Ask any houseplant expert what the easiest plant to grow is, and 9 out of 10 will say either snake plant or ZZ plant.
Snake plants have been around forever, but ZZ plants were pretty obscure (at least in America) until recently. It seems like they came out of nowhere and are now the most popular houseplants!
So why are ZZ plants for popular? Probably because of its tolerance for drought - thanks to its roots that can store water - as well as its wide tolerance for different levels of sunlight.
And of course, they're very pretty as well. The deep green leaves are thick and glossy and the long stems are elegant. Overall, ZZ plant adds a sophisticated and tropical look to the home.
ZZ Plant Appearance
ZZ plant is mostly known for its leaves. Its nickname, Zanzibar gem, alludes to its original habitat that includes Zanzibar in Africa as well as its glossy, waxy leaves that shine like a gem.
ZZ plant's leaves are about 1-2 inches long, deep green, thick and fleshy. The shape of the leaves are round or oval and taper to a pointy end.
ZZ plant's stems are thick and fleshy and tend to arch over, especially when planted near other stems. This allows the leaves to maximize sunlight in a crowded area.
The roots of the ZZ plant are bulbous and look like mini-potatoes. The roots store water to sustain the plant during drought.
Given ideal conditions, the ZZ plant will bloom and create a spathe that looks similar to flowers from the peace lily and monstera plants. It looks like a white flower petal that covers a flower stalk with many, tiny flowers.
ZZ Plant Care
ZZ plant is known for being one of the easiest houseplants to grow due to its tolerance for a wide range of light and humidity conditions as well as drought.
ZZ plant is famously known for its tolerance for low light. However, with perpetual low light, the ZZ plant will slowly die. If you are interested in growing a ZZ plant so that you can add greenery to a low light area, look into our Calplants tips below on houseplant rotation.
On the opposite side, strong, continuous direct light will cause the leaves to burn.
The optimal light conditions for the ZZ plant are bright, indirect light. Some direct light in the morning or late afternoon works fine since the sunrays come in at an angle. So does a windowsill which does not have direct sun rays shining through the window all day.
Well-draining soil is crucial so that your ZZ plant doesn't rot. Commercial indoor potting work well. Commercial indoor potting mix with 10% sand and 10% perlite work very well.
Fresh potting soil should already contain good fertilizer, but it will eventually be devoid of nutrients as the ZZ plant uses it up. At the next growing season, use a balanced water-soluble fertilizer, following the instructions on the label. If you create your own potting soil, add new composted soil every time you repot to a larger pot.
Water and humidity
Many people water ZZ plants only once or twice a month. However, also keep in mind that many people place ZZ plants in low light conditions, where it doesn't need much water. If you keep your ZZ plant in a sunnier area, it will need more water..
The best rule to follow is to water when the top 2 inches of soil is dry. Either stick your finger or moisture meter into the soil to check the moisture level.
ZZ plant is happiest in average to high levels of humidity. However, it will adapt well to most indoor humidity levels.
ZZ plant thrives in a warm environment, ideally between 65-90°F. Make sure you keep it in temperatures over 50°F.
ZZ Plant Common Pests
The ZZ plant is mostly pest-resistant. However, some pests that you may find on your ZZ plant include aphids and mealybugs.
Since they proliferate quite rapidly, it's best to eliminate them quickly once you spot them. Small spider webs are a tell tale. Wipe down the leaves with a damp cloth, use soapy water for the areas that are infected, or use horticultural oils.
One way to ward off spider mites is by misting the leaves occasionally. Use distilled water if misting leaves.
ZZ Plant Propagation
The best way to propagate ZZ plant is through division. Separate the newly developed stems and roots that grow from the base of the parent plant, and plant it in moist soil.
You can also get stem cuttings, and root them in soil or water, but the success rate of the rooted cuttings developing into a healthy plant is a lot lower than that of division.
ZZ Plant Tips and Tricks
Houseplant rotation tip: If you would like to add greenery to a low light area, ZZ plant is a great choice. However, if you keep the plant there, it will slowly die. Here's where our houseplant rotation tip comes to play. Get 4 plants that tolerate low light such as ZZ plant, snake plant, cast iron plant, and lucky bamboo. At the start of every season, so in every 3 months, rotate out one plant to the low light area. This will ensure that each plant gets adequate light.
ZZ plant is mainly grown for its tropical leaves. However, if you'd like to get your plant to bloom, provide lots of bright, indirect light and provide light fertilizer during the growth period.
ZZ Plant Common Questions
How much does a ZZ plant cost?
We at Cal Plants sell them for $9 - 20 based on size.
Are ZZ plants toxic to pets?
Yes, the ZZ plant is toxic to cats and dogs if they ingest it. Some symptoms include irritation in the mouth and vomiting.
Can ZZ plants bloom?
Yes, your ZZ plant will produce a white spathe if it's very happy and healthy!
Why is the ZZ plant so popular?
Probably because of its tolerance for drought - thanks to its roots that can store water - as well as its wide tolerance for different levels of sunlight. And of course, they're very pretty as well. The deep green leaves are thick and glossy and the long stems are elegant. Overall, ZZ plant adds a sophisticated and tropical look to the home.
Why are the leaves of my ZZ plant dull?
The most common reason is overwatering. Check the water level in the soil, and if it's saturated, put the plant in a brighter area of the house and allow it to dry out. The second most common reason is lack of sunlight.
ZZ Plant Companions
Below are some plants with similar needs for care.
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