Houseplants forum: Drooping ZZ Plant

Views: 3438, Replies: 6 » Jump to the end
Washington, DC
Sep 29, 2017 1:37 PM CST
Hi all, very new to houseplants, and would appreciate any help here. I purchased a ZZ plant and put it into a slightly larger pot (the plastic pot it came in \barely fit inside the pot it is in now). It's been drooping ever since. The leaves also seem to be curling up more and more. I thought it would bounce back but it's been around 3 months. Any ideas how to help it out?

Thumb of 2017-09-29/obxmp20/dfcd67

Thumb of 2017-09-29/obxmp20/1c00d2

Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Sep 29, 2017 2:06 PM CST
Welcome, obxmp20!
How often are you watering it? What's the exposure on that window? The leaves look dry to me. Are they? They should be waxy/shiny, firm but a little pliable.
Washington, DC
Sep 29, 2017 2:10 PM CST
webesemps said:Welcome, obxmp20!
How often are you watering it? What's the exposure on that window? The leaves look dry to me. Are they? They should be waxy/shiny, firm but a little pliable.

Thanks! I am watering once a month. I live in the city and the window faces south, but into an alley so while there is good light it is fairly indirect. The leaves are not dry, but the curled ones are very thin/soft. The less curly ones feel more like what you describe.
Name: Bev
Salem OR (Zone 8a)
Sempervivums Container Gardener Foliage Fan Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Sep 29, 2017 2:24 PM CST
I can't tell from the 2nd picture which branches those are in relation to rest of plant. Are those the branches nearest the wall or the ones closer to top where the new growth would be? One of my guesses would be that your watering may not be thorough enough and the harder to reach branches are not getting enough water especially if watering is just once a month. For a plant that size a good deep watering infrequently is better than small sips. Plants being near window usually dry out faster/more due to heat, sunlight and draft.

Another guess I have is before or during transplanting, some branches closer to the pot may have been injured/cut/crushed and the outer part of branch with curling leaves may be hinting so. You might want to follow the curled branches back to its origin and see if along the way there is damage?
Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
Charter ATP Member Bookworm Amaryllis Houseplants Annuals Garden Photography
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Foliage Fan Bulbs Bee Lover Frogs and Toads Container Gardener
Sep 29, 2017 11:48 PM CST
Once a month doesn't seem to be enough, I'd say it's very dehydrated. Is the compost dry? Does the pot have drainage holes? Give it a thorough watering until the water is coming out of the bottom of the pot and let the plant soak it up for about 15 minutes then throw away any water that remains.
Name: Will Creed
Professional indoor plant consultan
Sep 30, 2017 5:37 AM CST
The symptoms are being caused by root damage. This is an example of what can happen when a plant is repotted unnecessarily. ZZ Plants especially need to be kept quite potbound in order to thrive. Without knowing the details of your repotting, I can only suggest a few possibilities of what is causing the problem with the root system.

If you removed some or all of the original soil, then many of the tiny roothairs were probably damaged inadvertently. Those roothairs, that are barely noticeable, do most of the work for the plant.

The new soil added should have been very porous with extra perlite added so that it dries out more quickly. The added soil acts like a sponge and absorbs and retains water for a long time. ZZ Plants are tough plants, but the one thing they do not tolerate is excess moisture around their roots. They can withstand drought, but not constant dampness. Rotted roots cannot absorb water for the rest of the plant and the result is wilted leaves that makes it appear that it is under-watered.

If you added new soil to the surface of the original rootball, it is preventing the soil in the root zone from drying out quickly enough. If so, it should be removed.

It appears that the planter it is potted in has no drain holes. The common practice of adding "drainage material" to the bottom of the pot is not an effective substitute for using pots with drain holes. Without drain holes, you have no way to tell how much water to add. If you add just a little too much each time you water, eventually the water accumulates in the bottom of the pot and that is deadly for a plant like a ZZ.

So, a lot can easily go wrong when repotting is done, even with the best of intentions. Repairing the damage is not so easy. You could undo the repotting, by removing the soil you added and moving the original intact rootball back into its original pot. However, that disturbance may cause further trauma.

A better alternative is to allow the soil to dry at least halfway deep into the pot before adding any water. This will be hard to determine and may require a wooden chopstick used as a soil probe to make that determination. When it reaches that level of dryness, add just enough water so that it reaches that level of dryness again in about a week. Experiment to find out what the right amount of water is.

In the interim, keep the plant in good light and warm temps. If you have caught the problem soon enough, you may see a gradual recovery, but you will have to be patient. Healthy new growth is the best indicator of recovery. Older leaves and stems are unlikely to recover fully.

Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Paula
NYC suburbs (Zone 6b)
Oct 3, 2017 6:07 PM CST
Overwatering vs underwatering is really hard to tell. 3 months is plenty for the plant to bounce back from any root damage while repotting.

Underwater and you plant cant get enough to drink. Overwater and your roots rot so the plant cant take in enough to drink.... you cant tell from a picture. If your pot doesnt have drainage holes then youre really in trouble when it comes to watering.
My advice is to go get a moisture meter ($5 on Amazon) so you can be sure.

« Homepage
« Back to the top
« Forums List
« Houseplants forum
You must first create a username and login before you can reply to this thread.

Member Login:



[ Join now ]

Today's site banner is by Marilyn and is called "Mixed Coleus"