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Zamioculcas zamiifolia

Botanical Name — Zamioculcas zamiifolia
Common Name — ZZ Plant or Zanzibar gem
Plant Family — Araceae

Background

The ZZ plant is native to eastern Africa, from southern Kenya to northeastern South Africa. ZZ plant is known for its attractive, dark green shiny leaves and as an easy going plant that tolerates neglect, is drought tolerant, and accepts low-light conditions. ZZ plants are very efficient at removing indoor pollutants such as benzene, xylene and toluene.

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Growth Requirements

Sun

  • ZZ plants do best in medium bright indirect light. Though these plants prefer moderate light, they are adaptable to low light conditions or under fluorescent lights, such as those in office buildings.
  • An east facing window that gets only morning light or a north facing window are good options for ZZ plants. Too much direct sun can burn your plant’s leaves.


Temperature/ Humidity

  • These plants like average warmth, between 60 and 75 F. ZZ plants are not cold hardy. If outdoors, bring in when the temperature is at 45 F or lower.
  • Keep away from heating and air conditioning vents as well as cold drafts from outside doors and windows.
  • ZZ plants do well in average home humidity. If your home is dry, especially during the winter months, your plant will benefit from misting with tepid water or a humidifier.


Water

  • Allow the soil to completely dry between watering. Don’t let your plant sit in water because it can easily cause stem and rhizome rot. It's best to water the ZZ plant less because over-watering can quickly cause root out.
  • Cut back on water during the Fall and winter months.


Soil/Roots

  • Use a well aerated, quick draining potting mix. A mixture of 3 parts potting soil, 1 part succulent & cactus mix, & 1 part coco coir.
  • The roots are known as rhizomes. They have a thick, potato-like appearance. These swollen roots store water. This is a reason why ZZ plants are drought tolerant and can be easily overwatered.


Flowering

  • They produce tiny flowers on a white or pale yellow spadix surrounded by a pale green spathe. The flowers grow at the base of the leaves near the soil. Only mature plants will flower.


Fertilization

  • ZZ plants are light feeders and thus do not require much fertilization. Feed them once every other month using a weak, balanced fertilizer during the spring and summer only. Cease fertilizing in the fall and winter.


Propagation

  • ZZ plants can be propagated by division or leaf cuttings.
  • To propagate by division, you would separate the rhizome roots by cutting and replanting once the stem has callused over.
  • Leaf cuttings have to be placed in soil and with a plastic covering and then wait for roots to begin growing. It can take up to a year to grow roots.


Health

Diseases

  • These plants rarely have pest problems but you might want to look out for mealybugs and aphids.
  • Overwatering is the number one problem with ZZ plants. This will cause the rhizome roots to rot.


Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)

  • Not much pruning is needed with this plant. You can prune off the occasional lower yellow leaves A small amount of lower leaves turning yellow and falling is quite normal. If a lot of leaves are turning yellow, you need to check that you're not overwatering.
  • If you need to prune any stems all the way back to the soil, new growth will eventually appear.
  • Repot your ZZ plant when you see signs that it’s root-bound, such as browning leaves, roots growing out of the drainage hole, and soil that drains and dries out very quickly. Repotting is best in Spring. Carefully remove the ZZ plant from it’s planter, gently loosen the root ball with your fingers, prune back any black roots and then replant with fresh well draining potting soil in a planter one size larger than the one your plant outgrew.


Toxicity

  • ZZ plants are mildly toxic to both humans and pets since the plant contains calcium oxalate crystals. Toxicity symptoms include irritation to the skin or mouth and stomach upset if consumed.