Houseplants forum→Help with ZZ plant - extreme drooping and curling

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Toronto, Canada
mmmstar
Jun 6, 2020 10:13 PM CST
I've had the ZZ plant for almost a year now. I have kept it in the planter pot in came in, and just placed it into a white decorative pot.

It was originally by a south facing window set back by our balcony in front of it for rather indirect moderate light. It was placed on floor level and was very upright and growing very quickly for a period of time. I knew that overwatering was a concern so I only watered every 3-4 weeks when the top soil was dry. I would take the plant out of the decorative pot to water and let it drain before placing it back.

Around December, I noticed that some of the stems were starting to droop and a new growth at the base turned yellow pretty quickly. I thought it was a watering issue and watered less frequently (every month or longer). However, this did not improve and so I moved it closer to my larger south facing window that didn't have a balcony in front, so it had more light during the day (see picture with white decorative pot). In less than 2 weeks, I noticed that the stems drooped even more and the leaves started to curl. I moved it a bit further back from the light thinking it may be too much sun (realizing only recently that winter afternoon sun is lower and more intense than summer months). However, after giving it a couple of months, this did not seem to improve and slowly became more droopy and more curled (see picture with pot further back).

Finally, we moved it into the bedroom at the end of March which has a south west facing window, but set 10 feet back from the window for very indirect soft light throughout the day. Watering was kept to every month or so (at times even longer in between). Two weeks ago, I was repotting my plants and decided to repot the ZZ with some new potting mix since the existing one seemed to be quite dry (e.g. water drained straight through right after I'd start to water it). I kept it in the same pot (washed the pot of the old soil) and size as I wasn't sure whether it should be potted into a larger size.

The pictures in its black planter pot show what it looks like now... basically all drooping and pulling out of the sides, and very curled across most of the stalks, some very tightly curled. There are only one or two stalks that still have a deeper green colour and less curls, but even today I am noticing its colour fade and starting to curl.

ZZ is known to be a low maintenance plant, but it has been a good several months of watching it... and I can't seem to quite figure out what I might be doing wrong Crying . Any help or insight would be very much appreciated! Thank you!

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Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
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kniphofia
Jun 6, 2020 10:58 PM CST
Don't keep moving it around so much. It looks very dry which would account for the leaf curl and drooping.
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
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Gina1960
Jun 7, 2020 8:00 AM CST
I think they are more shade plants too aren't they Sue @kniphofia ?
I have a green and white variegated one and a Raven and they both like more shade
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Prof. plant consultant & educator
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WillC
Jun 7, 2020 8:04 AM CST
ZZ Plants are very unfussy plants that do not like to be fussed with. Every time a plant is relocated, it is forced to adapt to the change in light and that often affects how much water it needs. ZZ's can adapt to a wide range of light conditions, so it is best to settle on your preferred location and leave it there.

Initially, it was in its nursery pot so it would have needed water about every two weeks so the initial problem was underwatering. It is a plant that can withstand drought, but it will develop some yellow leaves and stems as it tries to adapt to the dryness.

Your ZZ did not need new soil; it just needed to be watered more often. Unfortunately, one of the worst things you can do to a plant is replacing the soil. Doing so removes and damages most of the tiny root hairs that do most of the work for a plant. The original rootball also helped keep the stems upright.

I know your intentions were good, but your ZZ is now in for a long recovery as it has to develop a new root system so it can support the rest of the plant. Proper watering will also now be a challenge because of the soil change and repotting.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
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Toronto, Canada
mmmstar
Jun 7, 2020 8:32 AM CST
Thanks everyone for the comments and insight. I will leave it in the bedroom where it has been for the past couple of months and not move it. Since it is set further back from the window, the light is not as intense as well.

I will also check in on the watering and not be afraid to give it a drink if it is starting to dry. I was so afraid of overwatering, I may have gone the other extreme. The rootball wasn't holding the stems up straight anymore even before I repotted it. I have read about not removing all the old soil because of the root systems so I kept some of the old soil surrounding the root ball, and mostly let the dry and crumbly old portions fall off.

I guess I will see if the improved watering will help. My fingers are crossed! I have been scrolling through this forum for awhile now as I learn my way through building a green thumb. Thank you all for your quick, helpful and kind responses.

I have a couple more plants that I would like to ask about... so you will see me on here a lot more often 😊😊

Nice to meet everyone! Thank You!
Name: Gina
Florida (Zone 9a)
Tropical plant collector 35 years
Region: Florida Tropicals Aroids
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Gina1960
Jun 7, 2020 8:56 AM CST
If you grow any aroids, please feel free to join our small group over on the Philodendrons etc forum. The orchid forum is also very active and has a lot of knowledgeable growers, and the bromeliad forum as well
Award winning beaded art at ceinwin.deviantart.com!
Toronto, Canada
mmmstar
Jun 16, 2020 7:11 PM CST
I thought I would share an update here with everyone since I last posted. After repotting and giving a good thorough soak, some of the leaves have unfurled and some of them have a darker green colour and shine to them! I am still hoping and watching for the stalks to perk up and stand itself up, but will watch and see.

Thanks for the guidance and teaching me about patience! Appreciate it 😊 Thank You!

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