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ZZ Plant: Growing & Care Guide

Barbara Wilkat — Oct 25, 2023

The ZZ plant is sometimes called the Eternity Plant because some believe it can live forever. However, the truth is that it gets this name because of its hardiness and ability to handle neglect. It’s an eye-catching architectural plant that effectively removes toxins from the air while thriving in lower light conditions. This is a great introductory plant for those new to indoor gardening or those wanting to add something unique to their plant collection.

ZZ Plant Care


North of Zone 9, the ZZ plant is grown as a house plant. It prefers temperatures between 60-80 F, and no exposure to temperatures below 50 F. When grown indoors, ZZ plants don’t require any extra humidity. Good air circulation will help deter pests. It also helps the soil to dry better and reduces chances for root rot.  


ZZ plants can thrive in low light. If you need help determining what is considered low light, try reading a printed page or book with no lights on in the room during the day where you are considering placing your plant. If you can read with ease without direct sunlight or other light sources helping you, then that is the proper light for your ZZ plant! For a window location, choose a northeast or west-facing window. Avoid direct sunlight, as it will scorch the leaves. To keep the plant growing symmetrically, rotate the pot a quarter turn every month.


ZZ plants store their water in their roots, stems, and leaves. In fact, their leaves are about 91% water. These extra water reserves are part of why the ZZ plant is so hardy and why they are so sensitive to overwatering. 

  1. Wait for the soil to completely dry out before watering, around 7-14 days. Check the soil a few inches down to see if the soil feels dry. This can be done with your finger, a soil probe, or a moisture meter
  2. If the soil is dry, go ahead and water at the base of your plant, avoiding the leaves. Once you see water running out the bottom of your container, your plant has taken up the water it needs.
  3. Check the container and saucer to make sure that the roots are not sitting in water. 

A good sign that the plant needs water is looking at the leaves and stems. They’ll look a little wrinkled when thirsty and will plump up once watered again.


Your ZZ plant appreciates good drainage with a soil mixture containing pumice, perlite, or wood chips. Keep the roots covered and the soil free of debris. Plant at the same level your plant was in its nursery container; you might see parts of the tuber exposed, which is ok! Avoid planting your ZZ Plant too deep to avoid root rot. Any plant that is too deep in its container can cause root rot. 


ZZ plants are not heavy feeders and will not need much fertilizing. We recommend using a quality planting mix with organic nutrients, like compost, mixed in. Support an older or existing ZZ plant by using a general all-purpose house plant fertilizer. Try and get one that is slow-release, and always read the product instructions for application frequency and amount. Fertilize in the spring and summer, as this is your plant's growing season and when it will need the most nutrients. 

Tips for Repotting 

ZZ plants only need repotting every 3-4 years; don’t be fooled if the pot is bulging. However, if the roots become exposed, this may signal that your plant is rootbound and needs to be repotted.


To keep your ZZ plant healthy, clean leaves regularly with a damp cloth to wipe away dust. This helps the plant absorb light properly and keeps the pests away. This is also a good time to inspect the plant and catch any pests or problems early.


The ZZ plant rarely gets pests. Sometimes, you may see mealybugs or spider mites, which some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball to kill and wipe away the pests will clear up. Neem oil is also great for indoor plants to clear up and keep pests away. Overly wet soil will attract gnats, and while they stay close to your plant, they can be quite annoying. Use a sticky trap to remove these flying pests and let the soil dry out. 

Leaf Issues


How to Fix 

Black spots and marks on the stems

No fix is needed! These are naturally occurring and part of your plant.

Shriveled stems and leaves

Your plant needs water.

Yellow leaves

This can mean a variety of things but most often it is a sign of adjustment from being moved or re-potted. This can also mean that your plant is not getting the correct sunlight, temperature, or nutrients. 

Brown Leaves

Too much light, heat, over-fertilizing, low humidity

Brown leaf tips


Brown leaf edges with a wrinkled stem


Curling leaves

Your plant is likely too cold, dry, or rootbound. Adjust your care and see if the leaves uncurl. 

Leggy, weak, or floppy stems

Evaluate and adjust your light levels. It is likely that your plant is not getting enough light in its current location. Very floppy stems can be cut if needed. As new stems grow, look to see that they are stronger and straight. 

Stems growing at an odd angle

Your stems are reaching for the light, so rotate your plant to correct the curve or move your pot to a location with a more even light source. 

As always, prevention is the best way to avoid these issues. There are 3 main variables that your ZZ plant needs to be healthy and happy: Light, water, and moderate temperatures. Provide these for your ZZ plant and you’ll have a healthy plant with most of these problems avoided.

Suggested Uses

With its adaptability, the ZZ plant is versatile for decorating in places where other plants may struggle. They make great desk or floor plants with their tall, clean, and straight lines. And since the ZZ plant doesn’t drop leaves very often, you won't have to worry about constantly cleaning up after it. Show off your ZZ plant by making it the focus of your room like a living work of art, or use it in groups of plants with contrasting colors or leaf shapes to add to its beauty. 

Native Range

Zamioculcas zamifolia, or ZZ plant, is an aroid native to the grasslands, forests, and riverbanks in Eastern Africa. Its range is from Southern Kenya to Northeastern South Africa, about 1,800 miles. The ZZ is a succulent plant in the Araceae family, also known as the “Aroids.” Other members of this family include colocasias, philodendrons, and peace lilies. The ZZ plant stands out in the aroids as it is the only member to reproduce by fallen leaflets! These leaflets take root and create another plant. That’s not their only talent; they produce potato-looking roots called tubers under the soil. These tubers store water for the plant and, in extreme cases, regrow a new plant after a severe drought.  


The ZZ plant was first mentioned by a renowned British plant nursery in 1829. Some back and forth with naming followed until 1905, when the plant was named how we know it today as Zamioculcas zamifolia. Thanks to the propagation efforts of Dutch Growers in South Africa in 1996, who saw the ZZ plant’s potential, the ZZ plant is now widely available today. 

Plants Similar to the ZZ

We have three ZZ plant varieties to add to your home: The original ZZ Plant, Raven ZZ Plant, and Container ZZ Plant

Can’t get enough of how easy it is to take care of a ZZ plant? Try these plants with similar needs: 

Need more help with house plants? Check out our House Plant 101 Course, perfect for beginners or those who need a tune-up on everything house plants.  For questions, concerns, and anything in-between, reach out directly to us and we will be happy to help. 

Barbara Wilkat

Barbara's earlier careers as a graphic designer took her on travels throughout the Middle East and Southeast Asia, where she was able to see how people connected with plants and agriculture. After returning to school for an Associate Degree in Horticulture, she started her own landscape design and maintenance company.

Since then, she's worn different hats in the industry, from horticulturist to landscape designer. Her passion for interior plants exploded when she was able to work for Interior landscaping companies. And while she learns something new about plants everyday, she enjoys helping folks understand plant care.

Questions? Contact Barbara at information@fastgrowingtrees.com.

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