Why is My ZZ Plant Turning Yellow? 21 Solutions to Fix

If you have ever asked yourself the question, why is my ZZ plant turning yellow? Keep reading to learn what causes yellow leaves and the best way to fix it. 

The indoor plant known as the ZZ plant, Zanzibar Gem, or its scientific name Zamioculcas zamiifolia, is a great low-maintenance plant that makes a great addition to your collection of house plants.

Although they are low maintenance, they often are plagued with yellowing of leaves due to a variety of environmental factors.  

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Here we will explore the most common problem facing these popular houseplants and offer the best solution to stop ZZ plant leaves turning yellow.

Why is My ZZ Plant Turning Yellow?

ZZ plants are celebrated for their hardiness, resilience, and minimal care requirements.

Yet, even these robust plants can encounter issues, such as the unwelcome sight of yellowing leaves.

The good news is that by unraveling the mysteries behind ZZ plant leaf discoloration, you can swiftly restore your plant to its former glory. 

In this post, we’ll explore the most likely cause of the yellowing leaves of the ZZ plant and provide 22 effective solutions to bring your plant back to life.

Low Light

If your ZZ plant is living in front of a west-facing window and not getting enough light it will begin to show signs.

You can usually tell by looking at the ZZ plant’s leaves, the once-green leaves will begin to show yellow foliage.

This is because the plant lacks the ability to generate chlorophyll, an essential component for the process of photosynthesis. 

While ZZ plants are known for their resilience in low-light settings, they won’t flourish if kept in total darkness. To thrive, ZZ plants require ample, indirect sunlight.

Solution: Adjust lighting conditions by gradually moving your ZZ plant to a location with more indirect sunlight. Place it near a north or east-facing window where it can receive bright, filtered light.

Periodically rotate the plant to ensure all sides receive even light exposure. This helps maintain a balanced growth pattern and prevents the development of uneven yellowing.

Too Much Light

Excessive sunlight exposure is a leading cause of ZZ plant leaves adopting a yellow hue. Originating from Africa, ZZ plants naturally flourish in shaded habitats.

Consequently, when they are exposed to too much direct sunlight they are susceptible to sunburn. The consequence of this sun-induced stress from brighter light is the yellowing and eventual shedding of ZZ plant leaves.

Solution: Relocate your ZZ plant to a spot with bright, indirect light. A north or east-facing window is often suitable.

Ensure that it receives filtered light or indirect sun, especially during the intense afternoon hours. If your ZZ plant is near a window with direct sunlight, use sheer curtains or blinds to help with the light levels. This will help protect the plant from intense sun exposure.

Excess Water

Improper watering is especially a concern for the ZZ plant’s soil and the root system since these plants have evolved to thrive in dry and water-scarce environments.

When a ZZ plant is given too much water and it sits in wet soil, it will become waterlogged and susceptible to rot.

This waterlogged root condition can trigger the yellowing of leaves, ultimately leading to their eventual shedding.

Solution: If the top inch of soil holds on to a lot of water, you will need to Repot your ZZ plant in a well-draining potting mix. Learn how to make the best ZZ plant soil mix recipe that will retain less water and allow it to drain away from the roots, reducing the risk of overwatering.

Too Little Water

On the other hand, you want to make sure that your plant is getting enough water. A lack of water can lead to yellow leaves so be sure to touch the surface of the soil to see if it is dry before giving your plant a watering.

After watering, check the bottom of the pot to make sure that the water is draining out. 

Solution: Ensure that the potting mix remains consistently moist but not waterlogged. When you water, add enough water so that it reaches the root zone, and let excess water drain away.

Why Is My ZZ Plant Turning Yellow

Nutrient Deficiency

Nutrient deficiencies will cause ZZ plants to lose their lush green hue, leading to the yellowing of the entire plant.

This lack of nutrients may arise from various factors, such as subpar soil quality, insufficient fertilization, or a deficiency of nutrients in the tap water. 

Solution: If you suspect a specific nutrient deficiency (e.g., nitrogen, iron, or magnesium), you can use a specialized fertilizer or nutrient supplement designed to address that deficiency. Using an NPK of 20-20-20 or 10-10-10 is a great option for fertilizing ZZ plants.

These are available at garden centers or online. If you can not pinpoint the issue, select an all-purpose fertilizer, following package instructions for dilution and application.

Feed your ZZ plant every 4-6 weeks in the growing season and reduce or suspend fertilization during its winter dormancy when new leaves stop growing.

Keep in mind that too much fertilizer can create a problem for your houseplant so use a soil tester to determine nutrient levels in the soil and adjust your fertilization routine accordingly.

Dry Conditions

While these plants are adaptive and can thrive in arid environments, prolonged exposure to excessively dry conditions may lead to stress and contribute to the yellowing of their leaves.

It’s important to strike the right balance to ensure your ZZ plant remains healthy and vibrant.

Solution: To combat dry conditions and maintain optimal humidity for your ZZ plant, consider the use of a DIY Plant Humidifier. This can help create a more favorable environment for your ZZ plant, preventing leaf yellowing and promoting healthy growth.

Additionally, regular misting or placing a tray of water near the plant can also help increase humidity levels around your ZZ plant, benefiting its overall well-being.

Be sure the tray isn’t too close to the lower leaves for a long time as this can be a possible cause of root rot. 

High Temperature

ZZ plants, although tropical in origin, have adapted to thrive in moderate temperatures. Extreme heat can stress the plant, causing leaves to turn yellow as a response to the environmental stressors.

Solution: Maintain ZZ plants within their optimal temperature range of 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C). Shield them from excessive heat by providing shade or filtered sunlight. Ensure proper ventilation and occasional misting to cool the plant.

Adjust watering to prevent soil from drying out too quickly in high temperatures. Regular temperature monitoring helps minimize leaf yellowing due to heat stress.

Low Temperature

Extreme temperatures and fluctuations can trigger the yellowing of ZZ plant leaves. These tropical plants thrive in warm, humid settings, and subjecting them to cold temperatures induces stress that manifests as yellowing leaves.

Solution: To combat low temperatures affecting your ZZ plant, consider these unique remedies and take immediate action.

You can place a plant heat mat under the pot to provide gentle bottom warmth or use candle warmers with temperature controls to create a warm microclimate.

Enclosing your ZZ plant in a glass terrarium or cloche can also help retain warmth. For more substantial heating, small, portable heaters or heat lamps can be employed to maintain a suitable temperature.

Additionally, you can wrap the plant in a plant-specific warming blanket during colder spells. These creative solutions can collectively help your ZZ plant thrive in cooler conditions.

why is my zz plant turning yellow

Pests May Cause ZZ Plants to Turn Yellow

Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats can also contribute to yellowing leaves in ZZ plants. These small, flying insects are attracted to moist soil, and their larvae feed on the roots of plants.

Solution: This post will help you figure out how to get rid of fungus gnats on houseplants and how to prevent them from coming back. 

Mealy Bugs

Mealybugs are sap-sucking insects that attach themselves to the leaves, stems, and other parts of ZZ plants. They feed on plant juices, depriving the plant of essential nutrients.

Solution: Isolate the affected plant to prevent the pests from spreading.  Gently remove mealybugs with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or soapy water.

Apply neem oil to the rest of the plant as a natural insecticide. You could also use an insecticidal soap by applying it to the affected area.  

Continuously monitor your ZZ plant for mealybug resurgence and treat it as needed.

Scale Insects

Scale insects are sap-feeding pests that attach themselves to the plant’s stems and leaves. They use their needle-like mouthparts to pierce the plant and extract sap, which can lead to nutrient loss.

Solution: To address scale insects on your ZZ plant, start by isolating the affected plant to prevent further infestation.

Remove scales manually using a soft brush or a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol. Apply neem oil or an indoor plant insecticidal soap to control the pests.

If necessary, prune heavily infested parts. Regularly inspect the plant for any resurgence and maintain proper plant hygiene and watering practices to deter future scale insect infestations.

Spider Mites

Spider mites feed on plant cells by puncturing the leaves and extracting sap. This feeding action can damage the plant’s tissues and reduce its ability to photosynthesize effectively, resulting in yellowing leaves.

Solution: To combat spider mites on your ZZ plant, first isolate the affected plant to prevent mites from spreading.

Use a fine stream of water or wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to remove the mites physically. Apply neem oil or an indoor plant insecticidal soap as directed to control the infestation.

Regularly inspect the plant for any mite resurgence, and maintain proper plant hygiene and humidity levels to deter future spider mite problems.

A hygrometer can be a helpful tool to keep near your plants to monitor humidity levels.

why is my zz plant turning yellow

Common Reasons for ZZ Plants Turning Yellow

Transplant Shock

Leaf yellowing can be a consequence of transplant shock in ZZ plants. Transplantation inflicts substantial stress on the plant, disrupting its root system and necessitating adjustment to a new pot and potting mix.

As a result, it’s not unusual for a plant’s leaves to take on a yellowish tinge shortly after being transplanted.

Solution: The best and easiest way to combat the stress brought on by transplant shock is to leave the plant alone and let it acclimate to its new pot. Avoid adding a soluble fertilizer at this time. 

Root Rot

Root rot, a prevalent ailment among ZZ plants, can also lead to leaf yellowing. This condition arises from an excess of moisture in the soil, typically caused by overwatering or the use of potting soil with inadequate drainage.

As the plant’s roots begin to deteriorate due to rot, their ability to absorb essential nutrients becomes compromised. 

Solution: To address root rot in your ZZ plant, begin by gently removing the plant from the soil and inspecting the roots.

Trim away any soft, brown, or rotting roots using clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears. Leave healthy roots alone.

Repot the ZZ plant in fresh soil, ensuring that the pot has proper drainage. Adjust your watering routine to prevent overwatering in the future and maintain a suitable level of soil moisture.

Consider using a fungicide treatment to avoid further fungal growth if the root rot is severe. 

Dusty Leaves

The accumulation of dust on ZZ plant leaves can be a factor contributing to leaf yellowing. Dust can hinder the plant’s ability to carry out photosynthesis effectively.

As a result, the leaves may gradually turn yellow due to reduced sunlight absorption and impaired gas exchange.

Solution: Quickly remedy dusty leaves on your ZZ plant by gently wiping them with a damp cloth or sponge to remove dust and debris. This helps the plant breathe better and maintain its health.

why is my zz plant turning yellow

Why Is My ZZ Plant Turning Yellow

Pot Size

ZZ plants prefer to be slightly root-bound, meaning they thrive when their roots fill the pot but still have enough room to grow.

If the pot is too large for the plant, the excess soil can hold onto moisture for longer periods, increasing the risk of overwatering and root rot.

This can lead to leaf yellowing as the plant struggles to absorb nutrients and water effectively.

Solution: Choose a pot for your ZZ plant that is only slightly larger than the plant’s current root ball. Ensure the pot has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

Select a well-draining potting mix designed for succulents or indoor plants. Repot only when the plant becomes root-bound, typically every 2-3 years.

Inadequate Drainage

When watering your plant it is important to have drainage holes that allow excessive water to pour out of the bottom. This will prevent wet feet and make sure that the roots are able to access sufficient oxygen.

Solution: inadequate drainage can lead to an overwatered ZZ plant which is the most common reason for yellow spots or brown leaves to appear.

Proper care should be taken when choosing the pot for your plant to prevent waterlogged soil and promote healthier root oxygenation.

Stagnant Air

Stagnant air hinders the exchange of gases, particularly carbon dioxide and oxygen, around the plant’s leaves.

Plants, including ZZ plants, rely on this exchange for photosynthesis, where they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.

When the air is stagnant, this process becomes less efficient, potentially slowing down growth and causing leaves to turn yellow due to reduced photosynthesis.

Solution: Ensure your indoor plant setup allows ample space for air to flow around the ZZ plant and other nearby plants. Position a gentle fan on the lowest setting nearby to promote air circulation without causing drafts.

Inconsistent Watering Schedule

ZZ plants prefer a consistent watering routine. When the watering schedule is irregular, the plant’s roots may experience stress which could be the answer the the question, why is my ZZ plant turning yellow?

During periods of drought, the roots may become dehydrated and unable to absorb nutrients effectively.

Conversely, overwatering during irregular watering can lead to waterlogged soil and root rot.

Solution: Since the most common cause of brown tips and yellow leaves is improper watering, establish a regular watering schedule to maintain soil moisture consistently.

Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings, and ensure proper drainage in the pot to prevent waterlogged roots.

Pest Residue

The sugary honeydew excreted by pests like mealybugs and scale insects can create a sticky film on the plant’s leaves.

This residue provides an ideal medium for the growth of sooty mold, a black or dark gray fungal substance.

Sooty mold can cover the plant’s leaves, inhibiting photosynthesis by blocking sunlight. Reduced photosynthesis can lead to a decrease in the plant’s ability to produce energy, resulting in weak growth and yellowing leaves.

Solution: To address the issue of pest residue and prevent yellowing leaves caused by sooty mold, start by treating the underlying pest infestation.

Remove mealybugs, scale insects, or other pests manually using a cotton swab or by spraying with insecticidal soap.

Afterward, gently clean the affected leaves with a damp cloth to remove the sticky residue from the glossy leaves. If sooty mold persists, you may need to apply a fungicide designed to treat fungal issues, following the product’s instructions carefully.

Regularly take a closer look at your ZZ plant for any returning pests to ensure long-term health and vibrant foliage.

Old Age

The natural aging process can indeed cause ZZ plant leaves to turn yellow, and this is typically not a cause for concern.

As ZZ plants grow and mature, it’s perfectly normal for the lower or older leaves to gradually change color and eventually yellow. This phenomenon is a natural part of the plant’s life cycle and doesn’t indicate any underlying health issues.

Solution: Even with optimal growing conditions your ZZ plant may stop producing new growth and display yellowing leaves due to the natural aging process.

In such cases, there isn’t a specific solution needed, as it’s a natural part of the plant’s life cycle. 

Best ZZ plant soil mix recipe

Now You Know Why ZZ Plants Leaves Turn Yellow

In conclusion, ZZ plants are resilient and adaptable, but they can encounter various challenges that lead to the yellowing of their leaves.

By understanding the potential causes and implementing the appropriate solutions, you can keep your ZZ plant healthy and vibrant.

Whether it’s adjusting light conditions, fine-tuning your watering routine, addressing nutrient deficiencies, or dealing with pests, taking proactive steps can restore your ZZ plant’s lush green appearance.

If you’ve ever wondered, “Why is my ZZ plant turning yellow?” you now have a comprehensive guide to help you diagnose and resolve the issue. Keep your ZZ plant happy, and it will reward you with its enduring beauty and resilience.

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The Hobby Wife

The Hobby Wife

Greenhouse and backyard gardener, devoted homemaker, and passionate recipe creator. My journey through life revolves around my unwavering love for food and travel. As a passionate cook, I blend my garden's bounty with culinary finesse and inspiration from my travels. From farm-to-table homestyle dishes to copycat recipes that offer something unique, my kitchen is a canvas where flavors harmonize and ingredients tell stories.

11 thoughts on “Why is My ZZ Plant Turning Yellow? 21 Solutions to Fix”

  1. I don’t have any plants because I tend to kill then. This is a useful post for someone who has a zz plant and wants to know what’s going on with it.

    Reply
  2. OMgoodness, I’m loving this post. I often wondered why some of my plants turned yellow, now I know. Thanks for all these great tips.

    Reply
  3. I am not into gardening but Your post was incredibly informative, offering a multitude of practical solutions for the issue at hand.

    Reply

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