Help with ZZ Plant?

Discussion in 'Indoor and Greenhouse Plants' started by Tianne, Sep 4, 2018.

  1. Tianne

    Tianne New Member

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    I am located in Victoria, Australia and it has just turned spring.
    I transferred my very healthy ZZ into a new pot about 2 months ago and I realised I may have damaged some of the roots in the process, as some branches started wilting but some didn't. I cut off those yellowed branches.
    I let the plant sit for 1 month before watering it again thoroughly (making sure it didn't sit in water)... during this month more and more stems wilted, but again, most remained relatively healthy looking. Again I got rid of the dead branches.
    I let it sit for 1 more month and watered it again last week. But its not really getting any better? Today, I had to trim off another 3 yellowed stems and noticed that some stems' leaves are starting to lose their shine and are sagging.
    Am I watering it wrong? Too much? Is the soil too cheap? Is it too cold? Or perhaps enough light?
    And why do the stems look so thin compared to other people's ZZs?
    If anyone could lend me some wisdom I would be very grateful.
     

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  2. thanrose

    thanrose Active Member 10 Years

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    These can take some neglect, and I doubt the roots were damaged that much. You can just stick a stem or even a leaf in the ground it very well might root. The thinness of your stems is interesting. Was it a very young plant when you got it? That one with the black and white cord looped off of it is what I would expect. Wendy Cutler on these boards had some that rooted from a forgotten dropped leaf and the new stem coming up was more petite than a shoot coming off of an established root. I suspect it hasn't gotten enough water. Once established they can really endure long periods of drought, but the consensus is that they do appreciably better with at least a little care. Over watering can be a problem, but while your soil looks damp, the plant doesn't look as if it is rotting.
     
  3. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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  4. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    I hesitate to say anything because I always think my neighbour does better with my plant when I am away than I do. I'm attaching a photo showing the mix of leaves with a thick stem (rachis, I guess it is, as each stem is one leaf with 8 or so pairs of leaflets) and some new leaves that are a lot smaller and thinner, including that one that looks very compressed, one that is thin but three times taller, and five that look like seedlings, which I think will become the taller thin ones. It just depends whether the plant you bought was a division from an older plant or was new growth. I don't have any experience yet with how long it takes those young plants to fatten up their new leaves, but I'm guessing it's several years. Some of those seedlings and the compressed "young" leaf on mine are two years old. They may be stunted, though, by the presence of the older plant. I'm up to six of the large leaves now. For a few years, I only managed to keep four - one would always die around the time that a new one appeared. There will always be leaves that die - you just hope that at least as many new ones grow to replace them.

    I would suggest getting a handle on when the plant needs water. It may be that these new leaves that are not so fleshy can't wait as long to be watered. Can you feel a difference in the weight of the pot between just watered and after one week, two weeks, etc? You can try one more month of waiting that long to water, to see how the weight varies. I don't think these want to be very dry, so if the pot is really light before the month is up, then that was too long.
    ZZplant_home_Cutler_20180904_110532.jpg
     
  5. Tianne

    Tianne New Member

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    Thanks so much for the reply
    I got the plant when it had fairly established stems, which were fairly thick. All those old stems died during these 2 months... the ones in the photos are the new stems that came out this year.

    Would you suggest watering it more than once a month? I water it quite heavily once a month, and i hear that might not be the best way to do it, but i get very vague and controversial answers from online so I'm a bit lost

    Thanks so much! I never knew they were a tropical plant.. I better start watering it a bit more regularly from now

    Thanks for the reply! You see when i bought the plant, it was small, but it did have strong stems. They all died during these 2 months though. The stems in the pictures i attached are all new growth from this year. I don't know how long they take to fatten up, so i hope time is the only issue here..

    I do think that underwater may indeed be an issue for me... I'm very scared to overwater though. How much would you recommend i water it each time? Fully soak it or just little? Im getting some mixed and ambiguous answers from online
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2018
  6. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    You don't usually want to water anything just a little, as then the roots will stay near the top where the water is. So I would say fully soak it, but make sure there is no water sitting in the tray when you are all done. And make sure it gets significantly lighter before you water it again. That's the theory. But I think I am giving mine less water than at first, but a little more often, and it's doing better than it used to, so go figure. Hence all the conflicting information. I think eventually, plants figure out what the deal is where they're living and adjust to that if they can. I was always told to use warm water. I'm not sure why - isn't rain cold water? Well, that's what I use; my neighbour usually keeps bottles around filled with water to use so that the chlorine will have evaporated when she uses it.

    I would guess that your plant had just been divided off from a larger plant and most of the roots supporting the older leaves did not come with for some reason. I just made that up; no reason for you to think I really understand it.
     
  7. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    I would follow the suggestion in the referenced document:
    Remember to water not on a schedule but when neccesary.
     
  8. Tianne

    Tianne New Member

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    Update on my ZZ and i dont think it's going too well.
    Im watering it every 2-3 weeks now as the weather is getting warmer. I also moved it to a slightly more lit area.
    All my other plants are sprouting new leaves, but it seems my ZZ is on a very slow decent to death... its leaves are wilting as if not getting any water, and im suspecting even more now that i must have damaged its roots too much when transferring it...
    But the dead roots of the two branches that fell out seem to be... soggy?? But then again, its leaves have been wilting ever since i tranferred it, back when I was watering it once a month?
    I wish i knew how to better take care of it...
     

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  9. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    How long did you have your healthy plant before you repotted it? What was the original pot like? Smaller than this one? This looks very small to contain thick branches as well as these thin ones. If you used soil directly from a package without adding any material to provide drainage, the soil could possibly have stayed waterlogged and rotted the roots. It's unusual to see bare roots like that without a network of fine hairy roots. I'm sorry, I know it's so frustrating being willing to do anything, if only you knew what, and I'm not sure really what the problem was.
    I don't think you can do that much damage to roots when you repot a plant, to have the effect you've gotten.
    I would suggest dividing it further, and trying different things with different pots - keeping one dry and one not dry (but not very wet). There does not seem to be a network of roots to worry about damaging by dividing the plant.
    Or, here is a link on rooting leaves:
    Propagating A ZZ Plant: Rooting Stem Cuttings In Water -
    This person is calling them stem cuttings, as if she is rooting a stem that has several leaves, but they are all single compound leaves with several leaflets.
    I queried rooting zz plant from leaves, and I got lots of hits, so I would suggest reading more than one article. You should use healthy-looking leaves, not that one that's already yellow.
     
  10. Tianne

    Tianne New Member

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    I've had this plant for about 2 years now. When i got it, it was a strong, dark leaved ZZ in a pot smaller than the one in the photos.
    I have never thought about the drainage issue and I believe that may be it.. i often feel for the moisture of the soil and it always seems quite wet no matter how long its been after watering.
    I did not add anything to the soil i used (unfortunately, it wasnt very good quality either, but i thought i could get away with it)... if i were to repot them again, what kind of things would you suggest adding to provide better drainage?
    and i would love to try rooting but i have a feeling the weakly stems i currently have may not be strong enough? I'm a bit hesitant to try it, because i really am not a good gardener.
    (i also forgot to leave the water i use to water the ZZ out before using it as you suggested, thats my bad... i will definitely keep that in mind going forward)
     
  11. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    There is lots written on soil to use for indoor plants. This seems like a good article:
    How to Make Your Own Potting Soil | Planet Natural
    This page says to use a cactus soil mix, and that the plants are drought tolerant, so they should dry out between waterings.
    Zamioculcas zamiifolia - Aroid Palm
    There is a good picture there of what the roots should look like.
     
  12. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    From the article referenced in my first post in this thread:
     
  13. Tianne

    Tianne New Member

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    4 month later update, if anyone was interested;
    I seem to have managed to redeem my ZZ thanks to everyone in this thread. I'm very grateful for all your help.
    I decided to upturn the big black pot (Oct 2018), and found the issue to be the soil which was way too fine and tightly packed, and the water just was not going anywhere. As a result (since this had been going on for so many months) all the rhizomes and most of the roots had rotted.
    I didnt know if ZZs could really survive with only a few sickly roots, but i cleaned away all the rotten muck, and separated the remaining salvageable stems into healthy rooted and healthy no root.
    The ones still with roots i planted onto a new pot with soil, more mulch, and quite a bit of sand (it was the best i could do, and it did seem to help with drainage).
    The stems with no roots i cut diagonally at the bottom and stuck in a vase with a clean water change every week.
    I also remembered to let the water i used sit for at least 24 hours before using it.
    The results are shown in the pictures i attached, from this afternoon.
    Im so happy that the propagation worked and the rest of the stems also seem to have pulled through.
     

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  14. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    Wow, thanks for your detailed status report! You should feel quite pleased indeed. This looks excellent.
    The ones rooted in water - are they in that pot now?
     
  15. Tianne

    Tianne New Member

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    Yes they are, moved them in today :) (the stems with lighter coloured leaves in the last picture are the ones that were rooted in water) hopefully they cope ok with the change of environment
     
  16. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Thank you for your followup. It's good to know the end result of a discussion.
     
    Tianne likes this.

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