If you’ve ever killed a plant accidentally in the past and you’re worried about keeping one again in the future, the ZZ plant is the one for you.
Houseplants don’t get any easier to care for than the ZZ plant.
These guys are like the supersoldiers of the plant world – they are as tough as nails and just keep surviving.
But, as hardy as they are, if you don’t provide the conditions they like, they can begin to grow very slowly.
Why Is My ZZ Plant Not Growing?
Your ZZ plant is not growing because either the temperature of its environment is too cold, it is not receiving enough light, not receiving enough humidity, not receiving enough nutrients from its soil or it has gone dormant.
The 3 biggest factors that will drive the growth of your ZZ plant are heat, sunlight, and humidity.
If any 1 or all 3 of these elements are lacking, your plant’s growth will slow considerably.
It’s also worth remembering that ZZ plants are naturally slow growers.
So it just may not be growing as fast as other plants that you are used to.
ZZ Plants Grow Slowly
Even if you give this plant plenty of sun, heat, and humidity, it still won’t grow as fast as other houseplants.
It can take several years for it to grow just a few feet.
Compare that to Pathos which can grow up to 18 inches in a month.
ZZ Plants Grow Even Slower When They Are Dormant
Many plants have a period of dormancy when they grow much less – even if they are inside your warm and bright home.
In the winter, you may notice that your ZZ plant’s growth has almost halted entirely.
Usually, this plant will go dormant from any time in mid-late October, until late February or early March.
If you see that it is not growing during this time, you have nothing to worry about!
Just make sure water can fully drain away from the plant’s roots and be careful not to overwater it during this period.
Allow your ZZ plant’s soil to fully dry out between watering times (bone-dry).
Not Enough Light
Your ZZ plant will grow considerably less if you are keeping it somewhere where it isn’t receiving much light.
These plants are very forgiving when it comes to how much light you give them, but they do like light so you should try to give them at least a few hours of bright indirect sunlight per day – unless you want to keep your plant small.
ZZ plants are famous for how little light they can survive on.
You could literally put this plant in a dark cupboard with no light and no water and it will keep surviving for months and months.
But if you want your plant to grow, you’ll need to make sure that you give it plenty of light.
ZZ plants do best with lots of natural, indirect light.
Try keeping it in a bright room, but not right in front of a window that gets direct sun.
If you only have windows that get full sun, you can use a sheer curtain to filter the direct sunlight.
ZZ plants can also do well under fluorescent lights, so if you have a couple of fluorescents beating down on them every evening, that will help too.
Temperature And Humidity
Your ZZ plant will grow much slower when temperatures and humidity are low.
These plants do well in temperatures around 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is handy because most homes will naturally fall within this range.
If your home is any colder, your ZZ plant might struggle to grow.
They also thrive in humid climates.
These plants are extremely tough and can handle dryer air – it just means that they will grow more slowly in dryer environments.
To raise humidity levels for your ZZ plant you could keep it in a room with higher levels of humidity, such as a bathroom.
You could also keep it close to other plants that like to perspire or just buy a humidifier and keep it nearby.
Soil And Fertilization
If your ZZ plant’s soil is deficient in nutrients it may also cause it to grow more slowly.
These plants are not fussy about the potting soil you put them in as long as it’s well-drained so their roots don’t stay too wet.
If your plant is older and has stayed in the same pot for ages, the soil may have become deficient in nutrients and unable to sustain the plant’s growth.
If this is the case, you can give it a balanced liquid fertilizer about 1 time per month only during its growing season (April – August).
How Can I Make My ZZ Plant Grow Faster?
You can make your ZZ plant grow faster by keeping its environment at a temperature of 65°F – 75°F, providing it lots of indirect sunlight, and keeping humidity levels around the plant at 40% to 50%.
These are the ideal growing conditions for this plant.
But be aware that this plant is slow-growing and even under these conditions it will take years for it to grow considerably.
Be Aware Of Cold Drafts
Exposure to cold drafts will not damage your ZZ plant but it will slow its growth.
You may have your plant in a warm room but if it’s beside a window or door that’s constantly being opened and letting in cold air, it will slow the growth of your ZZ plant.
The Danger Of Overwatering Your ZZ Plant
About the only quick and effective way to kill this plant is to overwater it and let it sit in a pool of water.
If you do this consistently, your ZZ plant will quickly rot and die.
Since these plants are native to drought-prone parts of Africa, they do not require much water to survive.
They are super resistant to drought so don’t be afraid to let them go without water.
Test the top inch-and-a-half of soil with your fingers and if it feels very dry and crumbly you can give it some water.
If the soil feels any way moist, you can give it another few days and check again.
The big danger is overwatering and you can kill this plant quickly if it becomes waterlogged.
Use well-drained soil, a pot with good drainage, and allow the soil to dry out completely between watering times.
The ZZ plant is perfect for beginners or anyone who wants a plant that you can just sit somewhere and forget about for weeks at a time.
But this plant is a slow grower at the best of times and if you lower the temperature and decrease sunlight and humidity – it will hardly grow at all.
Just remember this plant’s biggest weakness and only give it water once every 2 or 3 weeks – or when its soil has completely dried out.