All about plant fertilization

How and when to fertilize zz plant


Zamioculca zamiifolia or zz plant as it is popularly known, is a tropical plant of African origin belonging to the Araceae family. Its striking vivid green leaves are the main attraction of this plant, which is why it is so popular indoors. Although they produce flowers, they have no decorative value, being rare that they are generated when grown indoors. In this article we will analyze everything related to the fertilizer for the zz plant, which ones you should use, when to apply it, how often and more.

Fertilizer for zz plant

If you are a little expert in growing plants, that is, a novice gardener, a zz plant is special for you. It is characterized by being a very rustic plant, the care it needs to develop is minimal. This makes even the most inexperienced person able to keep this plant healthy, strong and beautiful.

1. Zamioculcas zamiifolia: myths and truths


In general, we always start the articles on this blog by giving some advice for the care of the plant in question, but the rusticity of the zz plant along with the large number of curiosities, made us change this time.

Since its leaves and stems have the ability to accumulate water, it resists drought very well. In any case, this does not make it a desert plant, the zz plant is a tropical plant, so although it can live with little water, it will not thrive.

In case you notice that your plant begins to lose its leaves, this does not necessarily mean that it is dying. Rather, it is a way to remain inactive during an overly extensive drought process. So you just have to start watering it and little by little you will recover the foliage.

If you are going to have a zz plant at home, you should know that both its stems and its leaves are poisonous. Do not eat it and keep it away from both children and pets. You do not need to touch it with gloves, it will not kill you on contact, but to avoid possible irritations wash your hands after touching it.

The growth of the zamioculcas zamiifolia is slow, do not despair by this slowness, it is something natural. Once adult it can reach between 60 and 90 cm in height.

2. Most important nutrients for zz plant


Like all plants, the Zamioculcas zamiifolia needs certain nutrients to be able to develop, we can mention a long list of them, although we can summarize them in the three main nutrients; Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Knowing the necessary doses of these three nutrients will allow us to find the right fertilizer to apply.

Both a deficiency and an excess of these nutrients will cause problems in our zz plant. In the appropriate doses, each one fulfills the following functions:

  • Nitrogen: helps plants to generate their leaves and maintain their green color.
  • Phosphorus: it is of vital importance for the generation of roots, flowers, seeds and fruits. It also increases defenses against diseases.
  • Potassium: it is essential when it comes to generating strong branches and stems, which allow for faster and healthier growth.

In addition to these main nutrients (or also known as macronutrients), your zz plant needs a wide variety of micronutrients. It do need them in much smaller doses though. We can mention the following micronutrients; iron, zinc, copper, boron, manganese, etc.

2.1 What are NPK values?

When you go to buy a fertilizer from a farmer, it is very important that you know what NPK values ​​are. These will help you find the right fertilizer for your plants.

If you have ever seen a fertilizer package you may have noticed that on its label they have three numbers separated by a hyphen. These three numbers are what we know as NPK values. But what does it represent? I will explain it to you easily and simply with the following example.

Suppose you have bought a packet of fertilizer whose NPK values ​​are 10-20-15, and that it has a weight of 1 kg. The numbers are telling you that 10% of the total is nitrogen (N), 20% is phosphorus (P) and 15% is potassium. That is, you have 100 g of nitrogen, 200 g of phosphorus and 150 g of potassium.

Therefore, what the NPK values ​​indicate is the concentration of the three main nutrients within a fertilizer. Or, in somewhat more technical words, it is the percentage by weight of a nutrient with respect to the total weight of the container.

I hope you have correctly understood what NPK values ​​are, and that you are able to buy the best fertilizer for your zz plants.

If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.

3. Fertilizer classification


It is difficult to define the ideal fertilizer for a zz plant without first doing a brief review of the range of fertilizers that we have available. There are several sources that can be used as fertilizers, although we can quickly divide it into two; organic and inorganic.

Organic fertilizers are those that are derived directly from plant or animal sources (for example: compost, fish meal, ash, coffee bones, etc.). These generally contain nutrients in low concentrations and must be converted to inorganic forms by fungi and bacteria before they can be used by plants.

In the case of inorganic (or commercial) fertilizers, the nutrients that are being applied are already available to be absorbed by your plants zz. This speeds up the fertilization process, but also exposes you to a nutrient overdose that affects your plants.

Within commercial fertilizers there are also many formats. You can get liquid fertilizers, granules, bars, etc. Depending on the plant to be fertilized, one or another format can be more efficient and comfortable.

4. Best fertilizer for zz plant


It is good that you know all the available options before selecting the best fertilizers for zz plant. We will analyze it separately, first the inorganic or commercial fertilizers and then the organic ones.

In my case I like to do a mixed fertilization program, making intercalated applications of organic and inorganic fertilizers. At least when you transplant your zz plant, mix some compost into the soil, it will release nutrients slowly and remain available for several months. But hey, I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s first see which are the fertilizers that have the best results on these plants.

4.1 Commercial fertilizer

As we already said in inorganic fertilizers, the nutrients are readily available to plants and are also much higher in concentration. Using them conscientiously and taking care not to exceed the indicated doses, this type of fertilizer gives much more noticeable and faster results in your zz plants.

In general, you can use any general garden plant fertilizer for your zz plants. Personally, I recommend that you look for a balanced fertilizer, that is, with the same concentration of its three main nutrients.

In general, you can use any general garden plant fertilizer for your zz plants. Personally, I recommend that you look for a balanced fertilizer, that is, with the same concentration of its three main nutrients.

If you have understood the definition of NPK values, you know that what you should buy is a fertilizer whose three numbers are equal. I have been applying a 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer to my zz plant for a long time and the result is very good.

It never hurts to remember that before applying any inorganic fertilizer you should read the instructions for use on its label. And at this point I can recommend that you apply half the dose indicated on the label. With this you will be making sure not to exceed the maximum dose.

How and when to fertilize zz plant

4.2 Organic Fertilizer

Within organic fertilizers there is a wide range. In the first place we could differentiate between those that we can prepare at home with those that we must buy in a nursery. In my case, when I apply organic fertilizers, I like homemade ones, these, in addition to having the benefit of being natural, save me money.

If you apply only organic fertilizers do not expect results as fast as with inorganic ones, but you can rest assured that you will not kill your zz plant so easily with an overdose of nutrients.

Let’s see which are the organic fertilizers that best respond to this plant:

  • Compost: there is no plant in the world that does not benefit from compost. Take advantage of the organic waste you produce at home (vegetable and fruit peel, leaves, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc). When they are correctly fermented you can apply it on your plants. In the case of a zz plant I always add compost to the soil when I transplant it.
  • Compost tea: in general, it is not very comfortable for me to apply compost to my pot plants, I prefer a liquid fertilizer for them since it makes it easier for me to accompany the fertilization with irrigation. That is why I usually make use of compost tea. Preparing it is easy, you just have to place a burlap bag with compost in a bucket of water. Allow a few days to pass, when the water is yellowish it can be used for fertilizer.
  • Fish tank water: if you have a fish tank at home this presents an excellent opportunity to have a super cheap organic fertilizer. You should only save the water that you take out of the fish tank when you clean it, it can be used directly as fertilizers. In general it is a good source of phosphorus and nitrogen.

These are the three organic fertilizers that I prefer to apply is a plant like the zz plant. Obviously there are dozens of other fertilizers that may work, but naming them all would take all day. 😉

4. ZZ plant fertilizer


We have already quickly reviewed what are the most important nutrients for a zz plant and what types of fertilizers are best to apply. It is time that we see how and when we should carry out fertilization.

Keep in mind that what I will recommend here is a fertilization plan that to my knowledge works well on these plants. But this does not mean that it is the only one that has good results. I have no doubt that there are gardeners who apply differently and use other fertilizers, also having good results.

Keep in mind that what I will recommend here is a fertilization plan that to my knowledge works well on these plants. But this does not mean that it is the only one that has good results.

I recommend that you consult several sources of information, contrast all the data and put together your own fertilization plan. Which you may be modifying with time and experience. Moreover, if you have more than one zz plant at home, you can fertilize each one differently, and then keep the fertilization that gave you the best results.

4.1 When to fertilize?

As with most of its plants, the zz plant has its development period during spring and summer. Then, in the fall and especially in the winter, it enters a season of rest. Applying fertilizers when the plant is resting is not a good idea, this because it does not have the ability to process nutrients, so they can burn your plant.

Knowing this, you can guess that fertilization should begin in the first days of spring and continue until fall. You should never apply fertilizers to a zz plant during the winter.

It is also not a good idea to apply fertilizer to very small plants, since it is very difficult to get the dose right, and it is most likely that we will be exceeding it. Wait until the plant reaches a certain size and has generated a good root system capable of absorbing and processing the nutrients.

4.2 How to fertilize?

Providing nutrients to a plant is something to be taken in stride, don’t think that the amount of nutrients is directly proportional to how fast your zz plant will grow. Remember what I already told you several times, you should not exceed the doses of fertilizers.

I personally start fertilizing by planting the zz plant in its pot. It is at this time that I add a little compost to the soil to make sure it has enough organic matter.

Once the plant is established and strong enough, I start with regular fertilizations. These, as I have already mentioned, start from the first days of spring to fall.

As I like to see good results in the growth of my plants, but at the same time I try not to abuse inorganic fertilizers, I interspersed between inorganic and organic applications. For every two applications of inorganic fertilizers I apply one organic one.

For every two applications of inorganic fertilizers I apply one organic one.

On zz plants I use a general liquid fertilizer for garden plants 20-20-20. I always dilute the dose in half from the recommendations on the package. And as an organic fertilizer I apply compost tea or fish tank water.

Always before fertilizing I water my zz plants, since it is not good to apply it on dry soil. Watering should be moderate, as excess water is not good for these plants.

4.3 How often do you have fertilize?

The regularity with which I fertilize my zz plants is currently every 30 days. This is during the spring summer months. Then in the fall I make one last application. And I let the winter months come.

I would not recommend a greater regularity than a monthly application, it is more if you want to be a little more cautious you can apply every two months.

In plants that have never received compost, it would not be good to start with a regularity of 30 days. Start slowly (every two months) and then if you see a good result, increase the regularity.

5. How to solve overfertilization problems in zz plants


When we overdo it with fertilization, you will notice it in some symptoms such as brown or yellow spots on the leaves, it also causes a lot of damage to the roots, but you will not be able to notice it. I am not going to lie to you, the truth is that there is no solution to recover the original state of the plant, but we can try to prevent the situation from getting worse.

As soon as you start to see symptoms like the ones I just described appear, what you should do is rinse the soil to release the nutrients that are in excess. And how to do that? Place your zz plant pot under running water for about 10 minutes. Make sure the pot has open holes for the water to flow properly.

It will take several weeks to recover from the damage, you can help by removing the burned foliage. Do not fertilize it again until it is 100% recovered. And obviously when you do, greatly reduce the dose that caused the problems.

6. How to make ZZ plant fertilizer


As I said in the section on organic fertilizers, I like those that can be prepared at home. That is why to finish this post I have selected this video (Liberty Channel channel). In it you can consult how to make a fertilizer for zz plant at home, easy and fast. I hope it is useful to you. 🙂

More information about zz plant:

Cover image – Andreas Hammerschmidt, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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