If you’re looking for a low-maintenance houseplant that can survive periods of neglect or a travel-filled life, check out the ZZ plant. These plants are known for their hardy growth form as well as exquisite foliage and stems that reach skyward. When you take all this into account, it’s no surprise they’re one of the most popular plants for delivery!
While caring for ZZ plants is easy, that doesn’t mean these plants are impossible to kill. Keep reading to learn more about these stunning houseplants as well as how to make them as happy as possible.
About ZZ Plants
ZZ plants get their common name from their scientific name Zamioculcas zamiifolia. You may also hear people refer to these plants as Zanzibar gems or aroid palms. The former alludes to the plant’s native range in Eastern Africa while the latter refers to the fact that they belong to the aroid family (Araceae) and have foliage that slightly resembles palm branches.
These herbaceous perennials grow 18–48 inches tall and sport many leaves that grow directly from the base of the plant. Each long leaf is covered with oblong shiny leaflets that grow 2–6 inches long.
Rather than growing from roots, the ZZ plant emerges from a succulent underground rhizome. This fleshy rhizome is one of the reasons why ZZ plants can tolerate and even thrive in periods of drought.
Caring for Indoor ZZ Plants
Want to make sure your ZZ plant thrives indoors? Then follow these care tips!
Choosing Potting Soil
If there’s one thing that gardeners often get wrong when it comes to growing ZZ plants, it’s choosing the wrong potting soil. These plants hate sitting in wet soil which means they require a potting mix that offers excellent drainage. However, the mix should also be able to hold a bit of moisture as well as nutrients.
A peat-based or coco-coir-based potting soil is often a good choice. Both of these materials hold water without becoming saturated or compacted. Materials like perlite, pumice, sand, and pine bark fines will further increase drainage and keep the ZZ plants happy.
While ZZ plants have a reputation for being able to survive in low-light areas, they actually thrive in spaces with bright yet indirect light. That’s not to say they can’t survive in dim areas, but you shouldn’t expect super happy plants if you place them in a dim corner or dark office.
So, what does the ideal environment look like? The interior of a room with lots of windows is a good choice. Other suitable options include a few feet away from a south-facing window or next to a west-facing window.
You should avoid placing a ZZ plant in an area where it receives direct light. That means keeping it off of south-facing windowsills.
As mentioned above, ZZ plants hate sitting in wet soil. They tolerate soil that is a bit too dry much better than that which is a lil’ too wet. That means you should be conservative when it comes to watering!
The frequency at which you’ll need to water your ZZ plants will depend on numerous factors. These include temperature, humidity, soil type, time of year, and more. However, if you’re using a well-draining soil mix you can expect to water your plants once every two to three weeks.
There are numerous ways you can check the soil moisture level. One easy way is to stick your finger into the top few inches of soil and feel if it is wet. If the top two inches of soil is still moist, hold off on watering. You can also monitor via a soil moisture meter and water when the meter reads dry.
When you water, make sure to thoroughly soak the soil. If excess water collects in a drainage dish, make sure to empty it after watering.
Temperature and Humidity
Like most houseplants, ZZ plants prefer temperature and humidity that resembles that present in their native habitat. That means keeping the air temperature between 65–85ºF and the humidity at a moderate level.
You should also avoid placing your ZZ plants near both hot and cold drafts. This means keeping them away from heating and air conditioning vents, exterior doors, and fireplaces.
Caring for Outdoor ZZ Plants
While ZZ plants are primarily grown as houseplants, they can also survive outdoors in some areas. One popular option is to keep potted ZZ plants indoors during the cool winter months and then move them outside when the weather warms.
If you move your plants between indoors and outdoors, it’s imperative that you slowly acclimate them to their new home. Just think about it—popping a plant from a sheltered indoor environment to a windy and bright location can be a bit stressful! It’s best to move your plant outdoors for a few hours a day and then slowly increase the time it remains outside.
When you’re choosing an outdoor location, make sure the ZZ plant remains out of direct sunlight. A shady porch or a garden with dappled light are some suitable locations.
Common Pests and Diseases
Another part of keeping your ZZ plant healthy is keeping an eye out for common pests and diseases…and treating them ASAP. With that in mind, look out for the following.
Numerous sap-sucking pests like to pierce the ZZ plant’s leaves and drink their sweet sap. Specific pests include aphids, thrips, spider mites, whiteflies, and mealy bugs.
While a few of these pests generally aren’t a large problem, they can quickly multiply and stress out the plant. Therefore, it’s best to regularly check your plant for pests and remove the pesky critters as soon as you see even one!
If you spot only a few aphids or thrips, you can wipe them off with a soapy rag. However, if you spot a large infestation, you may need to spray the pests with neem oil or insecticidal soap.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again…ZZ plants hate wet soil! If these plants spend time sitting in saturated soils their roots are likely to rot.
Root rot refers to numerous fungal diseases that show up as soft and mushy roots or rhizomes. While root rot can occur in a variety of environmental conditions, it is much more likely to occur when the soil remains moist.
Rotten roots are one obvious sign of root rot, but you might spot above-ground signs first. If you notice your plant’s leaves are turning yellow or wilting, it’s a good idea to check for root rot.
If you notice this disease is present, decrease the amount you water. You may also need to repot your plant in a potting mix that provides better drainage.
Popular Varieties of ZZ Plants
If you’re not sure which type of ZZ plant to grow, check out these popular varieties.
- ‘Raven’ has deep purple leaves that almost appear black. These plants max out at about two and a half feet tall.
- ‘Original’ is perhaps the most common variety of ZZ plant. It has dark green leaves and grows about three to four feet tall.
- ‘Zenzi’ is a dwarf green-leaved variety that rarely grows over a foot tall.
- ‘Variegated’ has green leaves that are streaked with white, light green, or yellow. This is a rare type that may take a bit of work to track down.
Enrich Your Life with Plants and Flowers
When it comes to plants and flowers, we don’t think there’s a thing as too many. If you’d like to learn more about caring for plants besides ZZ plants, check out snake plant care as well as guide to caring for bougainvilleas.
And when it comes time to bring some beauty into your home (or into others’ lives) with flowers, look no further than The Bouqs Co.! We work directly with farmers to offer sustainably-sourced flowers, which means beautiful blooms that you can admire and feel about purchasing. So whether you’re looking for next day flower delivery, just because flowers, or a happy birthday bouquet, check out what we have to offer.Shop All