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ZZ plant

How to care for a ZZ plant

The Zamioculcas Zamiifolia, also known as the ZZ plant, is a low maintenance plant that's perfect for low-light places. If you're someone that forgets to water plants often, this is a great plant for you.

In this guide, we'll go over some of the most important aspects of taking care for a ZZ plant. We'll go over these topics:

  1. Watering your ZZ plant
  2. Light requirements for your ZZ plant
  3. Soil for your ZZ plant
  4. Fertilizing your ZZ plant
  5. Propagating your ZZ plant

Taking care of a ZZ plant is quite easy, but there are a few things that you should keep in mind. Let's get into those things, so you can get back to taking care of your ZZ plant.

Watering your ZZ plant

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A ZZ plant grows from a big bulb, called a rhizome, which resembles a potato. This bulb, along with the thick stems, stores a lot of moisture. This means you won't have to water your ZZ plant very often. The ZZ plant thrives when you forget to water it for weeks, sometimes months. If your ZZ plant is not growing a new stem with leaves, you can skip on watering your ZZ plant for 2 months without a problem. When it starts to grow a stem, you should help it grow the stem by watering it a little more often.

Yellow leaves on a ZZ plant

When you overwater your plant, the leaves on your ZZ plant will turn yellow, the stem will become wrinkled, and turn brown. The ZZ plant is very sensitive to overwatering and when it does happen, the weaker stems will die. This is why it's best to water your ZZ plant a maximum of once per month. The plant can easily recover from being under-watered, but overwatering is harmful.

Wrinkled stem on your ZZ plant

When you see your ZZ plant get wrinkled stems, it can mean two things: Your ZZ plant is thirsty, or it has been overwatered. If you haven't watered your ZZ plant for at least a month, it's probably thirsty and watering will resolve the wrinkles. If you've recently watered your ZZ plant, it has probably been overwatered and you should drain the excess water and let the soil dry completely. Then it's best to wait for another few weeks before watering your plant again. If you need more help with this, you can look at "How to rescue a plant from overwatering".

Light requirements for your ZZ plant

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The Zamioculcas Zamiifolia, like we've gone over before, thrives in low-light places. The ZZ plants in the photo below have been in a dark room that doesn't get any direct sunlight, only indirect sunlight through open doors, for more than a year and they're in perfect health.

ZZ plants in a dark spot

There is a little caveat to keeping your ZZ plants in a low-light place, which is that growth of new stems will come to a crawl. Your ZZ plant, like almost every other plant, needs light to grow. If you don't give it enough sunlight, it'll do just fine, but it won't grow any bigger.

Stimulating growth on your ZZ plant

If your ZZ plant starts to grow a new stem, like in the photo below, it's important to move it to a brighter spot temporarily.

ZZ plant growing a new stem

If you've taken care of succulents, you'll know what happens when they don't get enough sunlight: they will try to grow towards the light and stretch themselves out. The ZZ plant will do the same thing. When it's growing a new stem, it will try to grow towards the light. If it doesn't get enough sunlight, the new stem will become long, with the leaves far apart. This doesn't look very nice and the leaves will stay light green for a long time. This is why it's important to give growing ZZ plants a brighter spot until the stem has fully grown. At this point, you can move it back to the low-light location if you want to.

Rotating a ZZ plant

As we've described in the previous paragraph, ZZ plants tend to grow towards the light. If you've got a very obvious light source, like a window close by, your ZZ plant will grow towards this light. You can help your ZZ plant to grow straight by rotating it 90 degrees every week. This way, you'll make sure your ZZ plant grows straight. This is only necessary when a new stem is growing. Established stems won't grow towards the light anymore.

Brown stems and/or black spots on your ZZ plant

ZZ plants are low-light plants, giving them too much light, or even direct sunlight could cause black spots to show up on the stems. These spots are not harmful, but rather, they're a sign that you should move your ZZ plant to a darker spot. As long as those spots feel dry and not squishy, there is nothing to worry about. These spots won't return back to its normal color as these are sunburns.

Soil for your ZZ plant

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Your Zamioculcas Zamiifolia thrives in dry environments, which means you need to use soil that helps your ZZ plant to stay as dry as it can, but still absorb enough moisture when you do water it. You're looking for a succulent soil mix, or a soil mix that doesn't retain moisture for too long. The ZZ plant will store most of the moisture it needs in its bulb and stem and it doesn't rely on the soil to keep it hydrated. A succulent or cacti soil mix is perfect for the ZZ plant.

Fertilizing your ZZ plant

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Leaves of a ZZ plant

We've gone over the fact that the ZZ plant grows very slowly it it grows at all. Quickly growing plants often require a lot of nutrients to grow this quickly. In the same way, the ZZ plant doesn't need a lot of nutrients, as it grows slowly. If you choose to not fertilize your ZZ plant at all, this is fine. It doesn't really need any fertilizer. If you do want to fertilize it, to help it grow a little bit more, you can. If you want to fertilize your ZZ plant, do so at the beginning of the spring, when the ZZ plant enters the growing period and gets out of its dormancy.

Propagating your ZZ plant

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Propagation is the process of creating more plants from a single plant. It's by far the easiest way to get more plants in your collection. There are multiple ways of propagating a ZZ plant:

  • Propagation by division
  • Leaf propagation

Propagation by division is the quickest way, but also the most harmful way. When you propagate your ZZ plant by division, you cut the large bulb in two. Essentially ripping two parts of your plants from each other to result in two plant. You can do this, but not very often. It takes a long time before the bulb grows back to it's normal size.

Leaf propagation is taking a section of the stem with at least two leaves from the ZZ plant and putting it in water or soil and wait for it to grow roots. This is a very slow process as it could take up to nine months. This method is less harmful to the parent plant, however, so this might be a good option if you'd like to propagate your ZZ plant.

Conclusion

The Zamioculcas Zamiifolia, or more commonly known as ZZ plant, is a low-maintenance plant that is perfect for low-light places. You can keep these in darker places of your house or in an office and you won't have to worry about giving it too little attention. The ZZ plant thrives when you forget about it. It's a slow-growing plant, so you won't have to worry about running out of space for it anytime soon. If you want to propagate it, however, you can.

Thank you for reading this post! I hope it helps you to keep your plants healthy and beautiful! If you're looking for more guides on specific plants, you can always request a plant guide or donate a plant in order to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.

Tags: beginner-friendly, low-light, zz plant

Posted on: October 31st, 2020

Other common names for this plant

  • Zamioculcas zamiifolia
  • ZZ Plant
  • Eternity plant
  • Fat boy
  • Aroid palm

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