Even if your ZZ Plant is growing sideways as a natural occurrence, there may be additional factors and influences that are causing it to lean over quicker than usual. Possible factors include overwatering, underwatering, light issues, fertilizers, transplanting, and physical damage. These factors are usually present with other indicators that will let you know if your plant is in trouble.
If your ZZ Plant is not growing straight, do not panic!
As a ZZ Plant matures, you may find its stems will start to droop and fall over. It’s natural growth habit of this plant. When the stems are becoming long & heavy, they start to fall over (lean over).
This should be no more than an aesthetic problem if you have been looking after your plant properly. If the plant is healthy & growing well, you don’t need to worry.
If you have ever seen a wild ZZ Plant, you will see how beautiful it looks with lots of long branches, both straight and bending.
If your ZZ Plant is planted outside, the drooping stems may even become a method of self-propagation since ZZ Plants can easily be propagated through stem and leaf cuttings.
I like to let my plants grow how they want & I don’t mind if some of my ZZ plant’s stems fall over. If you tie them back so that they don’t fall over, you tend to miss signs from your plant when there is a serious issue.
A ZZ Plant is one of the least demanding plants you will enjoy owning. The ZZ Plant is very hardy and doesn’t require a lot of water. You should be watering your plant no more than once or twice a month. Any more than that, and you may risk causing root rot. As hardy as the ZZ Plant is, it is still vulnerable to root rot.
If your ZZ Plant has root rot, it is usually accompanied by yellowing leaves and stems. Untreated root rot will eventually cause your ZZ Plant’s stems to go floppy and bend downwards.
A good test is to squeeze the drooping stem. It should be firm, but if it is soft and mushy, you most likely have a problem with its root system.
It is very unlikely that your ZZ Plant is floppy due to underwatering, as these plants can go months without water and survive. If you’ve completely forgotten about your plant for months, here are a few signs to look out for to tell if your plant is suffering from underwatering.
The stems may start to fall over as they don’t have the strength to hold their weight. This is usually accompanied by dry & wrinkled stems and curling leaves that will then start to yellow and feel dry and crispy.
Too little light
Yes, ZZ Plants are known to survive in low light levels, but they will always prefer bright indirect light.
If your ZZ Plant is not getting enough light, you will notice that the stems are becoming leggy. The spaces between each leaf will become larger than normal as it tries to reach for the light. This results in the stem growing longer than usual, and it may not be able to handle the extra weight, causing it to droop.
There is nothing too concerning about your ZZ Plant becoming leggy other than concerns around aesthetics and slow growth.
If you’d like to prevent future growth from becoming leggy and dropping over, move your plant closer to a window or a brighter spot so it doesn’t have to reach for light.
Too much light
As with many indoor plants, if your ZZ Plant is getting too much light, it may want to turn its leaves away from the light source to prevent leaf burn. If your plant is getting too much light, it will cause the stems to droop downwards to get away from the harsh sunlight.
If you notice many of your ZZ Plant’s stems are leaning in the same direction away from the window, you will want to find a new spot for it and move it further away from the window.
Alternatively, you can rotate your plant every 10-14 days (clockwise, a quarter of the clock) to encourage growth on all sides, making the plant fuller and not leaning to one side.
Many people suggest that a ZZ Plant does not need fertilizer, but plants will always benefit from some nutrients in their soil. A lack of nutrients in your plant’s soil may cause it to produce weak stems, resulting in drooping over time.
You can give your plant a liquid fertilizer during its next watering, but do not fertilize more than once every 6 months.
If you’ve recently repotted your plant, it may start falling over because it doesn’t have an established root system to hold itself up. You can tie the plant to a stake while it establishes itself in the new pot.
Mistakes happen, and your ZZ Plant’s stem may have fallen over because you, or someone else, has knocked it and bent a stem. Have a look at the stem; if you notice a crease in the stem, it’s most likely just physical damage.
If the damage is not too severe, you can easily fix it with two small wooden sticks (chopsticks work great) and some electrical tape. Place your chopsticks on either side of the stem and wrap electrical tape around it, creating a splint. If the ZZ Plant’s stem has not suffered too much internal damage, it will continue to survive.
How To Keep a ZZ Plant Upright
Provide proper care
Ensure your plant is healthy by following a suitable watering schedule for your ZZ Plant and finding the right spot to meet its lighting requirements. Proper care will help rule out any serious issues with your ZZ Plant.
ZZ Plants are relatively quick growers, so snipping off a stem or two won’t be the end of the world for this plant. Pruning stems that are leaning over creates an opportunity to propagate your ZZ Plant. They can easily be propagated by stem or leaf cuttings. Have a look at our ZZ Plant propagation guide.
An easy way to stop stems from bending over is to tie them back. You can use the healthy straight stem or multiple stems as support. Simply find a rope or string, wrap it around the healthy stems, then lift the bending stem into place and tie the stems together.
If you are concerned about damaging healthy stems, you can also use some form of a stake. A wooden dowel or bamboo stick will work, but keep in mind that wood does degrade over time when planted in soil. Stick your chosen support as far as possible into the soil, then position your bending stem and tie it back.
Velcro ties work great as they are soft and wider than string, so they won’t damage the stem over time.
How can I make my ZZ Plant straight again?
Once a stem has bent over, it is unlikely to become straight again, but you can tie it back to other stems or a stake to make it appear upright.
To help prevent other stems from bending, make sure to follow a good plant care routine for your ZZ Plant and place it in a spot that receives bright, indirect light.