Emerald palm, a stunner that’s easy to care for

Emerald palm, a fabulous plant for the home

Emerald palm looks like a palm, but it’s actually so much more! The botanical name is Zamioculcas zamiifolia. Its lush, green growth and incredible resistance make it a favorite household plant.

Emerald palm facts

NameZamioculcas zamiifolia

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

Soil – soil mix
Foliage – evergreen
Propagation – clump division, cuttings

Grow a lush emerald palm with these few guidelines. Set it up in the office or in the home!

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.

Planting emerald palm in a pot:

Here are the basic steps to repot your emerald palm:

  • planting emerald palm in a 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.

Repotting is also the time to check whether you want to propagate your emerald palm.

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.

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:

  • Water 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 and clean the leaves.

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.

Emerald palm propagation

Propagation station with emerald palmPropagating your emerald palm is easy if you have but one strength: patience! Cuttings are slow to form, but you can make them 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 works 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, the foliage will turn pale all over.

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 the 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, so garden stores haven’t yet been able to discover 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 ‘Obsidian palm’ instead because 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, albeit 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!

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
thejoyofplants.co.uk: Flower Council Holland
Unsplash: Kadarius Seegars