Save Your Zz Plant From Root Rot: Step-By-Step Guide

Kelly Garton

Are you a fan of low-maintenance, easy-care plants like the ZZ plant? If so, you may have encountered the common problem of root rot, which can threaten the health of your ZZ plant.

Overwatering or fungi in the soil can cause this issue, leading to discoloration, soft or drooping stems, mold or algae, and a musty smell. But don’t worry – with the right steps, you can save your ZZ plant from root rot and restore it to its thriving state.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of rehabilitating your ZZ plant from root rot, step-by-step. We’ll start with prevention tips to help you avoid root rot in the first place, and then we’ll cover the signs and symptoms of root rot so you can identify it early.

Finally, we’ll walk you through the recovery process, outlining the steps you need to take to save your ZZ plant and get it back to its healthy, resilient state. So let’s dive in and save your ZZ plant from root rot!

Key Takeaways

  • ZZ plants are low-maintenance but can suffer from root rot due to overwatering or fungi in the soil.
  • Prevention is key, including only watering when the top inch or two of soil is dry, using well-draining soil, and using a container with a drainage hole.
  • Signs of root rot include discoloration, soft or drooping stems, mold or algae, and a musty smell. To treat it, reduce watering frequency, ensure well-draining soil, and consider using a fungicide.
  • Pruning dead or infected leaves and stems, cutting stems at a 45-degree angle, and replanting in fresh soil and a clean container can help save a ZZ plant from root rot.

Prevention Tips

To prevent root rot in your ZZ plant, you should only water when the top inch or two of soil is dry. Overwatering can cause the roots to suffocate and lead to the growth of harmful fungi. It’s important to use a well-draining soil to avoid water accumulation around the roots.

ZZ plants prefer soil that is rich in nutrients, but not overly moist. A quick-draining soil will allow for proper air circulation and water drainage, reducing the risk of root rot. In addition to using the right soil type, it’s also crucial to use a container with a drainage hole. This will allow excess water to escape the container, preventing water from accumulating around the roots.

When replanting your ZZ plant, avoid using old potting soil. Old soil can contain harmful fungi that can infect the roots and cause root rot. Instead, use fresh soil and clean the container with a mild bleach solution before replanting. By following these simple prevention tips, you can keep your ZZ plant healthy and thriving.

Signs and Symptoms

If you notice discoloration, soft or drooping stems, mold or algae, or a musty smell coming from your ZZ plant, it may be experiencing root rot.

This common problem is usually caused by overwatering or fungi in the soil.

To identify if your plant has root rot, check the roots by gently removing the plant from its pot. Healthy roots should be white and crisp, while affected roots will be gray, brown, or black, slimy, and mushy.

Identifying the causes of root rot is crucial in treating your ZZ plant. If the problem is due to overwatering, reduce the frequency of watering and make sure the soil is well-draining.

It’s also recommended to use a pot with a drainage hole to prevent water from accumulating in the soil. If the issue is caused by fungi, consider using a fungicide to eliminate the harmful organisms.

However, if the root rot has progressed too far, it may be necessary to prune the plant and its roots severely. While recovery is not always guaranteed, taking action as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of saving your ZZ plant.

Recovery Process

Once the root rot has been identified, it’s important to take immediate action to recover your ZZ plant. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Pruning techniques: The first step in the recovery process is to prune the plant. Remove any dead or infected leaves and stems using clean and sharp tools. Cut the stems at a 45-degree angle to prevent water from accumulating on the cut surface. If the roots are severely affected, they should also be pruned.

Healthy roots are white and crisp, while affected roots are gray/brown/black, slimy/mushy. Cut the affected roots until you reach healthy ones.

  1. Propagation methods: If the ZZ plant is severely affected by root rot, it may be difficult to save it. However, you can try propagating the plant using healthy leaves or stem cuttings. Cut a healthy leaf or stem, allow it to dry for a few hours, and then plant it in a pot with fresh soil. Water the plant sparingly until new growth appears.

Note that propagation is not always successful, so it’s important to take preventative measures to avoid root rot in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I fertilize my ZZ plant?

To maintain your ZZ plant’s health, fertilize it once a month during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. ZZ plants have low nutrient requirements, so avoid over-fertilizing, which can cause root rot.

Can I propagate a ZZ plant with a root rot problem?

Unfortunately, propagating ZZ plants with root rot is not recommended as it can spread the problem to new plants. Troubleshooting root rot in ZZ plants requires serious pruning and careful care to prevent future issues.

Can ZZ plants survive in direct sunlight?

ZZ plants can tolerate direct sunlight, but it’s best to keep them in optimal lighting conditions, which is bright but indirect light. Avoid placing them in intense, hot sun to prevent damage to the leaves.

How long does it take for a ZZ plant to recover from root rot?

Root rot recovery duration varies depending on the severity of the issue. Treatment options include serious pruning of the plant and roots, replanting in fresh soil, and reducing watering frequency. Success is not guaranteed.

What is the best way to control fungi in the soil of ZZ plants?

To prevent root rot and control soil fungi in ZZ plants, use a well-draining soil mix and avoid overwatering. Consider using a fungicide or natural remedies like cinnamon or neem oil. Clean tools and containers before replanting.


Congratulations! You’ve successfully rehabilitated your ZZ plant from root rot.

Remember to follow the prevention tips to avoid this issue in the future.

To recap, preventing root rot in your ZZ plant involves using well-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes, avoiding overwatering, and ensuring proper air circulation.

If you do notice any signs and symptoms of root rot, such as discoloration, soft or drooping stems, mold or algae, or a musty smell, act quickly to save your plant.

The recovery process involves removing the plant from the pot, trimming any affected roots, treating the remaining roots with fungicide, and repotting the plant in fresh, well-draining soil.

With proper care and attention, your ZZ plant can thrive for years to come.