely humid space such as a bathroom, however drops of water due to high humidity may accumulate on the leaves’ waxy surfaces that form droplets and fall down the stems to the ground below. This slow , but continuous drip irrigation method could result in soil that does not completely dry out, causing root decay.

Another reason could be excessive misting or a nozzle that doesn’t have an even spray. The moisture that is absorbed by the leaves may collect and roll down the stem, and then in the ground. This increases the moisture content of the soil.

  • Incorrect soil – ZZ plants must be planted in fast draining soil.The soil should supply plenty of oxygen for the root, therefore, use fast-draining soil such as a cactus mix. If you are using pot soil, you can include perlite or sand to increase drainage.
  • Examine the pot of the plant Check the pot’s material ZZ plants don’t tend to be concerned about the material that the pot is constructed of and it’s much more crucial to choose an appropriate, well-drained soil mix than upgraded pots. Concrete or terracotta is more in wicking off moisture than plastic, however as long as there are sufficient drainage holes, even plastic pots work.

For the proper development and also to make sure that water doesn’t get drained out of the pot, it’s recommended to make sure periodically to ensure to ensure that the roots haven’t been confined to the pot.

As time passes, the tuber-like roots may begin to overflow the pot. This can keep moisture out by blocking drain holes.

The proper size pot should allow water to drain through the roots and then out of the bottom. It should at least one inch between the bottom of the root and the base of the pot.

Pathogenic Infections As The Cause Of Root Rot

Different types of fungi can remain dormant within the soil that the ZZ plant is planted in. They’re usually safe and pose no risk to the health of your plant.

The prolonged dampness can trigger those fungi that are normally not active that live in the soil to get active and multiply, creating chaos for your ZZ roots. This causes the roots begin to decay and the plant begins to die.

No matter how the root rot began after it began it will continue to progress even after you address the soil’s conditions, if any part of the affected root remain in the plant and continue to grow.

Aftercare While ZZ Plant Is Recovering From Root Rot

ZZ plants tend to grow slowly even when they’re healthy. While you might be excited to observe signs of healing and would like to fertilize or even water the plant to stimulate it, keep off. In reality, it’s recommended not to feed a plant recovering from root rot at all since the solution could cause the plant to burn vulnerable parts that make up the roots.

If you ZZ plant is healing from the root rot that is so dreadful be sure to keep your eye on it, but don’t pay excessive attention. The rhizome requires time to gain strength beneath the soil in order to encourage new, healthy growth. Be careful with watering to prevent repeat of the problem.

In certain cases root rot can be fatal and regardless of how you deal with it, the mold has already taken over. In such cases it’s impossible for the plant to be saved. However, there is an option to save the plant through propagation.

If you have any healthy leaves or stems remaining on your plant, take them off and attempt to encourage them to grow. Be aware that these strategies require a lot of patience. In the case of cuttings from leaves it could take until one year before you see any signs of growth.

It is recommended to plant several stems or leaves to improve your odds of success since they don’t all take up and will not take the space. A few leaves can be put together within the pot, and then moved to their own pots after they’ve developed roots.

There are two ways to create new ZZ plants from cuttings , if the plant was wiped off by root rot:

  • Leaf cuttings are a fact, ZZ plants can form new plants out of healthy leaves. It takes patience and time, but it is a rewarding experience to multiply your plant this manner. Cuttings of leaves are the most popular propagation method used by ZZ plants, and even healthy plants.

To grow new plants from leaves gently remove healthy leaves from the stem, allowing the ends to die before putting them in an angle well-drained soil. There may be no development, but remember that new plants will first grow roots that sink into the soil before you can see any growth in the soil surface.

  • Stem cuttings – Use only stems that are free of root rot, which could have spread to the above-ground portion that the plants. Cut an unharmed stem at the base and let it for a couple of days so that the cut area can heal over. Place only the lower part of the stem in water.

After 2 to three months of growth, you might see tiny roots forming. They should be at least 2 inches in length before you plant the new plant in a well-drained soil. Stem cuttings are not a efficient method of propagation as compared to leaf cut-offs.


Are ZZ Plants Easy To Care For?

ZZ plants are great houseplants for novices because they are very easy to take care of. They keep their stunning dark green, prehistoric appearance with little effort. They only require occasional getting watered and placed in a place in which they can receive plenty of indirect sunlight.

Can I Propagate ZZ Plant In Water?

The stems may be propagated by water, however this isn’t a reliable way to propagate. ZZ plants should be developed by the planting of healthy cuttings of leaves directly in soil that drains quickly. The roots shouldn’t remain in water since they can quickly develop root rot , which could be fatal to the plant.

To reproduce, take healthier leaves of the plant, and leave them for a couple of hours until there is a callus that forms on those areas that have been cut. Place the leaf’s base in a well-drained soil and store them in a bright and warm area.

Should I Fertilize My ZZ Plant?

ZZ plants do not require much and are able to thrive without fertilizer. But, every at least once or twice per year you may add a fertiliser that is diluted during warm season.

Will A ZZ Plant Do Well In A Bathroom?

ZZ plants are a great option to have in your bathroom. They are extremely durable houseplants that keep their beautiful appearance in all kinds of conditions. ZZ is able to withstand the fluctuations in humidity that can occur in bathrooms that are hot and humid.

Make sure you have a ZZ plant pot drains easily, so that any water beads that run through the plant’s stem and into the soil are able to drain away.

The rot of the roots caused by excessive water is the primary problem for ZZ plants. However, when you allow the drainage to flow and avoid overwatering the plant, it will thrive in the bathroom.



Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)