Zamioculcas zamiifolia is native to Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe where the plant grows on moist forest and savannas and in rocky soils.
Zamioculcas zamiifolia is the only species of the genus Zamioculcas belonging to the Araceae botanical family. The succulent is a perennial herb with an erect habit and can reach up to 60 cm in height and 90 cm in diameter. The plant forms a short, fleshy, potato-like underground rhizome useful to store water and withstand to drought periods. The plant is stemless and the leaves are once-pinnate: this is the term to refer to leaves that actually consist in a stem-like structure that bears many so-called leaflets. The leaflets are arranged in 6-8 pairs, oblong-elliptic, smooth, dark green, very glossy and fall during the dry season. Blooming occurs from the summer to the late autumn and the blossoms are borne at the apex of the leaves. The inflorescence is a spadix made of 1-2 small bright yellow to brown flowers. The fruits are berries containing white seeds. This plant is very easy to grow, resists well drought and high temperatures, making this plant ideal for apartments and offices.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 15°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Using a perforating pot, you can drain excess water. Watering is very important for this species and should be done well: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. About fertilization, for this plant is sufficient to fertilize moderately during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for succulents and stop fertilizing during the winter. You should repot the plant every 2 years in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.
In Italy, Zamioculcas zamiifolia is related to a very important saint called Father Pius. The legend says that he used to keep one of them in his cell. Nevertheless, this story is not so reliable as Father Pius died in 1968 and the Zamioculcas has been introduced in Europe in 1998.
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