The ZZ plant’s long leaf fronds are a perfect fit for designers.
ZZ plant key facts
Name – Zamioculcas zamiifolia
Family – Araceae
Type – indoor plant, succulent
Height – 1 ½-3 ft (0.5-1 m) indoors
Propagation – cuttings, division
Exposure: well-lit, indirect – Soil: soil mix – Foliage: evergreen
Caring for it is such an easy feat it’s even been called the plant of steel or cast-iron plant. With a few minutes of attention every now and then, your ZZ plant will keep sending up shoots like a set of natural fireworks!
How to plant the ZZ plant
Below, you’ll learn all there is to know about caring for the ZZ plant as an indoor houseplant.
Repotting your ZZ plant
Repot a ZZ plant that has just been purchased to a pot that is slightly larger in size, 1 inch wider across than the previous (2.5 cm).
Here is what you should take note of:
- Proper drainage – this plant dies if roots wallow in water. Check that the new pot has a hole at the bottom. Add a drainage layer at the bottom of the pot.
- Soil mix should have nutrients – enrich it with one-fourth compost and one-fourth sand to keep drainage high.
- Upon repotting, you can break the clump into several parts if you want to grow or offer a new ZZ to a friend.
Water needs and schedule for the ZZ plant
The ZZ plant evolved in a cyclic environment: extended drought followed by flash floods.
Watering ZZ houseplant
While still ensuring perfect drainage, water whenever the pot is dry over at least the first inch of topsoil. It’s better to forget watering once than to water twice.
- In summer, water your ZZ plant every week. Add fertilizer once or twice a month.
- In winter, water your ZZ plant every month. Stop adding fertilizer.
- Always prefer soft water or rainwater.
You can replicate flash floods by dunking the ZZ plant, pot and all, in a barrel, or showering it thoroughly. To compensate for nutrient washout, either add decomposing plant materials to the dunking barrel or fertilize your ZZ with natural fermented tea (such as fermented nettle).
ZZ plant misting and moisture
Hailing from a tropical region, the ZZ plant loves absorbing moisture from the air just as much as through its roots.
- Mist the plant as often as you feel like it. Use exclusively soft or distilled water. Rainwater is ideal. Indeed, tap water for plants like the ZZ lead to crystal and mineral deposits. These clog pores on leaves.
Creating moisture in the air around the ZZ plant will help it thrive.
Exposure for ZZ plant
Growth of your ZZ plant is directly related to exposure. A lot of indirect light will let the plant send up new shoots every month or two. On the other hand, a ZZ plant without much light will more or less stay put. But it will survive!
- Indirect light – set the plant off the side of a window instead of directly in front of it. Perhaps a light-colored wall gets a lot of reflected light, which is perfect for the ZZ plant.
- Low light – ZZ plant will still grow, but very slowly.
- Avoid heat sources – radiators and sunny windows make the air around them very dry. A ZZ plant prefers moisture.
Where to put a ZZ plant in the house
A good option for the ZZ plant is to move it from room to room.
- Summer in a warm, moist, well-lit lean-in or veranda, time in the living room near the couch or TV set.
- Winter in the office or kitchen and bathroom.
Moving your ZZ plant all around the house will enhance growing and maximize your pleasure in seeing it in different places!
ZZ plant propagation
There are many ways to multiply your ZZ plant, and they all have one thing in common: the need for patience!
- Full article on how to propagate a ZZ plant
You can prepare cuttings from both leaf or stem. You can practice division when repotting.
Like a succulent, the ZZ plant can sprout new tubers and leaves from any part of the plant.
Pets, pests and diseases on ZZ plant
The ZZ plant is seldom seen to suffer from pests or disease. The occasional scale insect may be caught wandering around, but you’ll never have a serious invasion.
- Check out what a ZZ plant with scale insects looks like.
Other issues that might happen are related to potted growing: yellow leaves, stems falling over, and such problems.
Is the ZZ plant poisonous for pets?
Small crystals in the sap may cause rashes on skin where touched. Sensitive persons should wear gloves when performing tasks like repotting, transplanting, and dividing ZZ plants.
As a chemical, calcium oxalate crystals aren’t toxic but merely irritating. Ingesting small amounts (say, a leaf) will only result in discomfort but isn’t dangerous for cats, dogs… and children!
- Pets will have a little digestive trouble but it won’t be fatal.
On the upside, these uncommon compounds actually makes the plant useful: it can purify air!
The ZZ plant, an air-purifying houseplant
Scientists discovered that the ZZ plant removes pollutants from air. It filters and stocks toxins in its roots, stems and leaves:
>> Learn more about air-purifying houseplants
Types of ZZ plant and varieties
For the first two decades of being sold, only the normal ZZ plant was found. Nowadays, new ZZ plant varieties exist that are intriguing and wonderful. The two most famous are the Raven ZZ plant and the Zenzi.
Learn more about the ZZ plant
All in all, the ZZ plant makes for a great plant in urban jungle homes where it complements designer furniture. Although too large for centertops on tables, it is perfect to highlight beautiful architecture by drawing the eyes to verticality.
New leaves are bright green, even for black varieties.
Conference centers, hotels and public building love the ZZ plant for the hype it shares, its resilience, and ease of care.
The only plant within its genus (the Araceae family), the ZZ plant was slow in becoming a commercial success. Slow growth was the main drawback since it takes years before producing a large enough plant.
Smart tip about the ZZ plant
If ever leaves fall off because of water stress, don’t throw them out!
Simply prick all leaflets in soil one by one with the stem down, and you’ll be growing new ZZ from scratch!
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