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ZZ plant: Are you up for it?

By June 28, 2021Beet 2021 06 June

By Lynn Garbert

Master Gardener 2014

ZZ plant?? What is a ZZ plant?? What an odd name!?!! What’s its real name?

Well … I’m glad you asked. 😉

ZZ (short for Zamioculcas zamiifolia) – I’d love to hear you pronounce those two words – has been thriving for centuries in Africa where drought is the name of the game. Even being such a tender-looking plant, it actually loves the great outdoors.

During the mid-1990s Dutch nurseries saw that ZZ plants had easy propagating potential and thus, world-wide distribution brought ZZ plants to us all. Soon, it was realized they thrived indoors.

ZZ is in style at your office

This plant has wide, dark, glossy leaves and is low maintenance. It fits easily into your office or home décor and seems to cheerfully say “Hi” to each passerby.

Air purifier made easy

NASA research showed the ZZ is able to remove abundant amounts of toxins (including Xylene, Toluene, and Benzene).

Beware of toxicity

Keep pets and children from snacking on the ZZ – this beautiful plant is poisonous. To avoid skin irritation after handling it, it’s a good rule to wash your hands.

Ease of care

An easy – easy – easy plant for beginners, busy office staff, or black and brown thumbs.

The ZZ plant reaches 2–3 feet in width and height. However, it will NOT quickly outgrow its container, so enjoy the beautiful planter you potted it in. You can prune off branches that tend to grab you as you walk by.

Plant in well-draining potting soil and feed once a month with a balanced (e.g., 20-20-20) liquid fertilizer.

Water and light don’t concern the ZZ – it keeps growing with a minimum of each.

Remember it flourishes in low light and only water it fully when dry. (This plant pictured lived for decades in a local library.) Your ZZ can wait between watering because it has thick rhizomes that resemble potatoes – they store water – a ZZ will stay alive even when you forget to water.

ZZ may produce tiny white blooms in late summer, but it’s regarded as a foliage plant.

You can separate the rhizomes (potato-like roots) and replant them – I hear they grow faster when planted in groups. Or, what I did was to take three leaves with a bit of stem attached from my friend’s plant and put them in about ½–1 inch of water in a jar. It normally takes months for the leaves to sprout roots but it did happen.

It was fun to check every week or so for roots and finally some appeared.

Try it yourself. ZZ is up to the challenge … are you?