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Emerald palm, how to care for Zamioculcas palm

Emerald palm

Emerald palm looks like a palm, but it’s not! Always a great houseplant, of course.

Emerald palm facts

NameZamioculcas zamiifolia

Type – succulent houseplant
Height – 1 ½-3 ft / 0.5-1 m indoors
Exposure – well-lit, indirect

Soil: draining   –   Foliage: evergreen   –   Propagation: clump division, cuttings

The botanical name is Zamioculcas zamiifolia. Its lush, green growth and incredible resistance make it a favorite household plant. Grow a lush emerald palm for both home and office with these guidelines.

How to plant emerald palm

To make your emerald palm feel right at home, it’s important to repot it right away. Go for a pot that’s one size larger than the one you first got it in (1 inch larger across, or 2-3 cm).

  • Repotting every 2 years, three at most, is what’s best for emerald palm to keep sending up new fronds.
  • Repotting is also the time to consider propagating your emerald palm.

Planting emerald palm in a pot:

Here are the basic steps to repot your emerald palm:

  • emerald palm potStart off with 1 full inch of drainage, even 2 if possible (3 to 5 cm). This can be gravel, clay pebbles, or broken pot shards.
  • Make sure the hole at the bottom of the pot isn’t clogged by pouring water through the layer: it should empty very fast.
  • Give the plant soil mix to which you’ve added either sand or perlite (or both). For lusher growth, add a handful of ripe compost.

If you’re lucky to live in places where it never freezes outdoors (temperatures higher than 40°F or 5°C), you can plant your emerald outside.

Planting emerald palm outside:

Outside, don’t keep the plant in full sun. Prefer part shade or full shade. Make sure the spot you’re planting it in drains well when there’s a lot of rain.

Growing emerald palm outdoors

Exposure for Emerald Palm

Emerald palm prefers indirect light. This is because in the wild, it grows in forests, under the shade.

Also, direct light, especially inside homes, usually worsens the effect of dry air. It’s important to keep the air very moist around the plant if direct light hits it even just a bit.

Watering emerald palm

This is a plant that can cope fine with being forgotten for a while. It stores water in its root tubers, leaves, and stems. Moreover, it goes dormant when temperatures drop: too much water in the cold season will cause the plant to rot like most other succulents.

That being said, it helps to follow these watering guidelines:

  • Emerald palm wateringWater weekly in summer, with fertilizer every fortnight.
  • Water only once a month in winter, without fertilizing at all.
  • Harvest rainwater instead of using tap water.
  • In both summer and winter, there’s no limit to how often you mist.

Emerald palm care

Emerald palm careCare, on top of the watering mentioned above, is straightforward:

  • Prune off old stems at the base
  • Check for bugs on leaves and treat against them (scale insects mostly, see below).
  • Clean dust from its leaves every couple months.
  • Topdress every year and repot every 2-3 years.


Propagation station with emerald palmPropagating your emerald palm is easy if you are patient! Cuttings work from any part of the plant: tuber, stem, and leaf. Both soil cuttings and water cuttings work well.

From a practical point of view, what’s best is to divide the whole plant in half when you’re repotting your emerald palm.

Pests and diseases attacking emerald palm

Diseases are very rare. In the case of lacking nutrients in the pot, you’ll simply observe less growth. In extreme cases, with very old soil mix and no fertilizer, foliage will turn pale all over.

All emerald palm problems

A major risk shared with other succulents is overwatering. If you water too much, your emerald palm will start having yellow leaves and then it’ll die because roots start rotting.

As for pests, you won’t find any aphids, but you might discover scale insects on your emerald palm.

Types of emerald palm

For the past decade, emerald palm has grown increasingly successful because it’s beautiful and hard to kill. However, it’s a slow grower, and there aren’t many new types of emerald palm. As of today, there are less than a dozen emerald palm varieties, here are the main ones:

  • Types of emerald palm‘Zenzi’ emerald palm: leaves are clustered towards the tip of each frond
  • Raven‘ emerald palm: this famous cultivar deserves the name because its leaves are black!
  • ‘Zamicro’ is a dwarf emerald palm, that won’t ever pass 2 feet (50-60 cm) tall.
  • Emerald palm ‘Lucky classic’: rounder leaves without pointy tips.

Sometimes, but rarely, variegation occurs: some leaves or stems will have streaks of white or cream.

Learn more about emerald palm

More famous under the name “ZZ plant” because of its botanical name (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), emerald palm is one of the favorite plants of all in home and office settings. It’s easy to care for, resilient, hard to kill off, and the design of its leaves and stems is stunning. Not only that, it’s a plant that helps purify the air, too!

Images: : Flower Council Holland, Pexels: Elena Golovchenko, Unsplash: Kadarius Seegars, Nicolas Solerieu
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