If you are looking for a good looking and low maintenance houseplant, the lucky feather (ZZ plant or Zamioculcas zamiifolia as it is also known), is a worthy contender. The most common problem you may encounter is if your lucky feather has yellow leaves. In this article, you will learn how to fix this problem and avoid it in the future.
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Why does my lucky feather have yellow leaves?
If your lucky feather has yellow leaves, it may be due to one of many possible causes. It’s best to investigate the reasons to make sure you understand what is making your houseplant unhappy and know what actions you can take. Below, we’ll go over a number of reasons why your Zamioculcas might be getting yellow leaves, and give you some tips on how to make sure the yellow leaves don’t come back once the plant has been revived.
Not watering properly
If yellow leaves are showing up, it’s most likely related to your watering schedule. Adjusting the timing and amount of watering your ZZ plant does can go a long way toward reversing the damage and reviving the plant.
Overwatering a lucky feather can lead to yellowed leaves
Since lucky feather are designed for dry conditions, they can react negatively to excessive watering. This is primarily due to fungal growth and root rot, which occur when the plant’s root system is exposed to a humid environment for an extended period of time.
Whether you water your plant too often or the soil doesn’t drain well, wet roots lead to root rot, which then interrupts the constant supply of water and nutrients to the leaves and the rest of the plant.
When root rot sets in, the root system simply can’t function as it should. This causes the leaves to turn yellow because important areas of the plant are no longer receiving water and nutrients. Sometimes the yellowed leaves even fall off.
What to do if root rot from overwatering is the cause of yellow leaves?
The first thing you need to do is examine the soil. Does the soil feel very wet? If so, you need to remove the plant from the pot so you can take a closer look at the roots. The roots should be white through and through. If they are not and you see brown rot spots, then you have a root rot problem. Root rot renders the root non-functional, but can be reversed if caught early enough.
Use pruning shears to cut the rot cleanly out of the roots. Remove the most severely affected roots and make incisions in healthy roots to encourage new root growth. Be sure to wash the shears after cutting off the rot. This is because fungal decay contributes to root rot and can spread if it contaminates your shears and other equipment.
Replant the plant in a pot with adequate drainage holes. Discard the contaminated soil and use fresh soil. To prevent the problem from recurring, use a well-draining growing medium. Water the soil, but only so that it is slightly moist. Allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again.
Underwatering a feather of happiness can lead to yellowing leaves
A zamioculcas does not need much water, so it is easy to forget to water it altogether. Drastic lack of water will cause the leaves to discolor, shrivel and fall off.
If your plant’s soil is very dry, underwatering could be the problem. The good news is that by adjusting your watering schedule, your plant can recover fairly quickly.
What to do if your plant has turned yellow from underwatering:
Start watering the houseplant slowly, but don’t soak the soil. When a plant is suffering from a lack of water, it can be tempting to do just the opposite and overwater it. Be sparing with the water. Be sure to pour excess water out of the drainage saucer. Do not leave the plant standing in water.
If you want to improve health and nutrition, you can add soluble fertilizer to the water. Mix it only to half the dosage listed on the package. Most plant owners report that they can water once a week in the summer and every two or three weeks in the winter. However, it is advisable to check the soil before watering.
Getting too much light
Lucky feather can generally tolerate a range of light conditions. They tolerate low light quite well, which makes them an excellent houseplant for darker corners. However, they are less tolerant of excessive direct sunlight.
If your plant receives more than 4 hours of direct sunlight per day, consider lighting as a cause of yellow leaves. Too much light will cause lucky feather to get yellow leaves or brown leaf tips due to sunburn.
When in doubt, move your plant to a location with bright but indirect light. This will eliminate this potential problem and hopefully the plant will recover faster.
Inadequate nutrient schedule
Although these plants are quite tolerant of imperfect growing conditions, it is quite possible for them to develop yellow leaves due to nutrient deficiencies or excessive fertilization.
In general, you should only fertilize the plants monthly with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Do not fertilize more than half the amount recommended on the package to avoid the risk of nutrient burn.
If you fertilize your plant more than once or twice a year, it is very unlikely that nutrient deficiency is the cause of yellow leaves. If you have fertilized it more than once a month or used too strong a solution, rinse the pot with plenty of water to remove the excess nutrients. Alternatively, repot your lucky feather in fresh potting soil that drains well.
How to treat lucky feather with yellow leaves?
We’ve already looked at what to do once root rot has set in, but what do you do with the rest of the plant? Yellowed leaves and discolored stems also need to be treated. First and foremost, remove the plant from the pot to free it from the soil condition if overwatering was the problem. Follow these tips to properly treat your lucky feather:
- Eliminate the affected areas. You can start by cutting off the yellow leaves. If all the leaves are yellow, you may need to leave some. The plant needs some leaves for photosynthesis.
- Examine the stems of the plant for debris. If any of the stems are yellow, cut them off where they grow directly against the bulb. The plant should grow back healthy once recovery has begun.
- It is important to act quickly when your plant shows the first signs of disease. At the first sign of yellow leaves, spend some time investigating the possible causes. Once you’ve figured out why the leaves are discoloring, you can devise a treatment plan that works for your particular plant.
What does a zamioculcas need to be happy?
There are 3 main factors that your plant needs to be healthy and happy. These are an adequate amount of light, the right amount of water, and moderate temperatures.
A flowering happy feather has thick, waxy leaves that are firm and filled with water. Yellowed leaves and leaves with dry tips are a sign that something is wrong. Your plant needs the following:
These plants need lots of bright, indirect light. The plant does best in a room with plenty of natural light.
Too much or too little water can be harmful to the plant. You need to choose the right amount and the right time. As mentioned earlier, you should water the plant after assessing the dryness of the soil and the condition of the plant, rather than watering on a strict schedule.
Lucky feathers thrive at temperatures between 21 °C and 32 °C. These plants can survive at slightly lower temperatures, down to 10 °C. At even lower temperatures, the plant begins to suffer.