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Zanzibar Gem (ZZ Plant) How to Grow and Care Guide

Zanzibar Gem is an exotic-looking plant, a must-have for all the plant enthusiasts out there. It makes a perfect houseplant for anyone interested in balcony gardening. All it requires is a little sunlight and a minimalistic maintenance routine to thrive and strive inside your homes.

A happy luscious Zanzibar plant adds so much texture and fun to your living space. If you want one at your house, here is everything you need to know about it.

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What is a Zanzibar Plant?

What is a Zanzibar Plant

The Latin name for the plant is Zamioculcas Zamiifolia but it is also known as Zanzibar plant, or ZZ plant for short. Zanzibar Gem has its origins from the deserted land of Africa, where it thrives outdoors, however it is well suited for the indoor climate of Australia.

Before 1996, no one knew about this exotic plant outside Africa. However, with commercial propagation of the plant by Dutch nurseries, it started being distributed and becoming popular around the world, thereby entering our homes, offices, and living spaces.

ZZ plants grow from thick rhizomes that store sufficient amounts of water, making the plant drought tolerant. The water storing capacity allows it to survive indoors even after a few missed watering sessions from the owner. 

The plant grows wide, glossy dark green leaves shooting from a stout under the soil. They are slow growers and take up to a few years to reach a few feet.

They can grow up to 3 to 4 feet tall depending upon the amount of light they receive. They do grow faster in the months of spring especially under adequate sunlight or even fluorescent lights making them a perfect in- house plant.

Zamzibar Gem ZZ Plant Varieties

At the beginning of its commercialization, the plant had no varieties and only was one of a kind. However new and intriguing varieties of Zanzibar gem have emerged in the later years. Some of the best and easy growing varieties are:

Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Raven' 

Zamioculcas Raven are named after the birds because of their dark-colored leaves that almost look black in low light.


They are fairly easy to care for and have a striking ornamental look to them, perfect for being a tabletop Plant.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Raven' are named after the birds because of their dark-colored leaves that almost look black in low light

Source: bybrittanygoldwyn.com

Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Dark Zamicro'

As dark as the ravens, but takes up a small space to thrive with its smaller flat leaves.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Dark Zamicro' takes up a small space to thrive with its smaller flat leaves

Source: verdantdwellings.com.au

Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Zenzi'

This variety is compact and only grows to a height of 2 feet.  It requires the same maintenance routine as a normal ZZ plant but needs a much lesser space.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Zenzi' requires the same maintenance routine as a normal ZZ plant but needs a much lesser space

Source: flowerpower.com.au

Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Raven' 

Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Raven' are named after the birds because of their dark-colored leaves that almost look black in low light

Source: bybrittanygoldwyn.com

Zamioculcas Raven are named after the birds because of their dark-colored leaves that almost look black in low light. They are fairly easy to care for and have a striking ornamental look to them, perfect for being a tabletop Plant.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Dark Zamicro'

Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Dark Zamicro' takes up a small space to thrive with its smaller flat leaves

Source: verdantdwellings.com.au

As dark as the ravens, but takes up a small space to thrive with its smaller flat leaves.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Zenzi'

Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Zenzi' requires the same maintenance routine as a normal ZZ plant but needs a much lesser space

Source: flowerpower.com.au

This variety is compact and only grows to a height of 2 feet.  It requires the same maintenance routine as a normal ZZ plant but needs a much lesser space.

Special Features

Nathan Schwartz of Aussie Green Thumb showing an example of a drooping zz plant due to lack of sunlight

Nathan Schwartz of Aussie Green Thumb showing an example of a drooping zz plant due to lack of sunlight.

Make your surroundings even more beautiful with the Zanzibar gem. It is a flowering plant with flowers that are minuscule and grow at the base of the plant. However, it is very rare for the flowers to grow. The plant can only produce flowers when it is planted in its natural habitat.

A few studies reveal that ZZ plants are an excellent indoor air purifier and absorb pollutants and carbon dioxide leaving healthy and safe air for you to breathe.

How long can the plant survive?

Want a plant that you can pass down to generations? Zanzibar gem is the one! They are fairly tough, hard to kill, and can survive the blackest of thumbs. They are called heirloom plants for the very same reason.

How to Grow Zanzibar Plant

How to Grow Zanzibar Plant

If the Zanzibar gem has so far piqued your interest then let’s discuss how you can easily grow and maintain them at your home now. Before sowing the seeds of the Zanzibar gem in the soil, place them in warm water for a day to germinate.

Once they are out and dry, they are ready to be placed in pots. Select a pot size of 8 to 12 inches and fill it with well-drained soil. These plants don’t require any special potting soil.

A standard potting soil is sufficient for your plant to thrive. The drought-tolerant nature of the ZZ plants allow them to survive infrequent watering. 

It is recommended that it is watered once a week, when the potting soil is completely dried. Overwatering may lead to the rotting of roots.

The plants are well suited to a normal household environment. If you feel your indoor environment is drier than usual; you can place the plant over a water tray or near a humidifier.

The plant can thrive in a wide range of light intensities. However, it is recommended to place your pot near a window with low to medium sunlight for the best growth.

The plant cannot survive direct sunlight and extremely cold temperatures so please look out for that.

Propagating ZZ Plant

How to Propagate ZZ Plant

Zanzibar gem can be propagated through two ways: Rhizome dividing and stem cutting. The first method is the easiest and fastest to multiply your ZZ plant.

All you have to do is divide the rhizome and place them in two different pots to grow separately. The latter method takes about six to nine months for a new rhizome to bloom. 

The method requires taking a sterilized sharp blade and cutting a part of the stem from a mature plant. Make sure that you select a healthy green plant. The cutting can be potted in the same way as you would sow a seed.

Planting Zanzibar Gem

Planting Zanzibar Gem

Repotting plants from a smaller pot to a bigger one is important for the healthy growth of plants. Repotting is necessary when the plant has outgrown its container.

The most obvious sign is when the rhizomes start to push up against the soil and can be seen over the surface. Overgrown rhizomes also distort the shape of the potting container.

It is ideal to repot the plant during the spring or summer season. These seasons are active growing phases of plants, therefore plants are able to adapt better to new spaces and other changes. Make sure the new pot has drainage holes for a sufficient drainage system.

The plants grow faster and healthier when a large number of rhizomes are grown together. If you want some other plants to accompany your ZZ plant then here is a shortlist:

Snake plant, Aglaonema, Calathea, Kalanchoe, Cast Iron Plant, Ti Plant, Rattail Cactus, Ferns, Ficus, Mosses, Rhipsalis, Prayer plants, Sansevierias, and Tradescantia are some of the species that help ZZ plant obtain nutrients and flourish.

Among the list, Snake plant is no doubt one of our favorites and for good reason. Know more about them in our Moonshine Snake Plant Australian Guide

Caring for ZZ Plant

Are you a beginner who struggles to take care of your plants? Fear no more since taking care of these Zanzibar plants needs minimum effort and that is what makes them the best home plants for beginners. 

Caring for ZZ Plant

Here is a step-by-step guide to care for your ZZ plants.

Watering Zanzibar plant

Make sure you don’t overwater the plant as it leads to the rotting of roots. Water the soil enough to make moisture run out of the bottom holes of the potting container. Excess water must be discarded. It’s better to water less than overwatering.

Sunlight

Make sure the plant receives 6 to 8 hours of adequate indirect sunlight every day. Direct sunlight can burn the leaves. Too little sunlight can result in slower stunted growth.

Fertiliser

These plants don’t need regular fertilising. Fertilise the plants once or twice a year, ideally in the summer and spring seasons. It is recommended to use diluted indoor plant fertiliser.  Read the warnings and instructions on the fertiliser carefully before using it. 

Drainage

Plants require proper air circulation and drainage systems. Make sure the potting containers have sufficient holes for letting out excess water.

Temperature 

Although these plants can survive a wide range of temperatures, avoid placing them in cold areas of your house as they can die of extremely cold temperatures or frosts.

Repotting

Repot the plant once a year after it has overgrown its container. It is preferable to mix perlite with the soil for extra drainage.

Pruning ZZ plant

Pruning allows new growth in plants. You can prune the plant by removing yellow leaves or cutting outgrown stems. Make sure you only prune the plant above the soil surface. 

For a nice, clean prune, here is our review of the best secateurs in Australia

ZZ Plant Problems, Pests, and Diseases

Zanzibar Gem has its origins from the deserted land of Africa, where it thrives outdoors, however it is well suited for the indoor climate of Australia

Common pests in Zanzibar Gems are aphid infestations. It is evident by unusual yellow spots on the leaves of the plant. Aphids are usually hard to notice because they blend in with the color of the plant.

It is important that you take a closer look at the plant once in a while to diagnose any pest infestations. Some other types of pests include spider mites, thrips, caterpillars, and whiteflies. 

These pests are harmful and feed on the leaves of the plant. You can spray or wipe the leaves with neem oil or mild insecticidal soaps to remove pests.

One of the biggest problems with this plant is root or tuber rot. Overwatering can immediately lead to the rotting of plants. Eventually dying as a result. The rot can be detected by yellow wilting leaves.

Nutrient deficiency is another problem with plants. This can lead to fewer leaves, yellow brittle petioles, and stunted growth. It is advisable to use organic fertilisers to overcome the nutrient deficiency.

Almost all parts of Zanzibar Gem are poisonous and strictly non-edible. Make sure you wear gloves, goggles, and other safety equipment before pruning the plant. Wash your hands after every contact with the plant. Keep children and pets away from the ZZ plants.

Wrapping Up Our Zanzibar Gem Growing Guide

Zanzibar Gem is the perfect plant for balcony garden settings and it requires minimal maintenance effort. The two things special about it are its life longevity and air purifying nature. They can be passed onto generations.

Just keep in mind that these plants are strictly non-edible and can be harmful if swallowed. Keep the children and pets away from Zanzibar Gem.

Zanzibar Gem (ZZ Plant) How to Grow and Care Guide

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