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Why is my zz plant getting yellow leaves?

Wondering why is my ZZ Plant leaves turning yellow? Let’s diagnose this common problem and get your ZZ plant healthy again!

ZZ plants are super popular houseplants. These plants have a unique shape and thick glossy leaves.

Read my Raven ZZ plant care guide!

They are super easy to keep happy and advertised often as “unkillable”.

So, if your zz plant isn’t doing well, you might be a little puzzled.

Kind of like how snake plant was one of my first plants – it had a tag on it that said IRON PLANT HARD TO KILL – and I killed it within the month.

Even easy plants can have problems and need some troubleshooting.

So, today we are going to chat about yellowing leaves on a ZZ plant and what to do about them!

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ZZ plant care guide
why are my zz plant leaves yellowing

Why is my ZZ plant turning yellow?

Here are a few common reasons that you might get ZZ plant yellowing leaves.

  • Overwatering
  • Low humidity
  • Inconsistant watering
  • Insufficient light
  • Root bound plant
  • Bacterial Leaf Spot
  • Pests
  • Old age


Overwatering is the #1 cause of yellowing leaves on most indoor house plants. In general, plants don’t like to sit in excess water. Pooling water can lead to root rot which will kill your plant.

Keep in mind that ZZ plants really don’t need much water. They have bulbs under the soil that store water (like a camel’s hump) and can go quite a while between waterings.

If you suspect overwatering, stick your finger about 2 inches into the soil. Does it feel wet? Don’t water again until it dries out.

If your plant is way over watered, take it out of the pot. Dump out any excess water and wet soil and re-pot with fresh potting mix.

Be sure that your pot has drainage holes to prevent excess water from pooling in the future.

potted raven zz plant on a dresser

Low humidity

I find this to be MUCH less frequent than over watering, but low humidity can cause leaf drop. Usually the leaves will get brown, crispy spots on them (often on the tips). Then, the leaves might turn yellow.

These symptoms indicate that the plant is drying out. If it’s being watered well, misting the leaves can help to improve humidity in the air.

Inconsistant watering

In my experience, ZZ plants are NOT very picky. However, some claim that they like to be on a watering schedule.

Going from bone dry to soaking wet at random intervals could stress out your plant and lead to yellowing leaves.

If in doubt, establish a regular watering schedule and try to stick to it.

stalk of raven zz plant

Insufficient light

ZZ plants don’t need hardly any light – they do fine far away from windows. However, they still need SOME light.

If your plant isn’t getting enough light, the leaves will start to turn yellow and drop. This will especially happen to older leaves towards the base of the plant.

The cure to this is to move your plant into brighter light. It will be much happier.

Root Bound Plant

It is possible that your plant has become root bound. Basically, the roots are too big for the pot.

Pull it out of the pot and see! If it’s been there a while – this is a real possibility.

If the roots are tightly packed or even poking out the drainage hole – time for a bigger pot. Add fresh potting soil while you are at it for a happier plant!

Bacterial Leaf Spot

Soft, brown, mushy spots on a leaf are called Bacterial Leaf Spots. This come from water sitting on the leaves and rotting them.

Remove all effected leaves and avoid getting the leaves wet when you water it!


Spider mites, scale, and mealy bugs can get on the underside of leaves and suck the nutrients out of your plant.

If you suspect pests, isolate your plant to help prevent it from spreading to other plants.

Old age

As plants get older, it is natural for some of the older leaves to yellow and fall off, making room for new growth. Keeping a leaf green takes energy, and some plants decide to allocate that energy to new plants.

If this is the case, you will have yellowing of older leaves – near the base of the plant – only, and not new growth.

close up of raven zz plant with dirty leaves

FAQs about yellowing ZZ plant leaves

What do you do when ZZ plant leaves turn yellow?

When your ZZ plant’s leaves start turning yellow, that is a warning sign that it is likely in distress. If a lot of leaves turn yellow and drop, it’s a lot of stress. Time to take action! Diagnose the problem from the list above and do your best to treat it.

Can Yellow ZZ plant leaves turn green again?

No, yellow or dead leaves will not turn green again. Once they lose their chloroform, the plant abandons them and moves on. #ruthless

Should I remove yellow leaves from ZZ plants?

Removing yellowing leaves is a personal preference. I tend to tug on them lightly and if they pop off easily, I pop them off.

You can read my complete guide to removing dead leaves here!

close up of black folliage on raven zz plant

What does an overwatered ZZ plant look like?

Overwatered plants get limp, yellow leaves that drop and fall off. They can also get mushy brown or black spots on the leaves.

Do ZZ plants leaves turn yellow in fall?

No, these plant leaves don’t change seasonally like a maple tree. If your plant’s leaves are yellowing, it indicates a problem. Maybe the cool weather is getting it if it is outdoors.

Why are my ZZ plant leaves turning yellow and brown

If your ZZ plant leaves are turning yellow and crispy brown, that indicates it needs more water or humidity. If it is mushy brown and yellow, that indicated overwatering and potentially root rot.

Why are my ZZ plant leaves turning brown?

Brown crispy plant leaves indicate not enough water, low humidity, or too much direct sunlight.

Why are my ZZ plant leaves turning yellow with black spots?

If your plant leaves are yellow with black spots, it is severely overwatered. Pull it out of the pot, dump any excess, add new dry potting soil, and repot them in a pot with drainage holes. Only water your plant when the soil feels dry to the touch.

close up of raven ZZ plant

Why is my ZZ plant leaves turning yellow after repotting?

Yellowing leaves can indicate stress or shock. Moving a plant can cause stress. Be sure it has plenty of drainage, is not over or under watered, and is getting enough light.

Why is the new growth on my ZZ plant yellow?

New growth on a ZZ plant comes in very light bright green – almost neon green. This can be startling, especially on a Raven ZZ plant, but is completely normal! It will darken as it ages.

Any more questions about yellowing ZZ plant leaves?!

Thanks for reading!

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