How To Water A ZZ Plant: Everything You Need To Know

ZZ plants, scientifically known as Zamioculcas zamiifolia, are celebrated as some of the easiest-to-care-for indoor plants. Their shiny, glossy green leaves and hardy nature have made them a popular choice for homes and offices alike. However, like any plant, ZZ plants require proper care, and one crucial aspect of that care is knowing how to water them effectively.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the art and science of watering ZZ plants. From understanding the native habitat of these plants to mastering the nuances of soil, light, and drainage, we will explore every facet of ZZ plant watering. By the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge needed to ensure your ZZ plant thrives and graces your space with its enduring beauty.

Woman's hand using a spray bottle to water a zz plantROCKETMANN TEAM / Pexels

Understanding ZZ Plant Basics

The ZZ Plant’s Origins

ZZ plants, often referred to as Zanzibar gems or eternity plants, hail from Eastern Africa, specifically from countries like Kenya and Tanzania. This native habitat provides valuable insights into their water requirements. In Eastern Africa, ZZ plants have evolved to withstand long periods of drought, adapting by storing water in their rhizomes and developing thick, succulent stems.

Notable Features

ZZ plants are known for their distinctive features: glossy green leaves, thick stems, and water-storing rhizomes. These features are adaptations to survive in their natural habitat where water can be scarce for long periods. The glossy leaves are not only aesthetically pleasing but also play a crucial role in reducing water loss through transpiration.

The Role of Water in ZZ Plant Care

Water Needs of ZZ Plants

One of the key attributes of ZZ plants is their drought tolerance. In their native habitat, they endure long periods of drought, which has led to their adaptation as water-storing plants. However, this doesn’t mean they thrive on neglect. ZZ plants are, in fact, quite sensitive to overwatering, making it essential to strike a balance.

Consequences of Overwatering and Underwatering

Understanding the consequences of overwatering and underwatering is vital. Overwatering can lead to root rot and mushy stems, while underwatering results in yellowing leaves and leaf loss. Achieving the right balance is key to the health of your ZZ plant.

When overwatered, ZZ plants are susceptible to root rot, which is a fungal infection that affects the roots and can quickly kill the plant. Signs of overwatering include wilting, yellowing leaves, and a foul odor coming from the soil. To avoid this, it’s crucial to allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

On the other hand, underwatering can also harm ZZ plants. When deprived of water, ZZ plants will start to drop leaves to conserve moisture. If the soil becomes extremely dry, the plant may go into a dormant state to survive. To revive an underwatered ZZ plant, you’ll need to gradually increase watering and provide it with proper care.

Signs of a Healthy ZZ Plant

A healthy ZZ plant exhibits shiny leaves and vibrant new growth. The glossy green foliage is a testament to its well-being and proper watering care. New growth typically appears as bright green shoots emerging from the base of the plant.

Light Levels and Water Requirements

Light levels play a crucial role in ZZ plant care. While they can tolerate low-light conditions, they thrive in bright indirect light. Light influences their water requirements, so adjust your watering accordingly. In lower light conditions, ZZ plants will use less water, so you should reduce your watering frequency to prevent overwatering.

Proper Watering Techniques

Importance of Well-Draining Soil and Good Drainage Holes

To avoid waterlogged roots and root rot, ensure your ZZ plant is potted in well-draining soil. Good drainage holes in the pot are essential to allow excess water to escape. Well-draining soil ensures that water flows through the soil and drains away from the roots, preventing the plant from sitting in stagnant water.

Choosing the Right Potting Mix and Pot Size

Selecting the appropriate potting mix and pot size is vital. Use a potting mix suitable for ZZ plants, typically one designed for succulents or cacti. The pot’s size should be proportionate to the plant’s size; ZZ plants like to be somewhat root-bound, so don’t choose a pot that’s too large.

Watering Frequency and Methods

ZZ plants have different watering needs during the growing season and the winter months. In the growing season, which typically runs from spring to early fall, water more frequently, but reduce watering in winter when the plant’s growth slows down. During the growing season, aim to keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy. In winter, allow the top few inches of soil to dry out between waterings.

Watering ZZ Plants from the Bottom vs. Top

Watering from the bottom is often recommended to prevent overwatering. This method allows the plant to absorb water through the roots as needed. To do this, place the pot in a saucer filled with water, and let the plant soak up moisture through the drainage holes. Watering from the top can be done, but it’s essential to water sparingly and ensure that excess water drains away.

Using a Water Reservoir for Consistent Moisture

A water reservoir can help maintain consistent moisture levels for your ZZ plant, especially if you have a busy schedule. Water reservoirs are self-watering systems that provide water as needed, reducing the risk of overwatering.

Watering ZZ Plants in Different Conditions

ZZ Plant Care in Low-Light Conditions

Low-light conditions are manageable for ZZ plants, but they still require proper care to thrive. Adjust your watering and light exposure accordingly. In low-light settings, ZZ plants will use less water, so be mindful not to overwater. Always let the soil dry out slightly between waterings.

ZZ Plant Care in Dry Air and with Air Conditioners

Dry air and air conditioners can affect the moisture levels around your ZZ plant. To combat dry air, consider using a humidifier to increase humidity levels around the plant. Additionally, you can group your ZZ plant with other plants to create a microclimate with higher humidity.

ZZ Plant Care in Drought Conditions

Understand how to care for your ZZ plant during drought conditions, both indoors and outdoors. In outdoor drought conditions, consider providing shade to prevent excessive sun exposure and water deeply when necessary.

ZZ Plant Care During the Winter Season

The winter season calls for a different approach to watering. Learn how to adapt your watering schedule to the colder months. ZZ plants experience reduced growth in winter, so they require less water. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, and be cautious not to let the plant sit in cold drafts.

Watering ZZ Plants in a South-Facing Window

If you have a south-facing window, it’s important to know how to manage light and watering for your ZZ plant in this setting. South-facing windows can provide ample light, but they can also lead to increased evaporation, so monitor soil moisture carefully.

Common Watering Problems and Solutions

Dealing with Excess Water Drainage

Excess water drainage can be a problem, especially if you’re using a pot without proper drainage holes. To address this issue, consider repotting your ZZ plant into a container with drainage holes or creating a drainage layer at the bottom of the pot.

Addressing Issues like Fungus Gnats and Spider Mites

Pests can pose a threat to your ZZ plant. Fungus gnats are tiny flies that thrive in overly damp soil, while spider mites are common pests that can infest houseplants. To prevent these issues, avoid giving the plant too much water and periodically inspect your ZZ plant for signs of pests. If you notice an infestation, treat it promptly with the appropriate measures, such as neem oil or insecticidal soap.

Skin Irritation Concerns Due to Calcium Oxalate Crystals

Learn about the skin irritation risks associated with ZZ plants and how to handle them safely. ZZ plants contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause skin irritation upon contact. To protect yourself, wear gloves when handling the plant and wash your hands thoroughly afterward. Keep ZZ plants out of reach of pets and children.

How to Revive an Underwatered ZZ Plant

If your ZZ plant has been neglected and is showing signs of underwatering, there’s hope. Find out how to revive it. Start by gradually increasing the frequency of watering and ensuring the plant receives appropriate light. Prune any dead or yellow leaves to encourage new growth.

ZZ Plant as a Low-Maintenance Indoor Plant

The Benefits of ZZ Plant Care

ZZ plants offer several benefits, including air purification and aesthetic appeal. They are known for their ability to remove toxins from the air, making them an excellent choice for improving indoor air quality. Additionally, their attractive foliage adds a touch of greenery and style to any space.

Tips for Busy Individuals with Limited Time

Even if you have a hectic schedule, ZZ plants are a great addition to your space. ZZ plants are renowned for their resilience and ability to thrive with minimal attention. If you’re a busy individual, you’ll appreciate that ZZ plants can flourish even with sporadic care. Simply follow the general guidelines outlined in this article, and your ZZ plant will remain healthy and vibrant.

ZZ Plant’s Hardiness and Resilience

Appreciate the hardiness and resilience of ZZ plants, making them an ideal choice for beginners. ZZ plants are often recommended as starter plants for beginners due to their forgiving nature. They can withstand occasional neglect and recover from minor care mistakes. This hardiness makes them an excellent choice for those new to indoor gardening.

Propagating ZZ Plants through Leaf Cuttings

Learn how to propagate ZZ plants through leaf cuttings, a great way to expand your collection. ZZ plant propagation can be a rewarding experience, allowing you to share this low-maintenance beauty with friends and family.


In conclusion, watering a ZZ plant may seem straightforward, but it involves a delicate balance between providing enough moisture without drowning the plant. Understanding the plant’s origins, unique features, and the impact of light levels is crucial for successful ZZ plant care. Proper watering techniques, including well-draining soil and watering methods, are key to preventing common problems like root rot and leaf loss.

Adapting your care routine to different conditions, such as low light conditions or dry air, is essential for maintaining a healthy ZZ plant year-round. Addressing common watering issues and knowing how to revive an underwatered plant are also vital skills for any ZZ plant enthusiast.

Despite their low-maintenance reputation, ZZ plants offer numerous benefits and can thrive in various environments. Whether you’re a seasoned plant parent or a beginner, ZZ plants are a perfect addition to your indoor garden. By mastering the art of watering, you can enjoy the enduring beauty and resilience of the Zamioculcas zamiifolia for years to come.

Remember, the key to a thriving ZZ plant is the balance of water, light, and care. With the knowledge you’ve gained from this guide, you’re well-equipped to provide your ZZ plant with the care it deserves.

Scroll to Top