Why Are My ZZ Plant Leaves Curling? (Causes & Solutions)

ZZ plants are an incredible choice for houseplant enthusiasts with an ultimate brown thumb. These plants can tolerate lighting conditions and months of neglect without becoming fussy.

But that does not mean the ZZ plants are invincible. The ZZ plant leaves curling up is the most common problem. You’ll need to examine the houseplant before taking measures.

So, why are my ZZ plant leaves curling? It is due to improper watering, direct sunlight exposure, extreme temperatures, root-bound issues, and more.

The ZZ plant leaves curling up are not a death sentence. You’ll need to cut off the damaged leaves and stems for the plant to bounce back to its former glory.

Keep reading this article to find out more about the causes. You’ll also learn how to fix the ZZ plant leaves curling issue like an expert.

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8 Reasons Why Your ZZ Plant Leaves Are Curling

The ZZ plant leaves should be thick, waxy, and green. If you notice your ZZ plant leaves curling up and changing color, it is a sign of an inappropriate care regime.

There are several reasons why your ZZ plant has curling leaves. But most of these causes are fixable without affecting the plant’s health and growth.

Below are the possible causes and solutions of the ZZ plant leaves curling up (Source: University of Vermont):

Under-Watering Problem

ZZ plants are drought tolerant houseplants. But water is essential to facilitate the physiological activities of the plant. The drought-tolerant feature makes many plant owners neglect it.

An underwatered ZZ plant usually experience leaves curling problem. The phenomenon occurs since the houseplant is trying to retain the remaining water in their tissues.

Check the soil moisture content by pushing your index finger in it before watering the plant. If the soil is dry, water your houseplant.

Be sure to develop a watering schedule for your favorite plant. I recommend watering the ZZ plant once every two weeks in summer and once a month during winter.

Too Much Soil Moisture

ZZ plants cannot tolerate sogginess and waterlogged environments. The damp condition is the leading cause of leaf-related problems on many houseplants.

If you notice your ZZ plant leaves curling, turning yellow and mushy with brown stems, it is a sign of root rot. The root condition causes more harm to your houseplant.

Overwatering problems occur due to improper soil drainage. The best option is to reduce the watering frequency to save the plant from dying.

Re-potting the indoor plant to well-drained soil and container is the best solution. Be sure to cut off the damaged roots with a sterilized pair of scissors before re-potting the plant.

Direct Sunlight Exposure

ZZ plants can tolerate low lighting conditions over too much sunlight. These plants grow under the canopy in their native habitat.

Prolong exposure to direct sunlight is responsible for the leaves curling up the issue. It is a mechanism that helps the houseplant to prevent excessive water loss.

ZZ plants prefer medium to bright indirect sunlight. The intensity of filtered sunlight is less and cannot cause stress on the plant leaves.

East or West-facing windows are the best for your favorite plant. The sunlight is not too harsh but sufficient for encouraging photosynthesis.

Trim the scorched leaves and provide the ultimate ZZ plant care routine. It would be best to consider installing artificial lights rather than taking the plant to direct sunlight.

Cold Temperatures

ZZ plants are native to tropical regions. These tropical plants love warm temperatures that range from 65-85oF (18-27oC).

The ZZ plant leaves will curl when the room temperature is below 50oF.  Leaves curling are initial signs of distress in cold temperatures.

 Keep your indoor plant away from cold drafts, AC vents, and fans. The technique is suitable for preventing the ZZ plant leaves from curling.

Insect Infestations

ZZ plants are more vulnerable to pests such as mealybugs, thrips, and aphids. These cell-sap sucking insects can change the plant leaf shape.

These pests usually pierce the leaves and suck the cell-sap. The frequent piercing ends up distorting the leaf’s appearance.

ZZ plant leaves curling up are the most common sign of pest infestations. Take the time to examine the leaves with a lens before implementing appropriate action.

Use either insecticidal soap or dilute neem oil to spray the houseplant. It will help to eliminate the bugs in the plant.

Root-Bound Issue

ZZ plants are propagated from rhizomes. These bulbs usually store water and nutrients for the plant while growing.

The root-bound problem occurs when the plant is grown in a smaller container. The limited space for expansion makes the ZZ plants start curling up.

Be sure to re-pot the houseplant after a couple of years to prevent the root-bound issue. Consider checking if the roots are peeking out of the potting mix.

Choose a larger container with drainage holes at the bottom. These holes will help to drain excess water and prevent the overwatering issue.

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Lack of Humidity

ZZ plants can tolerate drought for a couple of days. But the houseplant can die if the drought exceeds certain levels.

Inadequate humidity around the plant can also facilitate leaves curling. It is a technique that helps the plant to retain a certain amount of water.

Dry air enhances water loss from plants. Too much water loss causes leaves to droop and wilt in the long run.

The best decision is to install an electric humidifier in the house to increase the humidity level. The method will save your houseplant from curling leaves due to humidity fluctuations.


The plant store growing condition is super different from your indoor environment. ZZ plant leaves curling is a common phenomenon after purchasing it from a plant store.

But the plant will adapt to your indoor growing condition after a couple of days. Ensure you provide an appropriate care regime to rule out other issues.

I recommend reading on how to care for ZZ plants before buying them. The information will help you take the necessary precautions in advance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Are My ZZ Plant Leaves Drooping?

Direct sunlight exposure and overwatering are the possible cause of ZZ plant leaf drooping. These plants prefer medium indirect sunlight and a moderate amount of water in the soil. 

Why Are My ZZ Plant Leaves Turning Light Green?

It is due to overwatering and insufficient lighting conditions. Overwatering causes root rot that inhibits the plant from absorption of essential nutrients from the soil. 

Why Are My ZZ Plant Leaves Turning Brown?

Low humidity and direct sunlight exposure are responsible for the brown leaves on the ZZ plant. Keep the plant in a region that receives medium indirect sunlight and has high humidity. 

Why Are My ZZ Plant Leaves Not Glossy?

A ZZ plant leaf not glossy is due to improper care regime. The quickest way to make the leaves shiny is by cleaning them more often. It helps to get rid of dirt and dust from the leaves. 

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In Conclusion

ZZ plant leaves curling to occur due to improper care routine. Many houseplant enthusiasts assume that the houseplant does not need ultimate care requirement.

The most common causes of ZZ plant leaves curling up are too much sunlight, cold temperatures, overwatering, under-watering, pests, and root-bound issues.

Examining the houseplant will help to identify the exact cause. Take the appropriate action to fix the problem resulting in leaves curling up.