Apartment plants

Zamia - Zamioculcas zamiifolia - zamioculcas


Zamioculcas is a tropical plant much appreciated for its ease of cultivation and its resistance to pests and diseases. The plant is resistant even in difficult conditions, such as, for example, poor light or limited water availability. However, to grow and complete its development, zamioculcas can take a very long time. In fact, this plant can take up to thirty-five years to develop. This is why scientists and researchers are studying solutions and cultivars that grow faster. We will deepen all the cultural aspects of zamioculcas in the next paragraphs.


Evergreen succulent plant native to Tanzania is made up of tufts of large, fleshy, erect stems, along which scaly, leathery leaves grow, with a shiny and waxy appearance. It has a fairly slow growth and tends to produce numerous basal shoots; throughout the year it produces inflorescences similar to calla lilies, of a yellow-brown color, only if the plant is cultivated in an optimal manner. It is widely used as a houseplant because it supports any cultivation condition. The zamioculcas reaches 2-3 meters in height and 3 meters in width. In reality, the plant, especially if grown in an apartment and for ornamental purposes, never reaches these heights. Its growth, in fact, as already said, is very slow, and in normal conditions it is not possible to have specimens higher than sixty or seventy centimeters. The botanical name of the plant is Zamioculcas zamiifolia, the only species belonging to the homonymous genus Zamioculcas and to the Araceae family. Commonly, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world, the plant is also called "ZZ plant", a name that derives from the two initials of the botanical name. The specific epithet "zamiifolia" refers, instead, to the appearance of the foliage, very similar to the plants of the genus Zamia, plants in their turn similar to zamioculcas, but not belonging to the genus to which this plant belongs. Zamioculcas is an evergreen perennial plant of tropical origin and included in the genus of succulent plants, that is fat. Judging by its very refined and delicate appearance, it seems strange that the plant belongs to succulents, often much more rustic and with less showy foliage. For the beauty and brilliance of its leaves, zamioculcas is also called the "Tanzanian gem".

First name
Zamioculcas zamiifolia
Origin Tanzania
Family Araceae
Exposure Half shade, evergreens
Type Evergreen
Ground acid
Height two meters in the wild, sixty centimeters in the apartment
leaves Pennate, in turn, composed of small lance-shaped, fleshy, glossy and dark green leaves
Flowers yellow-brown spadixes
Flowering from mid-summer to early autumn
Cultivation easy
Propagation cutting
Growth slow

Zamioculcas treatment

Exposure: it prefers very bright locations, but preferably away from direct sunlight. In spring it can be kept outdoors, in a partially shaded place; when autumn arrives, it must be collected at home so as to protect it from the cold. In winter, place it near a window or in a bright place. However, this plant adapts very well to all lighting conditions, with no particular problems.
Watering: water regularly every 7-10 days, without exceeding in order not to cause harmful water stagnations. From March to October, provide a fertilizer for succulent plants every 15-20 days, dissolved in the water used for watering.


Soil: it adapts without any problem to any problem, preferring very soft and well-drained soils; it can be grown in a good soil for succulent plants.
Multiplication: it can take place by seed, even if they are difficult to find; usually the zamias are propagated by leaf cuttings: the leaves are taken in autumn and buried in an upright position in a compound consisting of peat and sand in equal parts; usually the aerial part dries completely, while in the soil develops a fleshy root that will give life to the new plant the following spring.
Pests and diseases: it fears root rot and cochineal.

Zamia leaves and flowers

The zamioculcas is an ornamental plant for interiors characterized by typical pinnate leaves composed, in turn, of small lance-shaped, fleshy, glossy and dark green leaves. The base of the plant is characterized by showy rhizomes (root propagations) that ripen under the soil and give life to cuttings from which new seedlings can then be propagated. The flowers develop at the base and are similar to yellow-brown spadixes without any ornamental value. The flowers of the plant are in fact inconspicuous and appear from mid-summer to the beginning of autumn.

Zamioculcas soil

Zamioculcas grows in almost every type of soil. However, the ideal would be a light soil with a degree of acidity or pH equal to 6. To make no mistake, you can choose specific soils for succulents. These molds can be found at any gardening store. The plant also grows in molds composed of a mixture of peat, earth and sand, which would then be the ideal mixture for succulent plants.

Exposure and temperature

The plant loves exposures to light, but not to direct sunlight. Inside it must therefore be placed in a well-lit space, but without direct contact with the sun's rays. The latter, in fact, end up burning the foliage of the plant. However, zamioculcas also resists low light exposure without causing damage or illness. The light, however, makes it possible to improve and speed up the plant's growth possibilities. Furthermore, zamioculcas can be kept outdoors until the temperature drops below 15 ° C. To speed up the growth of the plant, the ideal temperature must be between 18 ° C and 26 ° C. Even higher temperatures give an increase in leaf production.

Zamioculcas irrigation

To develop in a healthy way, zamioculcas needs the soil to be kept constantly moist but not soaked. The irrigations must therefore be sufficient to maintain a constant soil moisture. Water should never be administered in excess, because stagnation causes breakage and damage to the rhizomes. On the contrary, a soil that is too dry risks causing the leaves to fall and transform the plant into a deciduous species. Therefore, during the cold seasons, if the plant is outside, it is advisable not to irrigate, in summer, instead, it is better to irrigate until the soil appears damp. Inside, the plant should be irrigated only when the soil appears completely dry.


Zamioculcas benefits enormously from monthly fertilization during spring and summer. For this operation a balanced liquid fertilizer rich in macro and microelements must be used. Mix the solution according to the instructions on the label and distribute with irrigation water. The distribution of the liquid fertilizer should be done only in correspondence of the soil, to moisten it and to prevent the fertilizer from damaging the roots or that, coming into contact with the leaves, ends up burning them.

Planting and repotting

Zamioculcas is mainly grown in pots, the only container that allows it to be easily moved from the outside to the inside. The planting takes place at the beginning of spring by planting the cut leaves from which the new plants can then develop. The plant is generally repotted every two or three years.


Zamioculcas propagates by division or by cutting. The first operation consists in removing the rhizomes from already grown mother plants and interposing them in another vessel. This operation, however, given the slow growth of the plant, proved to be increasingly impractical, so much so that it was definitively replaced by propagation by cuttings. Propagation by cuttings consists in removing a couple of healthy leaves from the plant and planting them, from the lower end, in a jar containing a mixture of peat and sand. The soil should be kept moist at all times, while the container should be placed in a bright place. The pot with soil and cuttings can also be enclosed in a polyethylene bag to avoid loss of humidity. Also propagation by cuttings takes a long time to be successful. When the new bulbs appear from the ground, then it will mean that in the following spring new plants will be generated.


Pruning is not necessary in zamioculcas. Indeed, the plant is one of those that does not need any intervention in this regard. The only operations to be performed on this species are the simple removal of the dry and damaged parts. However, these parts must be removed only when strictly necessary.

Pests and diseases

Zamioculcas is one of the most resistant plants to pests and diseases, so it is grown anywhere in the world. The plant structure of the plant resists, in fact, to any adverse condition of humidity and temperature without almost never showing the attacks of insects or any other phytopathology. Some adversities are caused only by cultural errors. Excess humidity, for example, can cause yellowing and falling leaves, or root rot. The excess of solar radiation can instead cause the burning of the leaves, the same symptom can occur due to an excess of fertilizer. Foliar fall also occurs as a result of drought or water scarcity. The only insects that can hit the plant are the scale insects. These parasites manifest themselves with dark spots on the branches. In fact, scallop scale insects are characterized by a brown or brown shield on the back. They behave like aphids, or they suck the plant sap of the plant. To combat them, use specific insecticides and regulate the amount of water during watering.


There are no specific varieties of zamioculcas, which is why it is impossible to make a precise botanical list of them. It is likely that, soon, in nurseries, will appear hybrid varieties and cultivars made to speed up the growth of the plant. Some solutions in this sense are already being tested. The zamioculcas, although belonging to the homonymous genus, is similar to the plants of the genus Zamia. The most known varieties of Zamia are the zamia pumila, native to the Caribbean and with leaves similar to those of ferns; the zamia furfuracea, native to Mexico, with pinnate leaves and oval leaflets that when ripe take on a reddish color, and variegated zamia, with large green leaves mottled with yellow. We recall, however, that zamioculcas is part of the Araceae family, while plants of the genus Zamia belong to the Zamiaceae family.

Zamia - Zamioculcas zamiifolia - zamioculcas: Curiosity

All parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested. Some argue, however, that the plant's poison or toxicity is an unfounded myth. In reality, this is not the case because the leaves and other vegetative structures of the zamioculcas contain calcium oxalate. This substance, if it accumulates in excess in the human body, causes crystals in the urine and gallstones. In contact with the skin, mucous membranes and conjunctiva, calcium oxalate can instead give strong irritation or inflammation. Zamioculcas has often been confused with zamia furfurea, a plant also commonly known as Cicas. In fact, the plant's name zamiifolia means "leaves of zamia". In fact, the leaf structures of the two plants are very similar, but the species they belong to are completely different.
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