ZZ plant, also known by its scientific name Zamioculcas zamiifolia, is native to the dry grasslands and forests of eastern Africa, specifically in Tanzania and Zanzibar. This semi-evergreen perennial belongs to the Araceae family, which includes other popular houseplants such as the peace lily and the philodendrons. ZZ plant has dark green, glossy, oval-shaped leaves that grow upright on long, slender stems from a thick bulb-like rhizome. As this plant grows, it may produce small yellow or brown flowers, but its ornamental value mainly comes from its striking appearance.
ZZ plant was discovered in the late 19th century, but it only became popular as a houseplant after Dutch nurseries introduced it to Europe and the US in the 1990s. It's now a beloved choice for plant enthusiasts thanks to its attractive look and easy-care needs. This plant diligently stands on the top list of the most easy-care, low-light houseplants. Despite being native to a warm and dry climate, ZZ plant has successfully adapted to indoor conditions and can thrive in various environments with proper care. Here are some tips on how to care for your ZZ plant:
ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is considered to be mildly toxic to humans and pets. The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation and inflammation in the skin, mouth, throat, and digestive tract. It is important to keep the plant out of reach of pets and children and handle it with care to avoid sap contact. If ingested, it is advisable to seek medical assistance immediately.
ZZ Plant is a hardy plant that can thrive in a variety of lighting conditions, ranging from low to bright and indirect light. It is often recommended for use in low-light indoor spaces. However, it's worth noting that the plant will grow best in bright, filtered light, and may grow more slowly and become leggy if placed in very low-light conditions
On the other hand, it's essential to avoid exposing ZZ Plant to direct sunlight, as this can cause the leaves to burn and turn yellow. To ensure optimal growth conditions, it is best to place ZZ Plant near a north-facing window or in a location that receives bright, filtered light.
ZZ Plant is a very resilient houseplant. It is drought-tolerant and can survive long periods without water. In fact, overwatering is one of the most common problems that people face with ZZ Plants. To avoid this, allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Depending on the humidity and temperature of your home, this may mean watering your ZZ Plant once every 2-3 weeks. Always check the soil moisture before watering. You should water thoroughly and allow excess water to drain well to prevent root rot.
Watering ZZ plant every 2-3 weeks and let them completely drain.
Photo by brizmaker
The ideal soil for ZZ plants is well-draining and slightly acidic with a pH of 6.0-7.0. The soil should also be able to retain some moisture. A good soil mix can be made by combining 2 parts all-purpose potting mix, 1 part coarse sand, and 1 part perlite or pumice, which allows the roots to breathe and prevents waterlogging.
To fertilize during the growing season (spring and summer), use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (e.g., 10-10-10 or 20-20-20) once a month. Dilute the fertilizer and follow the manufacturer's instructions to avoid over-fertilization and root damage.
Temperature and Humidity
ZZ plant can tolerate a range of temperatures, but its ideal temperatures are between 65°F. -75°F. This plant can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures at night. Avoid exposing ZZ plants to extreme temperature changes or drafts, as this can cause stress and damage to the plant.
Temperature and Humidity are also the critical factors help ZZ plant thrive well.
While ZZ plants can tolerate a range of humidity levels, they do best in moderate humidity. If the indoor environment is dry, increasing humidity levels can be done by placing a tray of water near the plant or using a humidifier.
Potting and Repotting
As with all houseplants, good drainage is the utmost important thing for ZZ plant. It does best in a pot with at least one drainage hole and is made from a porous material like cement, ceramic, or terracotta. It's recommended to include soil aeration with a small shovel in your weekly plant care routine. By doing so, you can enhance the soil's oxygen levels, which in turn enables the roots to absorb nutrients, water, and oxygen more efficiently.
Repotting a ZZ plant should only be done when it's root-bound or the container is too small. The best time to repot a ZZ plant is in the spring or early summer when it's actively growing. When repotting, choose a pot that is only 1 size bigger.
ZZ plant doesn’t require regular pruning. However, occasional pruning can help maintain the plant's shape and promote healthy growth. You can use a sharp, clean pair of scissors or a knife to remove yellow or brown leaves, as well as leggy stems. Pruning prevents the dead leaf from draining energy from the rest of the plant and encourages the plant to produce new growth.
ZZ plants can be propagated from stem cuttings. Simply cut off a stem with several leaves and at least one growing note, and plant it in a pot with moist potting soil. Keep the soil moist and in a warm, bright spot, and the cutting should root and start to grow within a few weeks.
ZZ plant is one of the most easy plants to propagate.
When the temperature drops below 40°F in winter, ZZ plant might go into a state of dormancy. During this period, it is recommended to reduce the amount of water by half and place the plant in a location that maintains a steady temperature, away from both cold drafts and heating sources. It's essential to avoid fertilizing the plant during dormancy as it can result in root damage.
ZZ plant is a hardy and low-maintenance houseplant, but like any other plant, it may face some common problems. Here are some of the most typical problems that ZZ plants encounter:
- Incorrect watering: An overwatered ZZ plant may have yellow leaves that are soft and mushy to the touch while an underwatered one will have drooping or curling leaves. Overwatering also leads to root rot and can be fatal for your plant if left untreated.
- Stunt growth: Stunt growth usually is the result of insufficient lighting. It can also come from incorrect fertilizing or unsuitable soil.
- Pest infestations: ZZ plant is relatively resilient when it comes to pest infestation, but it can still attract common houseplant pests like scale insects, aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, and fungal gnats. Inspect your plant regularly for early signs of pests and to take action as soon as possible to prevent the infestation from spreading and causing more damage.