ZZ plant or Zamioculcas Zamiifolia is a flowering plant belonging to the Araceae family. ZZ plants are the only species in the genus Zamioculcas. Like many other members of the Araceae family, the ZZ plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can be toxic for humans and pets. It is a tropical perennial plant native to eastern Africa, from southern Kenya to northeastern South Africa. Common names include such as Zanzibar gem, aroid palm, emerald palm, Zuzu plant and eternity plant. ZZ plant is an ornamental houseplant, with its deep green and shiny leaves making it look like an artificial indoor plant. ZZ plants are slow growers that are highly adaptable and low-maintenance.
It is a herbaceous perennial growing, from a stout underground, succulent rhizome. It is normally evergreen, but becomes deciduous during drought, surviving drought due to the large potato-like rhizome that stores water until rainfall resumes. The leaves are pinnate, 40–60 cm (16–24 in) long, with 6–8 pairs of leaflets 7–15 cm (3–6 in) long; they are smooth, shiny, and dark green. The stems of these pinnate leaves are thickened at the bottom. The flowers are produced in a small bright yellow to brown or bronze spadix 5–7 cm (2–3 in) long, partly hidden among the leaf bases; flowering is from mid summer to early autumn.
Table of Contents
2 - 5 feet
2 - 4 feet
6.0 - 7.0
Growth Nutrition of ZZ Plant
For ZZ plants, you want to look for a balanced fertilizer that has a ratio of 20-20-20 or 10-10-10, which would mean it has 10% of nitrogen, 10% phosphorus and 10% potassium.
Types of ZZ Plant
There are a variety of ZZ plants based on their height, size, colour and growing requirements. Some of the most common types of zz plant are mentioned below:
ZZ Raven (The Dark Beauty)
Named after the bird Raven, this variety of zz plant was recently introduced in the US. It is called the dark beauty since the leaves turn into a dark-green colour, almost looking black in low light after a few months. It can grow to a full height of 3 ft and taller, place it in kitchens, bathrooms, or even basements and use a pot with drainage. Water the plant once every two weeks during summer and every three weeks in winter. These are available at a cost more than other houseplants.
Zenzi (The Dwarf ZZ)
This is also a new ZZ plant, great for small spaces. It is shorter in size than the regular ZZ plants, reaching a height of at least one inch. It must be kept anywhere away from direct light, thrives better in porous pots like terracotta and can tolerate average household humidity (40%-50%).
Akebono is a rare variety of ZZ plants. The word “Akebono” means the color that possesses the sky at dawn. It is a Japanese word that is named so because of its leaf color. Akebono is a herbaceous perennial plant species. Plant height is almost 3-4 feet. It is a fast-growing plant.
The ZZ supernova can be mentioned as a sibling of the ZZ raven plant. Both of them originated from Africa. It can also be called ZZ raven purple-black. This can be grown around 30 inches. As a slow-growing plant, it needs years to get its height to be perfect.
Zamioculcas zamiifolia (Variegata)
This variety of zz plant has green-creamy yellow glossy leaves which appear to be clustered, rising outwards from its rhizomes. It can grow 2-3 feet in height, while direct sunlight must be avoided, this plant needs more light than a regular zz plant.
Lucky Classic Plant
Lucky Classic plant is another variant of zz plant, its leaves are rounder and feather-like, medium-dark green, and glossy. This plant may have flowers during spring and summer. It prefers a well-drained and aerated potting mix soil and thrives in places with partial shade.
ZZ Whipped Cream
The ZZ whipped cream is among the rarest ZZ plant varieties. It has herbaceous stems that grow up to 2-5 feet tall. The ZZ plant species thrive well under bright indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight will scorch the leaves and make stems fall over. The white and light green foliages make this houseplant worth it. Stem cuttings are the ideal method for propagating the ZZ whipped cream species.
ZZ Lucky White
ZZ lucky white is a variegated species of ZZ plants. The plant coloration creates a striking outlook when grown in an eye-catching environment. The houseplant can reach 4-6 feet high and belongs to the herbaceous succulent plants. The stems are elongated with a rhizome underneath. This lucky white species has gentle green colors with a whitish structure. It also has round leaves that are less pointed.
The ‘Dark Zamicro’ & ‘Zamicro’
This particular variant is closely related to Raven ZZ because of its colour. Its growing conditions are also similar to Raven ZZ’s. The only distinct feature is their height, as ‘Zamicro’ grows no more than two feet.
Planting ZZ Plant
Plant your ZZ in a well-drained, all-purpose potting mix or a growing medium that’s three parts all-purpose mix and one part succulent soil mix. These tropical plants need temperatures no lower than 65 degrees at night. While their natural habitat is humid, ZZ plants can adapt to low-humidity indoor spaces as well.
ZZ Plant Care
ZZ plants are known for being low-maintenance, easy-to-care-for houseplants that even gardeners with the blackest thumbs can keep alive with minimum care. All zz plants need is adequate light and a good watering every couple of weeks. However, don't worry too much about forgetting to water your zz plant—these plants grow from rhizomes, which help them to store water under the soil, making them drought-tolerant plants.
Though it thrives outdoors in Africa, it's best grown indoors elsewhere. If you want to grow it outside, plant it in a container that can be brought indoors when the temperatures cool.
ZZ plants have naturally shiny leaves that can become dull as dust accumulates. Never clean the leaves of a Zanzibar gem with a commercial leaf shine, as it will clog the plant's pores. Instead, gently wipe away dust and debris with a damp washcloth to restore its shine.
ZZ plants are tolerant of a wide range of lighting conditions, which makes them well-suited to indoor growing. The plants can grow in low-light conditions. They can quickly become leggy if not given enough light. When placing the plant in your house, choose a bright, indirect light spot, preferably in a room with south-facing windows. Avoid direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves of your plants.
ZZ plants are not overly picky about their potting medium as long as it is well-draining. Most standard potting mixes should be sufficient for your plant. If additional drainage is required, mixing in perlite or sand will help.
These plants are highly drought-tolerant and can handle infrequent watering thanks to their thick rhizomes. You should generally water zz plants once the soil dries out completely—usually once every two weeks, depending on their growing conditions. It's better to water your plant less than give it too much water. When watering, wet the soil thoroughly until the water is running out of the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot. Get rid of the excess water.
Temperature and Humidity
Average household temperatures and humidity are acceptable for Zanzibar gems. ZZ plants do not tolerate cold temperatures well (no lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit), so avoid placing your plant in a location close to drafts or particularly cold areas of your home. ZZ plants don't require humid conditions, but if your home runs on the dry side, consider increasing the humidity around your plant by purchasing a humidifier or placing it on top of a tray filled with pebbles and water.
ZZ plants generally do not require regular fertilizing to thrive. However, if you're hoping to increase your plant's size or vigor, fertilize your zz plant with indoor plant fertilizer diluted to half-strength one to two times during its active growing season.
Pruning and Propagating ZZ Plant
ZZ plants may not benefit from pruning, unlike other houseplants. However, pruning and shaping may improve the plant’s shape and help in removing yellow or damaged leaves.
Propagating ZZ Plant
ZZ plants propagate in two main ways: through division and stem cuttings. Propagation by division is the simplest way to create more plants—separate the rhizomes the next time you repot your plant and place them in separate containers.
Propagating with stem cuttings takes longer than propagating by division, and you may need to wait six to nine months before roots begin to grow.
Cut an entire stalk, including leaflets using a sterilized and sharp cutting tool.
Remove the bottom leaves from the stem, and place the stalk in a jar of water.
Place in indirect light. Roots should form in a few months. Change water weekly to prevent bacterial growth.
When root growth is substantial, place the plant into a container filled with potting mix.
Potting and Repotting ZZ Plants
ZZ plants should be repotted only once they have outgrown their potting container. Repotting is needed when you see the rhizomes pressing up under the soil against the edge of the container or warping the shape of the container. The plant may also show signs of stress if it has become root-bound.
As with most houseplants, it is usually a good idea to wait until the spring or summer to repot the plants because they will be better able to tolerate being disturbed during the active growing period. Choose a potting container one size larger with ample drainage holes for your Zanzibar gem.
Pests and Diseases
Your ZZ plant is unlikely to encounter many issues with pests or diseases. Here are a few rare problems you may notice:
Aphids: Yellow marks may be a sign that aphids have infested your plant. This pest is attracted to the ZZ plant’s sap. You can use a mild soap on the leaves to remove these creatures if they infest your plant.
Spider mites: If you notice a spiderweb material developing around your ZZ plant’s leaves, spider mites may have infested the plant. Take the ZZ away from other houseplants and use an insecticide to eliminate the infestation.
Yellowing leaves: Yellow leaves are usually a sign of overwatering. If you notice discoloration in your ZZ plant’s foliage, try reducing the plant’s watering schedule.
Root rot: This is another symptom of overwatering. If you suspect root rot, lift the plant out of its container to inspect its root system. Gently cut away rotted areas with a pair of sharp shears.
Common Problems With ZZ Plants
A common problem with a Zanzibar gem is how much water the plant is receiving. If the leaves drop, the plant is dehydrated and needs water. The opposite is true if the leaves are yellowing and dropping simultaneously; give the plant more water. If the top 3 inches (roughly the length of your finger) of soil are dry, the plant is ready for water.
Benefits of ZZ Plant
These plants are highly preferred for their forgiving nature. ZZ is extremely easy to care for and can survive dry soil, excessive pruning and low light conditions. They can also tolerate changes in temperature and humidity.
Air pollution is a severe threat to human health and since we spend a lot of our time indoors, it is important to ensure that we are breathing good quality air. ZZ plant can significantly improve indoor air quality. It works by absorbing the harmful pollutants in the air, especially carbon dioxide. You may place the plant in different rooms and live a healthier life.
Beneficial in Feng Shui
Also called the ‘fortune tree’, the ZZ plant plays a prime role in the practice of Feng Shui. According to the legends, the plant is primarily associated with growth, good luck, wealth and fortune. It is beneficial in deflecting the negative energies and welcoming good vibes.
Improves cognitive function
The zz plant is not only responsible for improving indoor air quality, it also has a positive influence on your brain and enhances your overall cognitive function which includes learning, thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, and decision making capabilities. This is the reason people prefer keeping the zz plant in their workplaces, even on the work desks.
It’s no secret that plants are stress-relievers. ZZ plants give a much-needed green company that reduces stress, anxiety, relieves tension, enhances mood and sparks creativity.
ZZ plants also offer ornamental value. It is a great indoor plant that can improve your home’s aesthetics. The glossy leaves and upright stems add a tropical touch to the area, making a statement in the position they are put at.
ZZ plant is rich in steroid, triterpenoid, flavonoid, and polyphenol. The extract of this plant is loaded with antioxidants and the juice is used by the locals of Tanzania to treat ear-ache. The plant is also used to treat the inflammatory condition–Mshipa in South Africa and the leaves of this plant are also used to cure stomach ailments.
These days, this species functions primarily as an ornamental plant. However, the plant does have roots in traditional medicine. In Tanzania, it has been used to treat inflammatory conditions, and in Malawi, it was once used as a remedy for earaches. With that said, it’s important to note that the ZZ plant is on a list of toxic plants for both pets and humans, so do not try these remedies at home.