ZZ Plant Care: A Simple Guide for Healthy Growth

In this guide, I’ll run through my essential ZZ plant care tips for optimal growth and healthy, happy plants. What’s great is the ZZ plant is generally a low-maintenance houseplant, and with a few well-followed pointers, yours can thrive in a range of living environments.

The Ultimate Guide to ZZ plants

ZZ Plant Care – Key Takeaways:

  1. ZZ plants hate overwatering. Allow the soil to dry out almost completely between waterings, and then thoroughly water the plant until water drains out of the bottom of the pot. Never allow the plant to sit in standing water.
  2. Whilst ZZ plants can tolerate low-light conditions, they thrive in bright, indirect light.
  3. ZZ plants do best in average room temperatures between 60°F to 75°F. Avoid exposing them to drafts or extreme temperature fluctuations.
  4. ZZ plants need well-draining soil to prevent soggy roots. Use a well-balanced potting mix that allows excess water to drain freely.
  5. Never over-fertilize a ZZ plant, as this can lead to leaf burn. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half-strength or a slow-release fertilizer.

How to Grow ZZ Plants at Home (for Indoor Plants) 

ZZ plants in room with lots of bright, indirect sunlight

Before growing an indoor Zamioculcas zamiifolia plant, you’ll want to ensure you have all the right tools. Read on to learn what to do before planting, the materials and tools you’ll need, and how to plant your ZZ to keep the species happy and thriving. With due care and attention, ZZ plants can live for years.

What to Do Before Planting 

Here are some steps you’ll want to take before purchasing your new ZZ plant.

  • Purchase an appropriate pot and saucer to repot your ZZ plant if needed.
  • Ensure you have the correct tools and soil mix for your ZZ plant. These details are listed below.
  • Find a space in your home to plant the ZZ, ensuring optimal conditions for the plant to thrive. This plant is highly resilient, so it should work well in most areas of your home.

How to Plant ZZ Plants

Your ZZ plant is a resilient and hardy evergreen species, making it an ideal choice for first-time plant owners. With that said, you’ll want to ensure the following conditions when planting your ZZ.

  • Terracotta pots and planters are the most suitable choice for your ZZ plant. Ensure the container you choose has at least one drainage hole to eliminate excess water. 
  • The pot or planter you choose for your ZZ plant should be about one inch larger than its previous container. 
  • This plant is slow-growing. Unless its roots bulge out of its current container or appear to be root-bound, you do not need to repot the plant immediately. You also do not need to repot more often than once every year or two.

The Best Soil Mix for ZZ Plants

ZZ plant on a work desk

ZZ plants grow best in well-draining compost or potting soil. Mix a standard houseplant soil with sand or perlite, or use a cactus potting mix. The key is to allow excess water to drain from the soil so your plant does not develop root rot. 

For more, see our essential guide to the best soil mix for ZZ plants.

How Big Do ZZ Plants Grow?

Zamioculcas zamiifolia plants usually grow to be around three feet tall. However, the dwarf variety will typically stay under two feet. Some larger plants can reach up to five feet in height, although this is rare. 

ZZ Plant Light Preferences 

ZZ plant in a bright living room
Credit: Leon & George

Your ZZ plant loves medium to low indirect lighting. For this reason, many people buy the plant to place in low-light spots other plants won’t tolerate. You can place the species virtually anywhere throughout your house, avoiding locations that receive direct sunlight throughout the day. 

For more, see our in-depth guide to the best light conditions for ZZ plants.

Temperature & Humidity Preferences:

ZZ plants thrive in a range of temperature and humidity conditions. They prefer average indoor temperatures that range from 65 to 85 degrees F. They prefer drier conditions and grow well in a humidity range between 40 and 50 percent, typical for many households.


How to Care for ZZ Plants

ZZ plant in stylish pot
Credit: Bloomscape

Next, it’s time to discover how to keep your ZZ plant healthy and beautiful. This plant is famed for its low-maintenance nature, so it will tolerate your care methods as you learn its preferred conditions.

Watering preferences 

Your ZZ plant needs minimal water. You’ll only need to water your ZZ plant every three weeks to one month. You may need to water more often if the plant receives more light exposure. Let the soil completely dry between waterings, and don’t give in to the temptation to over-water. This plant grows slowly and needs minimal hydration to keep its lively appearance.

Feeding preferences

Unsurprisingly, your Zamioculcas zamiifolia plant is also tolerant of minimal feeding conditions. In fact, the plant does not need much fertilizer, if any, to stay happy. If you’d like, you can use a half-strength fertilizer to feed the ZZ plant once or twice a year during warmer months.

Pruning ZZ plants

ZZ plant in bright, green pot

Luckily, you won’t have to worry too much about pruning your ZZ plant. However, if you notice any wilting, yellowing leaves, or dying stems, you may remove them carefully with a pair of shears. 

Since this species is considered toxic to humans, we recommend wearing gardening gloves to avoid skin irritation when pruning your ZZ plant. Remember to wash your hands after handling any part of your ZZ plant. 

ZZ Plant Propagation 

So, another great thing about ZZ plants is that you can easily propagate them. However, you won’t want to do this often, as frequent propagation can damage the plant. Here are the ways you can propagate your Zamioculcas zamiifolia plant. 

Division

You can easily propagate this plant by separating its roots. Use sharp shears or a saw to separate or cut the roots into smaller plants. Then, repot the divided plants in separate containers. 

Rooting leaf or stem cuttings

Use sharp shears to take leaf or stem cuttings from a mature ZZ plant. The cuttings do best if there is some stem attached. Once you take your cuttings, allow them to heal over for an hour or so.

Then, place your cuttings in the water and put them in bright, indirect light. Wait a month or so until your cuttings develop roots. When you see roots form, you can place these new plants into their own pots or add them back in with the mother plant.

If the cutting does not stand up independently, you can use a stake and twine to keep it tall. Read on to learn how to repot cuttings or entire ZZ plants.

Here’s a great video from Nature for some more visual tips!

When and How to Repot ZZ Plants

How to re-pot a ZZ plant
Credit: Terrain

You should consider repotting your ZZ plant if it is developing a crowded root system. Here are a few tips for repotting your Zamioculcas zamiifolia. 

  • The best time to replant your ZZ is during winter while it is not actively growing.
  • Gently remove the plant from its current container, ensuring not to damage the roots, rhizomes, or foliage.
  • Place the plant in a terracotta planter around one inch bigger than its current pot. Use the same free-draining soil when repotting your ZZ plant. 
  • Once you’ve repotted the plant, water it thoroughly. After this watering, the plant likely will not need watering for at least one month.

Pest and Disease Considerations 

ZZ Plant Pest and Disease Considerations Terrain
Credit: Terrain

Your ZZ plant is unlikely to encounter many issues with pests or diseases. Here are a few rare problems you may notice: 

  • Aphids: Yellow marks may indicate that aphids have infested your plant. This pest is attracted to the ZZ plant’s sap. You can use mild soap on the leaves to remove these creatures if they infest your plant.
  • Spider mites: If you notice a spiderweb material developing around your ZZ plant’s leaves, spider mites may have infested the plant. Take the ZZ away from other houseplants and use an insecticide to eliminate the infestation.
  • Yellowing leaves: Yellow leaves are usually a sign of overwatering. If you notice discoloration in your ZZ plant’s foliage, try reducing the plant’s watering schedule.
  • Root rot: This is another symptom of overwatering. If you suspect root rot, lift the plant out of its container to inspect its root system. Gently cut away rotted areas with a pair of sharp shears. 

Common ZZ Plant Problems and How to Treat Them

ZZ Plant Common Problems and How to Treat Them

Although ZZ plants are relatively problem-free, there are a few characteristics you’ll want to keep in mind. Here are some final things to know about your ZZ plant’s care.

  • Dusting: It is good to remove dust from your ZZ plant’s leaves to maintain its glossy appearance and promote healthy aspiration. Simply use a wet cloth to gently remove dust from the plant’s foliage every week or so.
  • Toxicity: Unfortunately, ZZ plants are considered poisonous to both humans and pets. Wear gloves when handling your ZZ plant, and keep it away from curious pets or children.
  • Products to avoid: As previously mentioned, your plant’s glossy leaves give it a lush aesthetic. However, using leaf-shining products is not suitable for this plant. Avoid using commercial products to shine your plant’s leaves. Simply remove dust with water to keep it looking lush and shiny.

Essential ZZ Plant Tools

While your ZZ plant requires minimal upkeep, we’ve mentioned some tools you’ll want to have on hand throughout the article. Here is a summary of the items you’ll need for optimal care of your new ZZ plant.

  • A terra-cotta pot
  • A terracotta saucer
  • A well-draining soil mix
  • A half-strength fertilizer
  • A pair of sharp shears for pruning 
  • A pair of gloves for handling your ZZ plant
  • A stake and twine for propagating ZZ plants

About ZZ Plants

A young ZZ plant in a red pot
Credit: The Sill

The ZZ plant is also commonly called the Zanzibar gem, Zuzu plant, aroid palm, fern arum, eternity plant, or emerald palm. Before we get to its growth and care, let’s dive into some other facts about this ornamental plant. 

Origins and History

The ZZ plant is a tropical perennial plant that is native to the region of eastern Africa spanning from southern Kenya to northeastern South Africa. Over the years, this plant has become popular for its low-maintenance quality. Eventually, in 1996, Dutch nurseries began propagating the species for commercial purposes on a larger scale, and the ZZ plant earned its role as one of the most common houseplants across the globe.

Scientific Facts about ZZ Plants

The ZZ plant belongs to the genus Zamioculcas, which is a flowering plant in the Araceae family. As it turns out, the only species in this genus is the ZZ plant, known scientifically as Zamioculcas zamiifolia. Initially, only the classic green ZZ plant was sold commercially. These days, however, you’ll find several different varieties of ZZ plants in plant stores everywhere.


ZZ Plant Care FAQs:

How often should I water my ZZ plant?

ZZ plants are drought-tolerant, so letting the soil dry out between waterings is the best way to ensure these plants are not being overwatered. On average, watering every 14 to 21 days should be sufficient. Stick your finger about an inch into the ground; it’s time to water if it feels dry.

Can I place my ZZ plant in direct sunlight?

ZZ plants prefer bright, indirect light but can tolerate some direct sunlight. However, it’s best to avoid placing them in intense, direct sunlight for prolonged periods as it can scorch the leaves. Filtered or partially shaded sunlight is ideal.

How do I propagate a ZZ plant?

ZZ plants can be propagated through leaf cuttings or division. To propagate through leaf cuttings, select a healthy leaf, cut it into sections, and place them horizontally in moist soil. Keep the soil lightly moist and provide indirect light. Over time, new growth should emerge. To divide a ZZ plant, carefully separate the root clumps and repot each division in a separate container.

What should I do if my ZZ plant’s leaves turn yellow?

Yellow leaves on a ZZ plant can indicate overwatering or underwatering. Check the soil moisture level and adjust your watering routine accordingly. If the soil is waterlogged, allow it to dry out before watering again.

How do I care for ZZ plants during winter?

ZZ plants are resilient and can tolerate lower light and slightly cooler temperatures during winter. Reduce watering during the dormant period as the plant’s growth slows down. Ensure the plant is not exposed to cold drafts or extreme temperature fluctuations.


ZZ Plant Care – Final Thoughts

Buy a ZZ plant to add a low-maintenance splash of vibrance to your home. If you’ve been meaning to try plant care, this resilient species will give you the confidence you need to develop your green thumb. Whether you’re a complete beginner or an expert plant owner, the ZZ plant will make a fantastic addition to your home.

Looking for your next ZZ Plant? Check out our expert guide on Where to Buy ZZ Plants.

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