|In addition to its quite decorative habit, Zamioculcas zamiifolia is widely praised as a virtually ideal indoor plant for its resistance to drought, neglect, dry air, low light conditions, bugs, etc ...
Of course, there's a slight difference between mere survival and prospering, but I think that this plant at least won't hold a fortnight's holiday without water or an odd overwatering against you ...
From my own experience, I'd say that Zamioculcas is grateful for:
Turn the pot from time to time, so new leaves (growing towards the light) won't bring it out of balance. The thick, succulent leaves can become quite heavy.
I can think of scales, thrips, or root nematodes as potential bugs, but as yet, I haven't seen any kind of bugs on a Zz plant.
|A plant that has lost
© 1995-1998 Krzysztof Kozminski
Seeds, of course, if available.
Note: As the female flowers are fertile only before the pollen is released, successful polliniation is difficult to achieve with a single plant only. Experiments with conserved (frozen) pollen, or exchange of fresh pollen with other Zz growers might turn out to be helpful in obtaining fruit.
If your plant e.g. drops from a window sill and an entire leaf breaks off, you can:
1) put broken off leaflets into normal potting ground. They will root, develop a tuber and an offset plant (see image) within a year. Be patient. When the leaflet quite suddenly turns brown and dies, look out for the new plant.
You can also use more "sophisticated" techniques, like putting the cuttings into sealed plastic bags or transparent Tupperware® boxes with some sterile rooting medium. This might accelerate propagation; however, it requires more work and attention (and fungicides).
2) cut pieces from the rhachis or from the leaf petiole and put them into normal potting ground. They will root, develop a tuber and a sprout within two years. Be patient.
Note: If you plant it too vertical, the young sprout might happen to grow into the inner side of the (by then rotting) piece of the leave stalk.
3) put the rest of the leaf into a bottle of water. It will swell at its base, develop callus and roots, and then a tuber and a sprout. Take a milk bottle or a jar if you want to be able to get the rooted leaf out again some day without the assistance of a hammer. (A Martini® bottle's neck is too narrow ...). The remaining leaflets will survive until you have persuaded all your friends to have a young Zamioculcas. In case you succeed (in persuading your friends), you can either break off the requested amount of leaflets and continue with 2), or try 4):
4) cut or break the midrib (central vein) of some leaflets of 3) below the middle, but make sure the top part remains connected to the mother leaf. This will supply the cutting with more nutrients than it would have on its own. At the point where the midrib has been interrupted, a small tuber will develop (see image) that will wait until your friends have made up their minds. When the cutting dries up, plant the tuber into a pot, so it can root.
Note: You can also try this method with leaflets on the mother plant (without sacrificing an entire leaf)!
- Breaking off is said to be better than cutting. If you cut anyway, use a sharp knife or a razorblade. Pull the blade, don't squeeze. Cut away any damaged, dead or rotting tissue.
- Leave fresh wounds to dry for a day and/or apply charcoal powder (from your pharmacy or from well crushed grilling charcoal) before you put them into water, sand or earth.
- Place 1) to 4) in a bright place with no (or only little) direct sunlight.
- Be patient. Unless it's definitely dead, it can still thrive. If it's dead, check whether it has made an underground tuber that will thrive.
Easy & rewarding to propagate, if you're patient. (Very patient...)
Dropped leaflet with young tuber, producing a sprout.
From A. Engler, Das Pflanzenreich IV. 23B. p. 305, Fig. 85 H
with young tuber
(upper and lower sides).
The leaflet has dried up;
the tuber is still alive.
|As a member of the aroid family, Zamioculcas should be considered to be (at least slightly) poisonous, even though it is not listed (yet) in any of the (~20) pharmaceutical databases that I've searched so far. The only warning that I've found is in this culture sheet from a nursery:
A. PETER (1928) mentions that the tuber of Gonatopus boivinii is poisonous.
Many Aroids contain oxalic acid and crystals (rhaphides and/or druses) of calcium oxalate in their cell's sap, which make them bitter to the taste and +/- poisonous.
This photo by G. D. CARR from the University of Hawaii at Manoa shows a single calcium oxalate crystal (raphide) from the aroid Dieffenbachia picta. CARR writes (about Dieffenbachia) that "Great numbers of these [rhaphides] are released from storage "packets" into the plant sap when any part of the plant is damaged. They cause severe itching if the sap contacts the skin. If ingested, the mucous membranes are irritated. This can cause temporary loss of voice or reportedly in small children death may result."
The tropical crop taro (the aroid Colocasia esculenta) is fit for human consumption only after cooking, which destroys the calcium oxalate crystals (or other irritant chemical components). Calcium oxalate is e.g. also contained in onions (Allium cepa, Liliaceae s.l./Alliaceae)
This anecdotal account reports of cats that have been chewing on the leaflets of a Zamioculcas plant, which apparently has done more harm to the plant than to the animals. ("... the cats liked to taste it from time to time, but showed no effects of poisoning ...")
Disclaimer: Do not feed Zamioculcas to your cat. It may be harmful in spite of the amateur's report quoted above. Eating it yourself is not recommended either. Note that I am neither a trained medical expert, nor a veterinarian or pharmacologist.
Here's the entrance for aroids from a database of plants that are poisonous to animals. It also describes symptoms of a calcium oxalate poisoning in animals.
Links to some
An article that can be found with few changes on other sites, too; here, the author is credited as well:
A very similar article:
1999 article - www.zone10.com
A short article in german:
Un fiche de culture en français:
Note: As a member of the Aroid family (which does not show secondary thickening), Zamioculcas does, of course, not develop a woody stem.
A nursery page:
July 9, 2001
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July 27, 2002