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How Much Light Do ZZ Plants Need? (Ideal Lighting Condition+Tips)

Zamioculcas zamiifolia, which is commonly known as the ZZ plant or Zanzibar Gem, is a popular houseplant and for a good reason. These plants are native to eastern Africa, from southern Kenya to northeastern South Africa, where they survive harsh conditions. Thus, it is believed that it is almost impossible to fail with the ZZ plant.

But do the ZZ plant do well in low lighting conditions? How much light does the ZZ plant need to thrive? Let’s find out!

ZZ plants thrive in low-medium lighting conditions. Thus, bright indirect light for 8-10 hours a day should be ideal for them. Avoid intense or direct sunlight as it may result in leaf burn. But at the same time, extremely poor lighting conditions might also result in droopy and wilting of ZZ plants.

ZZ plants are often recommended for low lighting conditions, and sometimes people even end up saying that these amazing plants can survive even if you don’t have any natural light. But can we beleive in these words?

To bust all the myths around the lighting requirement of a ZZ plant, I decided to do extensive research and take the opinion of experts in the community, and here is what I have learned.

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Importance of good lighting for ZZ plant?

Almost all houseplants need some sort of light to survive. Yes, ZZ plants might survive for a short period without light, but you need to have light for their growth.

But why is lighting so crucial for the ZZ plant or any other houseplant? All plants, including the ZZ plant, go through photosynthesis, which helps them produce food and energy. And what are the requirements of a plant for the same?

ZZ Plants need natural lighting and carbon dioxide for the process of photosynthesis. The plant will use these elements to produce sugar and oxygen. The sugar is then used as a source of energy for the plant. So, what will happen if the plant does not get enough light?

If the plant doesn’t get enough light, it won’t be able to photosynthesize effectively. The ZZ plant is likely going to store the little energy it produced for survival. That will directly impact the health and growth of the plant.

ZZ plant light requirements

ZZ plants originate from the dry grassland and tropical forest of Africa, where it grew under the canopy of trees and rocks. Being from a drought-prone area, these plant needs little watering and no direct sunlight.

The ZZ plant prefers bright, indirect sunlight. Although these plants can survive in a wide range of lighting conditions, the plant’s growth will vary depending upon the availability of light.

Aim for a medium lighting spot for the ideal growth of your ZZ plant.

The ZZ plant will have scorched leaves if left under bright direct sunlight. In contrast, poor lighting conditions can lead to droopy leaves and stems.

Can ZZ plant be in direct sunlight?

ZZ plants prefer bright indirect sunlight for optimum growth. Intense direct sunlight can burn the leaves of your ZZ plant.

However, early morning or late evening direct sunlight won’t have much impact on your ZZ plant’s health.

Can ZZ grow in low light?

ZZ can plant survive in low lighting conditions, but that is not ideal for their growth. Under low lighting conditions, these plants will grow really slow, and there is a strong possibility that the foliage will start drooping.

Best spot for ZZ plant

ZZ plants can be kept at various spots as the requirements of the plant are very minimal. Ideally, they should be kept 6-8 feet away from the window sill for ideal lighting conditions. 

Whether it is a plant stand or your work desk, these plants can immediately bring life to space. 

However, there are few things you need to consider while choosing a spot for your ZZ plant. These include:

  • Direct sunlight
  • Extremely low light

If you keep your ZZ plant under direct sunlight, for example, a window sill with no blinds or around your patio, then there is a strong possibility that your plant will suffer.

At the same time, a shady spot will also make your plant suffer. The plant will lean towards the light source, which might look ugly if not taken care of on time.

Whether it’s your living room or your bedroom, the ZZ plant will thrive if appropriate lighting conditions are met.

Can a ZZ plant get too much light?

ZZ plants are called low light plants for a reason. They thrive in low-medium lighting conditions. If the plant gets too much light, then it will be as terrible as poor lighting. But how will you realize your ZZ plant is getting too much light?

Some signs of too much light in ZZ plants are:

  • Yellowing of leaves
  • Curling of leaves
  • Leaning away from light
  • Crisp brown leaves
  • Droopy stems
  • Flaky, dry soil
  • Dehydrated looks

If you see any of these signs, then there is a strong possibility that your ZZ plant is getting too much light. It would be ideal to move your ZZ plant away from the light source. You may also use sheer curtains or blinds to cover up some light.

Also, it would be ideal to trim down the brown and yellow leaves and foliage. Clipping the wilted part will boost the plant’s growth hormone, which will result in healthy growth.

Signs ZZ plant is not getting enough light

Yes, ZZ plants are considered low light plants, but that doesn’t mean you can keep them in any kind of poor lighting condition. There is a minimum amount of light the plant needs for the process of photosynthesis.

Some signs that ZZ plant gives when they don’t get enough light are:

  • Weak foliage
  • Droopy leaves
  • Leaning towards the light source
  • Wet soil
  • Stunted growth
  • Leggy growth
  • Root rot

If your ZZ plant is kept under poor lighting conditions for an extended period, the plant will start suffering and wilt at the end.

You can fix this by moving them to a bright, well-lit spot as soon as you notice the initial sign. But if you fail to understand these signs, then your plant may have a sad end.

Growing ZZ plant in windowless room

It is practically impossible to grow any plant in a windowless room without any light source. So, can’t you grow these sturdy ZZ plant in there?

You might be able to grow the ZZ plant even if the room doesn’t receive any sunlight. But how is that possible? We just discussed how poor lighting conditions could be terrible for your plant. So, what now?

The answer to this is there in modern science and some hard work. What do we need to do?

  1. Get an artificial light source in the room.
  2. Rotate a plant from your balcony or patio with the plant in your room every 15 days.

So you see, we can quickly fix the problem of lighting by these methods. First, we will use an artificial light source like this amazing SANSI 15W LED Grow Light Bulb, which I got from amazon. This shall provide some light supplement to the plant in the room.

Next, we will keep rotating a similar plant from your other brightly part of your house every few weeks. This way, the plant will get enough light to survive and grow.

I know it might sound like a lot of work to you, but it’s really simple and straightforward once you get started.

Can ZZ plant survive without light?

ZZ plants won’t survive without light. Yes, these plants might survive for a few days even if there is no light source is provided to them.

For example: During a transit, etc. But in the long run, no plant can survive without light because most houseplants need sunlight to produce their food.

How many hours of sunlight does the ZZ plant need?

ZZ plants need at least 8-10 hours of good lighting every day. Although the plant will not compliant even if the lighting needs vary a little. It is ideal to provide that much light to them for ideal growth.

Final Thoughts

ZZ plants are almost indestructible and can add to the beauty of your space. But that doesn’t mean you neglect their basic needs like lighting and water.

If your ZZ plant is provided with balanced lighting conditions they can thrive and grow up to three feet in length. However, it would help if you were cautious as the extreme of both lighting conditions is terrible for your ZZ plant.

Where poor lighting can result in droopy and weak foliage, intense lighting can easily scorch the leaves and foliage.

Thus, providing a balanced environment is critical for healthy and bushy growth.

Also read: 13 reasons why your houseplants keeps dying.


7 Must Have Indoor Gardening Supplies!

Source: Plant Lighting Aspects for Plant Growth in Controlled Environments, ZZ plant requirements,  Lighting Indoor HouseplantsEffects of growth under different light spectra, University of MichiganInfluence of light intensity on growth.

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