Plants 101

How to Care for a ZZ Plant or Zamioculcas Zamiifolia

Looking for a highly dependable easy-care houseplant? The ZZ Plant is for you. Find out our tips for keeping it in the best condition.

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The Zamioculcas zamiifolia, or ZZ Plant, is a tropical perennial native to Eastern Africa. It has become popular worldwide in recent years due to its tolerance of a wide range of conditions—a highly dependable houseplant, it can tolerate low light and has low water requirements. Sometimes nicknamed the “Zanzibar Gem,” the ZZ grows smooth, naturally shiny leaflets that range from bright lime in their youth to an emerald green in their maturity. Individual leaflets are typically one to three inches long and spring from thick, slightly bulbous stalks, which grow from large, water-storing rhizomes hidden underneath the soil.

How much sunlight does a ZZ Plant need?

Though it can tolerate lower indirect light, the ZZ thrives in medium to bright indirect light. It will be happy with a minimum of six hours per day and can tolerate up to 12 during the warmer months. It is important, however, to keep it away from intense, direct sun—for instance, by moving it towards the center of the room or placing a sheer curtain or drape over south-facing windows.

How often should you water a ZZ Plant?

Water your ZZ Plant every 2-3 weeks, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Expect to water more often in brighter light and less often in lower light. Signs that it is thirsty include wilting, wrinkled leaves, and dry potting mix, while wet mix or yellowing and mushy leaves signal overwatering and root rot.

Do ZZ Plant need humidity?

It is not important to account for humidity levels when caring for a ZZ, which can handle average home humidity and even somewhat dry air. If you would like to recreate the humidity levels it would experience in its native climate, though, aim for 40-50% humidity. Humidity levels can be increased by grouping plants together or adding a humidifier or pebble tray.

What temperature does a ZZ Plant prefer?

Most houseplants prefer temperatures in the 65°F-85°F range (18°C-30°C). It’s best not to let them get much lower than that: We recommend 60°F (15°C) as a baseline.

How big does a ZZ Plant get?

Grown indoors, ZZ Plants can grow up to two or three feet (.6-.9 meters) tall and wide, sometimes more. The plant is a slow grower and usually takes three to five years to grow to this size, though some grow faster and gain six or so inches per season.

Are ZZ Plant easy to care for?

The ZZ Plant is a low-maintenance houseplant. There is not much you will need to take into account, aside from the water and light levels into account; that said, fertilizing every six months, or even monthly in the growing season, will provide additional nourishment. In the rare event plant pests appear, treat them with weekly sprays of a natural pesticide like neem oil and regular wipe-downs of the plant. As for soil, pick a well-draining potting mix and add ingredients such as perlite or lava rocks to increase aeration as needed.

Are ZZ Plant safe for pets?

The ZZ Plant is not a pet-friendly plant, it can be irritating to cats, dogs, and humans if foliage is consumed. The best practice is always to keep houseplants out of reach of small children and pets.

Precautions

Though some have suggested that the ZZ Plant specifically causes cancer, or has any cancer-causing pathogens, there is no evidence to support this specific claim. That said, again, we do recommend keeping this plant away from pets and small children as it can be quite irritating if consumed.


Words By The Sill

Empowering all people to be plant people—a collection of articles from The Sill’s team of plant experts across a variety of plant care topics to inspire confidence in the next generation of plant parents. Welcome to Plant Parenthood™.

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