How to grow and care for ZZ Plant Indoors

Houseplant, ZZ Plant

Botanical name: Zamioculcas zamiifolia
Family: Araceae

The ZZ Plant also called Zanzibar Gem, Zuzu Plant, Aroid Palm or Emerald Palm is a highly tolerant houseplant with attractive glossy foliage and is ideal for small spaces. ZZ Plant is highly tolerant to low light, dry conditions but does not like direct sunlight. Its foliage contains unusually high content of water up to 90% and has an individual leaf longevity of at least 6 months. This explains why it can survive extremely well under interior low light levels for up to 4 months without water. ZZ Plant grows to a height of 90 cm from a stout underground succulent rhizome. The leaves are pinnate, 40-60 cm long, with 6-8 pairs of leaflets 7-15 cm long; they are smooth, shiny and dark green. The foliage is borne on upright, slightly arching stems. The stems are thickened at the bottom. The flowers are small bright yellow to brown or bronze spadix 5-7 cm long. They are partly hidden among the leaf bases. ZZ Plant is the only member of the Zamioculcas genus in the family Araceae. ZZ Plant is a tropical perennial plant native to Eastern Africa, from Kenya South to Northeastern South Africa. ZZ Plant has been found to be a good air cleaner. A study done by Department of Plant and Environmental Science at the University of Copenhagen from 2014 shows that ZZ Plant is effective in getting rid common household pollutants like benzene, toluene, xylene and ethylbenzene from indoor air.

How to Grow ZZ Plant

Light

ZZ Plant prefers bright, indirect light. It can also tolerate low light. Protect it from direct sunlight. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants

Water

Water ZZ Plant thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold period to maintain the soil barely moist. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to rotting of the rhizomes. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth between 15-260C during the growing season is ideal for ZZ Plant. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Average room humidity is ideal for ZZ Plant. Ensure good air circulation for ZZ Plant to prevent fungal diseases.

Feeding

Feed ZZ Plant monthly with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season. This plant is not a heavy feeder so be careful when feeding. Withhold feeding in the dormancy stage. Find out more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

ZZ Plant is a slow-grower so frequent repotting is not necessary. Repot the plant at the beginning of the growing season only when it becomes crowded in its current pot. Use a pot 1 size larger and one that has a drainage hole to prevent waterlogging as it can lead to rotting. The best soil should be loose, free-draining and rich in organic matter.

Pruning

Pruning ZZ Plant involves removal of any dead leaves and bear stems to keep it neat and tidy. Timely removal of dead leaves and bare stems also reduces pests and disease infestations.

How to Propagate ZZ Plant

ZZ Plant can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from leaf cuttings or by division of the rhizomes.

Propagating ZZ Plant from leaf cuttings
Cut off a leaf complete with the petiole. Stick the cut end into moist free-draining soil and enclose the pot in polythene. Place in a awrm place and maintain the soil moist through out. The leaf cutting may take several months to develop roots. Once new plantlets have formed at the base, carefully seperate them and pot in individual pots. Place in a cool well-lit place and maintain moist until the plant is well established.

Propagating ZZ Plant by division
Take out the ZZ Plant from its pot. Clear most of the soil from the roots. Carefully divide the rhizome into several sections by cutting with a sharp sterilized knife. Ensure each section bear at least two shoots and adequate roots. Pot up the sections into individual pots and place in a cool well-lit place. Maintain the soil moist through out until the plant is well established.

Common Problems in Growing ZZ Plant

  • Sudden leaf loss
  • Underwatering ZZ Plant the cause of sudden leaf loss. ZZ Plant will sheds leave to conserve water is the soil is too dry. Water ZZ Plant thoroughly and allow the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out but never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.

  • Elongated stems and spindly growth
  • Elongated stems and spindly growth in ZZ Plant is caused by too little light; ZZ Plant prefers bright indirect light though it can tolerate some shade. Too little light will cause the plant to grow weak, elongated stems in an attempt to reach the light source.

  • Brown leaves
  • Brown leaves in ZZ Plant are due to exposure to direct sunlight; keep ZZ Plant from direct sunlight to avoid sun scorch.

  • Yellow leaves
  • One cause of yellow leaves in ZZ Plant is incorrect watering, either underwatering or overwatering. Water ZZ Plant thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold season but never allow the soil to dry out completely. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to avoid waterlogging which can lead to rotting of the rhizome and roots. The second cause of yellow leaves in ZZ Plant is overfeeding. ZZ Plant is not a heavy feeder. Feed the plant monthly during the growing season with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer and withhold feeding in the cold season.

  • Yellow foliage and soft stems
  • Overwatering is the cause of yellow foliage and soft stems in ZZ Plant. This is an indication that the rhizome may have started rotting. Reduce watering to maintain the soil moist but not soggy. Ensure the soil is free-draining and the pot has a drainage hole.

  • Diseases
  • The common disease in ZZ Plant is Root-rot which is brought about by waterlogging.

  • Pests
  • ZZ Plant is very resistant to pests but weak plants can be attacked by Mealy Bugs, Aphids, Scale Insects and Spider Mites.

Toxicity

The foliage of ZZ Plants (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is toxic to both humans and pets. If ingested it can pain and burning in the mouth and throat, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pains. Contact with the sap may cause skin irritation or skin rash in sensitive skin; always wear gloves when handling. Keep ZZ Plant from the reach of children and pets.

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