How To Grow - Zanzibar

How To Grow - Zanzibar

By Plants Furnish

How To Grow - Zanzibar

How can I successfully grow a healthy ZZ Plant?

Zamioculcas zamiifolia or more commonly, the ZZ plant, is a true African beauty. 

Native to the area stretching from southern Kenya to north-eastern South Africa, the ZZ plant has gained in popularity since the rise of social media.

Its wide, glossy, attractive leaves, with their dark green coloring provide clean, healthier air – and they look great on the ‘gram too!

The following post tells you all you need to know about the ZZ plant, including: 

  • Why you should grow it
  • What to expect when growing
  • How to plant it
  • All you need to know to grow your ZZ plant successfully
  • What you shouldn’t do
  • A brief biography of the ZZ plant

Why grow plants at all?

Good question.

Seeing as you can buy perfectly good plants, why go to all the effort of growing from seed?

Well, here are seven reasons:

  1. It saves money
  2. You know the origin of your plant, especially when you buy from a reputable company such as 
  3. Success isn’t always guaranteed, so not only will you learn about plants, you will also learn something about yourself and your resilience.
  4. Becoming a plant parent develops your nurturing side, giving you a feeling of responsibility and therefore purpose. 
  5. When you are successful, you will enjoy a sense of achievement. 
  6. It teaches patience. We live in a world of instant gratification, but you can’t hurry nature.
  7. Connecting with nature reduces stress. Humans have an innate love of nature; this is sometimes referred to as biophilia (from the Greek words for “life” and “love of”).


Why grow the ZZ plant?

The ZZ plant makes a wonderful edition to any home or office.

Here are five reasons why:

  1. It is one tough cookie – almost indestructible. This makes it a great plant for first-time plant parents!
  2. They thrive in artificial, fluorescent light and can survive low-light conditions, making them great indoor plants. 
  3. They have shiny, waxy leaves which reflect sunlight, brightening any room. 
  4. They can survive months without watering, so are ideal for people leading busy lives.
  5. Larger ZZ plants sit well in pots near doorways or in empty corners. Smaller ones brighten up shelves and side tables.


How do I plant my rhizome?

ZZ plants are grown from rhizomes, rather than seeds.

Wait, what is a rhizome?

A rhizome is a stem that grows underground, it stores water and energy to help the plant grow.

Here’s how to plant it…

  1. Select a grower pot with drainage holes.
  2. Fill the pot with two inches of potting soil – this will give your plant’s roots room to grow.
  3. Place the rhizome in the pot and gently press it into the soil.
  4. Cover the rhizome with soil until the pot is 90% full.
  5. Water thoroughly and evenly across the surface of the soil.


What should I expect when growing my ZZ plant?

You should see your ZZ plant sprouting after about 70 days of being planted.

What size pot is ideal for my ZZ plant?

Repotting your plant once a year, in the springtime, is advisable during your ZZ plant’s first three to five years of life. Just make sure to use a pot with proper drainage, that is no more than two inches (or five centimeters) wider than the original one.

What soil does my ZZ plant love?

Plant it in fast-draining soil. Mix one part good-quality all-purpose potting mix with one part horticultural sand or perlite, to avoid root rot.

What about watering?

Water your ZZ plant thoroughly; allow the top two inches (five centimeters) to dry out completely, before you water it again. On average you should water every 14 – 21 days.

The ZZ plant originates from a dry climate, so soggy soil will cause the rhizomes to rot. 

How do I know if I have overwatered my ZZ plant?

The tell-tale signs are yellow foliage and soft stems.

Although tolerant of dry conditions, the ZZ plant will drop its leaves if it is left un-watered for too long.

To gauge whether your ZZ plant needs watering it is a good idea to invest in a moisture meter. This simple, inexpensive device will let you know the moisture level of your plant’s soil on a scale of one to ten (four to seven indicates moist soil, anything above or below suggests that the soil is too dry or too wet).

What else do I need to know to ensure my ZZ plant grows successfully?


ZZ plants can handle low-light conditions and they thrive in bright, artificial light, making them a perfect choice for rooms with little or no natural light.


Bright light is the enemy of the ZZ plant; exposure to excessive direct sunlight can damage the leaves.



ZZ plants prefer temperatures between 65°F-75°F and they love humid conditions. They can tolerate a less humid atmosphere but if the air is too dry you will need to mist its leaves to avoid stunting its growth. 



Feed your ZZ plant four times a year using a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. To avoid fertilizer burn, dilute by half and feed your plant when you water it. 


What not to do when growing a ZZ plant

As a caring plant parent, you will NOT want to do the following…

  • Overwater – if several leaves turn yellow or brown, this could be a result of overwatering. Use a moisture meter to help you.
  • Put your plant in direct sunlight – this can cause scorched or dried out leaves. Move to a shadier location until its leaves return to green.
  • Put your plant in an area of low humidity – if the leaf tips turn brown, this is a sign you should mist the leaves.
  • Cause fertilizer burn – remember to dilute your water-soluble fertilizer by half and to feed your plant when watering it.
  • Leave your plant near children or pets – the ZZ plant is toxic, so keep it away from young children and pets, and always wash your hands after handling it.


A bit more about the ZZ plant

The ZZ plant is from eastern Africa and is native to the area from southern Kenya to north-eastern South Africa.

Dutch nurseries began large-scale propagation of the ZZ plant in the 1990s - it quickly gained popularity as an ornamental plant.

It is a perennial plant which means it will live for many years.

The ZZ plant has gained in popularity over the past few years, as a result of social media. Check out the Instagram hashtags #zamioculas #zzplant #houseplantsofinstagram #plantsmakepeoplehappy

Happy growing!


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