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Botanic Garden > Houseplants > Plant Care > ZZ House Plant

ZZ House Plant

2016/8/13 17:08:24
Picture of zz plant

The ZZ is a rhizome plant that's a real joy to grow and to have displayed within a home. Many people mention it's a slow grower, however, one I grew one a few years go that only took about 3 years to grow stems as long as 2ft, which is not that slow. I think how quick it grows will depend on how much sun light the plant gets (do not allow the plant to sit in direct sunlight - though).

As mentioned above the plant tolerates low light, bright light and different levels of watering. However, watering depends on how much light it receives (i.e., less light = less water and more light = more water).

How it looks: The ZZ plant grows similar to tree plants or palms and has stems with many leaves growing from these stems. The leaves are a fleshy type which are only a couple of inches in length and an inch or so wide. Some of these stems from the same plant grow straight up and then others arch over, which may encourage you to prune odd looking stems to keep the plant looking full and shaped well.

Flowering: The ZZ plant does produce small flowers at the base of the plant when it's grown in it's own habitat or outdoors. The flower is a spathe type with a spadix that is not easily seen even when it does grow - because leaves can hide the flowers and they grow at the base of the stems.

Displaying: I can't say the zz plant is that fussy about where it is displayed. The place where it grows just needs to be able to accommodate it's size in diameter, which can become over 2ft once it matures - making a table area a nice place to display the plant.

Poisonous: All parts of this plant are said to be toxic if ingested by children, cats and dogs.


Origin: Africa Names: ZZ plant (common). Zamioculcas zamiifolia (botanical/scientific). Max Growth (approx): Stems length 3ft (30 cm). Poisonous for pets: Toxic to cats and dogs. ZZ plant on shelf picture

ZZ Plant Care

Temperature: Average warmth is fine of approximately 60-75°F (15-24°C) and no lower than 45°F (8°C). Light: Bright light is good but not essential. The zamioculcas zamiifolia grows fine with low levels of light, but it's best to avoid direct sunlight. Watering: Allow the soil to become dry at the top to the touch between watering and do not over water. It's best to water this plant less than too much because over-watering can cause stem and rhizome rot. Soil: Most well draining potting mixes will suffice that contains a high amount of perlite or sand within the mix (you can add more perlite or sand if needed to a mix that is bought). Good drainage holes at the bottom of the pot is essential. Re-Potting: I would re-pot the zz plant once a year at the beginning of spring, especially during the first 3 - 5 years - whilst it's growing up. Fertilizer: During the main growing season (April - August) feed with a balanced liquid fertilizer which is diluted, once a month. Humidity: Average house humidity is advised but increase humidity if the artificial heating within the home or workplace is quite dry. Propagation: You may propagate by dividing rhizomes or with leaf cuttings. Leaf cuttings have to be placed in a pot with a plastic covering and then the wait for roots to begin growing, which could take up to a year. Pruning: Cut away leaflets that are turning yellow near the base of a stem. Once a stem has grown much longer than all other stems you can remove that stem or cut it to size at the tip. The problem with cutting it to size at the tip is it can look quite odd, so removing it completely might be the best option.

Potential Problems

The zz plant is a tough cookie and will survive a certain amount of neglect. The easiest mistake to make and most common is overwatering.

  • Lower leaves turning yellow: A small amount of lower leaves turning yellow and falling is quite normal. If many leaves are turning yellow - check that your not overwatering.

  • Leaf tips turning brown: The cause is likley to be dry air and low humidity. Misting the leaves can help improve humidity.

  • Leaves turning brown: Overwatering is the the most common cause here, especially if the leaflet feels a bit damp and not dry.

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