How to Grow a Zanzibar Gem (ZZ) Plant

How to Grow a Zanzibar Gem (ZZ) Plant

No, this isn’t a houseplant homage to the band, although the ZZ plant (or Zanzibar gem) has pretty much gained rockstar status around the world. Why? Because they're just soooo easy to look after.

If you’re a newbie green thumb — or even a black thumb — this tropical perennial will be your new plant BFF; it loves all kinds of light conditions, barely needs any water or attention, and it grows quicker than a radish shoot, so you’ll get to see its new leaves unfold before you know it. Here’s how to keep it looking sharp every season. 

ZZ plant

Give it a little light 

ZZ plants can tolerate almost any light conditions, be that dark, shady corners or in open spaces under bright fluoro lighting. But if you want your ZZ to thrive, place in bright, indirect sunlight. It doesn’t want too much light though, and definitely not direct sun. This can scorch the leaves and you’ll end up with ugly brown spots. 

Water every couple of weeks 

See, we told you this green babe was easy to care for. Because ZZ’s have thick rhizomes (underground stems that strike new roots out of their nodes), they are extremely drought-tolerant — the rhizomes help them to store water under the soil, so they only need watering every couple of weeks. They’re pretty tolerant of neglect, so if you do forget to water them they bounce back very quickly. In fact it’s better to underwater than overwater.

During summer they might need a little more attention, but not so much that it will cut into your Friday night cocktail hour. Just allow the soil to dry out between waterings, and when you do water, add Grow Concentrate and give it enough so that the moisture runs out of the bottom of the pot. 

ZZ Plant

Avoid super humid environments

The average home humidity and temperature is fine for Zanzibar Gems, but they don’t like too much humidity (they can tolerate dry environments) or cold conditions, so keep them away from any drafts. If your home is on the dry side, give them a weekly misting.

Opt for well-draining soil 

Plant your ZZ in a well-drained, all-purpose potting mix or a growing medium that’s three parts all-purpose mix, with one part succulent soil mix and a good dose of Support Pellets

Perfect your propagating skills 

If you want to add to your ZZ collection, the quickest way to get more plant babes is to take a stem cutting, place in water, then replant into soil. Here’s your quick guide: 

  • Cut off a stalk at the base of your plant, making a straight cut.
  • Put your cut stem in a jar of water, and change the water every 3-4 weeks. Don’t worry if you forget, just make sure there’s no mould growing.
  • Place the cutting near a window where it gets bright, indirect light — your ZZ cutting will grow much quicker with more sunlight. 
  • When your cutting has grown a rhizome and at least one inch of new roots, get ready to repot!

Things to look out for

Because ZZ plants store water in their rhizomes (underground stems) they’re quite easy to overwater. If you water ZZs too much they’ll develop root rot, which can kill plants if left untreated. They can withstand weeks with no water, so if in doubt, underwater. You can tell when it’s thirsty because the leaves will start to drop. 

If notice any yellowing, that usually means you’re overwatering. Just make sure the soil is dry every time you water — you can place your finger into the soil to check. 

Don’t place them in direct sunlight — their leaves can’t tolerate the rays. 

ZZ plants have naturally shiny leaves that range from bright lime when they’re babes, to a deep emerald green as they get older. They can look a little dull over time as dust starts to accumulate. Give them a spritz with Protect Spray to keep them lush.

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