The ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) gets its common name from its botanical name. Since Zamioculcas zamiifolia was long and difficult to say, many nursery workers simply shortened it to ZZ. The 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. Small, insignificant flowers consisting of a spadix surrounded by a spathe may appear at the base of plants in summer, although ZZ plants rarely flower indoors.
What makes ZZ plant such a good houseplant is that it's wonderfully tolerant to a wide range of conditions, including low light, low humidity, and periods of drought. It's truly one of the toughest houseplants around, making it a perfect choice to add to your home or office. In addition, it has air purifying qualities for the indoor environment.
The ZZ plant will do best in bright to moderate, indirect light. While it can take direct light, you may see some scalding on the leaves if it is left in direct light. Additionally, curling leaves, yellowing and leaning can all be an indication of too much light. If you notice curling taking place, it typically means the plant is trying to move away from the light source. Move the plant to a shadier location or farther away from the light source. You can also try filtering the light with curtains or blinds if moving the plant is not feasible. The ZZ plant will also do fine in extremely low levels of light. This makes it an ideal plant for a window-less office or bathroom where it will only receive small amounts of fluorescent light.
Water the plant once every one to two weeks - as the top inch or two of the potting mix dries. If the soil is wet or damp wait a little longer before watering. The plant has underground rhizomes that can rot if the soil stays too wet. As a survival technique, ZZ plant has evolved to start dropping its leaflets to conserve moisture during periods of severe drought. If you forget to water yours and see the leaflets fall, don't give up hope. Water your plant again and it should resuscitate.
ZZ plants are happy without fertilizer, but if you would like, you can give the plants half strength fertilizer one to two times a year and only in the summer months.
Pruning may be beneficial as the plant grows. Cut away leaflets that are turning yellow near the base of a stem. Once a stem has grown much longer than all other stems you can remove that stem or cut it to size at the tip. It can sometimes look a little odd when a stem is cut off to size, so removing it completely might be another option - depending on individual preference.
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