Zanzibar Gem – Plant That Proves That We Can All Be Gardeners!

    Zanzibar Gem – Plant That Proves That We Can All Be Gardeners!

    6:06 PM EST, November 12, 2023, updated: 8:47 AM EST, November 13, 2023

    There are few plants that have been as trendy as this one recently. If you don’t have it at home yet, it is high time you learned something about it. Let’s see how you actually take care of it, how often it has to be watered and what kind of fertilizers it requires.

    The origins

    Zanzibar gem (Zamioculas zamiifolia) also known as ZZ plant is a tropical perennial plant from Tanzania. Its natural habitat is very dry – the hot period sometimes lasts ten months there.

    Description of the plant

    The plant looks a bit like palms. Its distinctive feature is smooth, stiff, shiny and dark leaves. The stems of leaves are thickened at the bottom. The large rhizome stores water. The petioles have irregular brown-green stains and stripes.



    The plant prefers permissible, fertile and humus mediums of slightly acidic reaction. The bottom of the pot should have the draining layer.


    The plant prefers partly shaded spots. If, however, it does not get enough sun exposure, the leaves fade and stretch. If there is too much light, the leaves might develop some white stains. The plant exposes itself towards the sun, so from time to time you may turn the pot a little.


    The best temperature range for the plant is 20 – 25 0 C, though higher temperatures are bearable, too. In the winter, when the plant hibernates, so 16 – 18 0 C will be optimal. As this is a tropical plant, any temperatures below 5 0 C are deadly. Strong drafts are not recommended, either.


    Zanzibar gem likes some dry periods. Just like cacti, it is a succulent. Therefore from time to time, a break in watering will be a good choice. You can only water it when the soil is dry. It is always better to keep it a bit too dry than too wet. The water must be in room temperature. Watering in the winter has to be as rare as possible.

    Excessive watering makes the leaves go yellow. And this is the most frequent cause of failure. It is recommended that the plant be not watered for as long as two weeks. And the soil should not be too wet. ‘Too much’ is not very helpful in case of this plant.


    Zanzibar gem grows rather slowly, but it might be really huge so it needs some space. In the wild it grows to a meter tall and every year it develops a few new petioles.

    As it grows old, it drops lower leaves while other might go yellowish.


    A half or a quarter dose of compound fertilizer every 2 – 3 weeks is enough. Intensive fertilization is just as harmful as excessive watering and might result in rotting.


    The plant ought to be repotted in the spring. Younger plants have to be repotted every year while older ones every three/four years. Carefully handle the rhizome so that it won’t get damaged. And don’t forget about the draining layer in the new pot.


    The plant can be propagated by leaf cutting or rhizome division. The seedlings ought to be picked between April and June from the lower part of the petioles. A rooting hormone could be used to speed up the whole process. After planting, it should grow really fast. The rooting process should take 3-4 weeks.

    You can also root single leaves, but in this case the process might last even a few years.

    Diseases and pests

    As for pests, the plant is really attacked. However, soil nematodes might be an issue

    As for diseases, they are often transmitted in soil or contracted form other plants. The most common problem is rotting – once the pant begins to smell like fish, you had better throw it away.

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