ZZ Plant, Easy to Grow House Plant
The ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is an easy to grow house plant and the prettiest indoor plant I have ever had.
This lovely plant is quite ornamental, with attractive glossy foliage. It will tolerate low light and perhaps even a little sun, but seems to do best in bright, indirect light.
I have been unsuccessful with Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, Iron Plant, Closet Plant, Jade Plant, Schefflera, Philodendron, all of those houseplants you read about or are told about that are easy to grow.
I first saw a ZZ plant in my dentist’s office. It was beautiful and unusual. I asked the hygienist about it. She was so happy with hers that she made me want one too. My husband went off to buy one and was shocked at the price; as I recall, it was $30, more than we usually pay for a houseplant.
Before I go any further, I will tell you that all parts of this plant are poisonous. I will also say that I did not know that when we decided to get one. Our cat, the wildest, most feral house cat I have ever known, has attacked and bitten off several branches of this plant and she was not affected. She is the reason why I started propagating this plant (since I had so many damaged stems).
I began putting lemon and orange rinds in the pot and this kept her away from it.
I have rooted and given away several plants from the original one, and I have about a dozen more stems in the process. I have read somewhere that you can propagate this plant from a single leaf, but I myself have not done so (yet).
The first time the cat bit off the tip of a branch, I put it in a small glass of water and was thrilled to see roots almost right away. I procrastinated about potting the new little plant and just kept adding water. Suddenly one day as I added water, I noticed a bulbous corm-like growth in addition to the roots! I have since learned that this is called a rhizome. The plant stores water in this.
Rhizome and roots (lifted out of the water)
The first cutting (planted in a canister) began as only three leaves
I planted the first little one (only three leaves) in an old canister (see below) and it sat for awhile just hanging in there, neither growing nor looking poorly. I seldom watered it and it sat in a room that had poor lighting for a long time. One day I gasped in amazement, as it had about seven shoots springing up from the soil. Now it is getting quite large and continues to send out new spears.
Do not over-water, do provide good drainage, and do not use any kind of leaf-shine product. It always looks polished anyway. Occasionally I will sit down with mine and gently wipe the leaves with a damp paper towel. I have never seen an insect pest on these plants. I suppose you could fertilize the plants occasionally; I haven’t but perhaps I should.
In conclusion, the ZZ plant is beautiful, shiny, hardy, requires almost no attention, does not require direct sunlight, does not harbor insects, and is easy to propagate. I love my ZZ plants. For more technical information, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zamioculcas.
UPDATE: 12/23/12. It's been two years since I wrote this article. The original plant is still healthy and beautiful and I have propagated about 30 plants from it!