How to Grow and Care for your ZZ Plant

What is a ZZ Plant?

This indoor plant gets voted 'most likely to succeed' due to its popularity and numerous desirable qualities. Drought-resistance, low-light loving, and neglect tolerance makes this plant a great option for any owner. Plus, the ZZ Plant is a highly regarded air purifier, pushing it even higher on the list of “must-haves.” Its waxy, shiny leaves reflect sunlight and brighten any home. The leaves and stems grow in an artistic form reaching upward towards the sky. It's mature height and width of two to three feet make it perfect for a nook or for in-between your other plants in your collection. 

The ZZ Plant is an excellent option for a low-maintenance indoor plant (trust us, it is quite difficult to kill). If you want a gift for an inexperienced plant parent, this is a great option. Wherever it is placed, this plant will be a tasteful and class addition to your spaces. Not only is it adorable with its artful glossy leaves that make it an Instagram favorite, but it truly is one of our most low-maintenance houseplants. 

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Bloom: The ZZ plant produces a bright yellow to brownish bronze spadix-type flower but isn’t pronounced since they can be hidden among the leaf base. Flowering may occur from mid-summer to early autumn. While not a traditional flower in any aesthetic sense, it can be exciting to see that your plant is flourishing when the little bud appears! In other words, this plant isn’t usually purchased for the flower but for the exotic appearance of the showy leaves.

Toxicity Level: If ingested, this plant will cause sensitivity to the skin and mucous membranes to cats, dogs, and humans. Stomach pain, diarrhea, or vomiting may occur. Wash hands thoroughly after handling and use gloves to prevent skin irritation. There are myths related to this plant causing extreme illness and having unheard of high toxicity, however these were only rumors! As long as you keep curious pets and children from them and wash your hands after care, there should be no concerns.

Air Cleaner: This plant encourages deep breaths! Your ZZ Plant is rated by a NASA study as removing toxins like xylene, toluene, and benzene. As an air cleaner, this plant is well known for its ability to add moisture to your air and to provide a cleaner space to work, live, and relax. Enjoy the fresh, clean air wherever you locate this plant!

Great for people:

  • Are new plant parents needing an easier starting plant
  • On the go with no time to waste, looking for a low-maintenance plant partner
  • World travelers who may not be home often
  • Who has limited space but wants immediate impact
  • Who love the tropical vibes, and maybe even practice Feng Shui!

Great for Spaces with:

  • Rooms with artificial or low-medium light (northern or eastern exposure)
  • Partial shade patios 
  • Groups of plants that have smaller spaces to fill

 

 

How to Care for a ZZ Plant

Light preference: Your new ZZ plant is best in low to medium light except for intense southern or western exposure or direct sun. You can place this plant almost anywhere and it will grow, but it does appreciate a bit of light occasionally, just not too much! This indoor plant will thrive in a windowless bathroom with some diffused light, low lit basements, or artificially lit office spaces where other plants don't flourish. If near a light source, rotate the saucer each week so all sides of the plant get adequate light for photosynthesis. That way, you won’t end up with a ‘leaning plant’ that’s trying to follow the light. Regardless, this plant isn’t too picky and can survive in many lighting situations.

Water/Humidity: The ZZ Plant is similar to a succulent that thrives on less water. Water when the top two inches of the soil is dry, which you can check by prodding the soil with your finger. Flush the plant with water over a sink and let the water drain entirely. No leftover water is needed to stand in the plant saucer, and can even cause problems for this drier plant! Repeat this watering schedule when the ZZ plant's soil gets dry again.

Check weekly to determine your indoor climate and set up a routine schedule. Overwatering is the most common culprit of death for this low maintenance favorite. Yellow leaves and rotting may be the sign it's gotten too much to drink! Unlike some other plants, the ZZ Plant doesn’t need too much humidity, so no need to spritz or pamper this tough plant unless your air is extremely dry!

Ideal Temps: Native to the soils of East Africa, this plant loves a warmer environment of 13°C-26°C/55°F-79°F. You may see an increase in growth during warmer temperature exposure. The plant can have issues growing if placed in a drafty area such as near an air conditioning vent or window. If the temperature drops below 45°F, it can hurt the plant and stunt its growth. 

Plant Food/Fertilizer: Fertilize with our organic fertilizer once per month in the spring or summer for optimum growth and plant health. Don’t be intimidated by plant feeding, it is really simple to use once you start! Measure your container and scoop out ½ TBSP per 1” container and sprinkle on top of the soil. Water in and continue your watering schedule. Each time you water your indoor plant, the fertilizer is activated. Wash hands after handling plants, soils or fertilizers.

Repotting Frequency: Repot in spring or summer if the root system is overcrowded. Wearing gardening gloves to prevent skin irritation, gently remove the entire plant from the indoor pot. Carefully separate the tuberous rhizomes and divide the plant in half or thirds depending on the overcrowded root system. Make sure to pick pots with drainage to prevent any overwatering. Clean and prune the roots as needed, and select a well-draining soil to protect the plant. 

Cleaning: To keep your ZZ plant dust-free, wipe its leaves delicately with a damp cloth occasionally. Dust buildup can prevent the plant from receiving the sun it needs, so this is a shockingly important part of plant care! No need to spray leaves to make them shine, since their leaves are already built-in with a waxy surface.

Common Issues of the ZZ Plant

  • If your indoor plant starts dropping leaves, it's trying to conserve its internal water during severe drought. Time to water!
  • If your ZZ plant doesn't seem to grow, that's a common complaint. Continue the fertilization schedule and move it to a warmer temperature and brighter room. This plant is particularly slow to grow, so don’t worry too much!
  • Aphids may like the juices or sap of a ZZ plant. If your plant shows any stress (in particular, yellow marks or spots), look under the leaves. Remove these insects by wiping them with mild soap and hot water solution.

 

 

Complimentary Plants with your ZZ plant

A companion plant that takes similar maintenance and suitable for beginners is the Snake Plant. Its structure is also for narrow spaces, and its leaves are long and vertical with a beautiful variegated pattern that adds color. 

If you have overhead space, try a Spider Plant. It is excellent for beginners and gives you a 'Green Space' or interior garden area to add on from above! And bonus, it's excellent at removing toxins from the air.   

Similarly, try Chinese Evergreen, Golden Pothos or Succulents for an added variety.

For more information on caring for your new indoor plant, check out our comprehensive care guide here

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