The ZZ plant, scientifically known as Zamioculcas Zamiifolia, is considered to be one of the easiest to care, die hard plant suitable for every corner of your home. The care for this plant is pretty much straight forward, but somehow we’re still able to kill it.
There’s one thing that is crucial in the ZZ plant care, and that’s watering.
when to water your ZZ plant
The most common ZZ killer is water – too frequent watering without letting the soil dry out. Many houseplants, well the majority of them, like for the soil to dry out (at least partially) between watering. When it comes to ZZ, it likes a period of drought between watering.
Before watering your ZZ plant, make sure the soil has COMPLETELY dried out.
Don’t worry that your plant will suffer if the soil is dry for a week or two. ZZ has a succulent plant type structure. It retains large amounts of water in its meaty leaves and additional to that it has rhizomes underneath the stem that retain water as well.
Like for cacti, watering during winter is almost not at all necessary.
It is difficult to let go of the constant watering, but trust me, you’re going to kill your ZZ if you constantly keep watering it without letting the soil dry out.
An indication of overwatering are going to be yellowing leaves, and shortly after that the stems will lose their firmness.
It’s also possible to underwater your ZZ plant. After a long period of drought, you’ll start to see indentations along the stem. These indentations also may appear if your ZZ is getting too much direct sunlight (preventing it to retain moisture in its structure).
This leads me to the placement of your ZZ plant…
what type of lighting does the ZZ plant require
You’ve probably seen those popular “top 10 low light” lists of plants, and in 99% of them you’ll find the ZZ plant.
It’s true that ZZ can withstand longer periods in low light conditions, BUT it’s also important to keep in mind that all plants need light.
Even the ZZ, after a longer period of time spent in a low light area will eventually start to lose it’s deep green color and start to become droopy. I just wanted to clarify that all plants, including the ZZ plant, need a certain amount of light and plants listed as “low light plants” are only those who will withstand low light, not necessarily like it!
Now that we covered that, of course that if you don’t have a ton of bright indirect light in your home, the ZZ plant is the way to go precisely because it will tolerate lower light conditions (as opposed to some other houseplant that are bright light junkies).
The deadly combination: low light + overwatering
The ZZ plant can withstand low light conditions and because of that you can decorate any part of your home with it, even lower light conditions parts of the house – and that’s fine. What can be deadly though, is overwatering it while it’s in a low light place.
If you place your ZZ in a low light place, you’ll need to water it even less than usual.
In a low light place, the plant won’t use the water as quickly as it would in a brightly lit spot. So, the drought period is even more important if your ZZ is in a low lit spot.
what type of soil does the ZZ plant like + repotting
As it has a succulent type structure and doesn’t like moist soil, the ZZ plant loves well draining soil. Make sure that the soil has a type of aeration medium like pumice, perlite or sand so that it doesn’t retain water for a long period of time.
The best type of pot for your ZZ plant would naturally be a terracotta pot or some other porous type pot. The tricky thing when it comes to ZZ is that it has rhizomes underneath the surface.
Rhizomes are big bulb looking underground stems that retain water, nutrients and starch, and they grow as the plant develops.
Because of them, you’ll see that nursery pots are usually “deformed” because of the developed root system. As ZZ plant likes to be root bound, it’s good to have them in a pot as long as it can, until there’s not much space left. But as I was saying, this can be a problem if the plant is in a terracotta pot, because it can brake the terracotta pot as the rhizomes continue to grow.
Realistically, it’s not that much of a problem, but it can be a messy one.
When it’s time to repot your ZZ, choose just a slightly bigger pot, 2-4cm (1-2”) wider than the previous one.
do you need to fertilize your ZZ plant? | fertilization
It not necessary to fertilize the ZZ plant every month during the growing season.
It’s enough to fertilize it 2-3 times per year, during spring and autumn. I use a very diluted complete houseplant fertilizer.
does the ZZ plant flower?
In optimal conditions, your ZZ will reward you with a flower. A flowering ZZ it’s a sing of a healthy plant that loves it’s conditions.
But flowering is not necessarily the only sign of a healthy plant, because it actually flowers rarely! So don’t worry if your ZZ does not flower.
The flower grows as a separate stem and you don’t need to cut it because it won’t harm the plant.
Zamioculcas Zamiifolia is unfortunately toxic if ingested, so it’s best if you place it somewhere where it’s outside of reach of children and pets.
Zamioculcas Zamiifolia varieties
There are a few varieties of ZZ plant. Along with the classic version, the most common green one, you can find other varieties like the ZZ Zenzi, the ZZ Black Raven and the ZZ Super Nova.
The ZZ Zenzi it’s like a dwarf version of the ZZ plant. It has smaller leaves and a more compact look. It will never grow as big as the regular ZZ can.
A variety that is practically identical to the regular ZZ, the ZZ Black Raven, it’s the same size wise, but it has significantly darker leaves, that from afar appear to be black.
And lastly, the ZZ Super Nova, is a larger version of the regular ZZ plant.