ZZ Plant Care & Growing Guide

The ZZ plant is very hardy and is a perfect plant for those that do not have a green thumb or just starting their house plant venture. 

It originated from East Africa.  The smaller plant can be put on an office shelf and the larger plant is great to grace empty corners or near a doorway.  They are native to Eastern Africa.  They also help to purify the air and is an easy plant to grow.

What it Looks Like

The stems of this plant grow in a graceful, wand-like shape.  At the base, it starts thick and bulbous, tapering to a point.  On the stem, there are oval-shaped, fleshy leaves that look like stylized feathers.  The whole plant has a shiny, waxy coating that makes people that it is not a real plant because it looks like it is plastic.  The foliage is a dark purple-black.

ZZ Plant Care & Growing Guide

1. Light 

The ZZ plant prefers indirect, bright sunlight but it can survive in low-light.  They can even survive if you use a bright, fluorescent light.  Because it can survive in different light conditions, it a popular plant for spaces inside that have no windows.  They do not like direct sunlight 

2. Water

Make sure that you allow the soil to dry between watering.  Although the plant can survive months without water, if you do water it regularly it will grow faster.  You should let at least three inches of soil to dry before you water it.  The ZZ plant usually needs to be watered once every week or two.  It all depends on the growing conditions.  You should fertilize your plant in the spring or summer once or twice using a diluted liquid fertilizer.  A good type would be 20-20-20

3. Climate

Hardiness zone 9-10.

4. Soil

They need soil that is well-draining with a pH 6.0-7.0.  They are not that picky about what type of soil you use as long as it is drains well.  If you need extra draining, you can mix sand or perlite into the potting soil.

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zz plant

5. Temperature

The ZZ plant prefers the temperature to be 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.  It thrives best when the room is humid but can tolerate it as long as the air is not really dry.  If the air is too dry, you can mist the leaves daily.

6. Repotting

Unless it is outgrowing its pot, you should not need to repot your ZZ plant.  If you have to repot it, it is best if done in the spring.  Chose a pot that has proper drainage and one size up and remove the plant from the initial pot. Prune the roots if needed and then repot it in the new pot with well-draining potting soil.  Then water it until it drains out the bottom.

7. Propagation

It is easy to propagate from the cutting but it does take time for them to root.  Take a small branch and put in some damp soil and wait for it to take root.  Make sure that it is a mature stem.

8. Speed of Growth

This is a plant that is slow to grow and it can take a few years for it to grow a few feet.  To help with its growth process, make sure that it has the right amount of water, temperature, and light.

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9. Height and Spread

The ZZ plant can grow as five feet but most of those that are grown as indoor plants only get as big two to three feet high and just as wide.

10. Trimming

The ZZ plant does not require extensive trimming or pruning.  All you need to do is remove any yellow leaves and cut back on stems that are overgrown during the year.

Is the ZZ Plant Poisonous?

This plant can cause skin irritation and stomach pain.  Handle this plant carefully.  You should even consider wearing gloves because it contains calcium oxalate crystals.  This what makes it very poisonous to pets and children.  If you touch it with your bare hands, make sure that you wash your hands afterward.


The flowers bloom in the springtime and are yellow-brown spadix.

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Common ZZ Plant Diseases

Direct exposure to sunlight:  This can dry out the leaves or scorch them. The leaves can curl, lean away from the light, or turn yellow.  If this happens, all you have to do is put the plant  in the shade until the leaves return to their normal green shade.

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Sitting in water:  This can cause rhizome and stem rot.  The leaves will start to turn yellow and fall off.

Temperature below 45 degrees Fahrenheit or placed near an air condition vent:  Either of these can cause stunted growth in the ZZ plant.

Pest:  Aphids like to suck the sap so if you notice that you have an infestation you can remove them by wiping the leaves with a hot water-mild soap solution.  They may also have mealy bugs, fungus gnats, and scale that can be gotten rid of like you do aphids.

Needs water:  The leaves will start to drop off so you just need to water it and it should resuscitate itself.

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Because of the waxy rich green leaves, many times people mistake them for an artificial plant.  As mentioned, the ZZ plant is very hardy and can survive even after weeks of being neglected.  You have to really try if you want to kill it.  With this plant, it is better to under-water them than to over-water because when you over-water them, they can die from root rot.  

The ZZ plant grows from rhizomes, which are modified stems that run underground horizontally and strike new roots out of the nodes into the soil.  These help the plant to store water under the soil, which make them a plant that is drought-tolerant.  Use a damp washcloth to gently wipe away any dust on the leaves but never use commercial leaf shine because they will clog the plant pores.  As a survival technique, the plant will start to drop its leaves in order to conserve moisture if it is in extreme drought.

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