Zanzibar gems are one of the easiest indoor plants to grow

Glossy, green and hardy – even the blackest thumb can keep this plant alive!
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The Zanzibar plant (Zamioculcas Zamifolia) has a reputation for being hard to kill and we’re all for it. Its glossy green leaves live on and continue to look stylish in your living room, bathroom, kitchen or entry hall, even with weeks of neglect.

Native to eastern Africa, these tropical indoor plants are also known as ZZ plant, Zuzu plants and emerald palms. The thing that makes them so indestructible is their roots, which are technically succulent rhizomes. These rhizomes absorb and store water that sustain the plant during prolonged periods of dryness.

“I love the shape of the plant,” says Flo Pigeon from Fleur de Flo flower shop in Sydney’s Redfern. “And the dark green leaves – they’re right on trend now.”

Zanzibar gem in marble bathroom
Zanzibar gems will thrive in a humid environment, such as a bathroom. (Credit: Photography: John Downs)

How often to water a zanzibar gem

The biggest problems arise if you overwater your Zanzibar plant. We mean it when we say it thrives on neglect.

“They have a rhizome at the base which acts as a water reserve,” says Flo, so let the soil dry out in between waterings.

“You can leave them up to two or three months without watering,” says Flo. “They’re incredible!”

Signs you might be overwatering your ZZ plant include: yellow leaves, falling leaves or a brown stem. If you notice any of these signs, simply prune back the damaged foliage and stems and allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again.

How fast does a Zanzibar gem grow? 

On the downside, if you’re happy to look after it and want to see your plant grow and flourish, don’t hold your breath.

The Zanzibar plant is a very slow growing plant, so what you see is what you get… pretty much forever. If you want a sizeable plant, you’ll have to invest in a big one from the get go.

Hamptons style living room with Zanzibar gem in corner
A large Zanzibar gem adds greenery to the corner of an open plan living room. (Credit: Photography: Louise Roche | Styling: Kylie Jackes)

How to care for a Zanzibar gem

If you’re in for the long haul and looking for growth, follow a general indoor plant care routine with a little extra water in the warmer months, together with an occasional slow release fertiliser should reap gentle rewards. 

Indirect light is best – too much will yellow the leaves so keep it out of the sun.

Are Zanzibar gems toxic? 

All parts of Zamioculcas are toxic – from the leaves to the stem, so not suitable for a household where your pets (or kids!) are prone to snacking on your indoor green friends.

Modern courtyard with deck
Zanzibar gems are toxic, so keep them out of reach of pets and children. (Credit: Photography: Shania Shegedyn | Styling: Alana Langan)

How to propagate Zanzibar gems

You can propagate babies from the leaves of your plant – simply pull one off, allow to dry for a day or so, then pop the leaf straight into fresh compost or propagating mix.

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