If you’ve ever walked around a mall or in an office building, there’s a very good chance you saw ZZ plants growing. These hardy plants make great beginner plants for anyone just starting out on their plant journey. It’s especially go for the forgetful plant owner since these are truly the easiest housplants that can go weeks without beingn watered!
I was first introduced to Zamioculcas zamiifolia, aka ZZ plants, when I started dating my now husband (way back when!). He had just picked up a large ZZ plant for his condo. His condo didn’t get much light and it wasn’t near the window but it thrived!
I was intrigued. Early in my plant journey I had stuck to my pothos and spider plants because those seemed to do well in my low light conditions, but this new plant was beautiful and easy to grow!
Years later we still have his original ZZ plant and quite a few more in our home, despite the fact that we now live in a spot with a lot of natural light.
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ZZ plants are tough as nails and easy to care for. They’re a great plant for anyone to grow – yes, anyone (I’m looking at you person who claims they have a black thumb).
They actually do best when you more or less ignore them so if you travel a lot or just have a busy life with small children or demanding work schedules, this is a fabulous plant for you!
Today we’re going to cover everything you need to about about ZZ plant care.
ZZ Plant Basics
The proper name of the ZZ plant is Zamioculcas Zamiifolia. It’s a tropical perennial plant that’s native to east Africa and Tanzania. In Africa it thrived despite the hot temperature and droughts. It’s only recently been circulating as a houseplant, being brought into home around the 1990s.
ZZ plants grows thick stalks from bulbous rhizomes where water is stored that was originally needed when living through droughts in East Africa which help make them the hardy plants that they are today!
This plant is sometimes referred to as a Zanzibar gem. They get the name because of their waxy shiny leaves that people mistake for being fake!
There are also different varieties of ZZ plants! Here’s a few common ones.
- Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Raven’ – this plant, also goes by ‘Dowon’ has almost black looking leaves! They are a purplish shade that gets darker as the plant matures.
- Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Zenzi’ – A miniature variety with curlier leaves.
- Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Dark Zamicro’ – A mix between the two above! This one has small leaflets and an almost black color.
These maintenance houseplants also go by eternity plant. As a plant that is so hard to kill this is the perfect name for this plant!
This plant can literally survive for months without any water! It can also adapt to any sun light except being put in direct sun.
Take note, though, ZZ plants are poisonous to pets and people. If you have kids or animals that may take a nibble out of these, either these indoor plants in a spot where they can’t get them.
*Check out non-toxic plants here!
ZZ Plant Care Tips
ZZ plants are pretty straight forward in how to keep them alive, but here’s everything you need to know.
Like most of the plants I own, ZZ plants do best when you water them every one to two weeks. This may be different for you depending on your climate or where they are in your home.
This plant is a very drought-tolerant plant. It holds water in it’s thick stems which is why a well-draining soil and good drainage is key!
Always check the soil before watering, sticking your finger in the soil to make sure the top inch is dry before watering again. The best way to kill a ZZ plant is by overwatering it so keep your watering can away from it if it feels even the slightest bit wet!
ZZ plants can survive in low-light conditions but they’ll thrive with moderate to low sunlight. They really don’t do well with too much sunlight so be sure to keep them out of the sun’s rays!
To give you an idea of where I have mine, I have 2 in one of our bedrooms where one doesn’t get any direct sunlight and one gets just a very small amount.
The one that doesn’t get any has sprouted so much new growth this spring than I can possibly imagine! It loves its spot of getting just a small amount of indirect light each day.
If your plant starts to look a little leggy, chances are it isn’t getting enough light. Simply move it to a spot with more bright indirect light and it should perk up.
Zz plants are fairly easy going plants, even when it comes to soil. They like a well draining soil so they don’t stay too wet but most regular houseplant soil will do just fine.
To ensure that you don’t overwater your plant, it’s best to have a drainage hole at the bottom of the pot. This will help excess water drain out so your plant doesn’t get root rot.
ZZ plants don’t need fertilizer during winter months because they are dormant. However, you can fertilize with a simple all purpose fertilizer about once a month in spring and summer, their growing season.
The ZZ plant is a slow grower so don’t be alarmed if they’re not growing a ton during their growing season.
Temperature and Humidity
Zz plants like to live in an average temperature home (ideally between 60-85 degrees F) and can do well with your normal amount of humidity. Since they are tropical plants, they won’t do well in anything cooler than 55 degrees F.
Keep them away from cold drafts or air conditioning vents. They aren’t too picky about their humidity but don’t like cold air blowing on them. If you want to mimic their native habitat, keep the humidity levels at around 40-50% humidity.
Propagating ZZ plants is fairly easy! You can do it one of two ways. You simply cut stems from a healthy plant or divide your plant by digging out the plant and separating the rhizomes.
If you cut the stems of your plant, here are a few tips. First, be sure to let these callous over for an hour or two. You can also use a rooting hormone to encourage roots to form.
Then, you can either put it directly in soil or in a few inches of water. I am currently propagating 2 different groups of clippings in water. It’s a super slow process and can take up to 9 months but really simple.
I replace my water that the stems are sitting every week or so when I’m watering my other plants. One of my clippings already has some roots growing which I’m super excited about!
Once they all have roots it’s time to plant them! See? Easy, peasy!
Pests & Diseases
These plants are really easy-care plants that don’t suffer from too many different pests or diseases.
The most common disease would be root rot from too much water. Remember – a little water goes a long way with these plants! For best results, stick your finger into the soil to see if there’s any moisture. If you feel anything wet, wait to water it!
When it comes to pests, you can sometimes see spider mites or fungus gnats. You can keep spider mites at bay by regularly wiping down the leaves of your plant with a damp cloth. This will help you spot an infestation early and also keep your plant happier since their leaves are clean!
Fungus gnats happen when the soil is moist for too long – they can’t survive in a dry environment so yet another reason to not overwater this plant!.
Solving Common Problems
There are a few reasons why your ZZ plant leaves are turning yellow.
One reason may be that it is getting too much direct light. If the leaves are also curling or looking like they’re trying to get away from the light source, it’s time to move it.
Another reason may be that it’s getting too much water. It’s better to underwater than overwater your ZZ plant!
Typically wrinkled leaves means you’re not watering it enough! Give it a good drink and set a calendar alert for a week or two out to check it again to see if things have improved.
I’m a big believer that everyone should have at least one plant in their home – if not one per room! Start easy with a snake plant, pothos or rubber plant and keep growing from there!
As always, thanks so much for reading and sharing!