Care of ZZ Plant - The ZZ Plant Waxy & Glabrous Leaves
The ZZ Plant Waxy & Glabrous Leaves

The Care of ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

With The Care of ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), we move on to the second part of the "Kaliergeia" tribute to this wonderful plant.

Where in this second part are examined issues and topics that aim to make the life of ZZ Plant easier, whether it is in a pot or in the garden soil.

Among others, they include the environment of establishment and living of the plant, the necessary works for its maintenance, while a picture is given about its protection from the (few) pests and the (fewer – that is, only one) diseases.

With the hope that we will soon complete the presentation of the third part, which refers to the propagation methods of ZZ Plant, we give the steering wheel of the article to the reader and keep the most beautiful memories from its writing.

Both ZZ Plant and Sansevieria are among the few plants that can exploit places with very low lighting without any problems.

The ZZ Plant & the Snake Plant in Pots
The ZZ Plant & the Snake Plant in Pots
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Environment of Establishment

It happens to all indoor plants – why must be ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) an exception? The environment of establishment must meet the minimum requirements, so that the plants can grow, fulfilling in the best possible way their often multidimensional role.

From the elements of the establishment environment, at least three of them have a decisive contribution in terms of creating favorable or unfavorable conditions for the normal growth of plants:

  • The temperature
  • The humidity
  • And the lighting

Each of these factors and their effect on ZZ Plant is discussed immediately below.

The Care of ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Temperature

The ZZ Plant flourishes, thrives and lengthen its days in the usual temperatures that prevail in the tropics – where it comes from.

These generally range from 18 to 32 °C, however the optimum temperature range for plant growth is between 18 and 24 °C.

The lower the temperature, the greater the problems for ZZ Plant. From 16 °C and below its growth retarding, while at 7 °C stops completely and chilling injury may occur.

But there are worse: near 0 °C it loses all its aerial part. Of course, as long as the temperature does not drops below -6 °C, which is the lower limit of plant tolerance, next spring the rhizome will sprout again.

With high temperatures, there is a retarding or even cessation of plant growth. This is nothing particularly serious in relation to its appearance, except perhaps sunscalds.

Sunscalds is observed in the Zanzibar Gem plants, due to the coincidence of various adverse factors. Among others, the following are mentioned:

  • The ZZ Plants are fully exposed to the direct sun
  • Temperatures reach those of heat
  • The plants nutritional status is not the best
  • They are in circumstances of prolonged drought

The preventive spray with zeolite, gives a satisfactory degree of protection.

Sunscalds are also observed on those plants that are planted in pots and are located indoors.

The Care of ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Humidity

If the plant lover takes into account that:

  • For the professional production of Zanzibar Gem, the relative humidity in the shaded production greenhouses is between 50 and 100%
  • The origin of the plant from the tropics, sometimes refers tovery high percentages of relative atmospheric humidity
  • Appropriate relative humidity values for residential areas – homes, offices, etc. – range between 30 and 50%

Then it is easily concluded that the ZZ Plant probably mistakenly decorates these places.

Fortunately in practice this is not true. Almost always,  the usual average humidity of a residential area is enough for the normal growth of the plant.

Moreover, the increase of humidity, wherever necessary, is easy to achieve, by modifying the microclimate around the pot or planter, and by means such as the humidifier, or the regular wetting of the foliage, or even by placing the pot or planter in areas of increased relative humidity such as the bathroom.

The increased relative humidity is beneficial for ZZ Plant during the winter period, because, among other things, it can become a deterrent to various pests infestation.

The lack of moisture on the other hand becomes apparent, since in such a case the tips of the leaves turn brown.

For Zanzibar Gems that are well-planted and well-established in the garden usually do not need care. Exceptions are sometimes during periods of extreme weather phenomena (eg in summer heatwaves).

The Care of ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

The Thick and Tuberous Roots of ZZ Plant - © Cesar Calderon, Cesar Calderon Pathology Collection, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org
The Thick and Tuberous Roots of ZZ Plant - © Cesar Calderon, Cesar Calderon Pathology Collection, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.org

Lighting

A prominent feature of the ZZ Plant is its amazing adaptation to conditions of minimal, very low light intensity. Being in such conditions, it certainly does not grow but, on the other hand, it is not damaged in the slightest.

In fact, relevant research has shown its resistance to low levels of indoor lighting, ranging from 4 µmol · m⁻²·s⁻1 to 16µmol · m⁻²·s⁻1 for a period of 4 months and in addition without the administration of water, where from this treatment, the only obvious change in the plant, is the appearance of a very deep green color on the leaves.

The above performance rightly recognizes the plant as one of the most valuable indoor and outdoor – along with Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior) and Snake Plants (Sansevieria sp.) – for its ability  to exploit semi-shade, shady and almost dark places.

Also noteworthy is the behavior of Zanzibar Gem in windowless spaces, whose only light source is artificial: the plant grows seamlessly receiving normal or high intensity light from various artificial sources, such as fluorescent lamps.

In terms of natural light, the plant is favored by placing in places of intense and diffused lighting. Also, placing it in sites where it uses the direct morning or afternoon light is not a problem, but its direct exposure to the midday strong sunlight should be avoided, because it is very likely to show symptoms of sunscald on the leaves.

The Care of ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

ZZ Plant Maintenance Works

In the area of the care of ZZ Plant, some works on the part of the plantlover is necessary in order for the plant to be in the best possible condition.

They include first and foremost watering, fertilizing, overwintering and cleaning the leaves of the plant, and secondarily pruning.

All this is discussed immediately below.

The Care of ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

The Watering of ZZ Plant & its Drought Tolerance

The Watering

The ZZ Plant is also distinguished for its excellent tolerance to lack of water. It can survive in drought conditions, under certain prerequisites, up to 4 months, while for a period ranging from 1 to 2 months, it can cope with the lack of water without showing yellow or necrotic leaves.

Of course for the normal growth of the plant, water deprivation is not the right method. Respectively, the frequent watering of ZZ Plant, which can lead to root rot and necrosis of the plant (the number 1 cause of death in cultivation conditions), is not equally good practice.

The safest and most favorable watering technique for the Zanzibar Gem is the existence of little or no moisture in the soil growth medium, with a completely dry surface between two irrigations.

The interval depends on many factors, however in general it could be said that:

  • Watering of ZZ Plant is more frequent in summer, while in winter it is more infrequent
  • From late spring to early autumn the plant can be watered once a week – the rest of the year every 15 to 20 days
  • Watering of Zanzibar Gem is recommended to be done in such a way that no waterlogged is observed

It is understandable that the current conditions – hot or cold weather, potted plant or plant in garden, etc. – determine more precisely the frequency of ZZ Plant watering.

What may not be understood is the excellent adaptation of the plant to water deprivation, to drought. For this and immediately below an attempt is made to give an interpretation to the phenomenon.

The Causes of ZZ Plant's Drought Tolerance

The causes of ZZ Plant’s great drought tolerance must be traced back to the recent past, specifically just a few million years after the dinosaurs became extinct – and the mammals party that followed.

Then, during the Neogene and Quaternary Periods, African flora was severely tested by protracted, century-long drought.

The evolutionary selection pressure exerted on the plant organisms of ZZ Plant cradle was great. Thus, as everything shows, the circumstances of that time had as an evolutionary consequence the growth from the plant of its waxy and shiny leaves, of its fleshy texture stems and of its thick rhizomes.

And its leaves now show extremely low rates of transpiration, and the rhizomes store such amounts of water, which are able to support the plant to withstand many months of drought.

As for mammals, the party goes on – in the absence of dinosaurs.

The Care of ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Care of ZZ Plant - The ZZ Plant in a Tall Pot at Office
The ZZ Plant in a Tall Pot at Office

ZZ Plant Fertilization

The ZZ Plant lives an abstinent life, as it grows slowly and does not require large amounts of nutrients. However, this fact does not mean that the plant should be deprived of fertilization, on the contrary, if the plantlover wants it to thrive, she/he should strengthen it nutritionally.

The fertilization of ZZ Plant is recommended to start from the middle of March and to be completed in the middle of September, applied once a month.

Any fertilizer of balanced title (e.g. 10-10-10) is suitable and preferably in liquid form. Immediately after the application of the fertilizer, watering should follow.

For ZZ Plants planted in garden soil, the addition of compost (which is not fertilizer), along with reduced amounts of monthly liquid fertilizer, has wonderful results.

And in this case, immediately after the application of the fertilizer should follow the watering of the plant.

The Care of ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Overwintering

For ZZ Pants that are in pots in the garden, on the balcony or in the yard, and in areas where winter temperatures are not suitable for their perfect appearance, it is recommended to be transferred indoors and receive the same treatment as those of Zanzibar Gem plants may already adorn areas of the house.

There they should be tried not to be exposed to temperatures lower than 15 to 16 °C, in order to spend the winter without damage.

Of course, in addition to controlling the temperatures, special attention should still be paid to the humidity of the soil medium, as although the watering is infrequent, it is desirable not to allow the root to dry out.

With the onset of the growth period, all plants that came from or are intended for outdoor use can be transferred, and both for them and those that will remain indoors, the ZZ Pant care cycle begins, as described – with maximum ambiguity – in previous sections.

The Care of ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Pruning

Pruning belongs to that category of work for the ZZ Plant care that will not particularly concern the plantlover.

Sometimes it may be necessary to remove a stem from the base, which has either grown large enough or disturbed the balance of the foliage, thus spoiling the overall appearance of the plant.

Others may need to rid the plant of yellow or diseased leaves, which may appear again at the base of the stems.

And that is all.

The Care of ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

ZZ Plant Leaves Cleaning

In contrast to pruning, cleaning the leaves of Zanzibar Gem plants is presented not as an occasional activity but as necessary work from time to time. This is because over time, dust accumulates on the leaves of the plant, which disrupts their physiological functions and degrades their amazing natural shine.

The ZZ Plant in the Shower

One method of cleaning the ZZ Plant leaves is that of a lukewarm shower. It can be successfully applied to small or large plants that are in pots, which are easily removable.

With this method, the plants are transferred to the sink or bathroom, where there is no use of the shower but a simple low pressure sprayer or a small hand concentrate sprayer.

The use of such sprayer specifications is important, because otherwise the violent ejection or dynamic water supply to the plant foliage will result in the breaking, injuring or cutting off the leaf or leaves.

Also, the water in the sprayer should be lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – so as not to cause any kind of shock to the plant, affecting the leaves or the root system.

After the shower – spray, ZZ Plant is allowed to dry out. And when this happens then it can be watered, according to what has been said above about watering the plant.

The ZZ Plant in Bucket or Wash Tub

If the ZZ Plants are small, and generally easy to handle by hand, then a second method of cleaning the leaves is by immersing the plant in a bucket or tub, always with lukewarm water.

According to this method, the pot is fliped upside down, since with the other hand the soil substrate is held in place, and the foliage is dunking in water and then swished back and forth.

The foliage moves carefully back and forth, in a gentle way so that here too no problems occur, such as the breaking of ZZ Plant stems.

The plant is then fliped again and allowed to dry well.

It is recommended that before attempting to clean the leaves of the plant with this method, it should be preceded by watering, which facilitates the retention of the soil substrate in place.

The ZZ Plant, the Damp Cloth And Zen

Of course the most classic method of cleaning the leaves, not only of ZZ Plant but also of most indoor plants, is the wipe down with a damp cloth – and patience.

This method, which can be easily combined with Zen practices, consists of passing with the cloth of each individual leaf.

Prior to use, the cloth should be sufficiently moistened and squeezed to remove excess water. And with the addition of a drop of dishwashing detergent, it should be suitable for cleaning the leaves.

One point where it is desirable to pay special attention when applying this method, concerns the support of each individual leaf with the free hand: its role is to prevent any unintentional injury or cracking of the leaves of the plant, when on the other hand they are cleaned.

Pests and Diseases

It is a fact that ZZ Plant does not face particular problems from pests and diseases. Occasionally, however, it may catch the attention of certain parasites, such as from insects, aphids and scales, and from acari, the spider mites.

Both the former and the latter are relatively easy to treat with either special insecticides and acaricides. But frequently and the home remedies, when their populations are small, do the job.

Aphids, for example, can be controlled by spraying the plant or wiping the leaves with a solution of soap and warm water.

The scales are controlled by rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab.

As for the spider mites, which usually infect the plant when it is in a dry environment, here more spectacular measures are needed:

After washing the plant by pouring water on it vigorously, it is enclosed as tightly as possible in a transparent bag, and then exposed to a very bright place.

After two or three days either the spider mites will be dead or they will have enjoyed a cool bath, so now the use of an acaricide will be one way.

Of the ZZ Plant diseases, the most serious is root rot, which is due to excessive watering or the inability of the soil medium to get rid of excess water.

If root rot does occur then treating it is extremely difficult to impossible.

The Care of ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Care of ZZ Plant - Infection of Aphids on a Leaf of Zamiokoulkas
Infection of Aphids on a Leaf of Zamiokoulkas

References

For one more article, which has the unique ingenuity title The Care of Zamioculcas (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), the References are presented by the unique ZZ Top band with their excellent song Gimme All Your Lovin’.

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