Everything You Need to Know About the Uses and Benefits of ZZ Plants
Looking for a plant that’s both Instagrammable and easy to care for? It can only be the ZZ plant! It’s easy to see why Zamioculcas zamiifolia is a favorite of indoor gardeners. This beloved houseplant is known for its glossy, dark foliage and lush texture, but it’s also one of the lowest maintenance plants around and prized for its symbolic value. But along with these qualities, ZZ plants also have a number of benefits, from cleaner, fresher air to use in Feng Shui and Zodiac plants. Read on to learn about the many benefits of ZZ plants.
About ZZ Plants
ZZ plants are beloved by indoor gardeners thanks to their ability to tolerate neglect, dry conditions, and low light. But this plant’s massive popularity isn’t new; in fact, Z. zamiifolia has been a favorite houseplant for decades.
Also known as the zuzu plant, Zanzibar gem, Zuzu plant or emerald palm, the ZZ plant is native to southern and eastern regions of Africa. It was brought to Europe by the Dutch in the 18th century; the first known publication describing the plants dates to 1829.
In the 1990s, the plant’s popularity exploded. South African nurseries started propagating ZZ plants on a large scale, and soon distribution reached across the globe.
As a houseplant, the ZZ plant’s glossy leaves, set on arching, upright stems, add a lush tropical look to any room. Its foliage is dark green and shiny, with an attractive elliptic shape. Stems are thick and grow from rhizomes. The plants can reach heights from 3 to 4 feet with a 4 to 5 foot spread under the right conditions.
ZZ plants are the only species in the genus Zamioculcas, which belongs to the Araceae family. Like many other members of the Araceae family, the ZZ plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can be toxic for humans and pets. Cultivars of Z. zamiifolia include:
- ‘Dowon’ has lime-green foliage that ages to a deep purple-black
- ‘Lucky Classic’ has foliage with rounded edges
- ‘Raven’ has dark, almost black leaves
- ‘Zamicro’ only grows to 2 feet tall
- ‘Zenzi’ has foliage with curled margins
The Benefits of ZZ Plants
Not only are ZZ plants gorgeous, but they also offer numerous benefits. They can improve your health, enhance your home’s appearance, and more.
1) Low-Maintenance / Easy Care Plant
Though ZZ plants offer many benefits, they’re perhaps best loved for their forgiving nature. With due care and attention, ZZ plants can live for years. Unlike so many other houseplants, these low-maintenance plants are straightforward to care for, can tolerate dry soil and low light conditions, and don’t require excessive pruning.
ZZ plants tolerate drought conditions thanks to their sturdy rhizomes and thick, succulent-like foliage that stores moisture efficiently. That means if you get off your watering schedule, your ZZ plant will (most likely) be fine for quite some time.
They’re slow growers, so they don’t need to be reported too often. They also don’t need a lot of fertilizer to thrive. In fact, just an application of diluted, standard houseplant fertilizer once or twice per growing season (spring and summer) is enough to combat droopy, yellowing, or slow-growing ZZ plants.
ZZ plants can also tolerate a range of temperature and humidity levels. They grow well in average indoor conditions (but don’t like temperatures under 45 degrees F) and don’t require any special humidity considerations.
Additionally, ZZ plants typically don’t have too many issues with common pests and diseases.
2) Air Purifying Properties
The air purifying properties of houseplants have long been a subject of research. In 1989, NASA released a groundbreaking study that detailed the amazing ability of plants — leaves, roots, soil and microorganisms — to remove pollutants from the air. From the contaminants found in cigarette smoke to solvents, chemicals, and volatile organic compounds such as benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene and trichloroethylene, and (of course) carbon dioxide or CO2, plants have been found to filter and clean indoor air.
Recent research backs up plant’s air purifying properties, with ZZ plants coming in as especially effective. In fact, a 2014 study comparing 15 different houseplants’ ability to remove xylene from contaminated air found that ZZ plants removed the chemicals most efficiently.
3) Use in Feng Shui
The ZZ plant plays a role in the practice of Feng Shui. Sometimes called the “fortune tree,” in Feng Shui theory, ZZ plants are associated with luck, growth, and steadfastness. They’re also associated with wealth and good fortune, in part because their shiny leaves glint like gold coins.
The ZZ plant’s growth habits also relate to luck and fortune. For instance, the leaves and stems grow in an upward direction, and the foliage is evergreen and succulent.
Like other indoor plants, ZZ plants can be placed to deflect sha, or negative energy. To help move energy within the home, place ZZ plants in corners where they can still thrive, even in low-light conditions. Use a Bagua map to find the best spots for your ZZ plant, according to Feng Shui principles.
4) Ornamental Value
ZZ plants may be known for their low maintenance needs, but they also offer ornamental value. Their upright stems, lush with glossy, dark leaves, add a tropical look to any room.
They can be pretty dramatic in appearance, as well. ZZ plants grow up to 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide, making a statement in the room. It’s no surprise that these popular plants make such a splash on social media!
5) Easy to Propagate
Want more ZZ plants? Good news: they’re quite easy to propagate. The simplest way to propagate a ZZ plant is through division. When repotting your ZZ plant, gently divide the rhizomes, then replant them in new containers.
You can also propagate by taking stem cuttings. This method takes about six to nine months but isn’t difficult.
Start by sterilizing plant snips and filling a clean jar with water. Snip a whole stalk, leaflets included, from a healthy plant. Strip the bottom leaves off the stem and place the stalk in the jar of water.
Place the jar in a room-temperature spot with indirect light exposure. Change water at least once a week to prevent bacterial growth. Roots should form within six to nine months. At that point, you can pot the plant in a container with the appropriate soil mix.
6) Tolerates Varying Light Conditions
ZZ plants are famous for their tolerance of a range of light conditions. In fact, ZZ plants are among the few types of houseplants that prefer indirect light exposures.
They tolerate low light conditions, making them a good choice for shadier spots. However, they may appear leggy if they don’t get enough light. Never place a ZZ plant in direct sun, which may lead to leaf scorch.
7) Drought Resistant & Low Water Consumption
In the ZZ plant’s natural habitat, they evolved to tolerate drought. Their thick rhizomes and leaves are great at holding on to moisture. This means the plants can go weeks between waterings.
Just water a ZZ plant once the soil has dried out. It’s better to under- than over-water a ZZ plant.
8) Stress Reduction
It’s no secret that plants improve a home’s aesthetics. But did you know that plants can make you happier, too? Studies indicate that being surrounded by greenery and working with plants reduces stress and anxiety, decreases depression, and improves mood.
But plant health benefits go even further. Indoor plants have been found to increase productivity, improve attitudes, and spark creativity. One study of plants in the workplace found that feelings of well-being and creativity rose by 15 percent when plants were introduced.
ZZ plants are a great choice for a workplace, including a home office, thanks to their easy-care nature. Plants offer a natural way to reduce stress, enhance mood and spark inspiration.
It’s easy to see why ZZ plants are such as popular choice for indoor gardeners. Of course, their ornamental value is a considerable plus; ZZ plants install lend a lush, tropical look to any room and make a great choice for low-light conditions. Under the auspices of Feng Shui, ZZ plants can help divert negative energy and turn thoughts into good fortune and growth.
They also offer health benefits, cleaning the air of contaminants and helping reduce stress and anxiety. Finally, ZZ plants’ low-maintenance nature means they’re a forgiving choice for houseplant enthusiasts at all levels.
If you’re looking for your next ZZ plant, see our in-depth guide to the best plant shops delivering ZZ plants nationwide.
Linsay is an American copywriter based in the Pacific Northwest with a background in academic writing and research. Linsay holds Master's degree in both Anthropology and Library and Information Sciences and has written for numerous national and international publications including USA Today, SFGATE, Hunker, and The Bump across an array of topics in the gardening, green living, and travel sectors. When she's not writing, you'll usually find Linsay reading, kayaking, sailing, snowboarding, or working in her garden.