The ZZ Plant is a long-lived hero in many plant owner’s journeys. You can find this plant in many instagram worthy houseplant collections because of it’s beautiful look and amazing durability. Is this plant really as easy as it seems to take care of? Let's find out!
Why are ZZ plants so popular?
The ZZ Plant is an easy to grow and care for plant that has wide, attractive, dark glossy green leaves that easily reflect sunlight, brightening up any space. It grows at a slower pace than most to a height and width of two to three feet, therefore it won’t quickly outgrow its pot. This semi-succulent plant originates from southern African where it thrived in drought-like conditions and has evolved into an ideal plant for frequent travellers, those who occasionally forget to water and even makes for the perfect office plant!
Another reason why ZZ plants are so popular is because of the healthy benefits. While all plants do have some capabilities of air purification, The ZZ plant is specifically adept at removing toxins in the area like xylene, toluene and benzene to help you breathe easily.
While some conditions are better than others, the ZZ plant is not picky about the environmental conditions you place it in. In fact, this plant thrives on neglect! Ideally, place your ZZ plant in an area that contains low to bright indirect sunlight. It is important that you only water the plant when it is fully dry. It can take up to a month before the soil fully dries out, but trust us, if the soil is not completely dry, then it is too early to water. When it doubt, let it drought!
Watering Tip: If you are overwatering, mushy brown stalks and yellowing leaves will appear. If you are underwatering, the ZZ plant will form dry crispy leaves. To solve for underwatering, prune your leaves and increase your watering frequency.
Because the ZZ plant loves to be in a drought state before you water it, it becomes important as to which pot you choose to plant it in. For the soil to fully dry out, a pot with drainage holes is essential for the best results. As for what goes in the pot, most well draining pot mixes will work great so look for mixes that contain perlite and/or sand as it will help to keep the soil mixture loose and well drained.
In terms of repotting, try to replant the ZZ once a year especially during the first 3-5 years while the plant is growing. Since it is a slow growing plant it requires to be moved to a bigger pot less frequently than many of the other plants in your home.
Repotting Tip: Find a pot that is 1”-2” larger than the root of your plant to allow for growth. If you choose a pot too big then this may drown the roots while you are watering the plant.
If you are interested in propagating your ZZ plant then there are a few ways you can do it. The plant grows from a large, thick rhizomatous root system that resembles a potato. This root system is great at holding water which is why one way to propagate the plant is by dividing these root systems apart. Through this division you are able to re-pot the now two ZZ plants! Another way to propagate is through cuttings. By taking a leaf cutting from the ZZ plant and placing it in water, new roots will start to grow. While leaf cuttings do take longer to produce a new ZZ plant, both methods are just as effective when it comes to propagating.
But aren’t ZZ plants poisonous?
One drawback of the ZZ plant is that all of its parts are poisonous. In the earlier 2000’s, there were even false rumors about the plant being so toxic that it could cause cancer. While these rumors have been debunked and found not to be true, it still is important that you are careful with the placement of the ZZ plant in your home especially if you have young children or animals. Since it is a toxic plant, keep it away from nibbling animals and the curious children you have and wash your hands after handling the plant to not cause any skin irritation.
Each plant you own will be unique and have its own set of varying needs to stay healthy and happy. Make sure you are paying attention to your ZZ plant and your other plants as they will tell you when and what they need!