The Zamioculcas zamiifolia, the ZZ plant, is a gorgeous looking plant you just need to have. The ZZ plant care is easy and this is trully a hard-to-kill plant. It will tolerate a wide range of conditions so you can be sure it will be happy in your home.
But it isn’t just the ease of care that makes the ZZ plant popular it’s its looks. Long thick stems with wonderful, naturally shiny leaves. The leaves can either be emerald green or dark green (ZZ Raven variety). A statement plant.
ZZ plant tolerates low light, too, a lot better than most houseplants, which means you can fill all those lower light spaces your other plants hate. Just another reason to love the zamioculcas zamiifolia. So, all in all, a non-demanding plant that does well even with some level of neglect.
If you’ll keep this plant happy, it can grow pretty big – it usually grows in spurts and can reach over 2-3 feet / 1 m indoors.
ZZ plant is a member of the Araceae family and is a relatively new plant as far as growing them indoors goes.
How To Care For ZZ Plant
- Bringing the plant home
- Light conditions
- Humidity and temperature
- Toxicity Information
- Pests and other common issues
Plant name: Zamioculcas zamiifolia
Common names: ZZ plant, aroid plant, eternity plant, Zanzibar gem, zuzu plant, zeze plant
Native to: eastern Africa
Light: medium to low indirect light. It does well in bright indirect light, too, but you should avoid direct sunlight.
Care: allow the soil to dry between waterings (water roughly every 2 or 3 weeks). Average room humidity, tolerates dry air as well. Average room temperatures work well for this plant.
Common problems: Root rot, yellowing of the leaves due to overwatering
Toxicity: Considered toxic for pets and humans. Should not be ingested. Keep out of reach from pets and small children.
Bringing the Plant Home
While ZZ plants aren’t prone to pests or any diseases that might spread to your other plants, it is still a good idea to give the plant a good check-up if you find something off.
You should still keep it in quarantine for a week or so if there are pests present which you missed.
What Kind Of Light Does ZZ Plant Need?
ZZ plant isn’t fussy when it comes to its light requirements.
It will thrive in a range of conditions, from low light to bright indirect light.
They do well with artificial light, which is why you are likely to see them in many offices and waiting rooms.
The only thing you should really avoid is too much strong direct sunlight. Too much direct light can damage the leaves over time. That said, not all direct sunlight is the same. This depends on where you live too, so you might find your ZZ plant thrives even with direct sunlight if it isn’t too strong.
Watering Your ZZ Plant
The most important part of ZZ plant care is proper watering. ZZ plants are nearly impossible to kill. However, you can kill them by watering them too often and, although not as common, underwatering them too.
Overwatering a ZZ plant will bring root rot, which will kill your plant. So it’s better to water this one less than too often.
You should aim at watering your plant when the soil has been dry for a little while. Keep checking the soil. You are looking at watering once about every 2-4 weeks for optimal growth, depending on how fast the soil dries. When you water, water thoroughly.
Regular watering will help the plant grow faster (these are moderately slow growers), but the plant will still be OK and alive even if you forget to water it for months.
That said, don’t make a habit out of it. They do need water and do get great amounts of water (heavy rains, when it rains) in their natural environment too, irregularly, so depriving your plant of water for too long and too often will hurt the plant as well.
The plant is great at retaining water to weather through dry periods in nature easier, but there is no need to push the plant’s limits indoors. Leaving it without water for far too long will kill it like any other plant. Proper ZZ plant care requires regular watering.
If you don’t water your plant, it will drop its leaves as it will get ready for dry season and dormancy (as it would in nature).
Tap water is usually OK. However, if your tap water is really hard or of questionable quality, filtered water or other is better.
Read: which water is best for watering your houseplants
What Kind of Humidity and Temperature Do ZZ Plants Need?
ZZ plant doesn’t require high humidity, so it will thrive in your home. Humidity around 40% is already good enough, and most homes have higher air humidity levels.
As far as temperature goes, the average room temperature is perfect. Your ZZ plant will be happy in 65°F – 80°F, 18°C-26°C – which is the temperature range of your average home.
ZZ plant does tolerate some level of cold and will be OK if the temperatures drop to 40-45°F (5-7°C), but anything lower than that, the plant could die. It does not tolerate frost.
How to Clean and Prune the ZZ Plant?
The gorgeous leaves on this plant can collect dust over time. If you have a smaller plant, the easiest way to clean it is by filling a bucket with water, secure the soil and dunk the plant in the water. The water should be lukewarm.
This won’t be an option for larger plants. You can dip a soft cloth in lukewarm water and gently rub the leaves.
ZZ plants have naturally shiny leaves. Over time they can lose some of that shine. You can make the ZZ plant leaves shiny again by gently rubbing them with a cloth dipped in a mixture of milk and water. This will give the leaves back their shine for quite a while. Alternatively, some people also swear by rubbing mayonnaise on the leaves to make them shiny again.
As ZZ plants are slow growers, you won’t need to prune the leaves often. Remove damaged or dead foliage as you notice it.
How often to Fertilize?
As with other potted plants, ZZ plant care comes with the need to use fertilizer here and there.
These do not require heavy fertilization, and they will be OK even with longer periods without fertilization. Adding fertilizer, prepared according to instructions on the box, one or two times during the growing season is sufficient.
This plant is designed to be tolerant to harsh, nutrient deficient environment. You can do it more harm with fertilizing too often than skipping adding the fertilizer.
How often should you repot a ZZ plant?
On average ZZ plants are slow growers so you won’t necessarily need to repot the, to a bigger pot often.
If you water them regularly and give the plant optimal growing conditions, they can have crazy growth spurts and will grow fast.
What Kind of Soil Should You Use
Using soil that closely mimics its natural environment is always best. You need well-aerated soil.
Go with a soil mix for succulents, cacti, or African violets. You can add additional sand or pumice to those too.
If you are making your own mix, use general potting soil and mix in sand or perlite (50-50).
How to Propagate
Zz plant is one of the rare plants which you can propagate from leaves.
Propagating from “stem” cuttings is another way to propagate this plant.
Is ZZ plant safe for cats, dogs and humans.
Sadly this gorgeous plant is considered toxic – the concentration of calcium oxide crystals in all parts of the plant is high enough that it can cause issues if the plant is ingested.
While ingesting this plant shouldn’t have severe adverse effects in most, sensitivity to the plant is different from person to person and pet to pet. It can cause severe discomfort in the mouth and digestive tract.
If you have small children or dogs, keep the plant out of reach. With cats, keep in mind they can reach almost all surfaces with determination, so there isn’t a spot you can be certain is safe. If you have a pet that likes to chew and eat your houseplants, it is probably a good idea to avoid this plant.
If your child or pet ingested the plant, observe them for any signs of discomfort and call your doctor or a vet to determine if medical aid is required. While taking a nibble likely won’t cause any harm, eating larger quantities can cause issues. This plant isn’t edible.
As for touching the plant with your bare hands, the plant is safe to handle. However, if you have sensitive skin and have had issues with handling other plants too, this one too might cause skin irritation (sap) – if you notice this, use gloves to handle this plant in the future.
Common Issues and Pest
This plant is a resilent one so it is unlikely you will notice any issues that aren’t related to improper ZZ plant care.
They aren’t prone to pests. The most likely pest you might encounter on your ZZ plant are aphids as they are attracted to its sap.
Yellowing of the leaves is usually caused by overwatering this plant.
The plant loosing the leaves is usually due to under-watering the plant.