Zamioculca or ZZ plant, a plant indigenous to Africa, grown for its attractive and glossy foliage is easy to care for and maintain. The roots consist of rhizomes that can store water, helping make the plant very drought tolerant.
It is a plant that grows slowly, reaching sizes of up to almost 3 feet tall and wide, with wand-like branches with smooth, shiny, green leaves that can be between 2 – 6 inches long. While it does flower on occasion, the flowers are not very attractive.
It is particularly suited for open rooms where its foliage can brighten up the room and is often mistaken to be an artificial plant by people because the leaves look so glossy and green, almost artificial.
ZZ plants can grow well in indirect bright and low light conditions as well as the direct sun if grown outdoors, although some leaf scalding and leaf discoloration might occur. The lighting conditions it will tolerate make it ideal to grow anywhere, even windowless rooms and bathrooms.
ZZ plants can tolerate a lot of neglect so water once every fortnight. Just like cacti, they prefer less instead of more watering and survive literally for weeks without water. The plant can die as a result of over-watering – the leaves will turn yellow, indicating that the rhizomes might be beginning to rot.
This is not a big issue as the plant is not sensitive to variances in humidity levels, although high humidity levels may attract pests and low humidity might cause the leaf tips to turn brown. The average household humidity level of 40% is fine.
The plant can thrive in temperatures between 65°-75°F. Avoid big temperature variances indoors, even if this plant is almost indifferent to temperature fluctuations.
ZZ plants can grow perfectly well without being fed, although it will benefit from a small boost by feeding them half the usual dose of all-purpose fertilizer two times in summer.
It will thrive in any type of well-draining soil mix. Cacti soil mix is also good for growing ZZ plants. Select a pot with large draining holes.
ZZ plants can be repotted once in 2-3 years, in spring or summer, depending on how fast it grows and/or pot’s size, as it doesn’t like to be root-bound (no plant does). There will be some indication of this if you see the leaves turning yellow or rhizomes exposed and the plant stops growing. If this happens, repot immediately, dividing the plant if necessary.
When repotting, it’s always better to pick a pot bigger than the previous one. Prepare the plant for repotting by watering it well in the evening before loosening the soil. Ease the plant gently from the pot, using a knife to help free it if it is difficult to remove.
Examine the roots and trim any dead roots. Before placing the plant, fill the new pot with a little soil and fill the gaps around with soil. Water well when this is done.
ZZ plants don’t require much pruning overall as they won’t help promote plant growth. Dead or yellow leaves should be removed and an occasional long branch trimmed for aesthetic appearances.
ZZ plants are usually reproduced by separating the rhizomes or by cuttings since roots and rhizomes are produced slowly. Take a cutting with two leaves on it, let the cut end dry for a little while for a callus to form, and plant it in a pot with a well-draining soil mix, similar to what cacti use. It has to be placed in indirect bright light to help it take root.
Please note that propagation from cuttings often takes a while, sometimes several months, for the roots and rhizomes to form, so you will have to be patient.
Dividing the rhizomes is much better and faster but it must be noted that ZZ plants don’t produce new rhizomes very often, so your options are limited here. This method of propagation is best done when you are repotting the plant.
While ZZ plants can thrive on neglect, the leaves should be wiped free from dust occasionally, which will also prevent pests. Avoid using any leaf shine sprays or liquid.
This plant is very easy to care for and requires little or no regular maintenance. However, some issues might affect its growth and need to be looked into.
Yellow leaves are normally an indication of over-watering the plant, usually appearing in lower older leaves. Another sign of over-watering is if you see the stalks falling over due to the stems becoming rotten and soft, while leaf curling indicates that the plant is not getting enough water. Ensure you follow the recommended watering schedule.
This can be accompanied by leaf browning, droopy stems, and lack of growth. This condition can also be due to the plant receiving too much sunlight. Brown leaf tips can also be caused by low humidity. Ensure the plant is not in direct sunlight and humidity levels are not too low or high.
No new leaf growth is normally caused by insufficient lighting conditions for the plant. However, this can also happen when the plant gets root bound in the pot, often indicated by exposed rhizomes. This condition can also happen if the plant is fertilized too much.
While the ZZ plant is generally free from pests, some pests such as mites, whiteflies, aphids, mealybugs, and gnats can attack it. Prevent pest infestation by monitoring your plant regularly, checking underneath leaves, and never over-water it. Neem oil is excellent for dealing with pests and spraying the plant with a solution of this will help solve your pest problem. Regular wiping of leaves will help keep the plant free from dust as well as pests.