If you can’t kill it in the office, you can’t kill it at home. And that’s why it doesn’t matter whether you know a philodendron from a Philly cheese-steak. You can grow a ZZ plant.
“What’s “ZZ plant?” you ask. “Something that ZZ Top’s guitarist Billy Gibbons has been smoking?”
Nope, it’s just the best houseplant to grow for people who kill everything. It takes more abuse than Charlie Sheen’s liver.
Why is it it ideal for people who can’t spell “IQ,” let alone possess one? Answer — It’s your BFF in two ways. It’s your best friend forever because it will probably live longer than you. And it’s brain-free foliage because even that stupid guy who faked his own death by bailing out from a plane over Sylacauga, Alabama can grow it.
Here’s what it doesn’t need:
1. Bright light. ZZ plant (short for Zamioculcas zamiifolia — you knew that, right?) accepts very low light indoors. Almost closet-level low. Granted, it’ll grow faster and look better if it gets bright, indirect light from a nearby window. It’ll also grow under the fluorescent light in your office or the neon Corona Beer light in your man-cave. Don’t put it in the hot sun, though, or you’ll likely burn the foliage.
2. Frequent watering. ZZ plant grows from a large tuber that stores water, so the plant needs very little water. Let the soil dry completely between waterings. Make sure excess water escapes through a drain hole, but doesn’t sit in a saucer under the pot. Too much water results in yellow foliage.
3. Fertilizing. Feed it maybe twice a year with water-soluble houseplant fertilizer — once if it’s growing in very low light.
4. Spraying for bugs. No insects bother it.
5. Humidity. It doesn’t care either way.
ZZ Plant Facts
• Zamioculcas zamiifolia is native to Zanzibar. Zorro found it at the zoo. Zounds!!!
• It looks like a cycad (think cardboard palm — Zamia furfuracea), but is actually related to philodendron.
• It’s a very slow grower and takes years to grow to 3 feet tall. The one shown here belongs to my colleague, Rebecca Reed, who totally takes it for granted.
• Thick, deep green leaves that alternate up the stems are so naturally glossy you’ll think someone waxed them.
• You can buy ZZ plant anywhere they sell tropical foliage plants.
• ZZ plant even survives office politics!
Zowie!! Even More ZZ!!
The Grump loves ZZ plant almost as much as he loves ZZ Top. To honor it, I’ve written a song to the tune of “Sharp Dressed Man.” You ready? Sing!
Not a problem ’cause I’m feeling right
Most gardeners say I am a foliar gem
They come running just as fast as they can
‘Cause every girl’s crazy about a tough houseplant!
Hey, that’s was pretty good, but let’s do it right. Here’s a link that shows you a video of “American Idol” winner David Cook singing “Sharp-Dressed Man” with ZZ Top. Sing it again with the music.
It’s your Grump’s Moment of Zen!