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How to Grow & Care for Zamioculcas Zamiifolia


ZZ plant with green leaves on a golden potZZ plant with green leaves on a golden pot

ZZ Plant Care: Quick Tips

I love houseplants with unique names, so it’s no wonder the ZZ plant immediately caught my attention.

The Zamioculcas zamiifolia, better known as the ZZ plant, is a resilient indoor plant with dark green leaves shooting vertically upwards.

Anyone can care for a ZZ plant thanks to its tolerance for various temperatures and little need for constant maintenance.

In this guide, I’ll explain how to care for your ZZ plant and whether it’s safe around pets and children. Read on!

What Is a ZZ Plant?

Closeup view on the green leaves of ZZ plantCloseup view on the green leaves of ZZ plant

  • Scientific Name: Zamioculcas zamiifolia
  • Common Name: Zanzibar Gem
  • Mature Height: 3 to 5 feet
  • Native To: Eastern Africa

The ZZ plant is a perennial native to East Africa. It naturally grows in dry forests and grasslands, so it’s evolved to be quite drought-tolerant and can tolerate low light very well.

It comes from the same family as peace lilies.

ZZ plants are succulents, meaning they store water within their stems and can survive months in the harshest growing conditions, like times of drought.

They spread through small oval-shaped rhizomes found underground through their stems. These slow-growing plants also store water within the rhizomes.

One ZZ leaf grows from each rhizome, and its newer plants have lighter colors. These colors range from bright to very dark green foliage. New stem growth may reach 6 to 12 inches in a month, and the ZZ plant produces 1 to 3 new stems every few months.

In my experience, ZZ plants grow faster in early spring to mid-autumn within temperate climates, but their growing season changes all year round in tropical areas.

ZZ Plant Care Tips

ZZ plant on a gray pot placed on a wooden table near a windowZZ plant on a gray pot placed on a wooden table near a window

Though ZZ plants can survive on very little water and across various temperature ranges, they still need essential nutrients to grow faster and stay alive.

You can help it survive by giving it the proper light and enough water and maintaining a good humidity and temperature range.

Prioritizing soil with good drainage is vital for all houseplants, especially when temperatures and light levels change.

But what exactly do I need to care for a ZZ plant? I’ll cover their top requirements for better growth here.


ZZ plants can thrive in different types of sunlight.

A ZZ plant loves bright indirect light but may also tolerate low-light conditions. I recommend giving your ZZ plants at least six hours daily under bright indirect light, but they may even reach 12 hours during the hot summer.

However, direct sunlight is deadly for this plant, as the soil dries faster, and the direct sun will cause its leaves to fade and wilt.

To ensure your ZZ plant doesn’t end up with damaged leaves, keep it in areas away from the direct sun. Depending on where your home is facing the sun, a good ZZ plant placement is either by south or north-facing windows.

ZZ plant in white pot on windowsill for indirect lightZZ plant in white pot on windowsill for indirect light

When the sun is less prominent during the winter months, you can simulate the bright light ZZ plants love by adding a filter or shade over a light source near the plant.

However, since the ZZ plant can naturally tolerate low light, it is less necessary to simulate its natural light levels than its watering, temperature, and humidity requirements.


ZZ plants need water to store within their stems and rhizomes to survive. Since they can handle drought-like conditions, I recommend watering them every 2-3 weeks.

Before you water your ZZ plant, check its moisture level. Ensure the top inch of the soil is completely dry before watering it. Overwatering is a common mistake that many plant owners can make, especially with indoor plants like succulents.

If you’ve overwatered your ZZ plant, it may experience root rot, which can lead to its death. Since root rot directly affects a plant’s root system, its signs typically aren’t visible from above the pot.

A common tell-tale sign of overwatering is yellow leaves. If you spot this on your ZZ plant, immediately change your watering frequency.

Closeup view of ZZ plant wet with water dropsCloseup view of ZZ plant wet with water drops

Check that its pot has a proper drainage system, like a hole underneath or on its side. Allowing the water to seep out reduces the chances of overwatering and root rot.

Temperature and Humidity

One of the reasons why ZZ plants are so popular is because they can tolerate various humidity levels. They grow normally both in humid areas and locations with dry air.

However, if your home has inconsistent humidity levels, you can use a humidifier to maintain a 40-50% level.

Another way to increase humidity is by grouping multiple ZZ plants near each other. Place each pot near the others using a large pebble tray.

Keeping the surrounding temperature within the 65°F-85°F range (18°C-30°C) is beneficial for the ZZ plant, as it simulates their native environment.

Going as low as 60°F is possible, but I recommend not going lower than this baseline.

ZZ plant on a white pot with other houseplants on the backgroundZZ plant on a white pot with other houseplants on the background


ZZ plants love well-draining soil, allowing air, water, and nutrients to flow naturally through their stems and rhizomes.

Placing the plant in a well-draining potting mix helps ensure it continuously grows, even with little maintenance. A good potting mix includes peat moss, pine bark fines, or perlite.

The ZZ plant has a specific pH range requirement for its soil: 6.0-7.0.

That said, I don’t advise using regular garden soil since it cannot tolerate too much moisture in the soil.

Next, let’s talk fertilizer. Giving your ZZ plant organic fertilizer greatly boosts its growth, creating more deeply colored foliage and a healthier appearance during the spring season.

As a general rule, use a diluted fertilizer at half-strength. Avoid fertilizing this plant during winter, as they’re dormant during that time and don’t need it.

ZZ plant with mulchZZ plant with mulch


Unlike some succulents or indoor plants, ZZ plants do not need regular pruning or maintenance.

However, it’s important to remove dead leaves when you spot them on the soil. Remember to wear gloves while pruning, as the plant excretes toxic sap.


Fortunately, it’s easy to propagate ZZ plants, whether to speed up their growth or just for more ZZ plants.

These are my general steps for ZZ plant propagation:

  • Remove the plant from the pot and separate the rhizomes around its roots.
  • Repot the rhizomes with the stems and small leaves attached at the same depth they were growing in the pot previously.
  • Use the same soil combined with some fresh potting mix when repotting to avoid transplant shock.

If the soil is completely dry after propagation, water the plant and let it rest.

Common ZZ Plant Pests and Problems

Though ZZ plants are incredibly resilient, they still have their share of weaknesses. I’ll cover a few of them here.


Hand checking yellow leaves of ZZ plant due to overwateringHand checking yellow leaves of ZZ plant due to overwatering

The most common issue your ZZ plant can experience is overwatering. If your plant has yellow leaves that droop unnaturally low, you’ve probably been watering too frequently.

Repotting is a common solution to this problem, but remember to be careful, as some plants may already have rotten roots and rhizomes.


Another common problem is underwatering. Though this plant stores plenty of water within its rhizomes and stems, it may still die if it runs out of this source.

If either underwatering or its opposite occurs, adjust how frequently you water your ZZ plant.


Closeup of a mealybugCloseup of a mealybug

Closeup of a mealybug

Additionally, though ZZ plants are resistant to common pests, they can still be targeted by mealy bugs, fungus gnats, and aphids due to their sap.

My advice is to ensure the plant is dust-free and to add horticultural oil. Always wear gloves when touching the ZZ plant to avoid the toxic sap.


I’ll briefly provide some more information about ZZ plants here.

How Tough Are They?

ZZ plants are tough, giving them a much-deserved reputation as ideal hardy plants for beginner gardeners.

They do not require much watering and maintenance, and giving them sufficient light, water, and air is enough to maintain them.

Are They Pet-Friendly?

ZZ plants are not good for pets due to their toxic sap of calcium oxalate in the leaves, roots, and stems. Humans should also take care when caring for a ZZ plant.

If pets ingest this plant, they’ll experience diarrhea and vomiting, along with throat pain. Since the same applies to humans, it is recommended that they avoid casually touching the ZZ plant or use gloves.

How Big Can They Grow?

ZZ plants reach 3 to 5 feet, and their stems grow 6 to 12 inches monthly.


From their unique name to their resilience and toughness, the ZZ plant is a great option to add to your home.

Remember to keep it in bright, indirect light and fertilized during its growing periods from the spring to the summer.

By keeping pets away from this plant and monitoring its needs, you can easily show love to your ZZ plant without extra costs and headaches.


Other Guides from Planet Natural:

How To Plant Grow And Care For Haworthia: Complete Guide

Growing and Caring for Aster Flower – Complete Guide

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