Are ZZ Plants Easy to Care For? Simple Tips for Beginners

The ZZ Plant (zamioculcas zamiifolia) is not only a beautiful plant thanks to its glossy green leaves but it’s a low-maintenance one, too. It’s also known for its longevity; it can live a very long time with proper care and is sometimes called the eternity plant!

If you’re new to houseplants or are simply a forgetful plant owner, I highly recommend ZZ plants because they’re so forgiving. 

I’m often asked: “are ZZ plants easy to care for?” and I love to answer with a resounding, “yes! ZZ Plants are VERY easy!”

There are also many wonderful qualities about this plant, including its drought tolerance and ability to purify the air.

Glossy-leafed ZZ Plant
Overhead shot of a green ZZ Plant

Native to East Africa, this tropical plant, also known as Zanzibar Gem, looks sleek and modern in indoor spaces because of its dark green leaves that grow upwards on thick stems. 

Dutch nurseries started growing it in the 1990s and the plant has gained popularity in recent years on social media. You’ve likely seen it from various sources online!

The plant is known for its thick round rhizomes that point out of the soil. (The job of rhizomes is to store water and help the plant stay hydrated!)

Take a look at the oval-shaped leaves that cover this perfect plant, below. It doesn’t need a lot of light and can survive on little water – that makes it a keeper!

It can cause skin irritation, though, so it’s best to keep it away from children and pets.

If you’re searching for a new plant that can blend seamlessly with your home decor and aesthetic, then add this one to your list; it can look, good anywhere!

Green ZZ Plant in pot
Green ZZ Plant in a silver pot with a lime green pillow in the background.

Sunlight Requirements for ZZ Plants

The ZZ plant is a slow grower and one of the most easy-care plants, but it does need its fair share of sunlight.

The good news is it can survive in low-light conditions and actually doesn’t need much light to look its best.

It’s what makes it so similar to the ever-easy snake plant and jade plant, which can also thrive in both low and medium sunlight.

Bright, indirect light is ideal for this beauty, so make sure you choose a spot in your home that has plenty of access to filtered sunlight via a window or glass door.

Remember not to keep it too close to a window, however, especially during the summer because harsh, direct sunlight can burn the glossy leaves.

For best results, place your potted plant a foot or more away from a bright window.

ZZ Plant stems and leaves
Close up of ZZ Plant stems and leaves, planted in silver pot.

How to Water a ZZ Plant

Properly watering a ZZ plant is just about the best thing you can do for it. You see, the easiest way to kill your ZZ plant is to either overwater it or underwater it!

Usually, when people have trouble with this plant, the trouble stems from not understanding when and how to water it.

If you want to avoid this, always keep in mind that it’s a drought-tolerant plant that doesn’t need regular watering.

Like succulents, ZZ plants are able to store water in their thick stems, which allows them to go long periods without water.

It’s what makes them one of the easiest houseplants to maintain.

Keep your plant happy by providing good drainage and allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings. You’ll avoid common problems if you do this!

ZZ Plant with waxy leaves and thick stems
Oval-shaped waxy green leaves growing upwards on a ZZ Plant planted in a silver pot.

Now let’s talk drainage holes. A good rule of thumb for all houseplants is to use a pot with a drainage hole because it will help drain excess water away from the root system and prevent root rot.

If you’re prone to overwatering your plants, a drainage hole will go a long way in avoiding things like fungus gnats and the death of your plant, too.

To water your ZZ plant, simply pour water onto the soil until you see water escape from the bottom of the pot.

The soil in a small pot will dry out sooner than the soil in a large pot. The more soil in the pot, the more water it can hold.

As far as how often to water, that depends on a few factors.

Generally, though, you’ll need to water your ZZ plant once every 2-3 weeks, depending on how long it takes for the soil to dry out completely when being grown indoors.

ZZ Plant portrait
ZZ Plant glossy leaves closeup with lime pillow in background.

ZZ plants have water-storing rhizomes, so they can go a few weeks between waterings without jeopardizing their health!

If your plant is placed in bright light, the soil will dry out faster than if it’s sitting in a shadier area.

During the winter months, you’ll plant will likely need less water than in the spring and summer months.

Overwatering is one of the most common issues with this plant because people are unaware that they shouldn’t be watering it so often. Remember it’s drought-tolerant so it’s better to under-water than to water too frequently!

If you’re unsure about the dryness of the soil, a soil moisture meter can come in handy. They’re very easy to use and can be used for both your indoor and outdoor plants!

Simply stick the moisture meter into the soil and the meter will help you see how dry or moist the soil is. See the photo below for an example!

Learn how to grow Echinacea
Soil moisture meter was dug into the soil to measure the moisture of the echinacea plant

Some signs that your plant needs to be watered immediately include wilting and wrinkly leaves. Signs of overwatering include mushy or yellow leaves, which means you should stop watering until all of the soil inside the pot is completely dry.

Temperature and Humidity Needs of ZZ Plants

ZZ plants are from Eastern Africa, so mimicking their native habitat in your home is a great way to ensure their vitality.

ZZ Plants in small pot, showing thick stems and glossy green leaves
Overhead shot of ZZ Plant in small black pot and white background.

Thankfully, this tropical perennial can handle the average home humidity levels and can even survive in dry air, another feature that makes it one of the most low-maintenance houseplants you can get.

Just like other tropical plants though, the ZZ plant does not do well with cold drafts or sudden drops in temperature.

It prefers a warm environment, so anything less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit is not ideal as it does not appreciate cold temperatures.

ZZ Plant growing in small brown pot
ZZ Plant planted in a small plastic pot on white background. Oval-shaped green leaves grow upwards on several stems.

If your home is on the dry side, you can increase the humidity around the plant with a small humidifier or by placing the plant on a shallow pebble tray filled with water.

Placing several indoor plants together in the same area can also help increase humidity! If you’re going this route, try to aim for 40-50 percent humidity.

Soil and Fertilizer for ZZ Plant

The ZZ plant is a slow-growing plant which means it’s not a heavy feeder. Luckily, it’s also not picky about soil.

However, a well-draining potting mix is the best choice and you can even increase drainage and aeration in the soil mix by adding handfuls of perlite or lava rocks.

As far as fertilizing, you can encourage new growth by either fertilizing your plant once every 6 months or fertilizing once a month during the growing season (spring and summer) with a diluted liquid fertilizer made for houseplants.

Always water the soil first before fertilizing since adding it to dry soil can burn the roots!

If you’re wondering when to repot, here’s your answer: repot your ZZ plant once every two years during the growing season and preferably during the beginning of spring.

Never move your plant into a much larger pot though, because the plant will then waste all of its energy on growing new roots instead of new leaves or new stems.

Cleaning and Pruning Leaves

ZZ plants are famous for their waxy leaves but sometimes dust from the air can jeopardize their appearance. The solution is easy, though!

Simply take a damp cloth or hand towel and slide it over each leaf to collect the dust.

You don’t need any special solution or product to get the job done. You can do this every couple of weeks or as you see fit.

Leaves on a ZZ Plant
Close up of ZZ Plant leaves, with drops of water

Since this houseplant grows so slowly, you won’t see a lot of leaf turnover. If you do get brown leaves, you can snip them off at the base of each stem.

Usually, this happens with lower leaves as the plant puts off new growth towards the top.

Now that we’ve covered some basic care tips, I hope you’ll find the ZZ plant to be low-maintenance and fun to own.

Good luck!

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