There are thirteen (13) types of ZZ plants in this article including Dwarfs, Regulars, Super Novas and more. But first, what are ZZ plants? How can we identify them? What are their benefits and uses? How do we grow and take care of them?
ZZ plants are the only species in their genus Zamioculcas. While their scientific name is Zamioculcas zamiifolia (hence the popular name “ZZ plant”), they are commonly called Zanzibar gems.
Zanzibar gems are flowering plants belonging to the genus of aroids known as Araceae (the arum family). They and other crops in their family are monocotyledons. This is a species of tropical perennials which are native to East Africa.
Some countries in the eastern part of Africa which the ZZ plant is native to are Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, some parts of South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
They are mostly grown as ornamental plants because they are easy to maintain and have glossy, attractive foliage. Some other common names for Zamioculcas zamiifolia are aroid palm, emerald palm, eternity plant and Zuzu plant.
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Description and Identification of ZZ Plants
ZZ plants are evergreen herbaceous flowering perennials, with stout, robust and succulent rhizomes at their roots. They are usually around 45.72 to 60.96 cm (18 to 24 in) tall. Their leaves and flowers are stunning, smooth and shiny.
A plant of this species typically has pinnate (feather-like) leaves about 40.64 to 60.96 cm (16 to 24 in) in length, with thickened stems at their base. They are dark green in color and have 6 to 8 pairs of leaflets which are around 7.62 to 15 cm (3 to 6 in) long.
Between mid-summer and early autumn, ZZ plants usually flower. Their flowers are produced in small spadices, colored bright yellow, brown or bronze and 5 to 7 cm (1.97 to 2.76 in) in length. Spadices are partly hidden among the bases of leaves.
These leaves and their petioles have uncommonly high moisture content, about 91% in the leaves and about 95% in the leaf stalks. This is coupled with the ability of their roots, which are rhizomatous, to store moisture.
Benefits and Uses of ZZ Plants
Zamioculcas zamiifolia is used in traditional medicine, mostly in Malawi and Tanzania. Juice made from its leaves is used in the treatment of earache in Malawi’s Mulanje District and in the East Usambara mountains of Tanzania.
Also, a medical dressing or poultice made from crushed leaves or other parts of the plant is used in Tanzania to treat an inflammatory condition, known as “mshipa” in the area and in South Africa.
The roots of ZZ plants are used also to treat ulceration (or ulcers) by the Sukuma people in north-western Tanzania. An extract is made from some parts of the plant and applied as local medicine.
As proven by scientific research, Zanzibar gems serve the purpose of air purification, eliminating some toxins like benzene, toluene and xylene. Extracts from the plants’ parts are high in antioxidants and used to alleviate stomach plains.
How to Care for ZZ Plants
Because their leaves and petioles have high water content and their roots to store moisture ZZ plants grow very well in areas with poor lighting, like indoors, and can survive without water for up to four months! Each leaf can also live for six months at the very least.
They are drought resistant plants that need to be watered only when their soil is dry, about once or twice a month. In addition to being watered sparingly, they need adequate drainage to ensure that overwatering does not occur.
For their soil, they also need rocky and chunky objects mixed into rich, healthy and well-drained soil. Although they can survive with little to no sunlight, ZZ plants should be placed in partial shade or areas where they can access bright, indirect sunlight.
They do need sunlight for optimal growth as poor lighting may cause their leaves to lengthen and/or fall, turn yellow (this is known as chlorosis) and grow disproportionately or unevenly, as they show positive phototropism.
Positive phototropism means that the plant may stretch or grow whatever light source is available. During droughts and dry spells, the evergreen plant becomes deciduous and its leaves become green again when rainfall resumes.
While your ZZ plant grows comfortably indoors as it is used for ornamentation in temperate climates, it may also grow well outdoors as long as the temperature does not fall below around 15 °C (60 °F).
As a plant with tropical origins, it is best grown between 18 and 26 °C (64 and 79 °F). Higher temperatures aid leaf production in Zamioculcas zamiifolia. The species is susceptible to rubber rot if it is overwatered.
In all, to ensure that your plant grows healthy, water it about once a month (to avoid overwatering), grow it in well-drained soil with rocky materials, place it in a bright area with indirect sunlight and ensure the temperature is moderate to high.
Types of ZZ Plants
1. Dwarf Zamicro
The Dwarf Zamicro or simply Zamicro ZZ plant is one variety of this species which is shorter than most, as its name suggests. Like the regular variety, it also has thick and long leaves with very fleshy stems.
Its leaves are the same color as the regular ZZ plant: a medium dark green color. They are lustrous, smooth and wavy but smaller in size than the leaves of the regular sized plant.
Although it is shorter in size, the Dwarf Zamicro variety has the proportions of its plants similar to the regular variety. It grows up to about 1 to 3 inches in length. A black variety also exists and it is explained below (Zamicro Dark).
This type of ZZ plant is very suitable as a house plant or an ornamental plant for those who love the regular plant but do not have a lot of space to place it in. This dwarf variety has the same care requirements as others (stated above).
2. Gold Variegated
With the White Variegated ZZ plant, the Gold Variegated ZZ plant can be referred to as the variegated Zamioculcas zamiifolia. Their leaves have minor variegations.
The Gold Variegated ZZ plant is quite rare and so is more expensive than most other varieties. It is a beautiful house plant with leaves colored green, white and yellow. The many white and yellow spots on its leaves give it its name, Gold”.
Against its dark green backdrop, a leaf of type of ZZ plant really has a myriad of golden-yellow to creamy white spots on fleshy green stems. Sometimes, even more rarely, the whole shoot is a pale yellow color, making it an albino ZZ plant.
Of course, the color of the leaves of the Gold Variegated ZZ plant should not be confused for the yellow spotting caused by poor lighting or overwatering of other varieties. The gold yellow spots remain on healthy leaves of this variety.
3. Jungle Warrior
The Jungle Warrior ZZ plant variety has black leaves like and resembles the Raven or Dark Beauty variety. Its leaves are shaped as the regular type of ZZ plant. It also requires the same level and type of care as others.
The main difference between the Jungle Warrior and the Raven varieties is in the distribution networks, the areas in which they are most available. While the Jungle Warrior is more available in Australia, the Raven variety is more procurable in Europe and North America.
4. Lucky Classic
The Lucky Classic ZZ plant is not entirely like the other types in appearance. It is a part of three varieties collectively known as the Lucky Series: Lucky Classic, Lucky Giant and Lucky White. They are round-leaved.
This particular type of ZZ plant has spherical or oval leaves that taper slightly at the end. Their round tips give them a soft and nice touch. Like in most varieties, the leaves in this one are a medium dark green.
They are very different from other types of ZZ plants largely because of their leaf shape, which can also be described as slightly rounded. Lucky Classic ZZ plants are suitably green in areas with dim or low light to display their glossy foliage.
5. Lucky Giant
Another part of the Lucky Series is the Lucky Giant ZZ plant. It also has slightly rounded or oval leaves that taper towards the end. These leaves, however, differ from the leaves of the other varieties in the Lucky Series.
In addition to its conspicuous height, the Lucky Giant has longer, narrower and larger leaves than the Lucky Classic and Lucky White varieties. Its glossy leaves are also slightly lighter in color, a mid green color.
Plants belonging to this variety can grow to 3 to 4 feet (91.44 to 121.92 cm, 36 to 48 in or 1 to 1.33 m) tall even while being grown indoors as house plants. They are larger than regular ZZ plants but still require the same care.
6. Zamioculcas zamiifolia “Lucky White”
Yet another variety in the Lucky Series is the Lucky White ZZ plant. It is similar in appearance to the regular ZZ plant, but with slightly rounded or oval leaves and white spotting on its leaves.
“Lucky White” Is in fact another label for the type of ZZ plant known as “White Variegated”. Its backdrop is the medium dark green color of the regular variety but it has white spots on it and a different shape.
Also known as the Dark Beauty, the Raven ZZ plant is different from most varieties but similar to the Jungle Warrior variety. It is not rare as it is quite popular, but because of its leaves, it is more expensive than regular Zanzibar gems.
Its leaves are also smooth, glossy and waxy but they are a vibrant violet black color. When the plant is placed in darker places or areas with low light, its leaves tend to change to an even darker color.
When they are younger, the leaves are lime-toned and bring some contrast to the foliage. The older the plant is, the darker its foliage becomes. As mentioned earlier, the lighting level also affects the shade of its color.
This house plant is very elegant, likely due to the fact that its near black color easily blends with things in its environment and makes a lasting impression. This type of ZZ plant is however either a deep dark green or violet-black color.
Like other ZZ plant varieties, this one is easy to care for. To distinguish it from the Jungle Warrior beauty, the Raven is more available in Europe and North America while the Jungle Warrior is more accessible in Australia.
Regular ZZ plants are the most common and most affordable type of ZZ plants. The leaves are thick, mid or medium green in color and lanceolate or lance-shaped. They extend from the very fleshy stems indicative of the species.
They grow slowly and in spurts. You may not notice growth in this variety for long periods and then begin to notice rapid, significant growth for some time. The young leaves are a pale shade of light green.
All varieties of ZZ plants are fairly easy to care for; just follow the guidelines given above. However, because of cost, this type is most suited toned gardeners or plant owners. Due to its affordability, it can be procured and managed adequately before the owner adds other more expensive types.
9. Super Nova
The Super Nova variety of ZZ plants is another common and very popular one. It bears semblance to the regular variety, with its leaves colored light green in their youth but getting darker, transforming into a darker hue, as it grows.
For optimal results and the best growing conditions for your plant, place it in an area where it receives bright, indirect sunlight, water it sparingly (only when its soil is dried up) and grow it in warm conditions.
This consists of variegated ZZ plants: the Gold Variegated and White Variegated ZZ plants. These types of ZZ plants are very lovely as their beautiful green leaves are splashed in yellow (the Gold) and white (the White).
Like other varieties, these Zanzibar gems are very easy to take care of and require only little attention. They are suited to the lifestyles of busy gardeners and houseplant owners.
These variegated ZZ plants are so colored because their leaves are mutated. They are quite rare, harder to find and also more expensive than the regular variety. Plants in the Lucky Series are also considered variegated.
However, the two variegated versions of the ZZ plant have dark green leaves, the White Variegated ZZ plant possessing white spots and the Gold Variegated ZZ plant possessing gold, white-yellow or cream spots.
The white variety is more common while the gold one is rare. Occasionally, the whole shoot of a Gold Variegated ZZ plant turns out to be yellow, and such is considered an albino ZZ plant it Zanzibar green.
In general, variegated plants need more care than the regular varieties. It is true the same with Zamioculcas zamiifolia too. Because of their coloration which is no longer entirely green, the leaves of these cultivars do not carry out photosynthesis as effectively as the regular ones do.
With this in mind, they need spots or areas with better light sources. They need bright, indirect sunlight, as direct sunlight damages their leaves, but they need on average more light than a regular ZZ plant would. They are still easy to care for.
11. White Variegated
This is the white version of the variegated type of ZZ plants. It is rarer than the regular cultivar but more popular than the Gold Variegated ZZ plant. Its variegated leaves are basically white with scary areas in the color green on the surface.
The White Variegated ZZ plant may also be called “Lucky White”. For optimal results, the plant should be grown in soil and a container that allow water to drain properly. It also needs more sunlight than the regular cultivar.
12. Zamicro Dark
Dwarf Zamicro or simply Zamicro plants are a short or dwarf variety of the ZZ plant, as explained above. They reach about 1 to 3 feet (12 to 36 in or 30.48 to 91.44 cm) in length at full maturity.
Like the regular type of ZZ plant, this cultivar possesses dark green, egg-shaped leaves. Its proportions are similar to those of the normal, taller varieties. Zamicro Dark ZZ plants simply are the black version of the Dwarf Zamicro cultivar.
13. Zenzi or Dwarf Zenzi
Like Zamicro ZZ plants, this type known as Zenzi is a dwarf variety. Regardless of the fact that plants of this variety do not grow tall, they are quite similar in appearance to regular ZZ plants. They mostly look shorter and stockier.
The Zenzi or Dwarf Zenzi variety has dense, smooth leaves which are dark green in color and slightly colored. It is not a very common variety, as it is quite hard to find around. Its needs are the same as those of the regular ZZ plant.
Is it rare for a ZZ plant to flower?
Yes, it is very rare for a ZZ plant to flower. Its flowers are also not so attractive and so they are not very popular. The ZZ plant is instead known because its leaves are glossy and usually a beautiful, deep shade of green (some varieties have leaves in other colors).
Are there different types of ZZ plants?
There are different cultivars, varieties or types of ZZ plants, about fifteen (15). Some of them, explained above, are: albino ZZ plants, Dwarf Zamicro ZZ plants, Gold Variegated ZZ plants, Jungle Warrior ZZ plants, Lucky Classic ZZ plants, Lucky Giant ZZ plants, Lucky White or White Variegated ZZ plants, Raven or Dark Beauty ZZ plants, regular ZZ plants, Super Nova ZZ plants, variegated ZZ plants, Zamicro Dark ZZ plants and Zenzi or Dwarf Zenzi ZZ plants.
What does the flower look like on a ZZ plant?
Especially when and because they are grown indoors, ZZ plants do not easily flower. If and when they do, their flowers are little white, spathe-type (in spadices) and located near the base of the stalk. They look very much like the flowers of a peace lily. The spadices are small and bright yellow, brown or bronze in color. The ZZ plant usually flowers around the time between mid summer and early autumn.
What is the most common ZZ plant?
The most common ZZ plant is Zamioculcas zamiifolia, often simply referred to as the ZZ plant. This popular houseplant is native to eastern Africa and is well-loved for its glossy green leaves, low-maintenance care requirements, and ability to thrive in low-light conditions. Its resilience and attractive appearance make it a popular choice for homes and offices alike.
What is the most beautiful ZZ plant?
In our opinion, the most beautiful ZZ plant is the raven. It has those unique dark black gloss-like leaves that give it a unique and stunning contrast. It’s a subjective question though and some may prefer pt
Thirteen (13) varieties or types of ZZ plants are discussed above. These gorgeous, evergreen tropical plants are excellent for ornamentation in temperate or colder regions of the world.
Although the effectiveness of Zamioculcas zamiifolia indoors is inconclusive, it is able to remove certain volatile organic organic compounds in a laboratory setting, resulting in the purification of air.
In the order of its effectiveness, the plant is able to remove benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Although it is a member of the biological family Araceae (the arum family) which contains some poisonous genera, it is not toxic.
Unlike other genera in its family, the genus Zamioculcas does not contain insoluble calcium oxalates (crystals found in the sap, leaves and stems of some plants which cause swelling, inflammation and pain if they are inserted into the skin).
Some other genera within its family that contain insoluble oxalic acids which irritate and are harmful to household pets include Aglaonema, Anthurium, Dieffenbachia, Monstera, Philodendron and Spathiphyllum.
ZZ plants are generally used as houseplants in the temperate parts of the world. This is because their foliage is glossy and exquisite, adding a sense of class and maturity to the home. They also aid purification of air.
In Eastern Africa where they originate from however, they are used traditionally to cure such ailments as earaches, ulcers and inflammation.
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