ZZ Plant – Zamioculcas Zamiifolia

We’ve talked about tough plants currently used in indoors, and promised to introduce to you a new "tough plant". I may be stepping out on a limb with this introduction but let me give you some background on this plant.

Zamioculcas is in the aroid family along with the Spathiphyllum, Philodendron, Aglaonema and Anthurium although you may not suspect it to be from its looks. It looks very similar in shape to the – Cycad – "Zamia Furfuracea – also known as the Cardboard Palm.

The plant has thick fleshy leaves and naturally glossy leaves. You may even think that the plant has been polished it is so shiny.

I grew this plant over 20 years ago as a "collector" plant and never gave it a thought as a potential indoor plant. About a year ago one of the more progressive growers started producing this plant.

Zamioculcas, Tough Indoor Plant, House Plant, Spathiphyllum, Aglaonema

While over at their nursery about 5 months ago I picked up one to see for myself if it was as tough as they said it was indoors. Well we are writing about it today because it is.

Anyone that has been in my office will tell you that plants are not treated special. I learned that a long time ago from a successful grower that was always looking for plants with survival qualities. His motto was real simple. If a plant will survive under stress it will only do better with care.

Anyway, after bringing this plant back to my office, I set it in the corner with the paper sleeve that plants are shipped in – for a month. During that time it lost a few leaves and was never watered. Then I took it out of the sleeve, removed the bad leaves and let it sit for 2 weeks before I watered it for the first time.

The part that really impressed me was the fact that it didn’t just sit there, but started to grow. Not spindly growth but good strong stalks and leaves.

I’ve kept the plant pushed over in the corner where it remains looking good and producing new growth regularly. No pest problems have shown up and I certainly haven’t been caring for the plant.

While growing plants for over 25 years, seldom have I ever run across a plant that has performed so well indoors with so little care.

Zamioculcas Zamiifolia has been nicknamed the "ZZ" and can now be found at your local chain store.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Vicki June 10, 2010 at 6:56 pm

I have 2 ZZ plants and they are the best. They do like a drier soil and I have not watered mine in 2 months and they have 2 new shoots on each one. I have them in my dining room that has a south window and sheer curtains so the light level seems right for them. the leaves always seem to be shiny just like you say and I don’t use anything on them. I have mine next to a mother in law tongue and the contrast is nice. I recommend this plant as a keeper to any home or ofice environment

Donna Ives July 7, 2010 at 5:48 pm

I recently spent time at the Westward Look Hotel/Resort in Tucson, AZ and saw these plants everywhere. They had plants in the hotel rooms, in the lobby, and so on. They were artfully displayed in wide pots with rocks covering the soil. Each pot only had a few long healthy stalks, that appeared to have been trained to grow in certain directions. They were beautiful. I copied the name of the plant and was resolved that I really wanted one in my house. Many calls to nursery and plant stores yielded no results, but Home Depot told my husband they could order one. It now sits on my kitchen counter. It came, however, with many, many stalks, all planted pretty tightly together. Some are taller and older looking; some are smaller, more delicate and lighter in color.

My question is. . . can I break this plant up and plant parts of it separately? I want to recreate what I saw at the hotel, which means that I want to have only a few stalks in each pot.

Also, is there a way to “train” it? And what would happen if I nipped off a few of the lower leaves? The ones I saw in Tucson had leaves only about two thirds of the way down the stalk, which added to the elegant look. My plant stalks all have leaves almost all the way to the bottom.

Thank you for any help you can give me. I truly appreciate it. Although I love live plants in my house, I do not necessarily have a green thumb :)

Rallph Morris July 8, 2010 at 10:30 am

I have ZZ and some shoots that are growing slowly. I looked up because some of
the leaves were yellowing. I guess once a week is to much water. Thanks for the information. By the way mine did bloom;I hear that don’t happen often. Not a showy bloom but kind of neat any how.

justshrug July 16, 2010 at 1:41 pm

I have a question about my zz plant. I haven’t had it long, but it must be VERY happy with where I have it and how I’m treating it. i think in the 6 months since i’ve had it it’s probably grown at least a foot in overall height and it has sprouted 2 new tubes. The first new tube grew at a rate of about 2+ inches a day (no I’m not kidding) and the second one is doing the same. I would estimate the first tube is about 3.5-4 feet tall!! crazy. Anyway, here’s my question. I would like to give a start of my zz plant to a friend, but I have no idea how to best go about it. Is it best to separate a new tube from the plant or is it better to separate one of the “old timers”? Maybe I shouldn’t do it at all? Please advise. Thank you.

Cristi Beehn July 24, 2010 at 7:44 pm

I was lucky enough to purchase my first zz plant a few weeks ago. The container is about 1-1/2 gal. There are 3 plants in this one container. I’m thinking of dividing them.

Any suggestion?


susan schull July 24, 2010 at 8:43 pm

I have had a spectacular ZZ, 5 feet wide and over 4 feet tall, for a couple of years on my front porch. It gets watered every two weeks. Low light. Moderate climate (Hawaii) . It has started to loose leaves and does not look so healthy now. Some of the branches only have two or three leaves. I would hate to see it die, but I am at a loss as to what to do. It was fine for two years. It has never been fertilized. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Rallph Morris July 25, 2010 at 9:16 am

It looks like my zz is sending up another flower spike. Was going to give it fresh soil but maybe I should wait a bit. What do you think Vicki? You and I seem to be the only people on this site. May hap we should toot the zz horn a bit more; right?

Sherbie July 25, 2010 at 5:39 pm

I have this plant in my room at university, and it’s going well. However, a few of the stems have fallen over, so to speak. I’m not sure whether this is normal, or I’m doing something wrong with it, or what’s going on. Can anyone with any info? Thank you!!

susan schull August 1, 2010 at 4:22 am

does the ZZ need to be replanted?

susan schull August 1, 2010 at 9:25 pm

I need to know why the ZZ falls over and looses leaves. Please answer if you know.

Rallph Morris September 5, 2010 at 10:30 am

Well; guy and gals I will try to answer all the question above without sounding like a know it all. All plants need to be repotted . The most common reason for leaf loss and stem death is over watering. If you have a catch tray under your plant make sure to drain off any extra water. I learned this from;this site. You can give your friend a clone by taking leaf off one of your plant stalks and putting it in damp soil. The leaf will most likely die but fear not a new shoot will appear (they grow slowly). If a stalk has died cut it off at the base and lay it down on it’s side it will send up a new shoot; it might take awhile like a month or two. A little rooting compound on the side touching the ground may speed things up a little. Dividing should be OK zz; are really tough but I have never divided mine sooo… hope this helped.

plantcocolover February 25, 2012 at 2:18 pm


Ginger August 10, 2012 at 9:46 am

I’ve had a large ZZ plant for about two years and I love it. I recently noticed that Jay Leno has one on his set. Pretty nifty.