If you're looking for a low-maintenance houseplant that can thrive in low-light conditions and withstand neglect, the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) might just be the perfect choice for you. With its glossy, dark green leaves and striking geometric form, this plant is a favorite among both novice and experienced plant parents. In this blog post, we'll explore the origin, habitat, popular cultivars, and plant care of the ZZ plant.
Origin and Habitat: The ZZ plant is native to eastern Africa, specifically Tanzania and Zanzibar. It belongs to the Araceae family and is related to other popular houseplants such as the peace lily and philodendron. The plant was first discovered by a Dutch horticulturalist in the 19th century and later introduced to Europe and North America.
In its natural habitat, the ZZ plant grows in the understory of tropical forests, where it receives filtered light and occasional rainfall. It has adapted to survive periods of drought by storing water in its rhizomes, which are thick, potato-like structures that grow underground.
Habit: It is a medium to large slow growing upright to arching semi-succulent perennial plant growing up to 100 cm from tubers and producing many stem-like leaves bearing upwards of a dozen elliptic to lanceolate thick opposite to sub-opposite shiny green leaflets.
The ZZ plant has a few popular cultivars, including:
-'Raven': This cultivar has darker leaves than the standard ZZ plant, with a deep green color that borders on black.
-'Zenzi': This dwarf cultivar is perfect for small spaces and tabletop displays, growing to only 8 inches tall.
-'Zamicro': Another dwarf cultivar, the Zamicro has smaller leaves than the standard ZZ plant and grows to only 6 inches tall.
Temperature: Plants grow best between 15 to 25ᐤ C and temperatures below 4ᐤ C may result in the death of the plant.
Light Exposure: Plants will grow well in medium to bright, indirect light but are capable of surviving in low light locations. However, be aware that low light means the plants will grow very slowly. Avoid growing them in direct light.
Watering: ZZ plants are adapted to drought conditions, so they don't need to be watered frequently. ZZ plants should be allowed to dry out considerably between waterings. Plants in bright indirect light locations should be watered once a month in the rainy season and cold dry season and once every two weeks in the hot dry season. In contrast, plants in low light locations should be watered once every two months in the rainy season and cold dry season and once a month in the hot dry season.
Humidity: ZZ plants can tolerate a wide range of humidity levels, but they do appreciate a bit of humidity. Mist the leaves occasionally or place the plant on a tray of pebbles and water to increase humidity.
Fertilising: Plants in higher light locations need to be fertilised with a well balanced fertiliser at half strength once per month; while plants in low light locations should only be fertilised with a well balanced fertiliser at half strength once every two months.
Pruning/Repotting: Remove yellowing and browning leaflets and any wrinkling stem-like leaves as necessary. ZZ plants should be repotted every two or three years into a new pot one size larger than what it was previously growing in. When potting up your ZZ plant, choose a container with drainage holes and use well-draining soil. The plant prefers to be slightly root-bound, so don't choose a pot that's too big.
Pests/Diseases: ZZ Plants rarely suffer many problems but occasionally they may be attacked by scale insects. Other than that they are relatively rest and disease free. If you notice any pests, isolate the plant and treat it with an insecticidal soap or neem oil spray.