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Zamioculea zamiifolia, also known as the ZZ plant,
is one of the best low maintenance houseplants around because it
requires very little water or light to thrive. It also has a great shape
and lends itself well to a range of designs spanning modern to
classical.  Everything Grows provides ZZ plants and care to our commercial customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.  Designers and architects are big fans of ZZ plants because of their geometric leaf structure.

Habitat

The
ZZ plant is a tropical perennial plant that is native to Eastern Africa
from Southern Kenya to Northeastern South Africa. Zamioculca is a
genus of flowering plants in the family Araceae, containing a single
species, Zamioculcas Zamiifolia. Dutch nurseries started wide-scale
propagation of the plant in the mid 1990s and it wasn’t well known before
that.

ZZ plants are used medically in the Mulanje
district o Malawi and the East Usambara mountains of Tanzania where the
juice from the leaves is used to treat earaches. Roots from the ZZ
plants are often used as a local application to treat ulceration by the
Sukuma people in North-western Tanzania.

The ZZ Plant

The
ZZ plant can get about 3′ tall and about 3-4′ wide, but usually it is
only about 20-24″ tall. It is in the same family as Dieffenbachia,
Caladium, and Spathiphyllum. The ZZ plant does produce a flower, though
it is considered insignificant. The flower is a greenish or brownish
spathe and half hidden in the leaves. The plant usually flowers from
mid-Summer to Autumn. Usually ZZ plants are not grown for their flowers,
but for their toughness and beautiful leaves. ZZ plants are normally
evergreen but become deciduous during drought periods. They survive
through their rhizomes that store water.
 
 

The ZZ plant
grows about 17-25″ tall from a stout underground succulent rhizome. The
leaves are pinnate, 16-24″ long with 6-8 pairs of leaflets which are
3-5″ long. The stems of those pinnate leaves are thickened at the
bottom. Each leaf on the ZZ plant contain an unusually high-water
content of around 91%. And each leaf will last up to 6 months, so each
plant is very hardy. The ZZ plant survives periods of drought in its
native Africa, so it makes a great houseplant and can withstand neglect.

Care

The
ZZ plant likes to be in a bright and warm location for the best growth,
however it will also thrive in a darker place. ZZ plants are happy in
almost any type of light. They tolerate low, medium or bright light; but
they don’t want direct sun. When the ZZ plant has less light, the plant
tends to be a darker green and a lighter green in a brighter area. ZZ
plants should be grown in temperatures of at least 60 degrees F. They
thrive in temperatures from 65-79 degrees F. During the Winter, the ZZ
plant does better in a situation with higher humidity which also helps
to prevent insect pests.

The best soil for a ZZ plant is
one that is fertile but fast draining. It should be slightly acidic with
a PH of 6.5. It should contain sand or clay to help enhance drainage.
ZZ plants don’t want to be water-logged. A good potting soil for indoor
ZZ plants would be 1/3 cactus soil and 2/3 regular potting soil. This
mix would provide ample nutrition and ample drainage for the plant.

The
best time to repot a ZZ plant is after the Winter rest period and after
the first shoot-up growth during March or April. Most ZZ plants only
need repotting every 2-3 years. If the ZZ plant has optimal conditions
and is growing quickly, it might need repotting every year. When
choosing a pot, make sure to choose one with a drainage hole. The ZZ
plant needs to be able to have excess water draining away from the
plant. If you use a saucer under the plant, be sure and empty in after
15 minutes. It is difficult to say how often a ZZ plant will need to be
watered, but usually once every 2-4 weeks is sufficient. ZZ plants do
best if they are too dry rather than too wet. This is due to the fact
that the rhizomes store water and use it when no moisture can be drawn
from the soil. During the Winter, the water requirement is reduced, but
the ZZ plant will benefit from occasional water and misting. The best
water for ZZ plants is soft water with few minerals – rainwater or
distilled water are good for them.

ZZ plants don’t
typically need a lot of fertilizer. They do best when fertilized about
once a month during the growing season of March to October. Any liquid
fertilizer that is suitable for houseplants is fine for ZZ plants.

Pests and Disorders

The
main pests for ZZ plants are spider mites and scale. These can be hosed
off with a stream of water if the infestation isn’t too bad. You need
to protect the pot and soil before you do this by wrapping them up in a
plastic bag. If plant is really infested with insect pests, you can use
insecticidal soap or neem oil to contain the pests. Try to avoid putting
the ZZ plants near radiators or heaters because they tend to dry out
the air around the plants. This tropical plant needs moisture and will
be subject to more pests without it. If the ZZ plant turns yellow, its
usually due to excess water. Overwatering also results in leaves losing
their firmness and becoming soft.

ZZ plants are poisonous
to both humans and pets. They can cause skin and eye irritation with
direct contact, and can cause stomachache, vomiting, and diarrhea if
ingested. ZZ plants are in the Araceae family and they produce Calcium
Oxalate. This substance is what causes skin irritation on contact with
the sap and can cause irritation of the internal tissues if ingested.

If
a child or pet eats part of a ZZ plant, they will experience discomfort
but will be fine in the end. You can expect them to have a stomachache
and a bad case of diarrhea. They may also have vomiting. To keep pets
away, you can sprinkle orange peel or coffee grounds onto the soil
around the ZZ plant. Cats and dogs tend to dislike the strong odors
produced and will often stay away from the ZZ plants. You can also spray
the ZZ plants with a very dilute vinegar solution and this will deter
most animals.