Ask a Question forum: ZZ Plant Yellowing

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Name: Leia
Minneapolis, MN (Zone 4a)
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LeiaG
Dec 16, 2017 6:56 PM CST
I recently repotted my ZZ plant. It has been healthy for the year and a half I've owned it and has grown a lot. In the week or two after repotting it, some of the leaves have begun yellowing. One leaf even has a brown spot forming. Could this be due to root damage during the transition? It has also been moved closer to a window. Could it be from too much light?
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Dec 16, 2017 8:19 PM CST
Your ZZ is reacting to the repotting. This is a pretty hardy plant but the two things it does not like are having its roots disturbed and keeping the soil too moist around its roots for too long. It tolerates a wide range of light and drought.

I don't know how you went about the repotting. If you removed some or all of the soil from the original rootball, then you probably inadvertently damaged some of the tiny root hairs that do most of the work. If you kept the original rootball intact, then I suggest that you undo the repotting, by removing all the soil you added and putting it back into its original pot. After all, it was apparently doing well prior to the repotting.

Otherwise, remove the soil that you added to the top of the original rootball. That will help air to penetrate the root zone more readily. Then, allow the top inch of soil to dry before adding just enough water so that the top inch of soil dries out again in about a week. You will have to experiment with that amount to determine what is the right amount.

Providing lots of good light and warm temps will help the recovery, but allowing the soil to dry out regularly is most important.

Leaves and stems that have started to discolored can be cut off and removed as they will not recover. ZZ's are slow growers so it may be a while before you see healthy new growth. Be patient. Crossing Fingers!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Leia
Minneapolis, MN (Zone 4a)
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LeiaG
Dec 16, 2017 8:30 PM CST
The ZZ was very tight in its old pot. Removing it was a struggle and one of the rhizomes was scraped at the edge. Fitting it back in the old pot would be quite difficult/impossible. When I was finally able to get the ZZ's roots out of the old pot, no soil was left on the roots at all. I didn't wash them off or shake them free of soil, it happened on its own. Below is a photo of the roots before placing it in its new pot.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Dec 16, 2017 9:10 PM CST
I see it lost a lot of soil when it was unpotted. Keep it in its new pot, but do remove excess soil on top of the original rootball and be very careful to allow the soil to dry appropriately. You may lose some additional leaves, but it should settle in eventually.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Dec 16, 2017 10:28 PM CST
Thanks Will. Except for repotting stress, it looked good to me but I have never had this plant.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Dec 20, 2017 10:56 AM CST
Hello Leia, yellowing of leaves could indicate it is getting overwatered. This plant really prefers to be on the warm and dry side. Since you just repotted it, it is still in that phase of repotting stress. I know it seems quite slow to recover, but such is the slow phase of its growth. In time it will recover, the pace will vary just depends on your ambient growing conditions there.

In the meantime, just be very mindful of watering. You have seen how fat the roots are and its potato-like rhizome, so
if you feel inclined to water, test the soil first, stick a bamboo skewer into the soil and then pull it out. If it comes out wet delay watering. Or you can put a big rock on top of the soil, if you lift it later and shows soil is damp below it, delay watering.

Here was my ZZ plant roots when I repotted in April 2014, I saw it can be divided into three, so carefully removed the old soil to really see how to pull them apart gently. Some leaves were bound to be lost, just part of its repotting stress, by the time June came it is making new leaf stalks again. I get most of my new growth around that time of the year, mid Spring to early summer.

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[Last edited by tarev - Dec 20, 2017 10:57 AM (+)]
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