ZZ Plant

8 Tips on How to Care for Your ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia infographic)

ZZ Plant or Zanzibar Gem (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is a very popular houseplant because it is tough and low maintenance. It can tolerate low light which makes it an easy houseplant to grow at home. Your Zanzibar Gem is known for its beautiful foliage with glossy, thick, fern-like leaves. If you have children and pets at home, you should keep your ZZ plant out of reach because it is toxic to humans and pets. Here are tips on how to care for your Zanzibar Gem.

ZZ Plant Houseplant Infographic

ZZ Plant Infographic
ZZ Plant Infographic

8 Tips on How to Take Care of Your ZZ Plant

1. Your ZZ Plant is Happiest in Bright, filtered light but can tolerate low light 

ZZ Plant is happiest in bright, filtered light but can tolerate low light from a North window. It will grow better in brighter light. It does not like direct sunlight though, the leaves will burn. 

You May Also Like this Low Light Houseplant: Snake Plant

2. Moderate Water is Best for ZZ Plant

Water your ZZ Plant when the soil feels dry. The best way to tell when it is time to water your Zanzibar Gem is to feel the soil. Stick your finger in the soil 2 inches deep. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water your Zanzibar Gem. If the soil is wet, then don’t water your Zanzibar Gem. If it’s kept at low light, allow the soil to dry all the way to the bottom before watering. 

3. Get the Soil Right for Your ZZ Plant

ZZ Plant needs a well-draining, organic cactus potting mix. You can make your own cactus potting mix by mixing 1 part sand and 3 parts general-purpose organic, potting mix.

4. Fertilize Your ZZ Plant

ZZ Plant should be fertilized once every 3 months at half strength. 

5. Don’t forget to Repot Your ZZ Plant

Repot your Zanzibar Gem when it’s outgrowing its current pot. Repot in a container with a diameter 2 inches larger than the current pot.

Repotting ZZ Plant
Repotting ZZ Plant

6. Drainage is Essential for Your ZZ Plant

After watering your Zanzibar Gem and you see water draining out of the pot’s drainage holes, make sure you empty out the accumulated water in the saucer. Don’t let your Zanzibar Gem’s pot sit in this puddle of water. It will cause root rot! 

7. Get the Temperature Right for Your ZZ Plant

Your ZZ Plant needs to have a daytime temperature of 70F to 80 Farenheit (21-26C). Nighttime temperature should be at 60-70 Farenheit (15-21 C).

8. ZZ Plant Does Not Need High Humidity

Your ZZ Plant is a plant that tolerates dry air well.

Common ZZ Plant Problems

The common problems for ZZ Plant are yellowing leaves and root rot.

Zanzibar Gem: Looks Wilted (Soil is Wet)

Problem: Your Zanzibar Gem looks wilted even if the soil is wet. Check for root rot by pulling the plant out and examining the roots. If the roots of your Zanzibar Gem plant look mushy (healthy roots are firm) and the roots are gray to black in color, these are telltale signs of root rot. 

Root Rot
Root Rot

Cause: Root rot is caused by fungus and is a serious problem for your Zanzibar Gem. Root rot is a result of wet soil due to overwatering or poor drainage. 

Solution: When your Zanzibar Gem is afflicted with root rot the chance of survival is slim. Your best course of action is to throw your Zanzibar Gem out and start over with a new plant. This time don’t overwater your Zanzibar Gem and make sure there is good drainage in the pot.

Check out our article on how to make your own homemade pesticides using baby shampoo: How to Make Horticultural Oil and How to Make Insecticidal Soap

ZZ Plant: Yellowing Leaves

Problem: If you see yellowing leaves on your Zanzibar Gem, that is a sign that something is wrong with your plant.

Cause: If you see yellowing leaves with black dots then it could be a fungal infection. Yellowing leaves can also be a sign of nutrient deficiency. Another reason for Yellowing leaves on your ZZ plant is that it could be caused by hot, afternoon sunlight or overwatering. 

Solution: Check to see if your Zanzibar Gem is being overwatered or placed where there is hot, afternoon sun. If so, move your Zanzibar Gem and decrease watering. Also check to see if there is nutrient deficiency, if so, it’s time to fertilize your Zanzibar Gem.

ZZ Plant Houseplant Facts

NameZZ Plant
Scientific NameZamioculcas zamiifolia
LightBright, filtered light but can tolerate low light
Daytime Temperature70 to 80 F (21-26C)
Night Time Temperature60 to 70 F (15-21C)
WaterModerate Water
HumidityTolerate dry air well
PottingWell-draining, organic, cactus potting mix
FertilizerOnce every 3 weeks at half-strength
Toxic to Pets and HumansToxic
ZZ Plant Facts

ZZ Plant: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Other Names of ZZ Plant?

ZZ Plant is also called Zanzibar Gem, Aroid Palm, Fat Boy, and Eternity Plant.

Is Your ZZ Plant Toxic to Pets?

ZZ Plants are toxic to humans and pets. Don’t let children or pets chew on the leaves of the Zanzibar Gem plant because it contains calcium oxalate crystals. The crystals can cause vomiting and difficulty breathing. It can also result in swelling of lips, tongue, and mouth and excessive drooling. If you see any of these symptoms and suspect ingestion of Zanzibar Gem plants, call poison control immediately! Also, call your doctor or vet once you start seeing adverse reactions in children and pets.

How Can You Tell When It’s Time to Water Your ZZ Plant?

Water your Zanzibar Gem when the soil feels dry. The best way to tell when it’s time to water is by sticking your finger into the soil 2 inches deep. If the soil feels dry, then it’s time to water your Zanzibar Gem. 

Can You Use Cold Water When Watering Your ZZ Plant?

ZZ Plant can be watered with tap water but be mindful of the water temperature that you are using to water your Zanzibar Gem. Don’t use straight cold water from the tap to water your Zanzibar Gem. 

Zanzibar Gem prefers cool water that is not hot and not cold. When you turn on the cold water from the faucet, add a little warm water. You can also get to this ideal temperature by filling a watering can or pitcher with water and leaving it out overnight until the water is at room temperature. 

What Fertilizer Should You Use for Your ZZ Plant?

Use organic fertilizers with a higher ratio of nitrogen content. 

How Big Does Your ZZ Plant Get?

ZZ Plant can grow to 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide.

How Do You Propagate Your ZZ Plant?

Your ZZ Plant is easy to propagate. You can propagate your ZZ plant by division or leaf cuttings.

Below are steps on how to propagate your Zanzibar Gem Plant by stem cutting.

1. Take a Stem Cutting of your Zanzibar Gem Plant (include a node)

Pick a stem with a node. Cut below the node.

2. Place Zanzibar Gem Stem in Jar of Water

Place the Zanzibar Gem stem into a jar of water and wait for it to grow roots. To help it focus its energy on growing roots, make sure your stem has a maximum of 2 leaves. Cut off extra leaves as needed.
Another way to stimulate root growth is to dip your stem cutting in root hormone and plant it in moist sand. I personally prefer the jar method so you can easily see the roots come out. Know that not all stem cuttings of Zanzibar Gem will grow roots, so to be safe, cut a few stem cuttings so you will at least get one with roots.

3. Plant ZZ Plant Stem Cutting in a New Pot

Once the roots grow, plant these stem cuttings into a new pot. Water the new plant immediately after planting. Then water every 2-3 days until the roots are established.

4. Place New Zanzibar Gem Plant in a Spot with Bright Indirect Sun

Place your new Zanzibar Gem plant in a spot with bright indirect sunlight. Don’t put it in direct sunlight.

You May Be Interested In Other Low Light Loving Houseplants

Prayer Plants

Snake Plant

ZZ Plant

Dragon Tree

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