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How to care for a ZZ plant

The ZZ plant is a popular, pretty shrub with glossy green leaves. It is perfect for adding green life to your home or office. ZZ plant care is simple. It tolerates infrequent waterings, neglect and grows in a variety of light levels. ZZ plant propagation is simple too.

This is an all around champion house or patio plant.

ZZ PLANT SIZE: The ZZ plant grows as a small bush on upright stalks with strong leathery leaves. It can grow up to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide outdoors. Expect your indoor Zamioculcas to grow about 2 feet tall and wide.

These houseplants are also known as Zanzibar Gem, Emerald Palm, Zamioculcas, and Zuzu plants. ZZ can grow in a variety of conditions and make great beginner houseplants.

Read Our post on Best plants For Beginner Plant Parents for a list of our recommended choices for easy indoor plants to get you started on growing plants. Zanzibar Gems are definitely one of them!

The Zamioculcas zamiifolia is designed by nature to be an easy to get along with housemate. It is native to the inhospitable climate of Eastern Africa, from Kenya to Northeastern South Africa. ZZ has adapted itself to survive its natural habitat with large potato shaped rhizomes and thick leaves that retain water.

Zanzibar Gems are in the Araceae family along with Pothos, philodendrons, Monsteras and other aroids.

Zamioculas Zamiifolia
Zamioculas Zamiifolia house plant

These plants make great additions to any home. Let’s take a look at all the reasons to love this plant.

What Are The Benefits of a ZZ Plant?

  1. ZZ plants are great at air filtering. ZZ plants pull Xylene, formaldehyde and other VOCs from the air in your home. They also produce oxygen and use up carbon monoxide.
  2. ZZ Plants can be placed almost anywhere away from pets and kids with adequate light.
  3. Zz plant needs very little watering so they are a ‘set it and forget it’ plant you don’t have to worry over.
  4. This is a ‘lucky’ plant. If you are a follower of fungi shi, the ZZ is a great choice and brings all the positive vibes you are looking for.
  5. Zanzibar Gems are VERY resilient plants. They tolerant neglect and poor conditions well.
  6. ZZ Plant Care is simple. They need very little fussing once they are properly potted and placed.
  7. This attractive plant is simple to propagate. With little trouble you can make more ZZs to give your friends and family.
  8. ZZ plants are universally popular and now quite available.
  9. Zanzibar Gems make wonderful patio plants in warmer climates. Grow them outdoors as ornamental bushes in climates with annual temperatures between 55 to 85 degrees F.
  10. ZuZu plants comes in a variety of colors. The Zanzibar gem comes in a variegated form, a dwarf form, and a darker leafed variety called a Raven ZZ plant.

Zanzibar Gem is a great choice for your home, office, patio or even an outdoor ornamental bush.

Plants are very beneficial to people emotionally and as an environmental addition to your home.

Read more about why houseplants are beneficial to people here .

The Contented Plant

Is ZZ Plant Toxic?

The ZZ Plant is moderately toxic to humans and pets. The rumor that this plant causes cancer is now debunked. However, Emerald Palms, like many aroids, contain calcium oxalate crystals which irritate skin, mouth and digestive processes. Keep your Zamioculcas Plant Away from pets and children. Call poison control or your vet if you suspect poisoning.

Shop ZZ plants on Etsy

ZuZu plants are getting easy to source in local garden shops and big box stores as they become more popular. However, a black Raven or Variegated Zamioculcas will be more difficult to find. We recommend you choose a well reviewed Esty shop to source your plants.

raven ZZ plant

The black Raven variety of ZuZu plant is a highly sought after Zamioculcas. Read our post on them here.

The Contented Plant

Here are the most commonly asked questions on the care of this plant and our answers. We also include a quick care guide table and a printable care guide with all the information necessary to grow a happy healthy Zamioculcas.

How Much Water Does A ZZ Plant Need?

ZZ plants are drought tolerant and can go several weeks and up to 4 months between waterings. When the soil is dry give the pot a good soaking, then let it drain (bottom watering methods work great too).

These amazing plants are semi succulents. Their thick glossy leaves and potato shaped rhizomes store water for the dry times. This allows them to grow contentedly with even very dry soil for several weeks without a problem.

As the ZZ dries out it sips water from the rhizomes and leaf reserves. Even after all the water is used, the plant prioritizes and saves itself by dropping leaves and reserving its strength. Eventually, when the plant has water again, it will restore itself and thrive. This is a very tough adaptable plant.

If your Emerald Palm leaves look shriveled and has leaves dropping off, it is time for a good soaking.

The most common plant care problem for ZZ Plant is Overwatering . Overwatering will kill a ZuZu plant.

Like Snake Plants and Other succulents, ZuZu roots will not tolerate constantly wet soils. You will have root rot if you over water this plant.

If you see drooping, yellowing leaves, and know your plant is well watered, overwatering is the most likely cause.

Like other dry loving plants, emerald Palms can handle drier, low humidity conditions. However, if you see the leaf tips go brown add humidity to your room. Zamioculcas will also enjoy an occasional leaf washing or misting.

Read our posts on Snake plant watering and Succulent Watering Tips for more ideas on watering plants like the ZZ that don’t require much water to thrive.

ZZ plants or Zanzibar Gem
Zanzibar Zem plants in direct sunlight

How Much light Do ZZ Plant Need?

The ZZ tolerates a wide variety of light conditions. However, moderate to bright indirect light will encourage growth. Zanzibar Gem will also survive well in low light, although the growth will slow down to almost nothing. Bright direct sunlight can scald or burn the plant leaves causing them to discolor and curl. Outdoors, filtered sunlight or shade are your best options.

The Raven ZZ will tolerate a lower light since its leaves are nearly black. The dark colored leaves will photosynthesize well in lower light since they contain a good deal of chlorophyll.

Variegated ZZ Plants will require brighter indirect light to thrive. They can even handle some direct light since they have much less chlorophyll in their leaves and need more light to photosynthesize.

How To Propagate A ZZ Plant:

Watch our video to see Kayti do Zamioculcas plant propagation by dividing a Black Raven ZZ. She also discusses soil needs and care for this plant.

ZZ Plant propagation is best done by rhizome division. ZuZu plants are easily divided in spring when they are repotted. You can also take stem cuttings and do water propagation but division is the easiest method of propagation.

Read our Post on ZZ Plant Propagation for the most complete information of how to make more ZZs.

ZZ Plant Care- Quick Guide:

Familiar Names: ZZ plant, Zanzibar Gem, Emerald Palm, Zamioculcas, and Zuzu plants
Scientific Name:Zamioculcas zamiifolia
Plant Family: Araceae family
Care Difficulty:Easy
Temperature:65 to 80 degrees F.
Watering:Water ZZ Plants only when dry to the root zone.
Soil:ZZ Plants Do well in light friable, well draining soils.
Lighting:ZZ Plants will tolerate low light. They will grow fastest in bright indirect light. Strong, Direct Sun will burn the leaves.
Growth:ZZ Plants grow from rhizomes into short bushes of 2 to 3 feet tall and wide.

How To Take Care Of A ZZ Plant:

Here is our Printable plant Care guide. It has all the details for growing a happy ZuZu plant. We’d love to hear from you. How did this guide work out for you? Happy Planting!

Yield: Printable Care Guide

ZZ Plant Care Guide

ZZ plant

Zamioculcas plant is commonly known as the ZZ plant or Zanzibar Gem.

This plant has glossy medium length leaves that vary in color and shape depending on variety. The ZZ plant is an easy to care for plant that can survive in lower light levels and infrequent watering.

This Care Guide will teach you how to keep this houseplant happy all through the year.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Difficulty easy


  • Pot (ceramic, plastic, or terra cotta)
  • Potting medium (perlite, soil, and orchid bark)
  • Scissors
  • Rubbing Alcohol


What Soil Is Best For ZZ Plant?

  1. ZZ plants prefer well draiing soil. The roots will rot quickly if they sit in moist soil.
  2. A mix of cactus potting mix and perlite will keep the roots happiest.
  3. Make sure your pot has drainage at the bottom. Do not use a pot with no drainage hole for this plant.
  4. A heavy soil potting mix is not recommended for ZZ plants.

Pot Size and Type:

  1. The ZZ plant can grow in many different kinds of pots, I like to plant mine in ceramic pots with a drainage hole.
  2. Repot every second year or when roots come out the drainage holes on the pot bottom To the next pot size up. Don't jump to a huge pot from a small one. Just go to the next size up pot.

How Much Light Do ZZ Plants Need?

  1. The ZZ plant will grow faster in bright indirect light. It will also grow just fine in lower light conditions, but the growth will be slower.
  2. Some filtered sunlight from a window is well tolerated.
  3. Make sure the ZZ plant isn't sitting in constant direct sunlight, the leaves can get burnt.
  4. If you have a variegated variety, the plant will need more light to hang onto the variegation. Otherwise it can convert back to green,

How Often Should You Water a ZZ Plant?

  1. Water your ZZ plant when the soil is dry at least down to the root zone. These semi succulent plants are drought resistant and can withstand long periods of dryness.
  2. Check ZZ Plant for Water on a regular schedule so the plant is not over or under watered. Both can cause stress on the plant.
  3. The recommendation for watering is every 2-3 weeks. but it can go longer.
  4. When ZZ Plant needs water soak the soil thoroughly and allow the pot to completely drain.
  5. Bottom watering methods work well for ZZ Plant.
  6. In dormant winter months reduce watering to when the soil is dry.
  7. Never let this plant get wet feet. heavy wet soils encourage root rot and fungus gnats.

How to Fertilize ZZ Plants:

  1. Apply a good quality fertilizer (linked in materials) monthly through Spring and summer.
  2. Decrease feedings by late Fall and allow the ZZ plant to rest through the winter months.

What Temperature Range will ZZ aplant tolerate?

  1. The ZZ plant will do best in temperatures between 55-85 degrees F.
  2. Zz plants enjoy humidity but will grow in lower humidity.


  1. The ZZ plant is a hardy resilient plant. However all plants can get attacked by pests.
  2. Stress by longterm overwatering, poor light, extreme temperatures and soil conditions are contributors to plant stress..
  3. Spider mites, mealy bugs, scale, thrips and whitefly are the most common houseplant pests you will see.
  4. Read our post on How to get rid of aphids and other pests with our homemade pesticide soap recipe or neems oil.
  5. To minimize the possibility of pests be sure to check all nursery plants before bringing them home.
  6. Quarantine all new plants until you are sure no pests live in them.

How to Propagate a ZZ Plant:


  1. Cut stalk near the base of the plant using sterile scissors
  2. Place stem in water cut side down
  3. Place near a window with bright indirect light
  4. After several weeks roots and a rhizome will grow
  5. Plant in soil when roots are 2-3 inches long

How Do you Propagate a ZZ Plant by Division?

  1. Root Division is best done when repotting in Spring.
  2. Un Pot the ZZ Plant and Pull it gently apart into clumps of rhizomes.
  3. Plant each clump in a separate pot.
  4. Watch our video on ZZ Plant Propagation for more information.


The ZZ Plant is a rewarding and perfect plant for a beginner. This plant will grow tall and beautiful with just a little bit of care.

More Low Light Houseplants:

Here are more great easy care plants that can tolerate lower light conditions. The Snake plant particularly has similar care needs to the ZZ and is also a semi succulent.

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Find us on YouTube, Instagram , Pinterest and TikTok! We love to Plant chat. We also comment, like and occasionally share your content to our daily stories. We’d love to see your plants. Share your joy in your houseplants. Happy Planting!

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Read more about the history and Zamioculcas plant here.

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