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Zamioculcas Zamiifolia ZZ Plant Care Guide

Eazy, peazy, lemon squeazy. The Zamioculcas zamiifolia - nicknamed the 'ZZ plant' and also called Zanzibar Gem - is a hard chap to resist. Those glossy emerald leaves. Sturdy and structural. Tolerates low light. Water when you remember. Have you just found the perfect plant? We think so. A superb starter plant for the beginner collector. A trusty go-to for brightening up low-light areas where other plants go to die. A great choice for the forgetful waterer or frequent traveler who needs a 'lock-up-and-leave' plant. A perfect low-commitment, go-to gift. What's not to love? We give this handsome guy a super easy care 1 out of 5 LTLC Rating. Here he is on the right, below. Find out more about care of the ZZ plant below...

 

collection of indoor houseplants in elho brand cover pots lined up on a table including a zz plant


Light

The ZZ plant is a semi-succulent. He'll thrive in indirect, bright light, but will tolerate down to low light levels. He's almost foolproof. No direct sun though. We rotate our guys every so often to keep even growth on all sides. 

zz plant in pot with paper bag tied around the pot done up with twine sitting on desk with black and white photographs and books on the table with uplifting messages drawn on the wall behind the plant
 Image above from @radroots_magazine

Temperature & Humidity

Yep, you guessed it, he's pretty tolerant when it comes to temperature too. Ideally he'd ask for a range of about 18 to 25 degrees, but tolerates lower and higher. Just keep in mind it's extra important not to overwater when it's colder and more light will help make up for the cold. ZZ plants so like humidity - the higher humidity in NZ is usually plenty - but will tolerate drier conditions too. If it's really dry at your place try a pebble tray or invest in a humidifer, but it's not a major. One thing we would do though is shift him from the path of draughts, or your heat pump / air conditioning. When it's too cold or he's in a draught he'll protest with stunted growth. 


Water

These handsome, rugged dudes are semi-succulents, native to the semi-desert regions of Eastern Africa. They are used to going a long time without water, followed by lots of rain. They have these impressive rhizomous roots that hold a tonne of water in reserve.
The lower the light level, the less water he'll consume, so you can be extra negligent the lower the light level is. In higher-light areas and warmer times of year we water about once a month (if he needs it). Wait till the soil is fully dry before watering again. If in doubt, don't water him. When he's finally ready to water, you can pop him in the shower if you want so those glossy leaves get a good wash (as they can get dusty). Otherwise just keep an eye on him and give those gorgeous leaves a wipe with a damp cloth when needed. 


the cleaned roots of a zz plant taken out of a pot
Image from nature-and-garden.com from their article on how to propagate a ZZ plant (well worth a read)

Soil & Repotting

No special soil is needed. Something relatively well draining will do the job. We use standard potting mix with a bit of perlite. If his soil gets a bit compacted over time, you can stick a chopstick down to add a bit of airflow. You can see what the roots are like above, so you will probably encounter some resistance with that mass going on. Don't panic though, they are crazy tolerant of root damage.

You can remove up to a third of their roots when repotting and they'll be sweet (not that we recommend being that drastic). They are happy being rootbound and tend to be pretty slow growers, depending on conditions and time of year, so when yours starts rearranging the side of your pot (also normal for the ZZ plant), you can be a bit brutal with trimming back the roots and pot back in to the same pot if needed. Try not to damage those potato-like round rhizomes though, best to trim the thinner shoots instead.


Pet safe?

Not this guy sorry. We find pets tend to ignore them (we wish they'd ignore our ponytail palm - they love those!), but we'd still pop your ZZ plant safely out of reach. Like many indoor plants, their leaves contain calcium oxalate which can irritate skin and definitely should not be chewed or eaten. They'll make your pet's mouth itch and can cause swelling or a tummy upset. Touching this chap is all good, but if you're pruning and get an sap on you, just wash it off promptly or wear gloves if you're worried, or have sensitive skin. No licking your fingers or rubbing your eyes! 


LTLC > Love That Leaf Care Rating

If you just read this guide, or already own a ZZ plant, it'll come as no surprise that we give this good-looking guy a super eaZy-care LTLC Rating of 1 out of 5. We reckon everyone should own a ZZ plant. They make you feel good about your plant parenting skills. When other plants wither and die, go yellow or brown, this dude's got your back. And we love him for it. Our go-to gift as well when we want to give the joy of nature, but don't want to burden anyone with a high-maintenance plant. He's the one to choose.


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