ZZ Plant Fertilizer: When and How to Fertilize

Gardening is a hobby that more and more people have started embracing as the years have gone by. And why wouldn’t the popularity grow? Green looks great, and a little spice never hurt anybody! One such way of going about the said situation is by bringing home a ZZ plant.

The plants are famous for being very durable and adding zing to your home or workspace in the best and most unique manner. One thing you need to know is that you will still need to work on the plant. One important aspect of caring for your ZZ is taking care of its fertilizer requirements.

Here is everything you need to know about ZZ.

What do we know about ZZ Plant?


A member of the Zamioculcas genus, the Zanzibar gem is a flowering plant in the family Araceae, containing the single species Zamioculcas zamiifolia. ZZ is known to be a tropical perennial plant native to eastern Africa, from southern Kenya to northeastern South Africa.

ZZ plants are known to have stems that grow in a graceful, wand-like shape that begins with a thick and bulbous base and then happens to taper to a point. Along the stem grow fleshy, oval-shaped leaves that successfully make the plant look like stylized feathers.

The entire plant possesses a waxy, shiny coating that manages to make it appear to resemble those made of plastic. Between the sculptural qualities of the plant and its waxy coating, it makes a lot of sense that people mistook it for artificial plants in malls and office buildings.

In the past, the ZZ plant would only be found in planters in malls and large office buildings and due to their amazing strength and look they would frequently be mistaken for fake plants, partially because they needed so little care and always looked extremely healthy.

As the years went by, they have found their way onto the shelves of both big box and hardware stores where you can get them to be members of your home.

ZZ plants are known to be slow-growing plants that prefer bright, indirect sunlight. One of the benefits of the ZZ plant is that it can thrive in many lighting conditions. If you ever plant or repot a ZZ, you should go ahead with it in the spring or summer when it’s in an active growth phase.

Pants are known to be poisonous to humans and animals if ingested. Here are some things, in addition to the information already available, how does one care for a ZZ plant?

How to care for the ZZ plant?

ZZ plants are famous for being low-maintenance, easy-to-care-for houseplants that even gardeners with the blackest thumbs (someone unable to grow plants) can keep alive with minimum care. All they need to do with regard to care is adequate light and a good watering every couple of weeks. However, you don’t have to worry too much if you forget to water your ZZ plant—these plants grow from rhizomes, which happens to help them to store water under the soil, making them drought-tolerant plants.

ZZ plants have a naturally shiny exterior about their leaves but can become dull as dust accumulates. Be careful that you never clean the leaves of a Zanzibar gem with a commercial leaf shine because that will just clog the pores of your plants. Instead, gently wipe away dust and debris with a damp washcloth to restore its shine.

Though it thrives outdoors in Africa, it’s best if you grow the plants indoors. If you want to grow it outside, plant it in a container that can be brought indoors when there is a drop n temperature.



ZZ plants are known to be tolerant of a wide range of lighting conditions, which makes them well-suited to be indoor plants. The plants can grow well, even in low-light conditions. But be careful because the plants can quickly become leggy when not given enough light. 

When placing the plant in your house, be sure to choose a bright, indirect light spot, preferably in a room that possesses south-facing windows. Avoid direct sunlight, because however durable the plants are, the leaves might end up scorched. Be sure to look after the plants before it is too late for the plant is too late to be taken care of anymore. 


ZZ plants, as their durable nature suggests, are not overtly picky about their potting medium as long as it is a well-draining one. The plant is known to do just fine when potted in standard potting mixes available in most nurseries in your town. If additional drainage is required, mixing in perlite or sand will help. 

Just ensure that the soil in which your plant exists does not clog, because if it does, the accumulated water will end up giving your beautiful plant a root rot, and nobody needs that. The fungal infections will destroy your plants.



These plants are, as has been mentioned before, highly drought-tolerant and can handle infrequent watering thanks to their thick rhizomes. You should, as a habit, water ZZ plants once the soil dries out completely—usually once every two weeks, depending on their growing conditions. 

Conduct a finger test, to be sure that the soil has been dried out completely. It’s better to water your plant less than give it too much water, especially if the plant is as drought tolerant as this one. When watering, pour it on the plant thoroughly with the water running out of the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot. Get rid of the excess water y draining out the plate.

Temperature and Humidity

Average household temperatures and humidity are usually acceptable for Zanzibar gems. ZZ plants are a little sensitive to the cold and do not tolerate cold temperatures well (no lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit), so avoid placing your plant in a place close to drafts or particularly cold areas of your home. 

ZZ plants aren’t very demanding of humid conditions, but if your home runs on the dry side, consider increasing the humidity around your plant by purchasing a humidifier or placing it on top of a water tray so that the plant doesn’t get too dry or doesn’t die too soon.


ZZ plants usually do not require regular fertilizing to thrive throughout their life. However, if you’re planning to increase the size or vigor of your plant, fertilize your ZZ plant with a variety of indoor plant fertilizers diluted to half-strength one to two times during its active growing season. We’ll talk about this in detail in the other half of the article. 

Pest related issues


Another testimony to the ZZ’s durability is the fact that the plants are virtually disease-free, but it still is necessary that you keep an eye out for common houseplant pests such as mealybugs, scale, and fungus gnats, and aphids that may infest this plant. 

You can use any insecticidal soap to eliminate most of these pest problems.

The importance of fertilizing

Something that most people are curious about with regards to ZZ is “if the plants are this durable, why is it that they need to be fertilized?” To put it simply, no matter how durable a plant is, it will need fertilizing to lead a happy and healthy life for many years to come.

Growing in nature, plants usually have access to a constant flow of nutrients. They can extend out their roots in the free soil and find the things they need in their natural environments, as well as absorb rainwater, which is known to be full of natural nutrients and minerals.

Whereas when grown indoors, as houseplants, they are restricted to the limited number of nutrients available to them in their small containers.

No amount of stretching or reaching of roots will get them to anything that is not additionally induced for them in the soil. For this reason, they need fertilizers to help to thrive.

There exists a common misconception that fertilizer is food for plants. This isn’t exactly true. Plants create their food from water, sunlight, and CO2 through the process of photosynthesis.

Fertilizer is more of a composition of the vitamins that help our plants grow big and strong for years to come. They aren’t needed as the food for your plant, but the different macro and micro ingredients give your ZZ plant the nutrients they need for healthy stems, roots, leaves, and more.

Composition of the fertilizer

Houseplant fertilizer is made up of several ingredients. Those ingredients are usually categorized as macronutrients and micronutrients. Macro or micro refers to the amount of that nutrient that plants need to be healthy, but not the importance of the nutrient for your plant.

The three primary macronutrients, that happen to be the best nutrients for your plant, in fertilizers are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. They are a necessity for the healthy growth of the largest quantities of plants.

We can discuss each of these ingredients and their benefits more in the upcoming portions of the article. The most common secondary macronutrients consist of calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. Plants need smaller amounts of these items.

Micronutrients might not sound so but are just as important to plants, but they are needed in even smaller quantities. Micronutrients found in fertilizers include iron, zinc, manganese, copper, boron, molybdenum, and chlorine.

Compared to macronutrients, only a minute quantity of any of these nutrients is included in fertilizer mixtures.

The N-P-K Ratio

If you have tried to look at your fertilizer bottle, there are usually 3 numbers written on the bottle, separated by hyphens (6-10-4). These numbers stand for N, P, and K which stand for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

The numbers are written on the bottle to tell us what percentage of the fertilizer mixture is composed of each of these primary macronutrients. A fertilizer that says 10-10-10 has 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus, and 10% potassium.

The first and most important macronutrient is always nitrogen. Nitrogen is an important part of the photosynthesis process of plants and helps to promote leafy, green growth on the plant (think stems and leaves).

Phosphorus is next in line with macronutrients and is essential to creating healthy root structures. It also helps flower blooms so flowering plants tend to require higher amounts of phosphorus.

Potassium is represented by K in N-P-K, the symbol of the nutrient in the periodic table. Potassium is responsible for helping plants to become hardy and able to tolerate less-than-ideal conditions.

Potassium also helps in regulating water uptake for your plant and improves a plant’s ability to fight off disease.

If you look for fertilizers, you’ll see fertilizer formulas with different levels of each nutrient, depending on what it is trying to accomplish. For instance, many grass feeds are mainly nitrogen.

Commercial “blooming” mixes for annuals and edibles typically boost up the phosphorus to facilitate more flowers.

In the case of a ZZ Plant, which has a lot of greens to its name, growth, and a root system easily upset by improper watering, you should go ahead with a balanced mix. You will want to make sure all aspects of the plant are benefiting from the feed they are provided.

Risks to Fertilizing

When we talk about fertilizing, too much of a good thing can become a problem too. Too much fertilizer can lead to your leaves getting scorched and yellow or brown spots on the foliage of your ZZ as well as damage to the root system. This can show up within a couple of days but can also take up to a few weeks before it starts to show.

For this very reason, you should, without fail, dilute the fertilizer to half the recommended strength before pouring it onto my houseplants. If you have more than one ZZ plant, you may want to test fertilizer on one plant for one month, before you go on applying it to all the others.

If you start seeing any indicators of fertilizer burn on your ZZ Plant, flush the soil off of any fertilizer as quickly as possible. For this, you have to run your ZZ under water and let the water flow from the drainage hole for a few minutes.

Remember to let it dry out completely before you start watering again.

How to fertilize ZZ Plants?

Remember, no matter which fertilizer you choose you should dilute the mixture to half strength. Fertilizer burn is not very convenient to deal with and you should always try to tell yourself that you can add more fertilizer, but cannot take it away.

To mix your fertilizer, carefully follow the instructions provided on the packaging. All fertilizers packages will tell you how much liquid or powder should be mixed with what amount of water.

You can use tap water to mix with your fertilizer for my ZZs, but for more sensitive plants you should consider using distilled water.

You can go ahead and mix up the fertilizer in an old milk jug as most bottles will tell you how much fertilizer you need per gallon of water. Then go ahead, put the cap back on and give the container a good shake before pouring it into my ZZ soil.

When it is time to fertilize your ZZ for any given month, your plant’s soil mustn’t be completely dried out. The soil in which your plant exists must be damp for the fertilizer to reach the roots, which is necessary for absorption.

You can go ahead and fertilize your ZZ Plants the day after you have watered them. ZZ plants do not like excess water but when it happens to be fertilized, you can water it on the second day of fertilizing. It won’t hurt if you generally water it once a month. 

The fertilizer mixture should be poured over your plant until it starts running out of the drainage hole. This will guarantee that enough fertilizer will reach the roots to be absorbed by your green friend.

How often should the plants be fertilized?

You should fertilize my ZZ Plants once every month or two through the spring to fall months. During the winter months, house plants, including ZZs, tend to go into their dormant phase where growth is greatly slowed.

When your plants are dormant they cannot uptake nutrients as quickly and are more likely to get a fertilizer burn from the entire arrangement.

If you are feeling nervous about fertilizing your plant, just take it slow. You do not have to feed your plant every single month for it to be effective. Starting slow is a great first step.

Feed your plant every now and then go ahead and wait two or three months before you do it again. This will give you plenty of time to watch for any signs indicating burns and you can easily go for some remedial measures.


Are Zanzibar gems easy to care for?

ZZ plants are said to be impossible to destroy because they tolerate poor conditions and neglect, making this an excellent choice for beginner indoor gardeners. But know that when it comes to flowers, it is a little hard to make them bloom.

How to get your ZZ plants to grow faster?

Even though the plants are not known for quick growth, there are a few things that you can do to encourage and speed them up. Fertilizing your plants is an excellent option to go about that. 

But one thing you need to remember, more fertilizer doesn’t always mean more growth. Too much fertilizer might end up burning your plant’s foliage and root system, stunting growth instead of fostering it.

What sort of fertilizer works best?

Liquid fertilizer works best with your ZZ Plants. Liquid fertilizer tends to come in two forms: powder or concentrated liquid. In either case, the fertilizer needs to be mixed with water and poured onto your plants. Because you have to mix it yourself, liquid fertilizer gives you the most control over how much you can give your ZZ.


ZZ plants are an amazing variety that is known to bring about the best in your homes, with regard to color, as well as your household ambiance. 

As was mentioned, these are a great way for you to get introduced to the world of gardening and develop an interest in the same. ZZ makes amazing beginner plants and doesn’t get enough credit for it. 

Although the plant is tough, it is slow growing and tends to benefit from exposure to the right kind of fertilizer.  Be careful about what your plant needs; both you and your plant will thrive.

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  • Maansi

    Maansi is a botanist with a strong passion for understanding and preserving the natural world. She holds a Master's degree from the prestigious Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in India and has a wealth of experience in her field. For the past two years, she has been working with the Adani Landscaping Project, where she has been able to apply her knowledge and skills to create sustainable and beautiful outdoor spaces. Maansi is dedicated to using her expertise to make a positive impact on the environment and is constantly seeking new opportunities to learn and grow as a professional. She is also a great communicator and able to convey complex scientific concepts in an easy to understand manner.She has worked with Jayoti on Recent Advances on Floriculture and Urban Horticulture in Global Perspective Highlights and Recommendations https://www.researchgate.net/publication/360313545_Highlights_and_Recommendations_Recent_Advances_on_Floriculture_and_Urban_Horticulture_in_Global_Perspective_Highlights_and_Recommendations She has also worked with Shobha on Effect of Climate Changing on Horticultural Crops in India-A Review https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331987868_Effect_of_Climate_Changing_on_Horticultural_Crops_in_India-A_Review

  • Vinni Balyan

    11 years ago when we left NY and started living in the suburbs, I developed the passion for gardening. I'm a mom of two, and a big time gardener here helping you pick you right battle in gardening. 🙂 Stay tuned.

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