Getting to Know Your ZZ Plant
Introducing: The ZZ Plant!
The ZZ is an old reliable in the Plant parenthood community. Tolerant of low light, forgotten waterings, and dry air, the ZZ is a laid-back, indestructible beauty that thrives on neglect. Also known as the Zanzibar Gem, the ZZ originates from east Africa, allowing it to grow happily in drier conditions. Their deep green and waxy leaves grow in a symmetrical pattern along the main stems, and its new growth is a bright green that brilliantly contrasts against the mature leaves. It's a versatile plant that can make for a great desk plant when it's smaller, and can eventually grow into an amazing floor plant.
The Basics of ZZ Plant Care
When it comes to lighting, the ZZ plant isn't too picky. So long as the plant isn't baking in the direct sun, you're pretty much good to go. While this plant can handle a some low light, it thrives best in medium to bright indirect light. Your ZZ will be happy with a minimum of six hours per day of bright, indirect light and can tolerate up to 12 during the warmer months.
If you know that your windows face South or West, place the plant behind sheer curtains or in a spot where the ZZ can appreciate the sunlight so long as it's not in the direct sunlight. If your only permenant spot for the ZZ is is low-light, maybe give itsome sun baths! Let it soak up some bright sun for a few hours every few days and you plant will be happy!
The ZZ plant is a succulent in disguise! Special tuberous roots called rhizomes store water for the plant, so it won't need to be watered all that frequently. These rhizomes make it possible to forget a few waterings. ZZs are sensitive to root rot, so be sure to feel the soil for dryness before you water. It's best to wait until you see that the soil is receding from the edges of the planter.
Avoid sticking to a strict schedule and make sure to always feel the soil before you water. If it’s dry 3-4” from the top, it’s time for a drink! Water slowly and thoroughly until you see water draining from the holes in the bottom of your pot. Don't be afraid to have a bit of a heavy hand! Since you won't be watering the ZZ as often as your other plants, make sure to stay aware and keep an eye on the plant for any signs of dryness! Drooping and wrinkly foliage, bone-dry soil, and wrinkled leaves are all indicators of a thirsty ZZ.
Though slow-growing, the ZZ plant commonly reaches 2 to 4 feet tall and wide when grown indoors, but this varies with each inidivdual plant and environment. It usually takes three to five years to grow to its full size, though some grow faster and can gain six or so inches per season.
The ZZ plant is highly sought after for being so low-maintenance, and that easy care extends to repotting. Generally, you’ll only need to repot your ZZ plant every two to three years. When potting the ZZ, be sure to use a loose potting mix in a container that has drainage holes so the water can escape. Soil mixed with perlite or sand usually works best, but a succulent soil mix can also work as a last resort. You'll know it's time to repot your ZZ if the roots crack open the nursey pot. (Yes, that can happen...so keep an eye out!) If the roots start to come out of the drainge hole, that is another clear indicator that it's time to repot!
While not all plants are suitable for propagation, the cool thing about the ZZ plant is that it can easily be propagated. It's the gift that keeps on giving! Start by cutting a stalk at the base of your ZZ plant. Snip a few inches above the soil with a sanitized knife and then place it into a jar of water. Change out the water whenever it gets murky and soon you'll see roots start to develop! Keep the ZZ cutting near a window where it can receive bright, indirect light. Sunlight is the best way to encourage your ZZ cutting to grow. Once the roots reach about 2-3 inches long, you can go ahead and repot it. There you have it, you've got yourself another ZZ plant!
All parts of the ZZ plant are toxic if consumed by humans or animals, so keep these plants away from curious young children and pets! If you are an extra cautious plant parent, you can place coffee, orange peels, or vinegar near plant to keep pets away.
Typically, changing your potted plants' soil should be done every 12-18 months, but the timing varies depending on plant and conditions. Your ZZ will thrive best in a nutrient-rich and porous soil mix. This plant loves good drainage and a soil mixture containing things like prumice, perlite, or wood chips that provide the extra drainage they need. If your plant isn't growing as expected, take a look at the current soil you're using and consider switching it to another!
This plant can handle a lot, but even the ZZ has it's limits. While the intentions are good, overwatering your plants is one of the most common killers and does much more harm than any good. Therefore, it's important to take the right steps when watering in order to avoid potential root rot in your ZZ plant. If you notice that the stems and leaves start to yellow or recent droopy stalks that will no longer stand up on their own, you have most likely overwatered your ZZ. Don't stress! This can still be fixed depending on how much you overwatered it. You'll want to start by letting your soil dry out completely and then repotting it into new soil in a well draining pot with a drainage hole. Be aware, your ZZ plant may not recover depending how much water it recieved. If this happens, don't worry, you'll know for next time! In general, it's important to let the soil dry out completely in between waterings to avoid root rot.
We're here to grow with you!
No matter what experience level Plant Parent we consider ourselves to be, we can all use a little help sometimes. We know you love your plants and just want the best for them! If you want to triple check and make sure that you are doing the right thing, or if you just have a general plant question, send a photo and your comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Plant Experts are always ready to help!
Contact our Plant Experts