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What is a ZZ Plant?

Christina Edwards
Christina Edwards

When thinking of a houseplant that is easy to care for, many botanists may recommend the zamioculcas zamiifolia, or ZZ plant. This plant is known for being an extremely difficult plant to kill, and just about anyone is able to grow one indoors. Although it is grown throughout the world as an ornamental plant, the ZZ plant is thought to be a native of Africa, mainly Zanzibar and Tanzania. A member of the araceae family, the only known species of zamiocucas is thought to be zamiifolia.

As houseplants go, a ZZ plant is considered to be one of the easiest to take care of, even for those gardeners with a less than green thumb. Because it comes from a dry climate in the first place, it requires less water than many other houseplants and doesn't usually need to be watered more than once every couple of weeks. Tubers under the soil store excess water for use in the future, and to prevent these from rotting, fast-draining soil is important. Cactus soil that has an acidic to neutral pH is considered to be perfect for ZZ plants.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

In addition to having few watering requirements, this plant can also survive in a variety of lighting situations. While this plant can survive and grow in little to no light, bright light is recommended for it to thrive. Some indoor gardeners, however, do not recommend placing a ZZ plant in direct sunlight, as this can possibly burn the leaves, causing them to yellow and fall off.

Besides being easy to take care of, the leaves are one of the main reasons that these plants are so popular. The pinnate leaves of the ZZ plant are typically 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 centimeters) in length. Each leaf consists of six to eight pairs of leaflets that can range from 3 to 6 inches (7 to 15 centimeters) in length. Leaves can range from a medium to dark green color, and they are often very smooth and shiny.

When it becomes mature, the ZZ plant will produce one to two flower clusters, called a spadix, or inflorescence, during its reproductive periods. These clusters are surrounded by a spathe, which is a large, conspicuous leaf-like part of the blossom. The color of these blooms can range from bright yellow to gold or bronze, and they can typically be seen from mid to late summer until early autumn.

Insect problems, along with diseases, do not usually affect the ZZ plant. The reason for this probably has to do with the tough, waxy leaves. Putting the plant out of reach of children or pets, however, is recommended. It is believed that every part of this plant is poisonous to humans and many animals if ingested.

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