Plant Sheet: ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Not only in office spaces or hospitals, the ZZ Plant is generally one of the most common houseplants, and that’s for a reason! It is evergreen, almost never gets pests or diseases, and will be happy even if you forget about it for weeks.

The ZZ Plant, also called the Zanzibar Gem, is native to Eastern and Souther Africa where it grows on dry grasslands. As a houseplant, it is known to be very undemanding in its light requirements and prefers irregular watering only every 2-3 weeks.

For it being such an undemaning and tolerant plant to any care mistakes you might make, it adds so much to the greenery of your home and looks just fabulous anywhere you put it.

Origin and Natural Habitat of Zamioculcas zamiifolia

The ZZ Plant got its common name from an abbreviation of its botanical taxonomy Zamioculcas zamiifolia. It is also called the Zanzibar Gem in reference to its natural habitat. Zamioculcas grows all over Eastern and Southern Africa, mainly on dry grasslands but is also in forests.

What one would consider to be its “stems” are botanically speaking only “branches” as Zamioculcas grows out of a rhizome. All branches grow tall and are symmetrically lined with glossy, evenly green leaflets which gives it quite an sculpturesque and modern aesthetic. As an indoor plant, it is a commonly seen office plant but also cherished as a very undemanding and beautiful houseplant.

Brighten Up Zamioculcas’ Day: Light and Water Requirements

As the ZZ Plant evolved on dry grasslands, it is used to periods of drought inbetween rain showers. Keep this in mind for its water requirements as an indoor plant. It is important to let the soil dry out between waterings and also to pot it in a well-draining soil mix.

What is well-draining soil? In this post linked here, I share a simple soil mix recipe for making your own houseplant soil mix with adequate well-draining materials. Check it out!

As for the light requirements, the ZZ Plant is really very undemanding. It survives in darker spots as well as in bright indirect light. This makes it the perfect plant to fill any corner of your living space that would be too dark for many other plants. The only light it shouldn’t be in is intense direct sunlight.

But as a side-note here: Put in a dark corner, your ZZ Plant won’t grow much and it will probably look exactly the same for months and months. If you want it to grow and thrive, it does need some brighter light (after all, it is a plant, right!).

Tip: To find out how much light there is exactly at certain spots in your home, you can use a lightmeter. Many plant care apps have lightmeters integrated and they will even tell you what plant would be suitable for which spot. Check out what the best 7 free plant care apps are here!

A Zamioculcas’ Guide to Happiness: Care Tips

Our ZZ Plant is a true all-rounder when it comes to plant care. It will forgive you many mistakes, irregularities in watering, or inadequate lighting. If there is anything it doesn’t tolerate well at all, then it is overwatering.

Here are the major care tips to keep in mind for Zamioculcas zamiifolia:

  • Do not overwater: This is by far the most important advice! Let the soil dry out completely before watering it again. In moderate temperatures, it can do 2-3 weeks without water while in hotter summer days you might have to check the soil every week.
  • Give it enough support: The thick stems of the ZZ Plant can grow pretty tall. It happens often, that they grow way taller and what their pot can take, hence they fall over. To avoid them from toppling over, give them a support pole or make sure they lean securely against a wall or piece of furniture.
  • Do not place it in direct sunlight: The ZZ Plant can do with any light except harsh direct sunlight, this will burn its leaves. Anywhere else works, but no direct sun please.
  • Wipe dust off: Occasionally give your ZZ Plant a swipe over its leaves to clear off the dust. This enhances its photosynthetic activity as more light gets through to the inside of the leaves. Use a light cloth or brush for dustwiping.

How to Propagate Zamioculcas zamiifolia

The propagation of Zamioculcas is just as easy as caring for it. The easiest way is to take stem cuttings and place them in water until they take root. That usually takes about 2-3 weeks. Once it has grown roots, you can plant it in a new pot.

Other propagation methods are leave cuttings or dividing up the whole plant into several plants by dividing the rhizome.

ZZ Plant Superpowers

The plant species Zamioculcas zamiifolia has evolved over millions of years. It is supposedly one of the few prehistoric plant species still present today. The ZZ Plant has grown its thick, lush leaves already when dinosaurs still roamed our Planet. If having adapted so well as to survive millions of years of changing environments is not a super power, then I don’t know what else is!

Related Questions

What Do Plants Need?

Plants need the sun and water, as we all know. Is that it? Not by far! Plants need a variety of nutrients and other factors all working together to create a livable space for their green leaves to flourish. Discover in my post what it is that plants need and how you can make them happy.

Why Do Houseplants Need Drainage Holes?

The purpose of drainage holes is to mimic the flow of water from the ground outdoors in an enclosed pot. Without drainage, your houseplant won’t last for long as it will be constantly sitting in water. Not many plants tolerate that. Find out why in my post about why drainage is an essential plant need and how you can create good drainage in any type of pot!

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