ZZ Plants: The healthier choice

Z plant, with its wide, attractive, dark green leaves, boasts many favorable traits for offices and homes. ZZ plant tolerates neglect, is drought tolerant, and accepts low-light conditions without throwing a fit. Its waxy, smooth leaves reflect sunlight and brighten rooms. ZZ usually grows slowly to a height and width of two to three feet so it is not a plant monster that outgrows containers quickly.

ZZ plant also is an air purifier and in a NASA study, researchers found it is specifically adept at removing copious amounts of toxins such as xylene, toluene, and benzene from the air.

Wait, didn’t I read somewhere that ZZ plants are poisonous?

A ZZ plant growing on Maui. Photograph by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr.
Above: A ZZ plant growing on Maui. Photograph by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr.

ZZ’s one major drawback is that all parts of the plant are poisonous. In fact, during the 2010s there were false rumors that ZZ was so toxic that the plant caused cancer, and was so dangerous that people wore gloves when handling it. The truth? It’s toxic but not cancerous. Don’t eat it, keep it away from nibbling pets and overly curious children, and always wash your hands after handling it to avoid skin irritation.

How do you care for a ZZ plant?

A four-inch Zamioculcas Zamiifolia in a plastic nursery pot is $ at Pistils Nursery.
Above: A four-inch Zamioculcas Zamiifolia in a plastic nursery pot is $14 at Pistils Nursery.

Care of ZZ is simple, making it the gold standard for houseplant beginners, preoccupied office workers, and brown thumbs. The ZZ plant luckily doesn’t need any special type of potting soil: any well-drained potting soil will do. As for feeding it, apply a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer (20-20-20) once a month when watering

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