Zamioculcas zamiifolia, Zanzibar Gem or ZZ Plant, is a popular house plant with glossy evergreen leaves. It's a tropical plant, native to Eastern Africa, and was imported to the Western world in the mid nineties. The branches are actually large pinnate leaves (like those of a fern) and can get up to 60 cm long with leaflets up to 15 cm long. In its natural habitat, Zanzibar Gem is diciduous. It will shed its leaves in response to seasonal changes. As a house plant, this usually doesn't happen unless you neglect to water it for a long period of time.

Zanzibar Gem is typically used as a large decorative plant, displayed in a stand-alone pot. It is very easy to keep indoors and hard to destroy. This is a good choice for people struggling to keep house plants.

LightZanzibar Gem (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Zanzibar Gem is a shadow plant that can survive in the dark corners of your house or office. If the plant is put in the shade, the leaves will turn dark green. Putting the plant in a brighter spot with lots of indirect sunlight will stimulate growth and leaf production. However, when exposed to direct sunlight, the leaves will burn and turn yellow brown.


Zanzibar Gem is adapted to survive long periods of drought thanks to its patato-like tuber, which stores water. It's important to realize that this doesn't mean the plant loves to be in dry soil. If the plant doesn't get enough water it will shed its leaves. Watering the plant will encourage new leaves to grow. I water my plant a bit once a week and this seems to be perfect although some sources claim watering once a month is okay too. Personally, I would never leave my plant without water for longer than a month. Even though you should water it, "wet feet" should be avoided at all times. If the plant is over watered, the leaves will turn yellow. As a general rule, always check the soil moisture before watering.

Soil and Environment

A sandy soil, similar to cactus soil is recommended. A mix of regular potting soil and a large amount of cactus soil is fine as well.

Zanzibar Gem should be kept at temperatures above 15 °C (59 °F). Optimal growth temperatures are between 18 °C and 26 °C (65 °F and 79 °F). Hot temperatures will stimulate leaf growth. If kept in a warm humid environment, this plant may flower from mid-summer to early autumn.

It appears to have no problems with insects.


Zanzibar Gem can be propagated trough leaf-cuttings. Carefully pinch off some of the leaves and stick them in a moist soil. Cover the whole thing with a transparent foil or put it under a transparent glass to avoid dry out. Keep the soil moist and expose the cuttings to moderate light until the leaves have developed roots. This can take up to several months so be patient. It's not a bad idea to try it with multiple leaves to increase your chance of success. Remove the foil or glass when the new plant starts to grow.


This plant is poisonous when ingested. Keep it away from pets and little children.