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Zamioculcas Zamiifolia, also known as ZZ plant, Zanzibar Gem, or simply ZZ, is a plant generally considered to be low maintenance.
It requires little light and takes advantage of its owner’s tendency to forget about watering.
By these standards, the ZZ plant is perfect for someone just getting started with their first houseplant. They are perfect for forgetful plant parents.
They’re even perfect for seasoned houseplant veterans who take their green thumb status very seriously.
But what if your ZZ plant develops a shriveled or wilted stem?
Often associated with leaf drop, this plant response is enough to alarm both amateur and professional plant owners.
Here’s what could be wrong with your ZZ factory:
- Why does a ZZ plant have a wrinkled stem?
- How to save your ZZ plant when it’s underwater?
- How to save your ZZ plant if it has been overwatered?
- Final thoughts: How do you save your ZZ plant with a shriveled stem?
Why does a ZZ plant have a wrinkled stem?
Aren’t plants awesome? Unlike people who can tell you they’re sick, plants can’t tell you about their problems.
However, they can show it by their leaves, stems (also called petioles), the roots and even the soil in which they are planted.
A ZZ plant will often develop a shrunken stem due to one of the two ends.
At one end they may be underwater and at the other end of the spectrum they may have too much water.
You will know which of the two cases you are facing by examining the cards.
Yellowed leaves immediately indicate excess water, as well as very wet soil and water leaking from the drainage holes in the pot.
Under water, it presents as a dry, brittle soil that does not stick to your finger when you put it on the ground.
The leaves may have turned light brown or black and may be crispy to the touch.
A third cause could well be an older stem dying off naturally. In this case, you must decide whether to remove the rod or try to fix it.
In the case of removing a dying stem, you take a lot of stress off your plant.
Indeed, it uses a lot of energy and precious resources to maintain the dead parts of the plant.
For example, sending nutrients to dead leaves means that once the dead leaf has fallen, your plant has lost essential resources for the survival of the still healthy plant.
It is often worth repairing your ZZ plant to restore the beauty and health of the plant.
ZZ plants store water in their rhizomes to make them drought resistant. A severe lack of water can cause the stem to wrinkle as the zz plant dries out and depletes its resources.
The obvious solution in this case would be to water your plant. But keep in mind that it’s very easy to overwater a plant underwater, as it can get submerged and drown.
Here’s how to properly reintroduce hydration:
How to save your ZZ plant when it’s underwater?
As mentioned above, a submerged ZZ plant will usually exhibit dry soil and possibly golden or blackened leaves.
If you haven’t watered in a long time, say a month, then it’s time to give your plant a drink! A thirsty ZZ plant is easy to fix:
1) Push your finger into the ground
If no soil sticks to your finger when you remove it, your plant urgently needs water.
If any soil sticks to the surface or is wet, you can water the plant a little, but be careful not to overwater.
2) Water the plant completely
To properly water your ZZ and ensure the soil is saturated, take the plant to a sink and water it until water runs out of the pot’s drainage holes.
Now that the soil is saturated, place the plant in a spot with medium light to help it drain more and absorb all the water it needs.
3) Keep an eye on it
About two weeks after completing the previous step, you must redo the first step. Stick a finger in the ground and smell the moisture.
If the soil dries out too quickly, water more often or move the plant to a place with less light or less heat.
Also, if the soil stays wet for too long, move the plant to a warmer, lighter spot and see if that helps. Otherwise, you may be dealing with too much water.
If the plant continues to decline, it may be best to try to salvage what you have by propagating the plant.
This way you can still maintain your ZZ and possibly multiply plants. Plus, you have a cool plant to start with.
If you like this article, check out our article on how to prevent orchid leaves from curling or wrinkling.
How to save your ZZ plant if it has been overwatered?
An overwatered ZZ will show yellowing leaves that may drop, as well as soil that stays moist.
This is especially easy to spot if you’ve watered the plant recently and the stem is shrunken. To resolve this issue, follow these steps:
Probably the best and fastest way to save your ZZ plant is to repot it. To do this, gently remove the plant from its current pot.
Prepare a new pot with soil that drains well enough to provide drainage, but contains enough moisture that your plant won’t constantly wilt.
Succulent soil is perfect in this case because it is mixed with exactly these properties in mind. After all, ZZ plants behave like succulents.
Once repotted, do not saturate the soil as you normally would.
Instead, pour a little water on the soil surface first, then check the soil’s moisture content with the finger test to determine an appropriate watering schedule.
2) Wait between waterings
If you don’t mind a ZZ being overwatered, you risk root rot. Your next best step is to simply wait a little longer between watering the plant.
The finger test is also useful here. However, keep in mind that it is better to water small amounts more often than to shock the plant with a heavy soak every now and then.
As with an underwater plant, if it looks like your ZZ won’t make it, you might be better off cutting your losses. A great way to save a plant part is to propagate it.
Root rot can easily kill a plant if overwatered. Even if you treat the plant well by cutting off the roots, stems and dead leaves, the damage may already be done.
Propagation has the potential to create many new ZZ plants that can be cared for properly.
Once they have established root systems and are ready for planting.
Final thoughts: How do you save your ZZ plant with a shriveled stem?
ZZ plants are known for their ability to continue to thrive despite the neglect of their parent plants.
They will show signs of dissatisfaction with their situation if they go to extremes.
While they’re great for the forgetful plant lover, an overzealous approach can be just as damaging to the plant as neglect.
Learning to identify early on what causes your ZZ plant to develop shrunken stems is essential.
It is essential to save the life of your plant by fixing the problem as quickly as possible. Good luck!
Before you go, here are some more related articles that I encourage you to read below to solve more of your gardening problems:
How to keep your ZZ plant from hanging?
Why is my Philodendron Brasil dying and how do I fix it?
Why does your fiddle leaf fig tree have multiple stems?