The ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is a tough, easy to grow houseplant. It tolerates low levels of light, prolonged dry periods, and neglect. Plants have few insect or disease problems. Zamioculcas zamiifolia is also known as aroid palm, eternity plant, and fat boy. The ZZ plant is a member of the Arum family. Other houseplants in this family include philodendron, peace lily, and Chinese evergreen. The plant is native to east Africa.
The ZZ plant produces shiny, dark green, elliptic-shaped leaflets on thick stalks. (The leaflets are so shiny it looks as if the plant has been sprayed with leaf polish.) At the base of the stalks are tuber-like rhizomes. Plants may grow 3 feet tall and spread 4 to 5 feet wide.
The ZZ plant performs best in bright, indirect light. However, it will tolerate very low levels of light. Direct, afternoon sun may actually damage the plant's foliage. The plant prefers to be kept on the dry side. When watering, water plants thoroughly. Some water should flow out the bottom of the pot. Discard any excess water. Allow the potting soil to dry nicely before watering again. In most cases, a thorough watering every 7 to 14 days is usually fine. Problems can develop if the plant is watered too frequently and the potting soil is constantly wet. In spring and summer, fertilize once or twice a month with a dilute fertilizer solution.
The ZZ plant grows rather slowly. When it grows, it tends to grow in spurts. Plants are propagated by leaf cuttings and division. The ZZ plant is regarded as poisonous to humans and pets if ingested.
A ZZ plant showing the characteristic glossy green foliage. Photo by Richard Jauron