Have I Underwatered My ZZ Plant?

It is known for its strength and durability, it is known for its toughness, ZZ plant is a true rock star. They thrive off a little of neglect, but even this plant that is unshakeable requires the proper water levels to ensure its highest performance.

Due to their tough nature it’s easy to overlook symptoms of dehydration that are caused by water deficiency. However, don’t worry! The ZZ plant is well-suited to treatment, and I’ll be able to get it back to its peak within a matter of minutes.

ZZ plant is strong enough to withstand dry spells. However, it won’t be able to go without water for long. A regular watering every week or so, enough that the soil remains moist, but not wet, is the most effective method.

What Causes a ZZ Plant to Become Dehydrated?

The ZZ plants is an living organism which makes use of water to create its food, breathing and inhaling the air around it. In photosynthesis, sunlight mixes oxygen and water to create sugars.

Then it utilizes those sugars to produce more and then loses water again as gas together with other gases via transpiration.

In the event that your ZZ is not hydrated It’s likely due to the water that is coming into the container isn’t the amount of water it requires to sustain these two processes.

The typical ZZ is a tough plant that it takes a bit of time before it starts showing signs of water stress, and it’s difficult to notice the signs until your plant really begins to show signs of stress.

If you don’t drink water, it will get worse and eventually die.

However, there are other variables that play a role. Everything from the time of year to the location of the plant within your house can cause the dehydration of the ZZ plant.

Let’s look at the indicators of dehydration and how to care for your dehydrated ZZ plant.

zz plant leaves in shadow

Signs of an Under-watered ZZ Plant

Leaves Turning Yellow

If your ZZ plant needs an adequate drink the leaves change color to yellow. The plant is utilizing its resources, and the leaves that are yellow are sacrificed in order to allow the remaining plants to live.

Droopy ZZ Plant

Your ZZ plant will droop when it’s thirsty. I’ve often thought about it in terms of hydraulics. The water in the vascular system of your plant aids in keeping it in a straight position. Without this extra support, your plant could slide.

ZZ Plant Has Brown Leaf Tips

Browning can be a signal that that your plant is in trouble. The leaf’s tip is the most susceptible to changes in conditions, and so any inability to keep your ZZ properly hydrated will be evident this. If there is a shortage of water, the resources will not reach the leaf’s tips and eventually, the tips of the leaves become brown.

Brown or Dry Leaf Edges

Even healthy green leaves can be damaged when there’s not enough water available. The ZZ plant begins to appear dry and brown like the leaves have burned around the edges, even though they appear healthy and lush.

ZZ Plant Leaves Wrinkling or Curling

As we mentioned earlier, the water inside cell walls of ZZ plant swells the leaves, giving the leaves their shape. When the water begins to flow down the leaf starts to curl and wrinkle.

Dropping Leaves

When your ZZ plants shed their brown-edged leaves, the plant is seriously dehydrated. Wild ZZ plants shed leaves to save water during dry periods, and your indoor ZZ employs this strategy when it is dehydrated.

Dry Brown Spots on Leaves

As with dry brown edges dry brown spots that appear in the middle of your leaves indicate that the leaf itself is dying due to the absence of water. The dry brown spots are dry and dead.

Potting Soil is Dry

If your soil is sloppy as well as loose, that’s a definitive sign that your beautiful ZZ requires water. The soil’s moisture provides structure, and when it goes away, the potting medium turns dry and powdery.

Brittle Roots

Although they’re out of view and sometimes out of mind, brittle root are a testament to the vital role that water plays in maintaining the plants physical form. Brittle roots are dry-out roots.

Is My ZZ Over-watered or Under-watered?

Of of course, nothing is as simple as it appears and many of the symptoms of an unwatered ZZ plant are very like those from the signs of an excessively watered ZZ!

Confused? Here’s a table that can assist you in determining which method your depressed ZZ requires to recover from the edge.

I would suggest that you look at the signs that differ leaf drooping, the curled and wrinkled leaves, and the dry crispness on the leaf edges and tips.

Identifying the Causes of Under-watering

Irregular Watering

Everybody makes mistakes It’s not difficult to neglect to take care of an enlightened plant. Although they can tolerate a little negligence with grace but after a couple of weeks of neglecting to water even the toughest ZZ plant can be afflicted.

A Note on Nitrogen Toxicity

ZZ plants grow slowly which means they do not require a lot of nitrogen. This nutrient is present in a lot of fertilizers as it’s essential to the development of new leaves.

For an unsteady grower such as the ZZ plants, an excess of nitrogen could cause many issues that appear like watering problems.

Curling leaves, burning or browning edges on leaves are indicators of toxicity to nitrogen.

The most effective remedy for toxicity to nitrogen can be to wash the container with plenty of water that is clean, washing any excess fertilizer out of the soil.

It is also a good way to treat the problem of under-watering, which is an unwise option to employ in case you’re not sure.

Fast Evaporation

If you’re regularly watering and your soil is as in a state of complete dryness, it’s possible that the water is evaporated before the plant is able to use it.

Large, flat pots permit water to evaporate quickly and plants placed located in a warm area near an electric heater or in a bright window will have a difficult time getting the water into its leaves before it evaporates. The warm weather can also play its role.

Water Holding Properties of Soil

The potting mediums are not all made the same. One that is too sand-like or rocky is likely to lose moisture, rather than hold it in, and inferior mixes allow all the water to drain out of the drainage holes before they can absorb the water.

How To Revive an Under-watered ZZ Plant.

Fortunately, watering down your ZZ plant is unlikely to cause any damage and is simple to take care of.

The ZZ is a specialist in deserts It is a desert specialist, and it develops from fleshy rhizomes which hold water and nutrients effectively.

All plants require water, therefore, here are the steps I’ve discovered that can aid in bringing your dry-out beloved back to healthy, vibrant life.

Remove Severely Damaged Leaves

The leaves that have been damaged should be carefully removed using sharp clear shears.

It is possible to leave the green leaves that have a bit of crispness at the tips or edges however anything that is yellowed has to be removed. Simply cut them off.

Your ZZ plant will then focus on the regrowth.

Consider Your Soil and Pot

Have a look at the soil quality and the pots you have. Every indoor plant benefits from good drainage, however it’s possible to overdo it with too many good things.

If the mix isn’t holding water and is drying quickly, it’s a great idea to re-pot it.

The pot itself could be a factor in the issue. Plastic pots are more effective in holding in water than terracotta or unglazed ceramics.

These are porous substances that allow for evaporation from the soil’s depths.

If you decide to re-pot I suggest a pot that is roughly the same size, but with less than one inch or so between the old and new one.

Make sure your new pot has at least one drainage hole. Ceramic or plastic glazed is an excellent option for materials.

When choosing a potting medium, select one that is full of organic matter that will give structure and water retention for the soil.

Mixing equal parts of peat moss, soil and perlite can work well.

Water From Bottom

After you’ve completed the surgery, if there was one and ensured that your baby is placed in the correct pot and has an appropriate potting medium, it’s time to get water.

The most efficient method to achieve this is to soak the bottom. This brings water to the roots and stops the surface from evaporate.

  1. Choose a basin or tray big enough to accommodate your plant and allow space to move.
  2. Place your plant in the tray and then fill it with distilled, filtered or rainwater until the water level is about halfway up the sides of the container.
  3. Give your plant the time to soak up the water. The water will then be drawn in through the drainage holes directly into your roots.
  4. Continue adding water until the level of the tray decreases. When the level is steady then wait for a few minutes before removing the plant.

Water From Top

It’s not as difficult to water by the highest. This is how the majority of people do it, however to treat under-watering you’ll need to follow some extra steps.

  1. Set your plants on a suitable surface, or place it in an appropriate tray or saucer.
  2. Fill your watering container or jug with distilled purified, or rainwater and slowly pour it over the plant. The slow addition of water lets it permeate the soil while it flows through the container.
  3. Continue pouring until the the water begins to drain from at the base of the pan.
  4. Let your plant rest in the tray or saucer for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, take it out and let any excess be drained before returning it to its place.

Find Good Location for Your ZZ Plant

The bright sun, the warm temperatures from heaters and the cool breeze from an air conditioner can all result in the ZZ plant to dry out.

They don’t like light sources So staying away from bright sun will not only help keep their soil moist longer but also help to keep the plant from getting stressed.

Also, warm or draughty air can cause the water in the mix to evaporate more quickly, so make sure you ensure that you keep your ZZ plant clear of vents or corridors that are draughty.

Set up and Follow Watering Plan

Fortunately, your ZZ plant will be tolerant. After it has been rescued from the brink, it’s easy to create an action plan to ensure that you water this perennial precious plant.

I suggest that the busy or forgetful to set an automatic reminder in their calendars on phones each two weeks. This way, you don’t have to remember!

Others are able to make checking their home plants a part of their routine.

You can check the level of moisture within the ZZ plant’s pot by touching the soil.

Play around with the mix. It should allow to air dry up to the top inch, preferably before you think about watering.

I’d suggest letting it completely dry between each watering. This is a low-water specialist, and over-watering can cause problems of its own.

How Often to Water Your ZZ Plant

ZZ plants thrive with some neglect. They’re slow-growing with very low water requirements, even in the midst of the season, they don’t require a lot of water.

In the general case, a week or so will suffice, as long as you inspect your plant and do not overfill the watering container.

Here are a few additional things to keep in mind while watering your ZZ plant.


The ZZ plant’s growth season is in the heat of summer and spring. It requires much more water at this period particularly if it blooms from late summer until the beginning of autumn.

In addition, the warmer weather can make any water that is in the container to evaporate faster. It could require more water at this point.

The growth slows in winter and autumn, and less water is required. The cooler weather allows any soil water to stay in the soil for longer too.

I’ve seen ZZ plants to last one month between watering during the cooler months during the winter.

Plant Size

The majority of water goes by the leaf of the plant. A huge ZZ plant with dense leaves will shed much more than a tiny plant with just one or two bright leaves to call its own.

Pots that are larger also hold more water, which requires more to reach appropriate levels of water.

Temperature and Humidity

The majority of offices and homes with controlled climate are dry and warm all the time. This results in water loss due to both the potting medium as well as the ZZ plant itself.

A plant that is in an area that has a higher level of humidity (such as bathrooms) will be less prone to water loss than one that is in a dryer or cooler area, such as an office at home.

Final words

The ZZ plant is an enduring plant. They are able to take a lot of abuse before they begin showing symptoms of stress.

If you’ve let your ZZ plant dries out I have good news for you that they’re easily revived if you adhere to my suggestions.

If you keep an watch on the water levels in the near future and your ZZ will return to its stunning shiny self within a matter of minutes.

Just make sure to add some water in it each week or two and you’ll have many years of enjoyment.



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