ZZ Plant Complete Care Guide – Zamioculcas zamiifolia

Here is your ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) Complete Care Guide. Looking for an (almost) indestructible houseplant that is incredibly forgiving? Look no further than the Zamioculcas zamiifolia (pronounced Zam-ee-oh-KOOL-kass Zam-ee-FOH-lee-yuh). Commonly known as the ZZ Plant, Aroid Palm, Emerald Palm, or Zanzibar Gem.
If you are notorious for killing plants, give the ZZ plant a try. ZZ plants are effortless to care for, therefore perfect for beginners. Just like Snake Plants, they can handle very low light. Above all, ZZ plants are gorgeous. Glossy, dark green leaves are oval-shaped. Ornately sculptural and sure to shine in any space. Thick, green leaves emerge from elegantly tapered, wand-like stems. 

Water

About once every 2-3 weeks. Allow the top 1 to 2 inches of soil to completely dry before watering again

Light

Thrives in low to medium indirect light. Can tolerate bright indirect light. Not suited for intense, direct sun.

USDA Zone

9-11

Temperature

Thrive in temperatures between 65° to 79°F (18°C to 26°C)

Soil

Well-draining soil, use a container with good drainage

Fertilizer

May benefit from a balanced fertilizer in summer

Size

Average height is 16-32 inches (40-80 cm) tall/20-40 inches (50-100 cm) wide. 

Scientific Name

Zamioculcas zamiifolia

Common Name

ZZ Plant, Aroid Palm, Zanzibar gem, Zuzu plant, Eternity plant, Emerald palm, Arum Fern, Zamiokulkas zamiolistny, 金钱树, 雪铁芋

Pronunciation

Zam-ee-oh-KOOL-kass Zam-ee-FOH-lee-yuh

Pests

Mealybugs, aphids, thrips

Flower

Bright Yellow/ Brown/Bronze flowers 

Toxicity

Toxic to cats, dogs and children
Zamioculcas zamiifolia is one of the BEST low light succulents. Tuberous roots hold plenty of water, making them drought  tolerant. ZZ plants retain water, but they actually prefer to dry out between watering. Notoriously easy going making it an excellent choice for the forgetful gardener or busy traveler. Super hardy and almost indestructible. Therefore, great for gifts.
Zamioculcas zamiifolia has low water requirements. Therefore, it is also drought tolerant. The ZZ plants grow from large, thick rhizomes that look like little potatoes. These rhizomes store water, which is why the plant does well during droughts and with forgetful gardeners. The swollen underground rhizomes of the ZZ plant can be separated for propagation. 
ZZ Plants contain unusually high water content in their leaves (91%) and petioles (95%). Petiole (pronounced PET-ee-ole) is the stalk that attaches the leaf blade to the stem. It is able to twist the leaf to face the sun. The petiole alone has a leaf longevity of at least six months. Another reason why it can survive extremely well in low light conditions for months without water. However, I would not recommend watering at least once every 2 months.
For best results water once every 3-4 weeks. In some climates or lighting conditions you may need to water every 2-3 weeks. Water the plant thoroughly and allow the excess water to drain out freely from the drainage holes. Increase water frequency with increased light. 
No matter the timeline, always allow the soil to dry out between watering. Watering too frequently or allowing the ZZ plant to sit in water will lead to root rot and an untimely death. Overwatering can also produce yellow leaves on a ZZ plant.

Light for your ZZ Plant

ZZ plants do best in bright to moderate, indirect light. Zamioculcas zamiifolia also handles low light levels well. It is also a plant that thrives in fluorescent or artificial light. Part of why nearly every shopping mall has them in those huge planters… little natural light and little water needed. 
One reason for their popularity is that they do fine in extremely low levels of light. However, even though the plant does well in lower light levels, when placed in bright light it will actually perform even better. In addition, tough under indoor conditions. Zamioculcas zamiifolia handles neglect well. 
It is perfectly normal for new shoots to be a lighter shade of green when they emerge. After that, they gradually become darker green as they mature.  The new stem and leaves will get darker green as they age.  
Zamioculcas zamiifolia is not suited for intense, direct sun. This can cause sunburn. Moreover, curling leaves, yellow leaves, and leaning can all be an indication of too much light. When you notice curling taking place, it typically means the plant is trying to move away from the light source.
ZZ Plant Complete Care Guide
ZZ Plant Lighting

Temperature for your Zamioculcas zamiifolia

ZZ Plants thrive in temperatures between 65° to 79°F (18°C to 26°C). Warmer temperatures give an increase in leaf production. In temperate regions, it is grown as a houseplant. It may survive outdoors as long as the temperature does not fall below around 59°F (15°C). Do not keep at temperatures lower than 50 °F (10 °C) for long periods of time. 
ZZ Plant Complete Care Guide
Repotted ZZ Plant
Well-draining soil is essential for keeping ZZ plants happy. If your plant is left sitting in water, it’s susceptible to rot and fungal diseases. Add pumice or perlite to the soil to help increase extra drainage and be sure to pick a pot with a drainage hole. I also like adding coarse sand with perlite to commercial potting soil for 2:1:1 ratio.
ZZ Plants need to be repotted every 2-3 years to avoid compacted soil. Repot during the summer when the soil is dry. Start by gently brushing the soil off the roots. Inspect the roots for rot or other problems that are usually underground. Place in fresh well-draining soil and hold off on watering for a few days. This will allow the roots to get comfortable and heal from any damage during transfer.
The average height of most ZZ plants is about 16 to 32 inches (40-80 cm), and the plant may have a spread of 20 to 40 inches (50-100 cm) wide. Larger plants may have a 3 to 5 feet (90-150 cm) overall spread.
ZZ Plant Complete Care Guide - Zamioculcas zamiifolia
Zamioculcas zamiifolia
ZZ plants do not require regular fertilizing to thrive. However, to keep the plant in optimal health, fertilizer one to two times during their growing season from spring through fall. Always dilute your indoor plant fertilizer to half strength. Fertilizer that is too strong can damage your ZZ Plant foliage and root system. 

ZZ Plant Toxicity

Zamioculcas Zamiifolia happens to make the list of poisonous houseplants. All parts of the ZZ plant are considered toxic to humans and pets. ZZ plants can cause skin and eye irritation with direct contact. Further, they can cause stomach ache, vomiting, and diarrhea if ingested. Wash your hands or wear gloves if you need to handle it. This plant tolerates neglect, so you won’t need to come in contact with it much. 
Visit the ASPCA or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number (888) 426-4435 for more information. 
ZZ Plant Complete Care Guide - Zamioculcas zamiifolia
ZZ Plant rhizome

ZZ Plant Propagation

ZZ plants are easy to grow and easy to propagate. Propagating ZZ is as simple as separating the rhizomes and replanting. Another method is to take a cutting with two leaves and a bit of stem. Your ZZ plants grow quicker when more rhizomes, or larger rhizomes are grown together. This plant can easily be propagated from cuttings or even a single leaf.
ZZ Plant Complete Care Guide - Zamioculcas zamiifolia
ZZ Plant Flower

ZZ Plant Flowers

Zamioculcas Zamiifolia flowers are produced in a small bright yellow to brown/bronze spadix that is 2-2.8 inches (5–7 cm) long. Partly hidden among the leaf bases. These beautiful flowers are similar to the peace lily. Look for flowers from mid summer to early autumn.
ZZ Plant Complete Care Guide - Zamioculcas zamiifolia
ZZ Plant

ZZ Plant Problems

Be wary of overwatering your ZZ Plant. This is the number one killer of houseplants and succulents. Overwatering kills succulents much faster than underwatering. Symptoms of overwatering include yellow, mushy and curling leaves with brown stems. These are also signs of root rot from overwatering. If you still aren’t sure of when to water, a moisture meter will take out the guesswork. 

  • Why are my ZZ Plant leaves turning yellow?
Many issues can cause your ZZ Plant leaves to turn yellow. Older leaves may naturally turn yellow and fall off. Total neglect is another reason your ZZ plant leaves may turn yellow. No water or light over several months can also cause yellowing leaves. Root problems may manifest with yellowing leaves often from over-watering. Plants deficient in nutrients may also begin to show yellow leaves. Sunburn is another culprit of yellow or brown leaves. Learn more about sunburned plant leaves here.
  • Why does my ZZ plant have black spots on the stem?
ZZ plants are low light plants. Giving them too much light, or even direct sunlight could cause black spots to show up on the stems. These spots are not harmful. In other words, they’re a sign that you should move your ZZ plant to a darker spot. Naturally occurring on even on the healthiest of ZZ plants. They are completely harmless.
  • Why do ZZ Plant stems droop?
ZZ plant stalks most commonly droop or fall over due to overwatering, which leads to root rot. ZZ plant stems can also fall over due to light problems, severe under-watering, lack of or excessive fertilizer, cold stress, transplant stress or trauma.
The key to preventing and fixing a ZZ plant with stalks that are drooping is to correctly identify and treat the underlying problem. The good news is that there are solutions for most issues that could be plaguing your plant.
If your ZZ is droopy at the outermost stalks, it may just be getting older. The bigger they get the droopier the stems seem to get. They are totally fine, just older. Newer leaves come in straighter and then droop over time. It’s completely normal that they droop. You can tie the drooping stems with a soft string or simply embrace the drooping.
 
ZZ Plant Complete Care Guide - Zamioculcas zamiifolia
Drooping ZZ Plant stem tied up

Curling ZZ Plant Leaves

ZZ Plant leaves most often curl due to underwatering or too much direct light. However, it could be due to becoming rootbound in their pot or colder temperatures. With adjusted watering, placement, or repotting in a larger pot, your ZZ Plant can be revived. 
  •  ZZ plant leaves curling due to too much sunlight
The most common cause of curling ZZ plant leaves is too much sunlight. If the leaves are curled and have brown burn spots, this is likely the problem. ZZ plants prefer medium, indirect light. When exposed to direct sunlight for too long, the leaves curl as they try to move away from the light source.
Move the plant to a shadier location or farther away from the window. Cover the window with a sheer curtain if moving the plant is not possible. Once the plant’s leaves have brown sunburn spots, they will not revert back to green. Subsequently, move to a shadier spot and trim the leaves to remove signs of burn.
  • ZZ plant leaves curling due to insufficient water
Zamioculcas zamiifolia is known to be drought tolerant. But, it is possible to underwater the plant. When curling leaves are dry with brown tips, your ZZ plant probably needs a good watering. Check the soil with your finger or a moisture meter. If it is very dry, soak your plant.
Water about once every 2-3 weeks in the summer and every 3 to 4 weeks in the winter. Adjust this schedule as needed based on your plant’s specific environment (humidity, temperature and light received). Remember, plants in sunnier/hotter climates require more water than those in cooler/darker areas. 
When you water, it is best to water at the base of the plant until you see water come out of the drainage hole. Further, allow the soil to dry until the next watering. Do not mist the soil in between watering. ZZ plants prefer to be soaked with periods of drought in between.
  • ZZ plant leaves curling due to too much water
Too much water also leads to curling ZZ Plant leaves. Yellow, mushy, and curling leaves with brown stems are signs of root rot from overwatering. ZZ plants are able to withstand drought. But, they cannot tolerate excess moisture around their roots.
If rot is the cause, cut back in watering immediately and prune your plant. Let the soil completely dry out. This may take up to a month. Make sure it is COMPLETELY dry before watering again. Keep the plant in medium, indirect light and in a warm area so the soil dries out quicker.
  • ZZ plant leaves curling due to being rootbound
ZZ plants grow from rhizomes, which are bulbs that store water and nutrients for the plant. If the rhizomes become rootbound without room to expand, it could lead to curling leaves.
Repot ZZ plants every 2-3 years so that the plant has room to grow. Especially if you notice roots peeking out of the soil. Select a pot that is one to two inches larger in diameter than the current one. Choosing a pot that is too large may retain more water and promote root rot.

What's in a name?

The botanical name Zamioculcas derives from on the one hand the superficial similarity of its foliage to that of the cycad genus Zamia and on the other hand its kinship to the genus Colocasia, whose name comes from a word culcas or colcas in a Middle Eastern language of antiquity and which is named qolqas in Arabic. Botanical synonyms include Caladium zamiaefolium, Zamioculcas loddigesii and Z. lanceolata. Zamioculcas zamiifolia is also known as the Aroid palm, Zanzibar Gem, The Eternity Plant, Steel Plant, Zee Zee Plant, ZiZi Plant, ZZ plant, Zuzu plant, and Emerald palm.

ZZ Plant Complete Care Guide - Zamioculcas zamiifolia

ZZ Plant Complete Care Guide
Dusting ZZ Plant leaves

ZZ Plant Maintenance

Dark green foliage sports naturally glossy leaves. ZZ plants make it easy to assume someone applied leaf shine to the plant. Every two to three weeks, use a soft damp cloth to wipe the dust off the leaves. Use warm water as cold water may spot the leaves. Dust left on the leaves of houseplants will block sunlight and reduce the ZZ plant’s ability to photosynthesize. Photosynthesis is how the ZZ plant feeds itself.
ZZ Plant Complete Care Guide - Zamioculcas zamiifolia
Drooping ZZ Plant stem tied up
Air Purifier: According to a NASA study, the ZZ plant is an air purifier. Researchers found it is specifically adept at removing volatile organic compounds (such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) from the air. Above all, making it one of the few plants that not only look good but also have a purpose. It has been said that improved air quality has been known to enhance cognitive function. Cognitive function includes multiple abilities of human brain functions such as learning, thinking, reasoning, attention, problem-solving, and decision making.
Feng shui: Zamioculcas zamiifolia is an excellent feng shui plant to grow indoors. When placed in the right spot like Southeastern, Southern, and Eastern corners of homes, it has been said that it helps in bringing protective and purifying energy to your house.

ZZ Plant Bio

A tropical perennial plant native to eastern Africa, from southern Kenya to northeastern South Africa. Dutch nurseries started wide-scale commercial propagation of the plant around 1996. After nurseries in South Africa recognized the plant’s unique appeal as a houseplant, distribution began around the world. It was first described as Caladium zamiifolium in 1829. It was eventually moved to the new genus Zamioculcas and given its established name Zamioculcas zamiifolia by Adolf Engler.

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ZZ Plant Complete Care Guide - Zamioculcas zamiifolia
ZZ Plant Complete Care Guide - Zamioculcas zamiifolia
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