Image by James Saper
By Heather Rhoades
If ever there was the perfect plant for the ultimate brown thumb, the easy zz plant is it. This virtually indestructible houseplant can take months and months of neglect and low light and still look amazing.
Previously, the zz plant would only be found in planters in malls and large office buildings where they would frequently be mistaken for fake plants, partially because they needed so little care and always looked healthy. But in recent years, they have found their way onto the shelves of both big box and hardware stores where anyone can purchase one. This has led to many people wondering how to grow zz plants. The short answer is that it takes very little effort.
Learn About the Zz Plant
The zz plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) gets its common name from its botanical name. As Zamioculcas zamiifolia was long and difficult to say, many nursery workers simply shortened it to Zz.
Zz plant stems grow in a graceful, wand-like shape that starts thick and bulbous at the base and then tapers to a point. Along the stem are fleshy, oval-shaped leaves that make the plant look like stylized feathers. The entire plant has a waxy, shiny coating that makes it appear to resemble those made of plastic. Between the sculptural qualities of the plant and its waxy coating, it is not uncommon for people to insist that it must be an artificial plant.
How to Grow Zz Plants
Zz plants do best in bright to moderate, indirect light but will do fine in extremely low levels of light. This plant makes an ideal plant for a window-less office or bathroom where it will only receive small amounts of fluorescent light. While zz plants can take direct light, you may see some scalding on the leaves if it is left in direct light.
Caring for a Zz Plant
Zz plant care starts with a lack of care. In fact, zz plants will do better if you leave them alone.
Much like cacti, they need less rather than more water. Water the plant only when the soil has dried out. The rare way you can kill this plant is to over water it. A zz plant turning yellow means that it is getting too much water and its underground rhizomes may be rotting. So if you remember nothing else about caring for a zz plant, just remember to forget to water it. It can survive months without water, but will grow faster if watered somewhat regularly.
Zz plants are happy without fertilizer, but if you would like, you can give the plants half strength fertilizer 1-2 times a year and only in the summer months.
Growing zz houseplants is easy and especially suited for the forgetful gardener.