ZZ Plant Care: How to Grow Zamioculcas zamiifolia


ZZ plants are a unique addition to any household or office space and are popular due to their low maintenance and simple environmental requirements. These potted plants can grow up to four feet tall at their peak maturity. They’re ideal for beginners, because ZZ plant care is quite straightforward.

Native to eastern Africa, the ZZ plant is in the same family as another popular houseplant, the peace lily. ZZ plants are known as the Welcome plant, Fern arum, or the Zanzibar gem and are reputed to represent steadiness, wealth, and growth due to the comparison of its shiny leaves to the glint of gold.

Below I’ve included a care guide for the ZZ plant which covers all you need to know to help your ZZ plant thrive.

Light Requirements

ZZ plants thrive in bright indirect sunlight but can cope with less light. They are famed for being able to cope with low light conditions, so if you have a north facing room, they could be a good choice, They can even grow under artificial fluorescent lights in the absence of window availability.

Ideally, ZZ plants require approximately twelve hours of light per day. Direct sunlight should be avoided, as it may result in scorched foliage.

Temperature Requirements

ZZ plants prefer mild to warm temperatures and optimally grow between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 24 degrees Celsius). While ZZ plants can tolerate colder temperatures, they should not be kept in an environment below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius).

They also prefer average humidity levels. If the air in your household or office space is too dry, the ZZ plant may suffer. Consider installing a humidifier to help prevent this problem.

Watering Requirements

ZZ plants do not require copious amounts of hydration and should only be when the top couple of inches of soil becomes dry – this is often every two to three weeks. Reduce watering to once a month in winter. ZZ plants kept in brighter light may need watering more often than those kept in lower light due to evaporation.

If ZZ plants receive too much water, their leaves turn yellow and begin to fall off. The stalks of the plant can also turn brown and mushy if overwatered. Unlike some other houseplants, ZZ plants do not require misting – mostly because they do not need high humidity levels to thrive.

Soil Requirements

The best kind of soil to use for ZZ plants is either a mixture of potting soil and perlite or cactus potting soil. This provides a well-draining medium for the ZZ plant to thrive and helps prevent them from sitting in wet soil which can lead to root rot. Do not use garden soil as this type of mixture does not drain well.

Special Care

ZZ plants do not require much in the way of special care. The most notable thing to keep an eye on is the water retention of the soil. Be sure that your ZZ plant is not sitting in wet soil and allow it to fully dry in between watering. Otherwise, ZZ plants are easy to care for and can thrive in many households and office spaces with little fuss.

Propagating

Propagating a ZZ plant can be accomplished by taking cuttings, which is outlined in the four simple steps below:

1. Cut one of the stems off near the base of the plant.

2. Put the stalk in a vase of water and refresh the water every three to four weeks.

3. Place the vase in indirect sunlight as you would with your ZZ plant.

4. Repot the stem once there is at least one inch of newly grown roots and a rhizome on the cut stalk.

Leaf cuttings can also be used to propagate your ZZ plant, although it will take a longer time than direct stalk propagation. If you cut the leaf near the stalk and then place it approximately one centimeter deep in potting soil, it will propagate over time.

Be sure to water it as you would your ZZ plant, and let the top of the soil completely dry before watering again. It may take a few months, but you will find that the leaf stem will generate a new rhizome and root system.

Pests & Problems

The most common pests which can affect ZZ plants include mites, scales, gnats, aphids, whiteflies, and mealybugs. Other problems commonly associated with ZZ plants are often a result of overwatering or receiving too much direct sunlight.

While bugs are usually the least worry when it comes to common ZZ plant problems, aphids can cause significant damage. Fortunately, they can be eradicated by wiping down your plant with soapy water.

If you start to notice the stalk turning mushy and brown, leaves starting to drop or yellow leaves on your ZZ plant, it’s probably due to overwatering. Allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again.

If your ZZ plant begins to turn brown and scorched looking, the leaves begin to curl, or it leans away from light, it may be receiving too much direct light. Be sure to move the ZZ plant farther away from its light source or draw a curtain if kept in the window so as to provide more indirect light.

Toxicity

ZZ plants are toxic to children, cats, and dogs if ingested, due to the production of calcium oxalate crystals. Keep out of reach of children and animals and if you are handling the plant, use gloves and wash your hands afterward.

Common Questions About ZZ Plant Care

Q. How Do I Know If My ZZ Plant Is Healthy?

A. Your ZZ plant should display leaves that are bright green with a waxy coating and slightly thick feel like a succulent. None of leaves should look yellow, brown, or scalded looking, nor should they curl up or easily fall off. If any of these things are occurring, your ZZ plant is most likely being overwatered or receiving too much direct light.

Q. Why Do ZZ Plants Turn Black?

A. ZZ plant leaves can start to turn black if your tap water contains high concentrations of minerals, salts, chlorine, or fluoride. These can build up in the soil and begin to affect your ZZ plant’s health and appearance. Try using filtered or bottled water to avoid this problem.

About the author 

Paul - Better Houseplants

Loves orchids and foliage houseplants. Always trying to be a better plant parent. Let's get growing!

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Just getting started? Make sure you see our guide to the 'Best Houseplants for Beginners'