Handsome and low-maintenance, the Zanzibar gem or the eternity plant is the perfect houseplant for gardening beginners, those with less experience or very little spare time.
Zamioculcas zamiifolia is the single species of the genus of flowering plants, Zamioculcas, and part of the family Araceae.
It can also withstand a certain amount of neglect. It doesn’t mind drought, low light, and dry air, so this is why you often see it in offices, restaurants, stores, etc.
Also known as the ZZ plant, this tropical perennial is wide, glossy, and has oval-shaped leaves that grow upward and have an attractive deep green color. Because of their foliage, many people mistake them for artificial plants.
Being slow growing in nature, they don’t need frequent repotting.
When mature, a ZZ will reach a height of up to 4 feet. Mine thrives when I keep it in an area where the sunlight is low and indirect and I’ve also noticed that it likes semi-shaded areas.
The ZZ won’t just bring lovely green vibes to your indoor space, either home or office, but it will also help you breathe cleaner air as it’s known to lower CO2, carbon monoxide, and pollutants.
Since it’s a mildly toxic plant to humans and animals, it’s best to place it where it will be out of the reach of kids and pets in the family!
This lovely houseplant originates from eastern Africa, from the south of Kenya to the northeast of South Africa.
Zanzibar Gem Care Indoors
If there’s a tolerant houseplant, it’s definitely the Zanzibar Gem! It can do well in various light conditions so it’s awesome for different indoor spaces.
Low light isn’t an issue, although the ideal would be a bright, indirect part of your home or office. If the plant doesn’t get the needed light, it can become leggy.
Never place it where it will get a lot of direct sunlight because the precious foliage can burn!
ZZ can do well in most average indoor temperatures, but they don’t do well in very low temperatures, ones that go below 45 degrees F.
Moreover, don’t keep it close to drafts or air vents.
Water & Humidity
Because their rhizomes are thick, these plants are able to withstand drought and irregular watering. The best watering schedule, the one I also stick to, is to do it when the soil has dried out entirely, once per two weeks.
Remember, it’s always better to water the plant less often than to overwater it.
Always remove the water that drains out of the soil and goes into the tray.
When it comes to humidity, ZZs don’t need humid circumstances; however, if you have a home with pretty dry air, you can elevate the humidity slightly by using a humidifier or utilizing a tray of water with pebbles.
A ZZ plant can do well in a regular potting mix as long as it drains well.
Most of the standard mixes you’ll find are fine for it. If extra drainage is needed, you can add some sand or perlite!
This plant is a synonym for low maintenance! It doesn’t generally need any feeding to be healthy; however, if your goal is to boost its size or vigor, you can do it.
Opt for fertilizer for indoor plants diluted to half strength. Apply it once to twice during the active growth phase.
When the ZZ has overgrown its pot, it’s advisable to repot it. Do it in spring and choose a slightly bigger pot than the current one.
Wear gloves and remove the ZZ from the current pot carefully. Make a hole in the soil of the new pot and put the plant in the hole at the same depth it grew in the previous pot.
When you want to propagate ZZ’s, you can do it through stem cuttings or division.
The latter is the simplest way. You just divide the rhizomes the next time you do a repotting and set them in different pots.
The stem cutting method requires more time and sometimes, six to nine months are needed before you see any roots.
- Through stem cutting:
Cut off one stalk at the plant’s base.
Make a straight cut using a clean knife. Put the stem in water and replace the water with a fresh one every three to four weeks.
Keep the stem near a window and in a warmer area with bright and indirect light.
When the cut grows a rhizome and has at least an inch of roots, it’s time to repot it in soil.
- Through division:
When the ZZ has grown within a half-inch of the edge of the planter or if you notice rhizomes above the soil, their division is recommendable.
While you can also put the whole ZZ into a slightly bigger pot, you can also use this time to divide the plant and make two or three plants from the original.
The rhizomes are potato-like structures that will be covered with dirt near the base of the plant.
Several rhizomes may be clustered together and have multiple stems growing from each.
Keep the individual rhizomes together, but divide them from each other for propagation. You may need a clean knife for this part.
Best Types of Zanzibar Gem
- The Raven (Z. zamiifolia) is a new variety of the ZZ plant which is popular for its dark, purple-maroon leaves. It was previously rarer and more expensive, but it’s becoming widely available today and the cost has dropped.
- The Variegated ( zamiifolia) has beautiful green leaves with variations of white and yellow. This one is more delicate and needs to be provided with the proper light so this variegation doesn’t fade away. This one is my personal favorite!
- Zenzi ZZ ( zamiifolia) is the dwarf version of the ZZ plant which grows up to two feet when fully mature. It’s cute and perfect for shadier spots of your home or office where there’s lower space available
Other Zanzibar Gem Care Tips
If the air in your home or office is very dry, a ZZ plant may benefit from the occasional mist.
This plant is very strong and therefore, long-lasting. It’s a plant known as an heirloom because it’s one of those plants that can be passed on for generations.
Trouble Shooting- Common Issues
Problem: droopy foliage
Cause: Underwatered ZZ.
Solution: Water the plant well every two weeks or so until water drains out of the tray.
Problem: yellowing and droopy foliage
Cause: Overwatered ZZ.
Solution: Water the plant only when the top three inches of the soil (approximately a finger’s length) is dry.
Problem: scale-like covering on the leaves; sticky, honeydew-like substance
Cause: Scale insects.
Solution: Wipe the bugs away using 70 percent isopropyl alcohol or soapy water using a softer toothbrush or cotton swabs. Check and repeat the cleaning every couple of days.