Plant Care for Dummies: ZZ Plant
If just like me, you find Zamioculcas zamiifolia a little mouthful and difficult to pronounce then henceforth we will call this darling the ZZ Plant (pronounced zee-zee). Native to the Eastern African region, the ZZ can grow happily in the widest range of conditions. The plant is so cool that it is almost unreal and guests would be touching it to just make sure.
The plant grows in the shape of wands arching out of the soil, with shiny leaves arranged along the length. The leaves start out lighter green in colour and then progress to a darker more emerald green, earning it the name Zanzibar Gem. The ZZ is an excellent plant of choice for people with a brown thumb or are just starting out, it’s the easiest plant you could ever have and it is also an excellent air purifier.
Let’s take a look at the care tips and learn how to make the ZZ become the centrepiece in your home.
Common name: ZZ plant, Zanzibar Gem
Botanical name: Zamioculcas zamiifolia
Sunlight: Medium to Low light
Air: Well ventilated
Soil: Rich and well-draining
Water: When the soil dries out completely.
Fertilisers: Once every month
Issues: Rot due to overwatering. It does better with underwatering.
Sunlight for ZZ plant
For the ZZ, direct sunlight is great but not essential. The ZZ can survive happily in anything from bright sunlight windowsills to low light corners or your bedrooms. Brighter light ensures faster growth, sturdier stems, well-spaced leaves and in general a healthier plants. While the plants can live happily in the lowest of lights, it leads to slower growth, spaced out leaves and thinner stems, but still just as good.
Placement of ZZ plant
The ZZ will do great in almost any corner of your home, from your sunny porches to your dark aisles. If your ZZ is smaller, place it on tabletops, shelves, or windowsills. The larger plants look good anywhere large enough to keep them. Their erect compact growth make them a great fit for tight corners that have nothing going on for them. Even if you are placing your ZZ in really low light corners, sunning it weekly for a couple of hours gives them enough fuel to stay healthy and keep you happy.
Watering for ZZ plant
ZZ has tuberous bulbous roots, resembling a potato, that stores moisture to see it through the dry days. This root structure ensures that your ZZ can stay without water for long spells and does better with underwatering than overwatering. Water your ZZ when the entire potting mix is dry. Don’t let the soil stay dry for too long, as the plant will use up all the moisture stored in the roots. The frequency of watering depends on the amount of light it gets, plants in brighter light need more frequent watering and vice versa.
When watering an extremely dried out soil (visible cracks and soil leaving the planter walls) water in batches. Watering all at once allows the water to simply pass through the soil without getting absorbed, so water in batches and let the soil soak it all up.
Every time a plant I watered, water it thoroughly till you see some draining out of the drainage hole and always empty the under plate.
Fertilisers for ZZ plant
Feed your ZZ with a generic houseplant fertiliser every three to four weeks, diluted as instructed on the packaging. Make sure the fertilisers have the three major nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Ugaoo’s Plan-T-onic and NPK are great options for both root and foliar applications. Another great way to add nutrition to the soil is through monthly addition of vermicompost or any other organic compost.
Propagation of ZZ plant
ZZ plants can be propagated through division of the root rhizome of a mature plant, stem cuttings, and also leaf cuttings.
Take a clean sharp knife and cut through the bulbous root of a mature ZZ plant. Let the divided plants air dry for a day and then repot it in a fresh, well-draining potting mix. Similarly, take a stem cutting with a sharp clean knife or pluck a leaf from the stem (preserving the leaf stalk) and propagate the cutting in water for a few weeks till a bulbous root system develops and then transplant it into a potting mix.
Plant problems of ZZ plant
Spaced out leaves, or etiolation, is a sign of low light or a long time. Give it a few hours of direct sun every week of two for a healthy growth.
Thin spindly stems are a sign of unhealthy plant growth, give it more might and fertilise it regularly.
Yellowing leaves with wrinkled stems is a sign of underwatering or low light exposure or both. Remedy the situation for better growth.
Yellowing leaves with black mushy stems are a sign of root rot due to overwatering. Unpot the plant and wash the roots to check for rot. If there are any blackening root, cut it off and preserve the white roots. Let the root system dry out in a ventilated space for a day, away from direct light.