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Zamioculcas zamiifolia

ZZ Plant

One of the most popular indoor plants is the ZZ plant. Not only is it easy to care for, but it is a beautiful addition to any indoor space with its broad green leaves with a waxy, reflective surface that brightens up a room.

ZZ Plant
  • ZZ Plant
  • ZZ Plant
  • ZZ Plant
  • ZZ plant with a brown leaf

Other names for this plant...

Zanzibar gem Eternity plant

About ZZ Plant

Even beginners and people with “black thumbs” can keep ZZ plants alive, which is part of their appeal. Though these plants thrive outside in their native habitats, they can be grown as indoor plants anywhere.

Also called Zanzibar gems, the ZZ plant has been known to be mistaken for fake plants because of its shiny, waxy leaves that are deep green. These are slow-growing plants that can thrive in several different environments.

ZZ Plant
Photo: IndoorPlants.comThe ZZ plant's deep green, oval leaves with a smooth, waxy can make them a look plastic.

Botanical Name

“ZZ” stands for Zamioculcas zamiifolia and is part of the Araceae (Arum) family. It is related to another popular houseplant - the peace lily.

Plant Type

ZZ plants are tropical perennials that grow and reproduce via rhizomes, underground tuber-like stems that store water and food. Being perennials, ZZ plants will live for many years.

In the wild, the above-ground portion may die in freezing weather, but the plant will regrow from the rhizomes the following spring.


The ZZ plant is native to Eastern Africa, from Kenya to South Africa.


The ZZ plant’s stems are upright, starting thicker at the base and tapering into a point at the top. "The ZZ plant bears thick, slightly bulbous stalks with beautiful waxy green leaves," says Paris Lalicata, Plant Education + Community Engagement Associate at The Sill. These deep green, oval leaves with a smooth, waxy finish that them a plastic look. "Individual leaflets are typically one to three inches long," adds Lalicata.

This plant looks like a small tree or shrub and is very attractive. It makes a beautiful accent piece to any room in the house.

ZZ Plant
Photo: IndoorPlants.comZZ plants have beautiful, green waxy leaves.

"ZZ plants have underground potato-like rhizomes that help the plant store water and nutrients. They are present just below the soil surface but can occasionally become exposed above ground which is normal and harmless to the plant," says Lalicata.

These rhizomes help make the plant drought-tolerant, helping it go weeks without water. "During times of unfavorable conditions in the wild, the ZZ plant can die back down to the rhizomes where they will sprout new growth once conditions become favorable again. The ZZ plant will also use these rhizomes to slowly creep underground overtime to new locations, spawning new aboveground leaves along the way," Lalicata explains.

ZZ Plant
Photo: IndoorPlants.comThe ZZ plant’s stems are upright, starting thicker at the base and tapering into a point at the top.

Types Of ZZ Plants

There are several different varieties of the ZZ plant. Some of the most popular are:

  • Raven ZZ plant

  • Jungle warrior ZZ plant

  • Zenzi

  • Zamicro

  • Lucky ZZ plant

  • Variegated and albino ZZ plants

ZZ Plant Styling 

ZZ plants are very versatile and can be used in almost any room in the house. They can add a pop of green to your room or office and can be styled in several ways, including:

  • Planted in unique pots on a table or shelf

  • Placed on the floor in the corner of a bedroom or office

  • Placed in a wicker basket on the floor

  • Styled beside other succulents and vertical houseplants, like snake plants


The ZZ plant is very resilient and can survive in low-light conditions, though ideally, it enjoys medium to bright indirect light. This plant also does well under fluorescent lights. Avoid too much direct sun, as this can cause it to burn.


Water your ZZ plant every 2-3 weeks, making sure that the top couple of inches of soil is completely dry before watering. Avoid over-watering, as it can cause yellowing and rot. "These plants store water in their root systems known as rhizomes, making the ZZ incredibly drought-tolerant and low maintenance," says Cate Kowalsky, Plant Expert at DaHaing Plants.


Many houseplants, including the ZZ plant, prefer temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below that is less than ideal.


As mentioned, ZZ plants are very resilient and low-maintenance. They can tolerate low humidity and average home humidity levels. If you want to recreate the humidity they experience in their native climate, use a humidifier to keep the room between 40-50% humidity.


Use well-draining soil for optimal growing conditions to ensure your ZZ plant isn’t retaining too much water. You can also use a bagged potting mix or mix soil with pumice, perlite, or wood chips to provide the necessary drainage.


Because they grow slowly, ZZ plants typically do not require much pruning, if any at all. Generally speaking, the only pruning you should have to do is remove dead leaves or stems from the plant.


You can fertilize your ZZ plant twice within the growing season, diluting the fertilizer to half-strength. You could also use an organic fertilizer such as compost or worm castings. Avoid fertilizing more than the recommended amount, as they don’t like to be fertilized very often.

Height & Growth

Although they are slow growers, the ZZ plant can reach between 2 and 4 feet tall.


All parts of the plant are toxic if consumed, so keep the plant out of reach of children and pets.


ZZ plants are not pet-friendly.

Common Problems 

  • Over-watering: "Being a drought tolerant plant, it prefers to dry out between waterings and can even go several weeks to a month without water but some people tend to water them too often," says Lalicata. They only need water every 2-3 weeks and should be dried out completely in between waterings. You also want to avoid them sitting in excess water, which can cause yellowing leaves and root rot.

  • Excessive light: ZZ plants are susceptible to browning leaves because of too much direct light and heat.

ZZ plant with a brown leaf
Photo: IndoorPlants.comBrowning leaves can be a sign your ZZ plant needs some attention.
  • Lack of light: "This plant is notorious for its resilience and ability to survive low light conditions. However, they are often placed in too low of light or dark corners where natural sunlight is very minimal or not present at all. Low light tolerance doesn’t mean that these plants thrive in low light- they just die slower than other plants and should be given some level of light in order to survive in the home," says Lalicata.

  • Over-fertilizing: This can also cause brown, dying leaves and stems.

  • Low humidity: Though they are resilient, if the humidity is too low, this may cause dying leaves.

  • Low light: If a ZZ plant is not getting enough light, it can cause the stems to wilt.

  • Transplant stress: Repotting a ZZ plant can cause the stems to wilt, but propping them up on something (like a bamboo stick or moss pole) can support them while they adjust.

How To Propagate ZZ Plant

ZZ plant propagation is an easy task. When the plant is outgrowing its pot or is large enough to separate, take the plant out of its pot and divide the rhizomes (rootstocks). Then, repot each plant in a clean pot with new potting soil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do ZZ plants clean the air? 

This plant does have air-cleaning qualities. It can remove volatile organic compounds from the air, such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, which makes it an excellent plant for the bedroom or anywhere in the home.

"The ZZ plant's leaves are also statically charged to attract and collect dust- helping to reduce the amount of dust pollution in the air," adds Lalicata.

Where should I place my ZZ plant at home? 

ZZ plants do best in indirect sunlight, so placing them by a southern- or eastern-facing window is best. They also do well under fluorescent lights, so an office or commercial building is a good place for them.

Is a ZZ plant poisonous to touch? 

All parts of this plant are poisonous, so it is best to wash your hands or wear gloves whenever handling the plant.

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The Sill say’s...

The ZZ Plant is characterized by its waxy green leaves above the surface of its potting mix, and its large potato-like rhizomes underneath.

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