Zamioculas zamiifolia (more commonly known as the ZZ plant) is one of the most hardy plants around and perfect for any brown thumb or new plant parent. Its nickname, “ZZ plant” derives from the first letters of its name. It thrives in zones 9 and 10, but originates from East Africa. You can check out the USDA’s plant hardiness zone map here to learn more about the different zones. It belongs to the arum family and is related to other popular houseplants like the pothos and peace lily.
The ZZ plant is also referred to as the zanzibar gem, zee zee plant, zizi plant or simply the z plant. Larger varieties sit well in pots near doorways and in empty corners. Smaller plants fit perfectly on an office shelf or a side table.
ZZ Plant Overview
ZZ plants are commonly found in waiting rooms and office buildings. Many people commonly mistake them for an artificial plant because of their rich green and waxy leaves.
They can tolerate a range of growing conditions and can survive even after weeks of neglect. ZZ plants can grow as tall as five feet, but normally reach between two to three feet.
ZZ Plant Care Tips
You really have to try if you want to kill your ZZ plant! In other words, it’s very durable. But even though a ZZ plant can endure a lot of neglect, it’s best to give it proper care if you want it to grow. Read on to find out how.
Light: ZZ plants prefer bright, indirect light but can still survive in low-light conditions. These plants can even thrive with bright, fluorescent light. This is one of the main reasons why they are a popular choice for indoor spaces with no windows. One key thing to remember is that ZZ plants do not like direct sunlight. Too much direct exposure to the sun can cause scorched or dried-out leaves. If this happens, you should move your plant to a shadier location until its leaves start to resemble their normal, green state.
Water: Allow the soil to dry between watering. Don’t let your plant sit in water because it can easily cause stem and rhizome rot. Your plant can survive months without water, but will grow faster if watered more regularly. It’s always best to underwater than to overwater, since death by root rot is more likely to occur with your ZZ plant than death by water deprivation.
Temperatures: The ZZ plant generally prefers temperatures between 65°F-75°F. It thrives best in humid climates, but can tolerate less humid climates, unless the air is really dry. In that case, you can mist its leaves with water to combat the dry air. Stunted growth can occur if your plant is placed near an air conditioning vent and/or the temperature drops below 45°F.
Toxicity: You should take care when handling this plant because it contains calcium oxalate crystals. This can cause skin irritation or more serious ailments like stomach pain. The oxalate crystals make the plant especially poisonous for cats and dogs, so make sure to keep it out of reach. ZZ plants are still safe to have in your home as long as you keep them out of reach from curious pets and children. You should wash your hands immediately after tending to your plant or wear gloves to minimize contact with the plant. Take a look at our poisonous plant guide for more in-depth information.
Pests: Aphids like the “sap” from ZZ plants. You may have an aphid infestation if you start to notice unusual yellow marks or spots on your plant. Aphids easily blend in with leaves, so you might need to take a closer look (especially since they like to hide under leaves). You can remove most pests by wiping the leaves with a mild soap and hot water solution.
Problems: As mentioned earlier, the ZZ plant’s most common cause of death is overwatering. Remember to let at least the first three inches of its soil dry before you water it. You’ll know the plant is severely underwatered if it’s leaves start to drop. You may be overwatering your ZZ plant if you notice that leaves are both turning yellow and falling off.
This plant is slow to grow. It may take a few years for your plant to grow a few feet. The best way to help your ZZ plant’s growth process is by giving it optimal light, water and temperature conditions. You can peruse our guide to reviving a plant in case you’re unsure about how to help your ZZ plant when it’s struggling.
The ZZ plant is a nearly indestructible plant that can make the perfect addition to any room in your home or office. ZZ plant care is easy as long as you remember to keep it away from direct sunlight and to let its soil dry between waterings. If you have any kids or pets in the house, keep it on a high shelf and out of reach to ensure safety for everyone.