Zanzibar Gems, or ZZ plants, are popular houseplants known for their shiny, oval-shaped leaves and their low-maintenance care. They’re hardy plants that can tolerate drought and low-light conditions.
Although ZZ plants are known to grow slowly, you can encourage your plant to grow bushier with a little extra effort. In this article, we’ll explain some possible reasons behind a leggy ZZ plant and how to make them sprout more stems and leaves.
If your ZZ plant is leggy, with long, thin stems and a few leaves, it may not be as healthy as it could be. Leggy ZZ plants are usually caused by the following factors.
ZZ plants need bright, indirect light to thrive. If your plant is placed in a low-light area, it may stretch out to reach more light and become leggy.
These plants need at least four hours of indirect sunlight per day. If your plant isn’t getting this recommended amount, it could be the reason behind a lack of growth.
Too much fertilizer can do more harm to the low-maintenance ZZ plant. Your plant can become leggy if you fertilize it more than once a month during the growing season.
The legginess may also be because of too much nitrogen in the fertilizer you’re using. While nitrogen is an essential nutrient that helps plants grow, too much of it can make your plant grow too fast.
When this happens, the stems will become long, spindly, and weak.
ZZ plants are drought resistant and can store water in their rhizomes for a long time. They can survive on occasional watering every few weeks.
Watering more than this can lead to root rot, leaf yellowing, and fungal infections. Leaves may also fall because of overwatering, leaving your plant sparse and leggy.
Pruning is crucial in promoting healthy growth and avoiding legginess. It encourages new growth in plans.
With the slow-growing ZZ plant, you’ll need this extra encouragement to help it grow fuller and healthier. Otherwise, your plant may have a few leaves and look leggy.
Many people choose ZZ plants to decorate their homes and spaces because of their beauty. However, without the proper care, the plant may lose some of its attractiveness by becoming leggy.
To keep your plant looking its best, here are some methods you can try that encourage plants to bloom with more leaves and stems.
1 – Prune Your ZZ Plant
One of the easiest ways to make your ZZ plant bushy is by pruning it regularly. Doing so helps remove dead or damaged leaves, promote air circulation, and encourage new growth.
Pruning is best done in the spring or summer when your plant is actively growing. The best time is early in the spring because it gives the plant more time to heal and grow.
To prune your ZZ plant, first take a sharp, clean pair of scissors and cut off any dried or damaged leaves at the base of the stem. When cutting stems, ensure to do so at a 45-degree angle for better bud development.
Sometimes, your ZZ plant’s roots may run out of space, making the plant root-bound. This can limit the plant’s growth and make it look sparse.
To check if your plant is root-bound, you can check the bottom of the pot. If roots are poking out of the drainage holes, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with a root-bound plant.
You can also remove the plant from the plant and check its roots. If you see a dense mass of white roots encircling the root ball, your plant might be root-bound.
When this happens, you should repot your plant in a new container that’s one or two sizes bigger than the old pot. You can also use a sharp, clean pair of scissors to remove excess roots around the root ball.
However, don’t trim more than ⅓ of the total root mass. Pruning the roots and repotting gives your plants more space and nutrients to grow.
Although ZZ plants are hardy and can survive low-light conditions, they’ll thrive better in bright indirect sunlight. Too little light can make it grow slowly and produce fewer leaves, while too much direct sunlight can cause the leaves to turn brown or yellow.
For the best results, place your plant in a sunny location where it can get at least four hours of bright, indirect sunlight daily. A south-facing window with sheer curtains and a curtainless, north-facing window are good spots for your ZZ plant.
As mentioned, ZZ plants don’t need to be watered often. Doing so can cause root rot and slower growth.
Water your plant every one to two weeks only, when the top three inches of the soil feel dry to the touch. When watering, ensure that the soil is thoroughly moist but not waterlogged.
Don’t forget to throw out excess water from the drainage saucer or tray so your plant isn’t sitting in too much water.
In addition, water your plant less often in the winter. During this time, the plant is dormant and needs less to thrive.
ZZ plants require a small amount of fertilizer because they can store nutrients in their rhizomes for a long time. However, giving them a balanced houseplant fertilizer can help boost their growth and make them bushy.
The best time to apply fertilizer is once a month during the growing season of spring and summer. Your plant will undergo processes like photosynthesis and nutrient absorption at higher rates during this time.
You should use half the recommended amount and dilute it with water. Dilution ensures that the fertilizer isn’t too concentrated with nutrients like nitrogen.
Lastly, avoid fertilizing your plant during winter. At this time, your plant is in its dormant period and won’t need many nutrients.
ZZ plants are easy to care for and attractive houseplants. They can add a touch of elegance to your space, especially when they’re bushy, with an abundance of healthy, green leaves.
Achieving a beautifully bushy ZZ plant will need effort and care. Remember to place your plant in a location with enough bright, indirect sunlight, water it sparingly, and fertilize it moderately.
Additionally, pruning your plant during the growing season, and repotting when you notice it’s root-bound, encourages fuller and healthier growth. By following these simple tips and giving your plant proper care, you can enjoy a beautiful and lush ZZ plant that enhances your space.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.