ZZ plants (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) are widely known to be easy to care for and often thrive when neglected. They are a popular houseplant. However, some common problems, such as falling plant stems, can affect their health and aesthetics. This article explains why ZZ rods sag or bind, and how to prevent and fix the problem for good.
Why are my ZZ rods falling off? The stems of ZZ plants usually sag or droop due to overwatering, leading to root rot. ZZ stems can also drop due to light problems, severe failure, under- or over-fertilization, cold stress, transplant stress, or trauma .
The key to preventing and fixing a ZZ plant with drooping stems is to identify and properly treat the underlying problem. The good news is that there are solutions to most problems affecting your plant. Read on to find out exactly how to fix your ZZ install.
Overwatering is a common cause of stem drop in ZZ plants.
ZZ is a succulent native to East Africa. Its history in semi-arid areas makes it prone to long periods of drought and sporadic showers. ZZ’s root system allows it to retain water. However, it takes time to dry out between waterings because too wet soil can rot and rot the rhizomes.
If you see your ZZ plant’s stems tipping over, consider and investigate overwatering as the most likely cause. Overwatering causes persistent soggy soil that reduces soil aeration. This creates a root environment that cannot absorb oxygen, causing unhealthy roots. Soggy soil is a perfect environment for a variety of anaerobic bacteria and fungi, which can attack roots and cause them to rot.
When root rot strikes, the plant may look completely healthy until the problem is severe enough. Once you notice the leaves turning yellow or the stems of ZZ plants drooping and dropping, it may be too late.
- If you suspect root rot, remove your ZZ plant from its pot.
- Roots affected by root rot will be soft and brittle and should be removed with sterile pruning shears.
- Transplant your ZZ plant into well-drained soil, making sure the pot isn’t too tall and has plenty of drainage holes.
- If your plant has been successfully repotted, do not water your ZZ plant until the potting mix is nearly dry.
- Be sure to remove any excess water from the drip tray or decorative pot a few minutes after watering.
Underwater can also be hung
Although less common, water underwater can also cause ZZ rods to drop, but for a completely different reason. If you simply forget to water your ZZ plant or are too careful with watering, your plant will slowly dry out. Although they hold up remarkably well, the leaves will eventually dry out, curl and drop off, and the plant stems will bend and start to sag.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution to this problem. Check the soil and when it is completely dry and the leaves are crisp and curling, simply water your plant well and the stems will soon sprout back when the lack of water is taken care of.
If you water your ZZ plant, I recommend checking your plant once a week. Smell the earth, look at the leaves and feel the weight of the pot. All of this will help you know when it’s time to water your plant. If you want more information, I’ve detailed exactly how to water your ZZ plant in this article.
Once your plant needs water, don’t just give it a little trickle. Soak the soil well until the water flows freely from the drainage holes. I usually take my plants to the sink to water them so that the soil is well soaked, then I wait for the excess water to drain from the pot before putting the plant back in its place.
How often your plant needs water depends entirely on the plant and its growing conditions. A ZZ plant may need to be watered once a week, or the soil may take 4-5 weeks to dry out.
Go through your plant and the soil instead of a diagram you read, and your ZZ plant will thank you and you won’t have to watch your poor ZZ plant’s stems dangle in the ground.
Learn more about estimating the water needs of your houseplants in this article.
Lighting problems can cause the stems of ZZ plants to drop
Your ZZ plant is healthiest in bright to moderate indirect light, but can tolerate a wide variety of conditions without compromising its health too much.
They can usually handle a dull north-facing room or bright light and a little direct sunlight per day without suffering too much. However, under extreme lighting, your ZZ plant will start to show signs of trouble.
In bright light conditions, you may notice that your plant’s stems seem to pull away from light sources or appear to droop. Leaves may also curl or turn yellow and may also begin to drop.
The best way to solve a lighting problem is to move the plant to a less sunny area of your home. If you can’t find another place to grow the plant, consider blocking out the bright light with curtains or blinds.
When exposed to very low light, most ZZ plants grow much more slowly, but new growth will stretch and move away from the plant in search of light. This will cause the stems to fall off and spoil the natural aesthetics of your ZZ plant.
Try moving your ZZ plant closer to a window, or provide supplemental lighting with fluorescent or LED grow lights, if your space doesn’t have access to natural light.
Fertilizer problems can cause the stems of ZZ plants to tip over
ZZ plants are generally not very picky about the type of fertilizer they receive. While some ZZ plant growers believe the plant requires no fertilizing, most plants will benefit from soil additives at some point to promote healthy growth.
Once you’ve ruled out all the other possible reasons for the stems hanging down or drooping, you’ll find that all it takes is a good supply of fertilizer to encourage it to thrive.
You should fertilize your ZZ plant once every 3-6 months with a balanced water soluble fertilizer. It’s the one I use. If your plant seems to be losing leaves and falling soon after fertilizing, you may want to assess the type and amount of fertilizer you are using.
Over-fertilizing and under-fertilizing the plant can lead to all sorts of problems, causing stems to droop or turn yellow.
It is generally not recommended to use fertilizer spikes as they can be strong enough to burn the roots of the plant. If you used a full-strength fertilizer or too strong a liquid fertilizer, consider repotting the plant with fresh soil and waiting a bit to fertilize until it has had a chance to recover.
The hardy ZZ plant generally thrives in temperatures that do not drop below 65°F. Temperatures below 45°F can cause stunted growth, while exposure to freezing temperatures can cause wilting and dropping leaves. Plant stems can also sag, brown and eventually break. If your plant is suffering from stress or cold shock, it may not be too late to revive it and get those stems back.
Move the plant back to a warm place in the house and cut off any damaged stems. Keep the plant warm, in bright, indirect light and allow it to recover from the stress of exposure to sub-freezing temperatures.
Depending on the extent of cold stress damage to the plant, it should recover within a few weeks and also show signs of new growth.
It’s just good plant care to periodically repot ZZ plants into larger containers. While most plants tolerate transplanting very well, even the hardiest plants can start to show some stress after their roots have been disturbed. One of the first signs that a transplanted ZZ plant is struggling with transplant stress is stems falling off.
There are a number of reasons why ZZ stems fall off after transplanting, with the main concerns being related to lack of water or some sort of root damage during transplanting.
In general, you should not repot during the hottest summer months, as this can cause the roots to dry out quickly if exposed to air.
A plant that drops and shows signs of transplant stress should be given time to recover. The plant will focus on root growth instead of providing energy to the stems under stress. If the roots have been able to recover, the plant should flower well.
Physical damage to the plant.
Dropping the ZZ stem can also be a sign of trauma to the plant. Small children, pets, or rough handling of the plant can damage the stems, causing them to snap and fall. Damaged stems have very little chance of recovery and should be removed with sterile pruning shears.
Dropping ZZ stems is a sign of a pretty unlucky plant. This hardy houseplant tells you something is wrong. Before looking for any of the other problems, think about excess water. Good luck with restoring your ZZ factory.