ZZ plant is a popular pick among new plant enthusiasts, and there is a good reason why. These plants are super hardy in nature, easy to care for, and can thrive even in challenging environments.
Despite all that, some people still struggle to keep their ZZ plant alive. Most people make some common mistake in their care routine that makes their ZZ plant suffer.
So, in this guide, we will learn all about ZZ plant care. The do’s and don’t, and some common problems that a ZZ plant owner goes through.
ZZ plants prefer bright indirect lighting, and you need to only water the plant when the soil gets dry. Apart from that, the plant needs to be fertilized once a month or so during its growing season. You also need to maintain a stable temperature between 65°F to 75°F with a relative humidity of 50%.
There are a whole lot of factors you need to keep in mind to grow a ZZ plant. If you are a ZZ plant owner or plan to get one for your home, you are at the right place. So, let’s get right into it.
Table Of Contents
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ZZ Plant Overview
Zamioculcas zamiifolia or ZZ plant is gaining popularity among houseplant lovers because it requires low maintenance, and it can make your living space look alive.
ZZ plant is native to the dry grasslands and Eastern African forests. It is a hardy plant that can grow up to 3’ and has compound leaves that rise from its rhizomes.
With its glossy, broad, and dark green leaves, ZZ plants can make your home and office area look good without any effort.
ZZ plants have a unique root system. The areas or stems of the plant that are just above the soil are thick. These are called rhizomes and are the powerhouses of the plant as these store water and nutrients.
Are ZZ plants easy to grow?
The ZZ plant is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow and can survive even in low-light conditions.
It doesn’t require as much watering as most other plants. Unlike most other houseplants, they can be left alone for weeks and still thrive in your place provided they have the right environment to live in.
Also read: How fast do ZZ plant grow?
Is ZZ plant indoor or outdoor?
ZZ plant is best known to be an indoor plant that requires low maintenance.
It can tolerate low light and can survive with less water. However, It doesn’t like direct sunlight, which is the biggest challenge of growing ZZ plants outdoors.
Another major factor to consider while growing the ZZ plant outdoor is the fluctuating temperatures and humidity. Thus, they are best grown indoors.
Also read: How to care for ZZ plant in winter?
ZZ plant care
ZZ plants should not be neglected even if it is a low maintenance plant.
Many beginners who are new to ZZ plants end up overwatering it or keeping it under direct sunlight, and that causes problems in ZZ plants.
We have mentioned all the information that you would need about a ZZ plant. Right from soil, lighting, watering to fertilizing and pruning, everything is covered.
You can go through this article to get in-depth knowledge about how to care for ZZ plants.
ZZ plant soil needs
ZZ plants don’t need any particular type of soil. These are hardy plants that can survive under challenging conditions. Any soil that allows a sound drainage system would be the perfect potting soil for ZZ plants.
If you check the background of ZZ plants, they are native to the dry grasslands of Eastern Africa. Depending on the climate, these plants have adapted to irregular or periodic rainfall and can even survive drought.
In short, ZZ plants don’t need a lot of water. Soil that doesn’t retain water is the best soil type that you can use as the potting soil for ZZ plants.
You can use regular potting soil and add the cactus mix to it. Adding cactus mix will make the soil porous and will promote fast draining of water.
The mix that I prefer for my ZZ plant is:
- 3/4 part of organic potting soil (Recommended: Miracle Grow Indoor potting mix)
- 1/4 part of the succulent mix (Recommended: cactus soil)
- A handful of compost (For Nutrients)
Also read: What type of soil do ZZ plant need?
ZZ plant sunlight
ZZ plants are known for being able to survive in low-light conditions. However, if they do not get enough light, they will not grow and start leaning.
ZZ plants don’t like direct sunlight. It becomes too harsh for them, and they start developing different problems. You should keep your ZZ plant in a bright place that provides indirect light.
If you don’t have any light source in your room, then you might use SANSI 15W LED Grow Light Bulb in any table lamp holder, and you should be good to go!
Also read: How much light do ZZ plant need? Best placement?
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Looking for a readymade indoor plant soil mix that you can open and pour? Check out rePotme. They offer a wide range of readymade soil premixes for all your indoor plants.
ZZ plant water requirements
ZZ plants are similar to succulents in terms of their water requirements.
ZZ plants don’t need a lot of water as they can even survive droughts.
However, if you want to see your ZZ plant growing fast, you should water it every 1-2 weeks. Check the soil to make sure that it is completely dry before you water the plant.
After you have watered your ZZ plant, allow the water to drain out. The pot or the container should have drainage holes to let the water out.
If the water doesn’t drain out, it could lead to root rot and similar problems in your ZZ plant.
You can use a moisture meter to determine the soil’s moisture level and determine the water requirements.
Also read: How often should you water a ZZ plant?
ZZ plant temperature tolerance
A temperature of 65°F-75°F is ideal for a ZZ plant.
Note: Keep your ZZ plant away from air conditioning or heating vents as that will be harmful to the plant.
Cold drafts from windows and doors during winter can also be detrimental to your ZZ plant’s health.
ZZ plant humidity
ZZ plants like humid climates but can also survive in low humidity.
ZZ plants start showing problems when the humidity gets extremely low, and the air gets dry.
If the plant is suffering due to low humidity, you can mist it a few times a week. You can also use a humidifier in your home to add humidity to your
ZZ plant or keep it in your bathroom if there is enough light in it.
You can prepare a saucer by filling it with water and placing pebbles on it.
You can then place the plant on the pebbles to not submerge the drainage holes in the water. This way, the water vapor will raise the humidity level around the plant without causing any damage.
Also read: Do ZZ plant need misting? How to increase humidity around it?
ZZ plant fertilizer ratio
A balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer should give the ZZ plant the required amount of nutrition it needs.
A ratio of 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 would be perfect.
Consider a fertilizer that has nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus for your ZZ plant.
You should avoid giving fertilizer to your ZZ plant in the late fall or winter months, as that is the dormant period for your ZZ plant.
Espoma Indoor Liquid Plant Food is an excellent starter for the ZZ plant.
To learn more about fertilizing your ZZ plant, read our in-depth guide on it.
ZZ plant pruning
If you notice that your ZZ plant has grown messy, you can give it a minor trim by pruning the overgrown stems so that it matches with the rest of the stems.
If the stems are crisscrossed at the soil base, you should remove the whole stems instead of just trimming them as that will let in more air.
If you want to remove old or dead leaves, you can snip them off the leaves where they connect with the stem. To get rid of a damaged part, you can trim that part from a little beneath the damaged portion.
If a more severe condition like root rot, you might have to remove an entire stem or more.
And if there is any leggy growth, you need to get rid of the worst stems and provide conditions that will let the rest of the plant have healthy growth.
Note: Always use sterilized garden shears or scissors to trim your ZZ plant.
ZZ plant propagation
You might want to propagate your ZZ plant if you want more of it or in cases like root rot. Let’s find out how to do it.
It would be best if you cut a healthy stem. Next, take a glass container and fill half of it with water. Place the stem inside the container and keep changing the water every 3-4 weeks.
Once you notice rhizomes growing at the bottom, repot the stem into a container with fresh potting soil. Water the new ZZ plant and keep it in a bright place.
In case of leaves, cut or pluck leaves that look healthy and keep them aside for some hours. Plant the leaves in moist potting soil.
Keep the pot in a bright area that doesn’t get direct sunlight. Water gently. Wait for the rhizomes to grow at the bottom. It may take a month.
ZZ plant repotting
You might need to repot your ZZ plant in cases like root rot, any fungal infection, or if your plant outgrows the pot.
You can either take the plant out, clean the pot, or use a new pot to repot the ZZ plant. The pot should have enough drainage holes to support well drainage of water.
Use new potting soil when you are repotting the plant. You should use soil that can drain water fast.
You can use regular potting soil and mix sand with it. You can also add bark and peat moss to get the right texture.
Or use a mix of potting soil and cactus soil for the best result. Avoid using garden soil as it is too heavy.
After successfully repotting the plant, water it lightly. Plants can have stress or shock after transplantation. So water the soil thoroughly and let the soil dry. Be careful not to overwater the ZZ plant.
ZZ plant pests
You might see insects called aphids infesting your ZZ plant as they like the sap of the plant. One of the signs you will see is that the plant’s leaves will start to have yellow marks or spots.
You can get rid of aphids by wiping the ZZ plant’s leaves with warm water and mild soap.
You may also notice spider mites in the winter months. If you notice spider web-like structures below the leaves, then you will know that a spider mite has infested your ZZ plant.
You can apply insecticides to keep the spider mites away. A home remedy would be to shower the ZZ plant and place it in a plastic bag and close it airtight. Then you need to place the plant in a bright place for two to three days, and that should kill all the spider mites.
You can also use a neem oil spray to prevent pests in the first place.
Read more: Do ZZ plant attract bugs? How to get rid of it?
ZZ Plant Poisonous to pets
ZZ plants can be poisonous both to humans or pets.
ZZ plants produce a sap that can cause skin problems or eye irritation if it comes in direct contact. It can also cause stomach ache, vomiting, and diarrhea if your pet swallows the leaves by mistake.
Whenever you touch the ZZ plant, please wash your hands to ensure that it doesn’t cause any skin irritation. Also, make sure you keep the ZZ plant out of reach of pets.
Also read: Is ZZ plant toxic to pets? What to do if they eat it?
ZZ plant problems
Even after being a low-maintenance plant, your ZZ plant can face problems due to certain issues.
If you can keep a check on your ZZ plant from time to time, you will be able to detect and treat the problem before it gets out of hand.
Overwatering, low humidity, and poor drainage systems often cause problems in your ZZ plant. Let’s take a look at the problems that you can face with your ZZ plant.
ZZ plant leaves turning yellow
ZZ plants have glossy and dark green leaves. If the leaves are turning yellow, you need to understand that something is wrong with your ZZ plant.
Overwatering can be a reason for leaves turning yellow. When the roots are wet for a longer duration, the plant shows internal problems by turning the leaves yellow.
Water your ZZ plant every 1-2 weeks and make drainage holes in the pot.
The excess water should drain away and not remain in the pot. Never water your ZZ plant when the soil is moist.
Another reason for leaves turning yellow is too much heat. The weather inside the house might be too hot for your plant, which is why the leaves are becoming yellow.
You should relocate your ZZ plant to a well-ventilated area of the house that has moving air so that the plant can cool down and tolerate the heat.
Also read: Why is my ZZ plant leaves turning yellow?
ZZ plant leaves turning brown
Brown leaves are another issue that is noticed in ZZ plants.
The leaves of the ZZ plants turn brown due to low light, inappropriate watering, sunburn, and low humidity. Polluted water and using the wrong pot will make the plants lose nutrients, and the leaves will turn brown.
Don’t use water that has chlorine, fluorine. Use filtered, bottled, or rainwater on your ZZ plant. Consider watering the ZZ plant when the soil is completely dry, and do not leave the plant in standing water.
To combat low humidity, you can mist your plant or use a humidifier at your home.
You can also prepare a pebble tray, and you can keep the ZZ plant on top of it, and that should help you increase the humidity for your ZZ plant.
If your ZZ plant is placed in an area where it is getting direct sunlight, the leaves will get scorched and turn brown.
You need to relocate the plant to a different house area where it doesn’t get direct sunlight but still gets enough indirect light.
Also read: Why is my ZZ plant leaves turning brown?
ZZ plant leaves curling
ZZ plant leaves curling is a warning, and you cannot neglect it. You need to pay attention and try to understand what is going wrong.
ZZ plant leaves curl primarily due to lack of water or direct sunlight. It is not a severe problem. If you can adjust the water or repot the plant, your plant will revive.
To get rid of the leaves which have curled already, you can prune the leaves or remove the stems which have a lot of curled leaves.
If you find that your plant is under-watered, try giving it a little more water. Please don’t give it a lot of water suddenly, as that would cause shock to the plant.
If your plant is getting direct sunlight, move it to an area that doesn’t get direct sunlight which the ZZ plant doesn’t like. Please place it in an area that gets indirect light.
ZZ plant leaves falling off
Plants falling off your ZZ plant might be an indication that you are overwatering the plant.
Water your ZZ plant once the soil is completely dry. Don’t water your plant till then.
Depending on the conditions around the plant, it can take up to a month for the plant to be ready for the next round of watering. Also, put a hold on pruning.
My ZZ plant is dying
You may see many changes in your ZZ plant that can lead you to think that your ZZ plant is dying, but if you can identify the problem early, you can make your ZZ plant go back to being healthy.
Yellow or drooping leaves, brown tips, scorched leaves, shriveled stems are signs that can make you worry.
Overwatering or under-watering, poor drainage system, low humidity, incorrect application of fertilizer, too much heat are common reasons that can cause these issues.
- It would be best to have a watering schedule for your ZZ plant based on its needs and requirements. They should neither be overwatered nor under-watered.
- Maintain a sound drainage system using soil that allows water to drain quickly and make suitable drainage holes in the plant’s pot.
- Please don’t keep the plant under direct sunlight and keep it in a bright area that gets indirect light.
- In case of low humidity, consider misting your ZZ plant or using a humidifier to increase the humidity around your plant.
- Maintain a schedule for fertilizing the plant so that it doesn’t run out of nutrition.
Also read: How to save a dying ZZ plant?
My ZZ plant is not growing
ZZ plant is a slow-growing plant. But if you feel that the growth is unusually slow, there might be chances that you are doing something wrong or missing out on something.
Light is an essential factor when it comes to the growth of the ZZ plant. It doesn’t like direct sunlight, but you should give it enough indirect light for it to be able to grow.
Make sure to apply good fertilizers so that your plant gets enough nutrition.
Give it enough but not too much water and wait to notice the progress.
Also read: Why Is My ZZ Plant Not Growing?
My ZZ plant is leaning
When the ZZ plant’s stems tend to lean towards a side instead of growing tall and upwards, your plant is leaning.
Low light, lack of pruning, insufficient fertilizer, and root rot can make the ZZ plant lean.
Stems of the ZZ plant tend to lean due to low light. When it doesn’t get light evenly on all sides, it tends to lean on one side.
If your ZZ plant is placed near a window, make sure to rotate it from time to time so that all the sides get light.
Lack of pruning makes the plant grow big and bulky. The stems become weak due to the weight of the leaves and start leaning.
You need to trim the ZZ plant whenever required so that the plant grows in an even manner and does not look bulky.
Also read: Why is my ZZ plant drooping? How to fix it?
My ZZ plant is leggy
A healthy ZZ plant will have glossy green leaves and will look full. But if you notice uneven growth of the leaves and long and droopy stems, you know that you have a leggy plant.
Insufficient light is one of the reasons why this can happen. If your plant gets less light, it will have abrupt growth and will not look aesthetically pleasing any more. Overwatering, under-watering, improper fertilization, etc., can be some of the other reasons.
You need to keep your plant in a place that gets indirect light so that the ZZ plant will not have to stretch and become leggy. Pruning from time to time will help the plant to get rid of legginess.
You may water the plant once or twice a week, depending on its requirements.
Root rot can cause all kinds of problems, including leggy growth. Use the right sized pot so that the plant can grow freely and will not retain water and cause root rot.
Also read: Why is my ZZ plant leggy? How to fix it?
Root rot in ZZ plant
Root rot is one of the major issues that you may also find in your ZZ plant. Overwatering is the cause, along with issues like poor drainage system, absence of drainage holes in the pot, using the wrong soil mix, etc.
In case of root rot, you would need to prune any affected area that shows the damage signs.
The roots that have turned brown and mushy should be removed immediately, and then you would need to repot the plant in the fresh soil mix. In case of severe issues, you may need to propagate the plant.
9 ZZ plants care tips
For a healthy ZZ plant, you need to make sure that every condition is ideal for it. It doesn’t require a lot of effort. A little attention and a little care can go a long way for your ZZ plant.
Here is an overview of the ideal conditions in regards to the following points.
Watering: Water the ZZ plant only when the soil is completely dry. You can water the ZZ plant once or twice a week but don’t overwater as that can cause root rot.
Soil: Use regular potting soil and mix sand or cactus-mix with it to allow good drainage of water. The pot of the ZZ plant should have suitable drainage holes.
Light: Keep ZZ plants away from direct sunlight. ZZ plants like indirect light, so you can keep the plant near a window or under any artificial light at your home.
Pruning: Whenever you notice leaves that are turning yellow or brown, make sure you prune them. Also, prune the stems that have grown longer than the other stems.
Fertilizer: ZZ plants don’t need a lot of fertilizer. You should add fertilizers during the growing season of the plant. Avoid adding fertilizer in the winter months as that is the dormant period of the plant.
Temperature: ZZ plants thrive at a temperature of 60-75 °F.
Humidity: ZZ plants don’t like low humidity. And during the winter months, your house may have low humidity, which is not ideal for the ZZ plant. Misting or using a humidifier is the best way to increase the humidity of your plant.
Repotting: Repot the ZZ plant whenever it starts growing big and overgrows the pot it is already in. Repotting is good for healthy growth in your ZZ plant. But make sure to take good care of the plant after repotting it so that it doesn’t have stress.
Propagation: There are many ways to propagate your ZZ plant.
You can cut a healthy stem and repot it with new potting soil.
You can fill half of a glass container with water and leave the stem inside it and wait for the rhizomes to show up. After you can see the rhizomes, you can repot the stem.
In the case of leaves, you need to cut out a healthy leaf and place it in a pot and cover it with plastic. Then it would be best if you waited for the roots to grow, which can take up to a year.
Also read: How to tell if your ZZ plant is dying?
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Do ZZ plant need a lot of water?
No. ZZ plants don’t need a lot of water like most of the plants. If it retains too much water, the plant will have root rot. The ZZ plants need soil that supports well drainage of water and a pot with enough drainage holes.
Can ZZ plant be outside?
ZZ plants thrive in areas that have indirect light, such as indoors. Homes and offices are ideal for ZZ plants.
ZZ plants don’t like direct sunlight as the leaves of the plant get scorched. It is ideally an indoor plant but can be grown outside using filtered light.
Can ZZ plant cause allergies?
ZZ plants can cause allergies upon direct contacts, such as irritation on the skin and eyes.
It can also cause diarrhea, stomach ache, and vomiting if ingested. ZZ plants can cause allergies in both plants and animals. You should wash your hands thoroughly after touching ZZ plants.
Is ZZ plant succulent?
ZZ plants are not succulents, but they have thick stems at the base of the soil called rhizomes that resemble succulents. This system allows the plant to survive droughts and require less water.
Sources: ZZ plant study, College of agricultural studies, University of Vermont, National science foundation.
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