How To Care For ZZ Plant

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About a dozen ZZ plants in pots next to each other

Mokkie, CC via Wikimedia Commons

The ZZ Plant – Zamioculcas zamiifolia one very popular foliage plant used in homes and offices around the world. A driving issue, ZZ Plant care and propagation are easy and straight forward. Additionally, interior designers are very open to trends for houseplants they can use indoors. As an example, it offers advantages as a recommended bathroom plant.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia – A Perfect Houseplant

Known by several names – the ZeeZee plant, steel plant, zizi plant, zanzibar gem, the aroid palm and “eternity plant” the Zamioculcas plant fits just about every desirable qualification for an indoor plant

Quick Growing Guide

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Botanical Name: Zamioculcas zamiifolia

Sun / Shade:

Water: Regular watering

Hardiness Zones:

  • ZZ Plant Care is easy
  • The ZeeZee plant handles low light
  • Low water requirements
  • Tough under indoor conditions
  • Drought tolerant
  • Handles neglect well
  • ZZ Plant propagation is straight forward

The ZZ Plant

When many people see the ZZ plant for the first time, they assume it looks and resembles a cycad plant – Zamia furfuracea or cardboard palm. However, it is a native of eastern Africa belonging to the family Araceae family, along with the philodendron, Peace plant – Spathiphyllum and aglaonema and been around for decades. I grew Zamioculcas zamiifolia 35 years ago but wasn’t smart enough to introduce it :).

The base of the swollen plant stalks (rhizomes) host dark green foliage, naturally shiny leaves. Making it easy to assume someone applied leaf shine to the plant. One area of caution. Beware of any of the “juices” coming in contact with the skin which may cause irritation to sensitive skin due to the calcium oxalate crystals in the ZZ.

ZZ Plant Propagation

Most of the BEST indoor house plants grow slow and the ZZ plant is no exception. It propagates easily but develops slowly. Like growing African violet plants and “jade trees“, ZZ plant propagation can be from leaf cuttings.

Grown in sizes from 4-inch pots through 17-inch pots, large plants can reach up to 3 feet in height. Very old plants I’ve personally seen hit 4 feet. On average most plants grown and used indoors reach 16 – 28 inches, with an equal spread.

They make an excellent accent plant in areas where allowed to “spread its wings.” As for being a tough, durable indoor plant, Zamioculcas handles low indirect light well and abuse exceptionally well, it even grows. The Zamiocalcus is on of the best plants for a windowless office. In the tough plant category, it’s equal with Sansevieria (snake plant | mother-in-law tongue) and Aspidistra the cast iron plant.

ZZ Plant Care – Soil Requirements and Fertilizer Needs?

The ZZ plant does not need any special type of potting soil or potting mix. Any well-drained soil recommended for houseplants will work.
As for the fertilizer requirements. A complete, balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer (20-20-20) applied once per month when watering will provide the nutrients the ZZ needs.

Low Light Levels Well

Even though the plant does well in lower light levels, by placing it in bright light it performs even better. It is one of the plants that thrive in fluorescent light. Keep the plant away from any hot direct sunlight as the plant can burn. Good bright filtered afternoon sun would work well.

Zamioculcas Zamiifolia Don’t Sit In Water

Don’t let the plant to sit in water or stay wet or you may experience root rot. The plant does better when kept on the dry side. If you water the ZZ too much or the plant sits in water you may find yellowing leaves. A little more about watering from my side. I purposely neglect plants to test their toughness.

I didn’t do anything to the ZZ in my office (for the past 16 months). Let me tell you – It looks pretty good considering… ready for this – drum roll please – watered only 6 times in 16 months. Of all the ZZ’s great attributes, its toughness, ability to handle low light or the low watering requirements, its best attribute bar none… no insect problems. Or none anyone can identify. Eliminating this one element makes caring for your plant much easier. The plant leaves you with only a couple of things to manage – light and water, making care easier.

The downside, we can always find a downside. The downside to ZZ – slow growing so slow production. Ask at your favorite nursery or garden center about the ZZ – the Zamioculcas Zamiifolia. You will not regret it. Share your ZZ plant experiences!

Video on ZZ Plant Care

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