We all love our ZZ Plants! In fact, they are one of the more common houseplants that you will find in homes, hotels, and businesses. This is probably because this snoozy plant is one tough son-of-a-bitch!
Basically, it can survive for months upon months without water and with some pretty crappy lighting. This makes it absolutely perfect for those of us that are new to plant parenting, forgetful about the needs of our houseplants, or travel quite a bit. Hence, we see these plants in places that value their own time instead of putting a premium on the time taken to care for their plants. Today, we are going to talk about caring for your Zamioculcas Zamiifolia (even though - let's face it - it won't take much to make this cheerful fella happy)!
BTS of the ZZ Plant
Did using "BTS" (behind the scenes) make me seem hip and youthful? I don't know, and I'm pretty sure spelling it out instantly extinguished my hip-ness. Anyway, similar to our other plant guides, let's first consider the back story of ZZ Plants since this will help us suss out the kind of care requirements we need to provide.
The Zamioculcas Zamiifolia is a perennial tropical plant, and it is native to Eastern Africa. Specifically, it grows wild in the tropical forest from Southern Kenya to Northern South Africa. Being that it belongs to the Aracea (aroids like Alocasia and Philodendron) family, the roots of the ZZ Plant are capable of attaching themselves to other plants as well as in loose, fast-draining soil. The ZZ Plant roots are specifically rhizomes, which store lots of water and nutrients for the plants to survive! This is why the ZZ Plant is so comfortable being neglected for months at a time.
Further still, this plant, like the Aloe Vera, has been used for medicinal purposes! While not very much is known, it has been reported that in the Mulanje District of Malawi and in the Usambara Mountains of Tanzania, the juice emanating from the leaves has been used to treat ear aches! Who knew! In any case, now that we know that ZZ Plants are aroids from tropical environments with rhizomes, we can better understand how to care for these lovely plants!
ZZ Plant Care
Like I said at the top of this care guide, the ZZ Plant can take quite the neglect before needing any input from you. Does that mean we should neglect them? No, obvi! Let's take a look at the water, light, soil, and temperature considerations for this most sturdy plant.
The Zamioculcas thrives in bright, indirect light. However, the plant is perfectly happy in low light and under fluorescent lights! This is one major reason you tend to so often see them in office buildings. However, when given the bright, indirect light, they tend to grow much more quickly and produce far more pups from their rhizomes!
Our ZZ's only really need to be watered once every few weeks. Again, their rhizomes store plenty of water and nutrients, so they are necessarily drought resistant. The only real problem most encounter from these plants is from over watering. Giving them a fast-draining soil can help you manage the amount of water given to this survivor.
As we just covered, ZZ Plants prefer a fast-draining soil high in nutrients. We personally mix Ph-neutral organic potting soil with cacti/succulent soil in a 1:1 mixture. This will ensure that the plant receives enough nutrients while also maintaining a good draining soil.
Temperature & Humidity
As we learned, the ZZ Plant hails from the tropical forests of Eastern Africa. This means that they love temps averaging in the 70's with humidity levels in the 60% - 80% range. Give them these, and your ZZ will grow faster than most other plants in your collection!
At the end of the day, this is all you really need to do to keep your ZZ Plant happy and healthy. Of course, repotting your plant each spring will ensure that it doesn't become root (rhizome) bound and that it is receiving sufficient amounts of nutrients!
If you've liked some of the suggestions made in this post, then be sure to check out our other posts on the Plant Blog. Also, we would love for you to check out our wonderful collections of plants, accessories, books, and livery at PlantVeritas!