zz plant yellow leaves

ZZ Plant Yellow Leaves- Causes and Solutions

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ZZ plants (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) are notoriously tough and easy to care for, but one of the most commonly reported issues of this plant are leaves that turn yellow. Chances are good that you can solve this problem and prevent it from happening in the future. Read on to learn how to diagnose and treat this condition. 

Why Are Your ZZ plant’s leaves Turning Yellow?

Firstly, If you’ve just bought or been given a ZZ plant and it has all yellow leaves, you do not necessarily need to be concerned. That’s because there are in fact forms of these amazing plants that have all-yellow foliage. 

What is more common though is an otherwise healthy green-leaved plant that begins to turn yellow. This scenario is what we will be covering in this article. 


There are a few different causes for yellow leaves in the ZZ plant, but undoubtedly the most common cause is overwatering. Having too much water at the root zone causes damage and root rot, which results in the leaves changing color.

Any of the following scenarios(or a combination of them) could have caused this problem:

  • Your pot has no drainage
  • The drainage holes of your pot are blocked
  • Your soil type does not drain freely enough for the plant
  • The plant has been heavily watered in one go
  • The plant is chronically overwatered

Knowing the cause of yellow leaves on your beloved ZZ plant is the first step towards solving the problem. Inspect your plant and its pot and consider how much water you have been providing to try and figure out where things have gone wrong.

If you believe that the problem has indeed been caused by overwatering, you can take the right steps to avoid this problem in the future. An overwatered plant is in need of rescue, so let’s take a look at how to bring it back to good health. 

How To Save An Overwatered Plant

So your Zanzibar Gem plant has lost its deep emerald foliage color and begun to turn yellow. You’ve felt the potting soil and it is saturated with water. You realize that in this case, overwatering is the cause of the problem and now you need to fix the situation. 

Well, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and perform some life-saving on your plant! Here are the steps to follow:

Remove The Plant From Its Pot

You will need to remove the plant from its pot to assess the damage and take the necessary steps to dry out the soil. If the plant does not easily lift from the pot, you can squeeze the sides of the plastic container to loosen the soil. If your plant is not in a plastic pot, you might need to loosen the soil around the sides of the pot with a knife or something similar before you can remove it. 

Inspect The Roots

Take a look at your plant’s root system. Is it healthy and white, or does it smell bad and look dark in color? Mushy black roots are a sure sign of root rot, and the affected roots will need to be cut away and disposed of before adding new soil and repotting

If you’re lucky and the plant’s roots are still in good shape, you can simply leave them in place with minimal disturbance and move on to the next step.

Dry Out The Soil 

Wrap the soil and root ball in either dry towels or newspaper and tissue paper to draw out all the moisture. 

This will take at least a few hours and a few changes of the towel or paper, depending on how wet the soil is. Once dry, you can return the plant to the pot if:

  • The pot has drainage holes
  • Your soil is appropriate for the ZZ plant

Adjust Your Watering

Now that your soil is dry and the plant is in the correct soil and a free-draining pot, the only thing left to do is to give the plant time to recover and ensure don’t let the plant sit in water. ZZ plants basically thrive on neglect when it comes to soil moisture.

Remember, ZZ plants usually only need to be watered every 2 or 3 weeks, and their soil should be allowed to dry out to a depth of at least 2 inches (5cm) between watering. 

Other Causes Of Yellow Leaves

Although overwatering is the most common cause of leaf yellowing in ZZ plants, there might be a completely different reason for this condition. These are some other possible reasons, and steps you can take to solve them:


If your plant is getting too warm, it might show you by turning yellow. If this is the case, try to position the plant in a cooler area with better airflow. 

Too Much Light

ZZ plants can burn if exposed to direct sunlight, and this might be causing your plant to go into shock and turn yellow. If your plant is receiving direct sunlight, change its position to a bright but indirect light spot near an east or west-facing window.

Nutrient Imbalance

ZZ plants do not need to be fertilized very often, but like all indoor plants, they do need access to macro and micro-nutrients for good health. If you have had your plant for a while and never fertilized it, it might be time to give your plant a diluted application of a complete fertilizer. 

If you’ve been fertilizing your plant a little too much, it is time to repot your ZZ plant and add fresh soil. Reducing your fertilizer applications in the future will prevent further issues. 

Pests or diseases

Tiny sap-sucking spider mites might be the culprit, leaving yellow speckles and webbing on your plant. Fungus gnats, though seemingly harmless on their own, can have larvae that munch on the roots, weakening the plant and causing zz plant’s yellow leaves.

Overwatering can also lead to bacterial diseases, showing as yellowing leaves and mushy stems.

If you spot pests, insecticidal soap or neem oil spray can be effective. In the case of suspected diseases, isolate the plant, adjust your watering habits, and remove any affected leaves to prevent further spread.


Can yellow leaves turn green again?

Yes, yellow leaves on plants can sometimes turn green again if the underlying cause of the yellowing is addressed promptly

Should I cut off yellow ZZ leaves?

If only a few ZZ leaves are yellow, you can trim them for appearance. Otherwise, investigate the cause before deciding to remove them.


An unhealthy plant can be pretty alarming, especially if you don’t know the cause of the problem or how to treat it. Fortunately, if you follow the tips in this article, you should be able to rescue your ZZ plant and nurse it back to good health. Good luck!

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