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ZZ Plant

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Unique plants are eye-catching plants… and the ZZ plant falls right into that category. When I first started collecting living indoor house plants, this was one that I snatched right up. I own two of them, and they haven’t caused me any issues. They don’t talk back, miss curfew, or refuse to flaunt their beauty. They have a unique, eye-catching shape that is loaded with a dense cluster of glossy zig-zag leaves. The leaflets are so shiny it looks as if the plant has been sprayed with leaf polish.

ZZ plants are drought tolerant can handle dry air, and will be happy in low-light conditions. If given bright indirect light, it will shoot out new growth. And trust me, new growth on this plant is exciting to experience.  Like a succulent, the thick stems and bulbous roots store water, making it the perfect houseplant for the traveler or workaholic. They are slow-growing plants that reach up to three to five feet — patience, my friend, patience. If you are short in the patience department, purchase a more substantial plant from the get-go!

ZZ Plants are rhizome plants and also known as Zanzibar Gem, ZZ Plant, Zuzu Plant, Aroid Palm, Eternity Plant, Emerald Palm, Zamioculcus Zamiifolia, Zamioculcus Zamiifolia ‘Zenzi’. It’s really no wonder why it can be challenging to remember the names of plants and why there is such confusion when people talk about them.

Light Requirements

These ZZ plants are happy in low-light conditions, but the brighter the indirect light is, the better. To provide indirect light, place the plant a few feet away from a sunny window, in front of a window covered with a sheer curtain, or in front of a window with a northern exposure.
I own two of these plants. One is high up on a shelf in my studio, which doesn’t get much for indirect light; instead, the room is flooded with fluorescent lighting, and it is flourishing. My other ZZ plant sits in the center of our living room on the coffee table. It gets indirect light from a Northern window. It, too, is doing super well.

Water Requirements

When it comes to watering, only water when the soil is completely dry. Remember that the thick stems and bulbous roots store water, so you actually have to worry about over-watering more so than under-watering. Problems can develop if the plant is watered too frequently and the potting soil is constantly wet.

Optimum Temperature

They prefer average to warm temperatures of 55-85 degrees (F), which is way better than me. I have a much narrower window of temperature tolerance. I am a happy camper around 65 degrees (F)… just in case I visit, you know where to stick me. Haha. Avoid cold drafts and heat vents.

Fertilizer – Plant Food

Fertilize twice during the growing season (Spring-Fall) with a 1/2 strength diluted complete fertilizer. These plants do not like to be fertilized often. If you overfeed a plant, you can remove the houseplant from its current soil and repot it in fresh soil. This technique is undoubtedly the best way to get rid of the excess nutrients affecting your plant. Alternatively, you can flush the soil, which involves drenching the soil with water and letting it drain out. Repeat this several times to help the soil get rid of excess fertilizer.

Additional Care

Plant Characteristics to Watch For

Diagnosing what is going wrong with your plant is going to take a little detective work, but more so… patience! First of all, don’t panic and don’t throw a plant out prematurely. Take a few deep breaths and work down the list of possible issues. Below, I am going to share some typical symptoms that can arise. When I start to spot troubling signs on a plant, I take the plant into a room with good lighting, pull out my magnifiers, and begin by thoroughly inspecting the plant.
The leaves are yellowing and falling off.
There are yellow markings on the leaves.

The leaves are drying out and look scorched.

Leaf tips turning brown.

My plant isn’t growing.

Uneven growth.

Leggy stems.

Common Bugs to Watch For

The ZZ plant is very seldom seen to suffer from pests or disease. But there are a few that they can come in contact with. If you want to have healthy house plants, you MUST inspect them regularly. Every time I water a plant, I give it a quick look-over.  Bugs/insects feeding on your plants reduces the plant sap and redirects nutrients from leaves. Some chew on the leaves, leaving holes in the leaves.  Also watch for wilting or yellowing, distorted, or speckled leaves. They can quickly get out of hand and spread to your other plants.

Toxicity

You should take care when handling this plant because it contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause skin irritation or more severe ailments like stomach pain. The oxalate crystals make the plant especially poisonous for cats and dogs, so make sure to keep it out of reach. ZZ plants are still safe to have in your home as long as you keep them out of reach from curious pets and children. You should wash your hands immediately after tending to your plant or wear gloves to minimize contact with the plant.

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