How To Save Overwatered & Underwatered ZZ Plant [Solutions]

Isn’t it so disgusting to have yellow leaves instead of getting glossy ZZ plant leaves? This problem may be caused by overwatering. Another reason in this sphere may be underwatering.

Overwatering or underwatering- both of them are notorious for a ZZ plant. But excess watering is more detrimental. If you water more frequently than it is needed, it will cause root rot, yellowing leaves, and in some cases death to your plant. 

On the other hand, underwatering will also create spots or wrinkles on the leaves and this may lead to death too.

If you are going through the same problem, Don’t worry! In this article, I am going to discuss how you can save your overwatered and underwatered ZZ plant.

How Often To Water A ZZ Plant

ZZ plant is the kind of plant which doesn’t need much care. You can compare this with cactus plants. The fact is that too much caring will lead this plant to death. 

In a general sense, overwatering means watering too much than a plant needs. ZZ plants can’t tolerate much water. You are allowed to water them only when the soil is properly dried. 

Sometimes, the upper surface remains dry but the lower portion of soil where the root remains may be wet. In that case, if you water more, the excess water will be gathered in the root portion and your plant will face problems. So, it is better to use a moisture meter to know the exact moisture percentage in the soil (Our pick: Atree Soil Soil Tester Kits with Moisture, Light, and PH Test for Garden).

Generally, you can water 1 cup for small to medium pots and 2 cups for larger pots every 15-20 days in summer times and once a month in the winter period. 

Over-Watered ZZ Plant vs Under-Watered ZZ Plant

Over-Watered ZZ Plant

Though the ZZ plant is one of the easiest plant species to take care of. Sometimes you may face problems keeping this plant. In that case, you have to identify the exact problem, and then you will be able to sort it out. 

Many of us get confused about the overwatering and the under-watering condition of the ZZ plant. Because the plant shows almost the same symptom in both cases. So let’s clarify that first.

If the plant leaves are dropping without being yellowed,  you may become sure that this problem is for underwatering. On the other hand, if the leaves are becoming yellow and dropping out at the same time it is the problem of overwatering.

A point should be noted that the ZZ plant may live for 4-5 months without water. It may lose its shine but will stay alive. But overwatering will cause its death in a short period.

Causes of Overwatering

ZZ plant is such a kind of plant that if you want to care more it will die. The causes of overwatering may be over-caring or lack of knowledge. 

Soil Problem

Soil problems are one of the most common issues if you don’t know the proper care. ZZ plants love sandy loam soil so that drainage is properly done and at the same time, the plant can take proper water.

If the soil is too loamy, it will hold more moisture that will cause a hazard to your plant if you can’t realize the problem properly.

Poor Drainage System

The drainage system should be properly managed. The excess water is needed to be removed immediately by holes or any other system of drainage. You should have proper attention in this case.

Causes of Underwatering

ZZ plants underwatering can be caused for several reasons. Why don’t you have a look at them?

Problems in the Potting System

You may face a watering problem in your ZZ plant if you can’t plant it properly in the pot. 

You should have a proper mixture of soil and nutrients so that the root level can properly take water out of it.

Soil Texture

If you use properly sandy and dry soil, the water may start leaching and the plant won’t be able to use it which will cause under-watering. 

Improper Watering

Many of us think that the ZZ plant doesn’t need much care, so it may survive in any condition. Yeah! It can be so. But day by day it will lose its actual glossy look and after a moderate time, it will die.

Symptoms of Overwatering

  • The very common symptom of over-watering is yellowing leaves.
  • At the same time, the leaves may drop off at an alarming rate.
  • The root of the plant rot.
  • The plant will lose all of its shiny looks.
  • The stems of the ZZ plant become mushy.

Symptoms of Underwatering

  • Underwatering is also a cause of leaves being yellow. When the plant faces underwatering, the inner leaves will start to become yellow.
  • The leaves will start to drop.
  • The plant will be seen wilting. 
  • If you can press your hand to the bottom of the pot, you will find that the roots are becoming lifeless.
  • The leaf tips will be brown.
  • Wrinkles or curls will be seen in the leaf and the edges will become dry.
  • Sometimes you may get brown spots too in the leaves and stems.
  • Overall, the plant will droop up.

Why Does Overwatering Kill The ZZ Plant

By this time, you may be eager to know the causes of this harm and why overwatering is harmful to the ZZ plant. 

The actual reason for this is the rhizomes. ZZ plants possess thick rhizomes. Fleshy roots come from the rhizomes that may be able to store water. That’s why roots always have plenty of water. If you water frequently, these rhizomes can’t use their stored water. Besides, more water is added to that. 

Again, their fleshy leaves can also hold water. That’s why the extra water makes adverse conditions for them and the plant leaves become yellow.

Why Does Underwatering Kill The ZZ Plant

Underwatering indicates a great risk to your plant. It means that your plant is not getting proper water to utilize for photosynthesis. 

If sunlight is perfect or more than it needs, the plant won’t be able to cope up with the chemical or mechanical processes happening inside the plant. So, ultimately it will fail to proceed with its genetic mechanisms and die.

Diseases & Problems Caused Because Of Overwatering

Root Rot

The first problem will occur in the root when the plant will face an overwatering problem. As water will be stuck in the root portion, the roots will start to rot

The offensive odor will come from the root part and if you can reach your hand by removing soil in the bottom of the plant, you will find wet disorganized roots.

Leaves Turning Yellow

Yellow leaves on the ZZ plant are the most common disease you may have seen.

Drooping Stems

The stems start to droop because of over-watering. The new stems that will arise will be very thin and they won’t show the actual look.

Brown Root Tips

If the environment is too wet, you must have the problems of fungal attack.

Normally, the ZZ plant doesn’t become attacked with fungus. But if the root portions are not dried, the fungus can grow there and affect the whole plant.

In that case, root tips may become brown and the spots can be seen in the stems and leaves.

Wrinkled Leaves

The stems are not bushy in the ZZ plant. Straight stems with shiny and waxy leaves are the indication of a healthy ZZ plant.

But if the stems are a little bushy and curled leaves are shown, definitely they are attacked with fungus and that will cause excess humidity in your plant.


The tissues and body vessels face problems because of overwatering. The vacuoles also get barriers to completing their procedures properly. This problem is called edema.

Diseases & Problems Caused Because Of Underwatering


One of the major problems that can happen because of underwatering is plant wilting.

As the plant can’t prepare proper water, it won’t be capable of reaching proper food and water. The xylem and phloems will be narrowed and all the occurrences will be imbalanced.

Plant Death

If under watering conditions are neglected for several months, it may cause death to the plant. 

Due to the stress of a long period, the root knots, stems, leaves, and all the plant parts will start malfunctioning which will lead to plant death.

Lack of Plant Beauty

A plant that can not prepare its food properly, how can be the source of your enchantment? 

The main attraction that is found from a ZZ plant is its waxy and eye-catching look. But the look will not be adorable if underwatering occurs.

Plant Diseases

Plant diseases will easily affect the state of under-watering.

If under watering conditions, the plant may be internally injured. This injury will make the plant susceptible to plant pathogens. At that stage, diseases and fungal attacks may occur.

How To Save An Overwatered ZZ Plant

To save your plant from overwatering problems, you have to dry your plant root. 

Stop Watering the Plant

If you find your plants yellowing, you should first stop watering the plant. Let your plant dry properly. You may check it by pressing inward the pot of the plant. 


If the water condition is too worse for the plant, you may need repotting to save the plant. Firstly, lose the soil and pull up the ZZ plant from the previous pot. Then prepare the soil with a moderate amount of nutrients, sandy loam soil, and a little amount of hydrogen peroxide. Plant the affected ZZ plant in the new tab.

Using Fungicide

Sometimes, the disease may be caused by overwatering. In this case, you have to use a fungicide. You can spray or use liquid industrial fungicides or homemade fungicides to protect your plant. 

Fungicide should be properly used in the right proportion for better results in the plant parts (Our Pick: Bonide Copper Fungicide)

Homemade Fungicide Recipe

Mix 4 teaspoons or 1 heaping tablespoon(20 ml) of baking soda to 1 gallon (4 L) of water. Potassium bicarbonate can be used as a substitute for baking soda.

How To Save An Underwatered ZZ Plant

An underwatered plant can be saved by proper watering.

Water Properly

Normally the attack of fungus and nematodes are a little avoided in Underwatering conditions rather than overwatering. So the best way to save your plant is watering by the right method. 

Be sure that overwatering should not happen because that condition will be then threatening for the plant. 

So, water in such a matter that the plant-soil doesn’t remain dry and at the same time, the whole plant can get proper water for food preparation.

Giving Nutrients

That’s for sure that if your plant is continuing under overwatered conditions, it will face a lack of nutrients. 

So, besides water, you may use some fertilizers like oil cake or others to provide some strength to your plant.

Using Fungicide

If you notice that any internal injury is happening, use fungicide at a little proportion as the same procedure of over-watering. But this may be a rare case.

Final Words

ZZ plants are one of the prettiest flowering species which have more attractive foliages. But that will remain attractive when you will take proper care of it. 

Overwatering and underwatering- both of the terms are similarly hazardous for this loveable plant. You don’t need to pay much attention, but a little concern should have occurred to be kept for it. 

Make sure to take the best care of your ZZ plant and the steps of avoiding ZZ plant overwatering and underwatering and have a beautiful creature in your living room.

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