If you’re a fan of indoor plants with shiny, upright-facing leaves that also happen to be really easy to take care of, then ZZ plants should definitely be at the top of your list! These perennials have become very popular house plants – frankly, they’ve left a positive impression on me, too.
But do you know necessarily how to care for a ZZ plant for the best? It took me a little time to hit my stride, but thankfully, caring for these stunning plants is a breeze once you know how.
Below, I share with you some tips and tricks on how to make the most of your ZZ plant – and keep it firmly installed as a focal point for time to come.
What are ZZ plants?
As mentioned above, ZZ plants are perennials, meaning that this plant should thrive for several years in a row with good care.
ZZ plants, or Zamioculas zamiifolia, are native to Eastern Africa and have since become very popular plants to have in one’s home. They’re also known as Zanzibar gems and aroid palms.
These plants have oval-shaped leaves that look and feel slightly waxy, bursting forth in a stunning, dark green colour.
What partly makes these plants so great for homes is that they are incredibly drought-tolerant, thanks to their rhizomes. They have stems in the soil that help them grow roots and shoots and store water and nutrients. So, if you happen to forget to water it once or twice, your ZZ will likely be quite forgiving.
Where should I place my ZZ plant?
Your ZZ plant should stay in a relatively warm area of your home. They do best in spaces between 15 C and about 30 C, so neither too hot nor too cold.
Ideally, it should also experience average humidity – so if the room gets a little dry in the heat or winter, it may be worth investing in a humidifier or a diffuser.
ZZ plants thrive in indirect sunlight. Should the room not have a decent window, you’ll be happy to know that they even grow well in fluorescent lighting – great if you want to brighten up your kitchen or home office.
Indirect sunlight also means you should never house your ZZs too close to windows if you can help it. Its leaves are at risk of burning in direct rays, meaning you can literally kill these specimens with kindness if you’re not careful.
While ZZ plants always need light, but it doesn’t have to be sunlight. One of the main reasons people love them so much is that they fare brilliantly in low-light rooms! It’s one of our top picks for the best bathroom plants that don’t need sunlight.
How often should I water a ZZ plant?
ZZ plants only need watering every two to three weeks. It’s best to let the soil dry out completely before watering the plant again, so it’s worth giving the potting mix a poke with your finger every so often. If it’s still moist, it’ll fare for a little while longer. If it’s getting dry, time to top up on some H2O.
If you notice that your ZZ plant’s leaves are wilting, or going wrinkly, then it’s definitely time to water it.
On the other hand, if you notice that the leaves are yellowing or going mushy, then you’re definitely watering too much, and you may need to check for root rot!
It is worth noting that the brighter the space the ZZ plant is in, the more likely it will need watering frequently.
When watering your ZZ plant, I’d always recommend using dechlorinated water. Either pour a jug full from the tap and leave to sit overnight, or use a water filter to remove impurities. The purer the water, the better your ZZ will grow.
Do ZZ plants like humidity?
ZZ plants like a touch of humidity, but they can pretty much handle what we can. So, as long as your home is neither too moist nor too arid, it’ll likely fare fine over the months. Even if it’s a bit on the dry side, it should be OK.
However, as mentioned above, should your ZZ be in a really dry spot, or you’re experiencing a hosepipe ban situation, then it’s worth introducing a humidifier or a diffuser, or even adding plants around it that can help to manage the atmosphere.
ZZ plants fare well in bathrooms where things can get seriously humid, too – just make sure to aerate the space every once in a while.
Can I propagate ZZ plants?
Yes – and as it happens, it’s not that tricky to start. I recommend propagating ZZ plants by using stem cuttings for the fastest growing results.
All you have to do is start by cutting off a stalk at the base of the plant. It’s best to make it a straight cut and use a sanitized knife to avoid cross-contamination.
Then, place the stem directly in water, remembering to change the water every three or four weeks. Always place ZZ cuttings next to a window, out of direct sunlight, but in a bright spot.
Once your cutting has grown a rhizome (a bulb shape at the base), and at least an inch of new roots, you can repot it in a new growth medium.
Ideally, use a nursery-style pot with good-sized drainage holes at the bottom, filling with about two inches of potting soil inside. Carefully transfer your ZZ into the pot and compact more soil around it to keep it supported.
Once the stem is in the soil, water it well around the pot, and your new ZZ plant should be ready to grow. You can also use leaf cuttings to divide and propagate a ZZ plant, but this process will generally take longer.
Simply cut off a leaf as close to the stalk as you can get, ideally bringing a small piece of the stem with the leaf. Then, place the leaf directly into potting mix, about 1cm inside.
Water the pot and let it soak, and water it again as soon as the soil is dry, roughly every two weeks.
It should take about three months, but soon enough, you’ll have a new ZZ plant growing and thriving.
How tall can ZZ plants grow?
A healthy ZZ plant can grow anywhere from two to three feet high and wide. ZZ plants in fantastic condition can grow even taller, although this is pretty rare.
In any case, I’d recommend you plan for space just in case. You never really know how big these beauties will get! To encourage and manage growth make sure you know how to prune your zz plant.
It can take a ZZ plant about three to five years to reach its adult height, although some have been known to spurt up pretty fast. Again, all specimens will vary in terms of how fast and how large they can stretch.
ZZ plants are stunning specimens that I personally love to show off. They’re some of the hardiest plants to house in humid spaces but do remember to keep them away from too much sun.
Otherwise, follow the tips listed above, and you’ll have a gorgeous array of ZZs to enjoy for years to come!