ZZ plants (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) typically live between five and ten years when kept indoors (I have one in my collection currently that’s around 7 years old and is thriving). However, the environment the plant is kept in and the care it receives can impact how long it lives. As long as you provide your ZZ plant with excellent care, it can live for over 20 years or more.
What Is the Natural Life Cycle of a ZZ Plant in the Wild?
In the wild, ZZ plants often grow in clumps. While the plants can produce flowers and spread via seed, they also spread via underground stems called rhizomes. Sometimes, stems reach downwards and eventually root into the ground.
Since ZZ plants readily spread and appear connected, it’s sometimes difficult to tell when one plant dies. With that said, individual ZZ plants often live over ten years.
ZZ plants can live over 20 years indoors. However, most plants typically die after five to ten years.
Improper care, pest outbreaks, and disease can all cause a ZZ plant to die. Therefore, caring for your plant and protecting it from harm is the best way to keep it alive.
Key Factors That Contribute to the Longevity of ZZ Plants
Numerous factors relating to environment and care can impact how long a ZZ plants live. Keep the following in mind to help your plant live as long as possible.
ZZ plants can handle a variety of types of light. However, they do best in lots of bright yet indirect sunlight.
While they can survive in shaded areas, they will not thrive. Additionally, direct sunlight can harm the plant’s leaves.
For more, see our in-depth guide on where to position ZZ plants in the home.
Temperature and Humidity
ZZ plants like warm temperatures and will suffer in the cold. Aim to keep the air temperature between 65ºF and 85ºF. You should also avoid large swings in temperature and drafts.
As far as humidity goes, average humidity will suffice.
ZZ plants will not do well in waterlogged soils. Therefore, they prefer potting soil that provides plenty of aeration and drainage.
A standard peat or coco coir-based potting mix is often a good choice. You can also mix in extra perlite or pine bark to increase drainage.
Here’s our guide to the best ZZ plant soil mix.
ZZ plants can tolerate dry soil and even periods of drought. That means it’s important to not overwater. However, you should avoid letting your ZZ plant’s soil become completely dry.
A good rule of thumb is to water your ZZ plant when the top two to three inches of soil is dry. You can use your finger to check the soil’s moisture.
Environmental factors, including light, temperature, and time of the year, will impact how often you need to water your plant. The size of the plant and the size of the pot can also affect the ideal watering frequency. With that said, expect to water once every two to three weeks.
When you water, make sure to soak the soil thoroughly. If excess water runs out of the pot’s drainage holes, remove it from the catch dish so the soil does not soak it back up.
ZZ plants like to be a bit snug in their pots, so you don’t need to repot your plant as soon as it fills up its container. However, if you notice your plant’s roots are growing out and the bottom of the soil is not absorbing water, it’s time to repot.
Choose a pot that is a few inches larger in diameter than the original. You should also shake off excess potting soil and use a fresh mix when planting.
For more, see our in-depth guide on when and how to repot ZZ plants.
ZZ plants don’t require much fertilizer, but they can benefit from light feeding. Choose a balanced houseplant fertilizer and apply it once a month in the spring and summer.
Be sure to not apply fertilizer too often, as this can stress the plant. It’s better to opt for less fertilizer than for more.
Pests and Diseases
While root rot can occur in various conditions, it is much more common in wet soil. This is especially true since ZZ plants like dry soil.
The best way to prevent root rot is by using a pot with drainage holes, choosing a well-draining soil mix, and watering only when the soil is dry.
As far as pests go, keep an eye out for sap-sucking pests like aphids, thrips, mealybugs, and spider mites, which can cause a range of problems to the plant’s health, such as drooping, wilting, and yellowing ZZ plant leaves. You can remove these pests with a wet, soapy, or rag. Alternatively, you can spray the pests with insecticidal soap.
How Long ZZ Plants Live For – The Final Word
ZZ plants are an easy-to-care-for plant that can handle a bit of neglect. However, if you want your plant to live as long as possible, you’ll need to provide excellent care. The average life of a ZZ plant is five to ten years, but they can live upwards of 20 years.
For more, see our in-depth guide to growing and caring for ZZ plants at home.
Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.