How to Save ZZ Plant from Root Rot?

ZZ plant (Zamiifolia Zamioculcas) can tolerate negligence for many days. But this does not mean you leave it alone for weeks. This will result in many ZZ plant problems.

Root rot is one of the major problems that you will face. When you completely neglect your ZZ plant.

Overwatering, wrong potting soil, high humidity, pathogenic infections, pest attack, and damaged roots are a few common causes of ZZ plant root rot. It is a deadly disease for houseplants.

Your plant can die in a few days if you do not catch the early signs of root rot and follow the best treatment plant.

In today’s article, you will learn ZZ plant root rot identification, treatments, and prevention techniques.

Without wasting time let’s dive right in:

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Identification of Root Rot in ZZ Plant

To identify the root rot in ZZ plants you have to closely inspect your plant. Below are the all signs of root rot in Zamiifolia Zamioculcas.

If you see 2 or more of the below symptoms then it’s time to take strong action. Make a treatment plant and follow the instruction and save your plant from dying.

Slower Growth than Normal

ZZ plants with damaged roots grow slower than the normal growth rate. Your plant will stop producing new growth.

This makes it more prone to common houseplant diseases.

It becomes weak and unhealthy. If you see slower growth in your plant then root rot is the 100% main cause.

Stem Rot

Next, you should check the main stem. Look at the base of the stem just 2 inches above the soil surface.

You will notice rotting stems if the roots under the soil are infected with fungus disease.

In stem rot, it becomes soft and slimy. Do not try to move the plant from the base or the stem will break from the rotten part.

Later in this post, you will know how to repot plants with stem rot.

Leaves Turning Brown

If the leaves are turning brown but the edges are not crispy and dry. This means your ZZ plant is suffering from root rot.

In waterlogged soil when 50% of roots get infected. This blocks the water absorption and the leaves get out of moisture.

This turns ZZ plant leaves brown and mushy.

Yellowing and Wilting

If your plant has yellow leaves from bottom to top. Then one thing is sure and that is, the roots of your plant are rotting.

Leaves turn yellow due to a lack of nutrients and water. Yellow leaves are the first stage of root rot. Brown and crispy leaves mean the root is in its advanced stage.

Mushy Roots

If you want to 100% confirm that your ZZ plant is suffering from root rot or not then you need to check the plant roots.

Gently unpot the plant and check the roots. A healthy ZZ plant has white color roots.

If the roots release an unpleasant smell, they are turning brown or black and soft to touch. These are the confirmed signs of root rot.

Fungus in Soil

Fungus growth is common in wet soil. Wet soil is the result of overwatering plants.

If the potting soil has green mold growth over the soil surface. This means the roots under the soil are infected with fungus.

Immediately unpot the plant and check the roots for the current status of root health. On finding the root rot repotting is the only best solution.

Drooping stems

If the stems of your ZZ plants are drooping and soft. This indicates damaged roots. If all the stems are drooping then you should immediately inspect the roots.

Because droopy ZZ plant indicates the second stage of root infection.

Algae around the pot

Algae under the base and around the bottom part of the plant pot confirm the root rot in ZZ plants. It also confirms another problem and that is the excessive amount of water in the potting soil.

This extra water trigger algae growth in the plant pot.

How to Treat ZZ Plant Root Rot?

If you want to save your plant then you need to take quick action. Otherwise, root rot can kill your plant in less than 10 days.

Roots are the most important part of a plant. Your plant can grow its leaves even after losing all of them, but only if it has healthy roots.

But if the roots get infected then your plant gets weak and die, if you leave it untreated.


By repotting, you can save your ZZ plant. This is the first step towards the treatment plant. After repotting you have to give it extra care until it shows healthy new growth.

Below is the step-by-step guide to repotting the ZZ plant without damaging its roots:

Unpot Your Plant & Inspect

Some growers suggest watering the plant before repotting to lose the soil.

But when a plant is already suffering from excessive water and has root rot. Watering it before repotting is dangerous.

Use a knife or other tool to remove the soil from the pot. Once you finish, gently pull your plant, and make sure the stem does not get a break.

Then remove the soil from the roots with paper or cloth without damaging the roots.

Closely inspect the root ball and mark the damaged parts. Take a sterilized knife or shears and cut the damaged parts.

At once, you can cut 50% of the root ball.

If the entire root ball is infected and on cutting you will have 30 % roots left. Then it is best to propagate the plant.

Apply Fungicide

Fungicides will protect the roots from pathogenic diseases. Always read the instruction of the fungicide bottle before using it on ZZ plant roots.

Some fungicides are only for the treatment of pathogens. They are a little hard on plants. You need to identify such fungicide products.

Generally, growers use Liquid Copper fungicide for plant roots. Because it is safe to use on all types of houseplants.

Use New Soil

Now that you cut the infected roots and also treat them with fungicide. It’s time to plant it again in the pot.

For replanting use fresh potting soil and a new plant pot.

If you like to use an old plant pot. Then you should wash it first with dishwashing soap and warm water.

The best soil for ZZ plants is slightly porous soil.

Such soil has many tiny pores of good airflow. To improve the air circulation in the soil you should mix peat moss in the potting soil.

It will also improve the draining capacity of the potting soil.

Note: Root rot becomes a common problem when you do not use well-draining potting soil.

Water Newly Repotted Plant

Normally, repotted plant goes under transplant shock. This is a type of stress that results in wilting.

To help your plant face the stress effectively. You should water it properly after repotting.

Your plant is already suffering from root rot. Therefore, water your plant to the limit, just to moisten the soil. Use a soil moisture meter to measure the amount of moisture in the soil.

After Repotting

Repotting is a stressful process for plants. To help your plant easily settle in its new home. Give it proper water.

Place the pot in indirect bright light. Also, make sure the grow room has good ventilation.

Fresh air is necessary to keep the plant roots healthy.

Do not expose your plant to direct sunlight even in the morning time. Maintain a good level of humidity in the air.


If more than 50% of roots are infected then propagation is the only method left to save the plant. Below is the complete step-by-step guide on ZZ plant propagation.

Leaf Propagation

  • Choose a healthy leaf that is green and mature. Because only matured leaves have a tendency to produce new roots. It must be free from diseases.
  • Cut it and place it on the newspaper for a few minutes to callous over.
  • Prepare a pot with fresh potting soil. The soil has to be loose and well-draining.
  • Insert the base of the leaf into the potting soil and gently tap around it.
  • Choose an indirect bright place to place the newly propagated leaves.
  • Give some water to keep the soil moist.
  • It will take more than 30 days to develop new roots.

Stem Cuttings Propagation

In this technique, you need to cut a healthy stem from the plant for propagation. The stem has to be matured and perfectly fine.

Now take a glass jar and fill it with filtered water to its half.

Place the stem in the glass jar and make sure only half of it gets submerged in the water.

Place the jar in indirect bright light away from direct sunlight.

Keep eye on the water, and change it once it gets dirty or unclear. Watch out for fungus or mold growth in a glass jar.

Within a few days, you will see new growth or new roots. Once they grow 2 inches long you can then transfer the stem into the potting soil.

Note: If you want you can put the stem cutting directly into the potting soil. But in my experience for stem propagation using water as a growing medium is the best option.

Causes of Zz Plant Root Rot

There are many causes responsible for root rot in zz plants. But the most common causes are linked to negligence or wrong care techniques.

But you don’t have to worry because you can easily correct them with a few changes in your care routine.


Overwatering is the most common cause of root rot in almost 95% of the cases. Because potted plants have limited space to grow and the water does not find a way to go out of the pot.

This is the reason we always suggest people to use pots with drainage holes. When you give lots of water to a potted plant its roots get suffocated due to loss of fresh air.

This reduces the efficient use of water. Because plants use 65% of the water reserve for respiration.

Hence the plant starts dying in waterlogged soil.

How to prevent it?

The best way to prevent overwatering is to learn the correct watering technique.

Before watering your ZZ plant, please check the moisture level in the potting soil. To check it, you should use a soil moisture meter.

It is a device that is very efficient to measure the amount of moisture in all types of potting soils and soilless growing mixtures.

ZZ plant does not need much water therefore, let the top 2 inches of the soil dry before the next watering session.

Also, use the freshwater for watering and if possible, use rainwater.

You can store rainwater in a rain barrel for a long period of time. Rainwater has all the essential minerals that a plant needs to thrive.

You will see the difference in your plant health just after 2 watering sessions.

Poor Draining Soil

Even if you learn the correct watering technique your plant still can get root rot. The reason is the lack of well-draining soil and the absence of a drainage hole in the plant pot.

Fast-draining soil allows the extra amount of water to drain through easily.

The holes in the plant pot drain the water out of the pot.

The combination of the best soil and best pot can save your plant from root rot.

How to prevent it?

To fix these issues you have to use the well-draining soil. There are some ingredients that increase the draining power of potting soil.

By adding peat moss and bark into the potting soil. You can double or triple the draining capabilities of the soil.

Secondly, you should use terracotta plant pots. They are porous in nature and help the soil to dry quickly.

Pathogenic Infection

Pathogenic infection is another cause of ZZ plant root rot.  Because there are many bacteria that live in the wet soil.

These viruses infect the entire plant along with the root ball.

They are hard to kill therefore, you should try to prevent the infection.

How to prevent it?

At first, try to keep the plant and its surroundings neat and clean. Always sterilize tools before using them on the plant.

If by chance your plant gets pathogenic infections. Then the best possible solution is using fungicides.

Copper fungicides are safe to use on small to medium size houseplants. Other fungicides are also effective but they are for long and strong plants.

I personally prefer copper fungicides when my plants get infected by viruses. Because it does not give any side effects.

Inappropriate Size of Pots

The wrong size of plant pot also increases the chances of root rot in ZZ plants. If you use too large plant pots. It’s obvious that your plant will get root rot.

The reason is large pots hold a large amount of soil and on watering the soil it holds lots of water in it.

This lot of water results in root rot.

How to prevent it?

Fixing this issue is simple. All you need to do is use the right size of a plant pot.

Do not use large pots for small size pots. Small height plants have small root balls. Therefore, medium-size plant containers are best to use.

There should be a space of 2 inches between the root ball and container walls.

Cold Environment

Temperature is an important factor that affects plant health.

Because in a cold environment the plant does not lose enough moisture. This extra moisture results in root rot.

Cold temperature also increases pathogen infections.

How to prevent it?

Do not water your plants in a cold environment without checking the soil condition. Let the soil dry between watering.

Move your plant in bright light to increase the evaporation of extra moisture in less time.

Also, stop watering your plant in the dormancy period. It is the time when plants do not grow, they take a rest in this time period.

Winter is the time when your plant is in dormancy.

How to Prevent and Control ZZ Plant Root Rot?

To protect the ZZ plant from root rot you need a perfect plant care plan. Below are the best ZZ plant care practices.

Follow to avoid all kinds of plant problems:

Avoid Overwatering

You should give some time to your plant to use most of the water in the daytime. For this, you should water your plant in the morning.

In case you missed the morning watering time. Then do not give it water on that day. Your plant can survive a day without water.

If you prefer night watering then only water until the night temperature becomes cold.

Right potting Mix

Use fast-draining soil for ZZ plants. If you are going to use your garden soil. Then sterilize it first and also add some peat moss or bark.

These ingredients will increase the draining power of the soil and make it suitable for plants.

Also, add some cups of compost to increase the fertility of the potting soil.

This will reduce your fertilizer expenses. Because highly fertile soil does not need much fertilizer boosts.

Use Neem Spray

Prevention is better than cure therefore you should use the neem oil spray to prevent general plant problems.

Neem is anti-bacterial and it can prevent many bacterial infections.

Take a spray bottle and add some water to it then mix neem oil. Your solution is ready and sprays it on your plants.

You should use neem oil spray thrice in 30 days for full-proof protection from diseases.

Adequate amount of Light

A sufficient amount of light energy is very important for a healthy plant.

In the case of the ZZ plant, you need to expose it to indirect bright light. The light can be sun or artificial grow light.

Direct sunlight is harmful to houseplants.


The solution to ZZ plant root rot depends upon the cause of the problem.

You should learn the diagnosis of the root infection signs before applying the solution.

Above mentioned symptoms and solutions are tried and tested by many growers. But before doing anything you must unpot your plant to visibly see the degree of root damage.

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