If you've ever thought you just "can't grow plants" because you have a huge brown thumb, then I have a surprise for you....
The zz plant is the plant for you! It's almost like it was designed for new gardeners that tend to kill plants. It's one of the hardiest houseplants you'll come across, making it the perfect choice for a beginner gardener.
In this guide, we'll take a look at the incredibly zamioculcas zamiifolia, more commonly referred to simply as the zz plant.
ZZ Plant Overview
Zamioculcas zamiifolia is in the aroid plant family, along with the Aglaonema, Spathiphyllum, Philodendron, and the Anthurium plant families. It's native to East Africa.
You wouldn't guess that just by looking at it, though! It looks similar to the cycad zamia furfuracea, also known as the cardboard palm.
These plants are also some times thought to be part the snake plants family but are not part of their family.
Zz plants have thick, fleshy, and glossy leaves. They were used extensively in malls and public spaces and people thought they were fake because they looked so glossy!
Planting the ZZ Plant
You'll probably pick this plant up at a nursery or garden center, so you don't need to worry about growing it from scratch. But you might want to propagate from cuttings or leaves. If so, scroll on down to to the propagation section!
You can use the same size pot that you purchase your zz plant in forever if you want. They do just fine in a small pot. But if you do want to repot your zz plant, just plop them in a larger pot and prune the roots a bit to avoid them getting root-bound.
Overall, zz plants are a slow growing. They can get up to 3' tall indoors, which is actually much taller than they get in their natural habitat.
ZZ Plant Care Guide
Zamioculcas zamiifolia is one of the hardiest houseplants you can grow. It can survive — and even thrive — in almost any conditions. You could even say it "thrives on neglect." What a perfect plant for someone with a brown thumb, right?
Sun / Light
Zz plants do just fine in both high and low-light environments. Just be sure that it isn't in bright, direct light as the leaves will burn.
If you have your zz plant in a high light environment, you'll need to water more often than if it's in a shady or filtered sun area. Be sure not to over water in either situation though, as you can cause the roots to rot.
Wait until the soil dries to around 2" deep before watering again.
Soil and Fertilizer
Zz plants don't need to be fertilized often. Once a quarter is more than enough to keep them looking happy and healthy.
When you do fertilize, use a standard liquid houseplant fertilizer and dilute it by 50%. Be sure not to pour directly onto the foliage, as the strength of the fertilizer may burn the leaves of your zz plant.
ZZ Plant Propagation
It's relatively easy to propagate from cuttings of your zz plant, just be aware that it takes a while for cuttings to root.
Either take a leaf or a small branch and plop it into some water or some damp soil, and then be prepared to wait a few months!
Pests and Diseases
Part of what makes the zz plant so hardy is its near-complete resistance to all pests and diseases. There are no known pests that bother this plant, so you won't have to worry about any pesky scales or mites (for once).
Diseases can strike, but they're mostly caused by high humidity or too much moisture on either the plant's leaves or soil (rot). Avoid those conditions and you'll avoid all diseases as well.
Is the ZZ Plant Poisonous?
This is a common question, and an important one to answer! Being a member of the Aracaeae family, the zz plant contains calcium oxalate, which is toxic to pets.
To remove any risk, simply keep them in an area that's inaccessible to your pets! And even if a pet does nibble on it, you'll rest easy knowing it's not a fatal poison. It will cause diarrhea and potentially vomiting if ingested, so keep a watchful eye.
Q. A branch broke off of my ZZ plant...can I use it to propagate a new plant?
A. The answer is YES, but it takes a long time. The best way to propagate is to root the branch in water or damp soil. Make sure you have ample light and warm temperatures...but be prepared to wait. It can take a long time for the zz plant to set out new roots.
Q. My Zamiculcas Zamiifolia has stems that keep drooping over, but I'm not over or under watering. What's wrong?
A. Although zz plants don't need fertilizer often, if you've had the plant a while it may be time for a light dose of fertilizer. The other issue could be a lack of light. In extreme shade, zz plants like to droop a bit. Try moving it to a sunnier spot.