Lynda Ellis, Extension Master Gardener in Anoka County
You may know your gardening A, B, C’s, but do you know gardening from A to Zee? Yes, there is a Zee-Zee Plant!
It is a house plant with the botanical name Zamioculcas zamifolia, Zee-Zee for short. The Zee-Zee plant is a newer introduction to the plant trade, stylish, easy care, and fits in any home décor. It is a slow-growing foliage plant with glossy green oval-shaped leaves growing along its stems in a herringbone fashion. It grows from underground tubers.
The Zee-Zee plant contains calcium oxalate in its leaves and stems, so it is toxic if ingested. Keep it away from curious pets and small children.
The worst thing to do to it is overwatering. Place it in a pot with good drainage. Aim for a good watering once a week, less in winter. Let it dry out before watering. If the soil is still moist when you do your weekly check, skip watering. It does not need bright light, so east, west or north windows are fine. It will turn towards light, so rotate it when that is noticeable. It will even grow under fluorescent light in a room with no windows.
Quarter-strength fertilizer once a month in summer is enough. Normal room temperature is fine. As stated above, the Zee-See plant is slow-growing, but will it grow faster in warmer temps. It will remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from indoor air. Each stem is up to 2’ tall. Its spread is limited by the size of its container. Very wide containers can result in bushy plants. If the leaves get dusty, wipe them off with a damp cloth.
If you have access to one, it is easy to propagate, but that does not mean quick. Gently pull off a leaf (or two or three), let dry for a few (up to 24) hours, and place each leaf, cut side down, in a well-draining potting mix. Only put an inch or less in the soil, leave most of the leaf out. If you put multiple leaves in a pot and all leaf out, you will have a bushy-looking plant, though it actually will be several plants in the same pot. Then wait. And wait. It may take up to a year for new growth to occur. If the leaf dies, it may have tubers attached to the cut edge underground. Put it back in the soil and wait some more. If it dies without tubers, don’t take it personally. Just try again.
If you get a Zee-Zee plant, you will really know gardening from A to Zee!