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Houseplant Alert! 3 Reasons You Need The Awesome ZZ Plant

This houseplant is so easy to care for & tolerates low light. Here are 3 reasons, plus care & repotting tips, as to why you need the ZZ Plant.

 

This houseplant really shines – literally! I love the ZZ Plant because it’s gorgeous, tough and so easy to care for.  Other names it goes by are Zanzibar Gem, Welcome Plant and its tongue twisting botanic name Zamioculcas zamifolia. Mine just got repotted so I’m sharing that project with you along with tips for keeping your ZZ healthy and looking like its fabulous self.

The 3 reasons why I love the ZZ Plant are: it tolerates low light, needs infrequent watering & is a stunning addition to any home.

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I’m always interested to know where plants are from and which others are in the same family and/or genus. This shiny beauty shares the same family with these other popular houseplants: pothos, spathiphyllums, agloanemas and diffenbachias. You can find these plants in my book Keep Your Houseplants Alive if you’re new to the wonderful world of indoor plants.

Care tips & things to know about the ZZ Plant coming at ya:

–> Size: They get about 3-4′ tall & 3-4′ wide.  Many consider it to be a slow grower but mine has been growing at a moderate rate.

–> Exposure:  Here’s 1 category where the ZZ Plant really is at the top of the list. It tolerates low light conditions just fine. Your plant will grow much slower but it’ll hang on in like a trooper. The ZZ prefers natural, bright light which mine gets & that’s why I had to transplant it – it was growing!  Mine is spending the summer into fall outdoors here in Tucson but is in the bright shade.  Head’s up: no direct sun for this houseplant.

–> Watering: Easy does it when it comes to watering the ZZ Plant.  They grow & spread via swollen rhizomes which are basically underground organs with store nutrients & water. Massive amounts of thick, fleshy roots grow off of these rhizomes & both they & the spongy stems will rot out if you water this plant too frequently. You want to water it thoroughly, let all the water drain out & let it go dry before you water it again. I water mine here in the desert every 3-4 weeks & when I bring it indoors for the winter, that’ll probably drop to every 8 weeks. Of course, the smaller the pot the more often you’ll need to water the plant. Head’s up: never let this plant directly in water.

–> Fertilizing: This isn’t always necessary but your ZZ Plant would enjoy a feeding with an organic houseplant fertilizer once in the spring.  I top dress mine with worm compost in late March or early April when the roots are really starting to wake up.

–> Pests: Mine has never gotten any nor have I heard that they’re subject to any. Please let me know if yours has.

–> Propagation: This is easy to do by either division of the root ball or leaf cuttings.

–> Flowers: The spathe like blooms are insignificant & appear infrequently. They open close to the base so there’s a chance you could miss them.

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Here’s another thing that’s good to know: this plant is shiny on its own. Never spray it with leaf shine.

Because the ZZ Plant tolerates low light & dry air, it makes an excellent office plant.

To sum it all up: ignore this plant and it’ll be happy.  Of course, shower it with admiration and praise but no babying is needed with this 1.  Water your ZZ Plant infrequently, don’t let it sit in water, keep it out of direct sun and never use leaf shine.  Sounds like a winner of a houseplant to me!

Happy (indoor) gardening,

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40 comments:

  1. I have been enjoying my ZZplant for almost a year now! So easy to care for! Thanks for posting this lovely article!!! A true plant lover!

  2. Hi Jill – You’re so right – that’s 1 of the reasons why we love the ZZ Plant. Glad you enjoyed the post, & yes, I’m a true plant lover too! Have a great weekend, Nell

  3. I just love this plant, but wow, yours is much more full than mine! Mine still is growing the new leaf-stalks starting right about now (Jan.) in Seattle, but slowly. Guess I’ll place it in some brighter light to get more growth. I like that the new growth is lighter green for awhile, making a pleasing green-color mixture. Thanks!

  4. HI

    I have same plant in my house. I heard it is Poisonous . Is it safe to keep in home.

    Please let me know.

    thanks in advance

  5. Hi Savitha – Most houseplants are considered to be poisonous in some way or another. Unless you, your family members or your pets plan on eating it, I wouldn’t worry. I have 2 large ZZ plants in my home & we live harmoniously! Nell

  6. I’ve had one for several years, it’s been on a west windowsill in my kitchen. It’s only got 5 stalks to it now. It is getting another new one and I decided to look it up and find out what it was, and now I know it can tolerate low light so I have moved it. I hope it will do better getting it out of the window.

  7. Hi Bonita – My ZZ Plants are in medium light (bright light but not direct) & put out a lot of new growth in spring & summer. Hopefully you’ll see some more new leaf stalks emerging in a few months. Nell

  8. hi! just to ask few question. first,how to take care of my ZZ plant against ants? second,how to re-pot it carefully? how often do i need to water it? thank you! =)

  9. Hi – You have to be careful with what you treat with because you don’t want to kill the plant. If the ants are bad you can always repot the plant being sure to shake all the old soil off the roots. There’s a non-toxic spray made by Eco Smart which worked when I had ants. As for the repotting, ZZ Plants are tough. Here’s how I divided & repotted mine: https://www.joyusgarden.com/propagating-a-zz-plant-by-division/ Nell

  10. Hi,
    I have a big zz plant, it’s growing well but one of the stems and its leaves are turning yellow. Don’t know what the problem is? This plant was bought 6 months back, I keep it in a low light room close to a window, and I water it once every 4 weeks. Any suggestions?

  11. Hi – Yellowing stems & leaves on ZZ Plants is usually caused by too much water; especially if the light is low &/or your house is on the cooler side. Those big rhizomes the stems grow out of store water. Nell

  12. Hi, I’ve just got a ZZPlant, sent to me via surface mail. Some of the leaves are yellow. Do you know what causes this? This other stems and leaves are beautiful.

  13. Hi, thanks for your helpful tips. Propagating from leaf cuttings. Can they be put in water to root or directly on a pot? Thanks.

  14. Hi Cristina – In general, yellow leaves on a ZZ Plant are due to stress, most often from over watering. I water mine every 3 weeks in the warmer months (I live in the AZ desert) & less than that in winter. Nell

  15. Cristina – You’re welcome. They can be propagated either way. Here’s a post/video which you might find helpful: https://www.joyusgarden.com/propagating-a-zz-plant-rooting-stem-cuttings-in-water/ Nell

  16. Very helpful. Thanks. I live in South Florida where winter months are very warm. I’ll follow your advice for watering.

  17. Hi Cristina – Great – your ZZ will love the FL climate. You should have no problem as long as you don’t water these too much. Nell

  18. Hi Nell. I love the zz plant and really admire it shiny green leaves. I found a stalk of this plant while walking in chuna town parking lot. Try to put it in water and the stalk died but left a ball like root and 2 tiny leaves. It’s almost a year now and it gave me another couple tiny stalks with 2 tiny leaves. Will this grow to a long luster green stalk in the future ?

  19. Hi Susana – Yes it will eventually. The ZZ grows & spreads by tubers. I recently did a post on this: https://www.joyusgarden.com/propagating-a-zz-plant-rooting-stem-cuttings-in-water/ Nell

  20. I have a zz plant that I propagated from a complete stem that came off of my brother-in-law’s zz plant. I stuck it inwater and it developed roots. At that point, I potted it up and waited. I think it then sent out another stem, and my B-I-L and I, being curious, removed it carefully from the pot, and it had started to form the thick rhizome. I was thrilled. I repotted it and it now has five stems and doing well. It was only one of four plants moved from North Carolina that made it safely!

  21. Hi Helen – ZZ Plants are tough! I propagated 5 stems in water last May & 2 rooted beautifully. I’ve planted them. The other 3 haven’t put out any roots at all but are doing & looking great – crazy. Here’s a post I did a few months ago: https://www.joyusgarden.com/propagating-a-zz-plant-rooting-stem-cuttings-in-water/ Nell

  22. Hi there Nell , I recently purchased 2 zz plants from ikea and they both had 1 of each yellowing leaves at the very bottom of older stems. Not only that, it seems like both stem tips were pinched off or broken. So, any suggestions that may help the plant which I barely know ! Thanks !
    Runa

  23. Hi Runa – Yellow leaves on the bottom of a ZZ Plant are usually caused by too much water. That or no water is common with plants sold at big box stores. This plant has large rhizomes which store water & that’s where the new growth emerges from. Even if the tips are broken, new stems will eventually appear. Water this plant only when completely dry & give it bright light out of direct sunlight. You’ll love this plant – so easy! Nell

  24. Thank you so much Nell ! Your a surety gives me hope!

  25. Hi Nell,

    I enjoyed reading all of these post! My office ZZ plant’s stems (not all of them) are wrinkled looking and leaning over. There are 10 stalks and are very tall . I have it staked and a loose tie around it to keep from falling over. At one point some of the leaves were turning yellow and I realize I was over watering it :(. Can you give me some suggestions?

    Thank you,
    Susan

  26. Great! Yes Susan, that sounds like over watering. I water mine every 3 weeks (they’re in fairly large pots. It may be reaching for the light too. I find they do better in medium light levels. Mine are putting out a lot of new growth now that the weather is warming. Back off on the watering & make sure the light levels are adequate. that’s about it! Nell

  27. Hi Nell, thank you for the article. I was sent an over watered ZZ plant by a seller and there is some serious root damage (the rhizome looks okay.) as well as a bunch of yellowing leaves. I think the seller just didn’t know how to care for it. I’m hopeful of saving the plant and have re-potted it. I just wanted to know if the stems will regrow fallen leaves (the yellow leaves would fall off soon I suppose). Or will they remain bare? Thanks a bunch.

  28. I love your huge ZZ plant! My ZZ plant was very happy indoors. But the soil of the plant is full of gnats and I have shifted it outside. Will it survive in 100 degree Houston heat? It’s in the shade on my patio and doesn’t get any direct sunlight.

  29. Hi Elizabeth – To the best of my knowledge & experience, the stems won’t grow new leaves. However, if you cut the stems all the way back, fresh new growth will eventually appear from the tubers. My 2 ZZ Plants re putting out lots of new growth right now. Nell

  30. Thank you for replying, Nell. I will try cutting the stems back. I have watched videos of you re-potting your ZZ plants and I love your plants!

  31. Hi Vandana – I kept this ZZ Plant outdoors here in Tucson for the 1st summer. Temps. get over 100F here & it was fine in the shade. It’s now indoors. It will be fine out of direct sun but just make sure it doesn’t stay consistently wet. I’ve found they like to grow on the dry side. Nell

  32. Thank you Elizabeth! Now’s a great time to cut the plant back. Nell

  33. Hi Nell,
    My zz plant’s leaves stucked up from the day I bought…..why

  34. Hi – I’m not quite sure what you mean by “stucked up”. No emerging? If you mean not opening up, I’ve never heard of a ZZ Plant doing that. Other plants yes, but not this one. Nell

  35. Hi Nell!

    Great tutorial! I bought one yesterday from Home Depot and it looks nice and healthy. I watered it when I got home but the top of the soil is already dry. Should I still hold off and water in three weeks? Or did I simply not give it enough water the first time? It’s not a large pot: roughly 6″ tall and 5″ in circumference, and I live in NYC, and the temps are all over the place this summer.

  36. My ZZ plant has been doing well, but now stems are bending over (falling over) significantly rather than growing tall and straight. It is near a window and gets some late afternoon light. No direct sunlight.
    I do not think it’s under watered. Could this be too much water? Any other ideas? Thanks

  37. Hi I just received may ZZE plant today and I replanted it in soil that has fertilizer already in it will this be OK for my ZZ plant ?

  38. Hi Payal – Thank you! Your ZZ in a smaller sized pot so you’ll need to water it more often. I live in the hot AZ desert where I water my ZZs in 10 & 14″ pots every 3 weeks. They don’t need watering too often. It’s better to thoroughly water the plant & let it go almost dry before watering again. Nell

  39. Hi Juli – I water my ZZ Plants every 3 weeks here in Tucson & they’re fine. The roots are on the thicker side & store water. It could be too much water but I can’t say not knowing how you’re caring for it. My 2 ZZs are older now & as the grow & get longer, they get heavier. That causes them to bend a bit. Nell

  40. Hi Hilary – Those mixes contain a slow release fertilizer. I’ve never used them but it should be fine. Just be careful not to supplementally fertilize the ZZ for at least 6 months. Nell

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