How to grow ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

How to grow ZZ plant – Zamioculcas zamiifolia

The ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) not only has glossy, upright evergreen foliage that looks good in virtually any location, it’s also one of the easiest house plants to grow. It’s tolerant of all kinds of conditions and neglect – it can cope with a lack of water and will grow in low light levels. It is virtually impossible to kill, making it the ideal low maintenance house plant for beginners. The ZZ plant is good at cleaning the air in your home, too.

Also known as fern arum, emerald palm, aroid palm, Zanzibar gem, Zuzu plant, eternity plant and fat boy, the ZZ plant is native to eastern Africa. There, it’s subject to long periods of drought, followed by a periods of heavy rainfall, and stores water in its fleshy underground roots (tubers). It became popular as a house plant in the 1990s, when growers realised it coped well with indoor conditions.

During the 2010s there were rumours that the ZZ plant caused cancer. This is not true: like several house plants, its sap contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can be mildly toxic if ingested. To be on the safe side, keep it away from children and pets.

How to grow ZZ plant

Grow your ZZ plant in a warm, bright spot, out of direct sunshine. Allow the compost to begin dry out during waterings. Feed monthly in spring and summer.

More on growing ZZ plant:

ZZ plant: jump links


Where to grow ZZ plant

How to grow ZZ plant – ZZ plant in bright, indirect light. Getty Images

Bright, indirect light is ideal, but it will also tolerate lower light levels. Keep out of direct sunshine. Make sure the temperature stays above 15°C all year round.


How to plant ZZ plant

How to grow ZZ plant – planting a ZZ plant

Grow in a 2:1 mix of soil-based or peat-free multi-purpose compost and grit or perlite in a pot that fits the rootball. Ensure it has drainage holes.

Looking for a decorative pot cover for your ZZ plant? Choose from 10 of the best indoor plant pots.


Caring for ZZ plant

How to grow a ZZ plant – repotting a ZZ plant. Getty Images

Allow at least the top 5cm of water to dry out between waterings, allowing any excess to drain away. Watering sparingly in winter and don’t let the plant sit in soggy, wet compost. Feed with a house plant food once a month from spring to autumn. Repot every two or three years. Wipe the leaves occasionally with a cloth to keep them looking shiny. There’s no need to mist your ZZ plant.


How to propagate ZZ plant

How to grow ZZ plant – propagating a ZZ plant

ZZ plants can be propagated by dividing the tubers. Take the plant out of its pot, separate some of the rhizomes, trim the roots a little and plant into smaller pots. Water in well. Don’t do this too often, though, as the plant is slow produce new tubers. You can also take cuttings – remove a section that has around two leaves and a section of stem. Allow the base to harden over for a few hours, then place in a pot filled with a 50:50 mix of multipurpose compost and perlite. Place in a warm spot. It may take up to a year for a new plant to form.


Growing ZZ plant: problem solving

If your plant is wilting, or its leaves are wrinkled or looking lacklustre, its probably due to lack of water. The ZZ plant is drought tolerant but it does need watering once the soil has dried out.

Yellow leaves or a mushy bases of stems are due to overwatering. Allow the compost to dry out completely before watering again, and allow any excess to drain away.

If the stems of your ZZ plant are collapsing sideways, this could be due to too much water or too little water so check your watering regime and adjust accordingly. Alternatively, your plant may not be getting enough light, or it is too cold. Move your plant to a brighter or warmer spot.

Brown patches on the leaves are sunburn – move to a spot that has less direct sunlight.

You may spot scale insects or signs of spider mites on the foliage.


Advice on buying ZZ plant

  • The ZZ plant can often be found at garden centres. Alternatively visit a specialist house plant retailer or buy online
  • ZZ plants are slow-growing, so buy a larger plant if you’re looking for instant impact
  • Check that your plant has upright, glossy green leaves and no signs of pests or diseases

Where to buy ZZ plant online

Varieties of ZZ plant to grow

  • Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Raven’ – a new variety. The new leaves are a fresh green and deepen to almost black.
    Height x Spread: 70cm x 50cm

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