Remove dead ZZ plant stems using clean, sharp secateurs. Trim the stem off ½ an inch above the soil level. The stem will dry off and seal over protecting the plant from disease. Avoid watering the plant for 2-3 days until the old stem has healed over.
A dead ZZ stem will eventually rot away and be replaced with new ones which will grow up from the rhizome. ZZ plants multiply by growing extra rhizomes which can send up new stems.
ZZ plants look tidy once old stems have been trimmed off and removed. This article will explore all you need to know about how to remove dead ZZ plant stems and how you can safely prune your plant.
How to know ZZ plant stems are dead
Dead ZZ stems will look yellow and then brown. Stems can also turn black if they are overwatered. If this damaged continues the stem can turn brown and die off. Once the stem has turned brown and dry then it will not recover. This stem can be trimmed off to neaten up the plant and prevent it being attacked by pests or fungus.
Stems with black or yellow marks can recover so if you treat the problem these stems can return to a healthy green color.
If your plant stems have turned black or brown, check out this article for more on how to solve this problem: Black spots on ZZ plant stems | How to solve this problem
Stems with severe bends
A stem with a severe bend can eventually break and die off. While bending can be fixed it can be easier to remove a very bent stem to tidy the plant up and let it be replaced with new ones. If your plant is dry give it a thorough water and you may see your stems stand up straight again.
If the plant is overwatered this can also cause stems to become soft and bend over. Allow the plant to dry out and only water every 4 weeks.
Stems that have broken off above 1/3 of the length above the soil level will usually die off. If the leaves are gone then the stem will not photosynthesize and will die off. It is best to remove the rest of the stem to avoid it getting infected by bugs or disease.
Bending and breaking of stems can happen if the plant is moved or repotted. Don’t worry if you accidentally break a stem as the plant will quickly replace it. If the stem is brown off close to the soil level it can be placed in a jar of water to grow a new plant.
Stems with pest or fungal damage
Stems with bite marks from sap sucking insects like aphids or scale can show signs of damage including brown and black marks. You can remove the bugs by squirting them off with a hose or spraying the plant with neem oil.
If the infection is bad you can also trim the whole stem off. Do this if the plant has plenty of other stems to replace them. Throw the stem in the bin and get rid of the pest problem.
What to use to remove dead stems on ZZ plants
If you are trimming off dead plant stems on ZZ plant it is best to use sharp, clean secateurs. Wash them with warm soapy water or spray them with some eucalyptus oil. Wipe them dry with some paper towel or an old cloth.
Sharp secateurs will cut cleanly through the stem and leave it cut clean to heal over. Cut the stem at an angle if the plant is growing outdoors. Cutting the stem on a 45 degree angle will help any water from rain to drip off and avoid causing the stem to rot.
SAFETY: Always wear garden gloves when trimming ZZ plants to avoid skin irritation.
For indoor plants you can cut the stem straight across and avoid watering for the next 3 days.
Where to cut ZZ stems
Cut ZZ stems ½ an inch above the soil level. This will avoid the soil getting into the cut and causing infection. The stem will dry off and seal over. The bottom part of the stem will eventually dry off and be replaced with new stems.
How to get ZZ plants to grow new stems
To get your ZZ plant to grow new stems plant it in good quality, well draining potting soil. Water it well to settle it in and avoid watering for 4 weeks. Feed the plant with a good quality, slow release fertilizer in spring and fall and place it away from direct sunlight.
If your plant is growing slowly or not growing any new stems it might be a good idea to repot the plant with new soil and a fresh pot. Split a pot bound ZZ plant into multiple plants and give it more space to grow.
Should I cut off dead ZZ plant stems?
You should always remove dead stems from ZZ plants as they can become infected by fungus, bacteria or attacked by pests. If the stems have turned completely brown and the leaves have dried they are dead and can be trimmed off.
Snip them off with clean secateurs ½ an inch above the soil leave. Always wear gloves when trimming a ZZ plant as the sap can irritate your skin.
Can you bring a ZZ plant back to life?
A dying ZZ plant can be brought back to life. Work out if the plant is over or underwatered. Test the soil and if it is dry, thoroughly water the plant and get the soil completely wet.
If the plant has black spots or the soil is very soggy allow it to dry out or repot it into new potting soil. Water it in and then give it some slow release fertilizer after 2 weeks. Trim off any dead stems and the ZZ plant can recover.
Does a ZZ plant grow new stems?
A ZZ plant will grow new stems in spring and fall when the weather is warm. It will grow new stems from the underground rhizome to replace old stems or to branch out if it is grown in the correct conditions.
Choose good quality potting soil and place your plant in a position with some filtered light but no direct sun. Add a teaspoon of slow release indoor plant food in spring and fall.
How to remove dead ZZ plant stems | Summary
Old ZZ plant stems can be trimmed off on a 45 degree angle to tidy the plant and give room for new stems to appear. Take care not to overwater your ZZ plant and only add more water every 4 weeks. This will keep the rhizome healthy and it will be able to produce new stems.
Old plant stems can be thrown in your compost or green waste bin. Avoid touching the sap as it can irritate your skin.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.