It’s no secret that plants offer many benefits to our indoor and outdoor spaces. Their presence has been proven to reduce stress and improve air quality, which boosts our physical and mental health! Certain plants have such an effect on our spaces that they even have spiritual meaning attached to them.
The ZZ Plant (short for Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is one of these plants. Although this easygoing plant hails from East Africa, it holds great importance in Chinese Feng Shui.
In the practice of Feng Shui, the ZZ Plant is thought to be able to purify negative energy, promote strength and vitality, and even bring good fortune and wealth.
That’s quite the reputation! Let’s find out more about how these ZZ Plant spiritual meanings came to be, and how you can introduce this popular plant into your own home.
What Does ZZ Plant Stand For?
ZZ Plant is an abbreviation of the botanical name Zamioculcas zamiifolia. This plant is a member of the Araceae family and is a tropical perennial. It’s also sometimes nicknamed the Zanzibar Gem after its native home in East Africa.
The ZZ Plant is a popular ornamental plant for offices and is best known for its thick glossy leaves. It’s also scientifically proven to be an excellent air purifier.
What Does a ZZ Plant Symbolize?
Certain plants like the money tree and ZZ Plant have become mainstays of a Chinese practice called Feng Shui. Feng Shui aims to create harmony between the home and the natural world. Plants and their arrangement in the home play a large part in creating this balance and harmony.
The ZZ Plant is thought to block negative energy in the home, bring good fortune, and promote growth and vitality. Let’s look at how it got these meanings.
Blocks Negative Energy
In Feng Shui, there is a term for negative energy called sha chi. Plants like the ZZ Plant are thought to be able to deflect sha chi depending on their placement in the room. This is due to the ZZ Plant’s ability to absorb and purify toxins.
A famous study done by NASA in the 1980s measured how well plants could purify the air in space stations. The ZZ Plant was one of the top plants for filtering common household toxins like ammonia and formaldehyde.
In Feng Shui, this means that the ZZ Plant can remove toxins (negative energy) from the home and turn it into oxygen (positive energy). But not all plants have the ability to emit this positive energy. Spiky plants like cacti are to be avoided in Feng Shui, due to their imposing nature.
The ZZ Plant is also sometimes referred to as the fortune plant, due to the belief that it can bring luck and good fortune. For this reason, it’s common to give the ZZ Plant as a housewarming gift or as a gift to a new business.
Where does this idea that the ZZ Plant will bring fortune come from? It actually comes down to its thick glossy leaves. Their round shiny appearance is thought to look like coins, leading to its other nickname “money plant”.
Growth and Vitality
Feng Shui is made up of five main elements: wood, earth, metal, fire, and water. Plants are considered a wood element, and wood energy is thought to channel growth, strength, and vitality. In Feng Shui, growth is often attributed to a flourishing career or family.
The ZZ Plant is thought to symbolize growth because its unique leaves grow upward facing the sky. It is considered a symbol of strength and vitality because although it grows slowly, the ZZ Plant is incredibly hardy and drought tolerant.
Where Should I Place My ZZ Plant?
ZZ Plants generally prefer indirect light but can handle periods of low light as well. This makes them the perfect plant to place in the corners of rooms. In the practice of Feng Shui, it’s common to place plants in corners in order to keep energy flowing throughout the space.
Feng Shui divides indoor spaces into eight energy regions in something called the Bagua map. Feng Shui experts usually recommend placing plants in the Bagua region where you feel the most need. The family (zhen) and wealth (zun) regions are popular Bagua regions to place the ZZ Plant.
How Do You Keep a ZZ Plant Happy?
Luckily for beginner gardeners, the ZZ Plant is an easy one to keep happy! This plant only needs to be watered every 2-3 weeks, and you can let the soil dry out in between waterings. This plant doesn’t need a lot of humidity, so aim for anywhere between 40-50% humidity (a typical home hovers around 40% humidity). This plant is tolerant of dryer air, so don’t fret too much about running the heater or air conditioner around it.
Ensure your ZZ Plant gets at least six hours of indirect light a day, either from sunlight or a grow light. You only need to fertilize a ZZ Plant once every six months.
The biggest killer of ZZ Plants is overwatering. If you notice yellow leaves, your plant’s rhizomes may be suffering from root rot. Ensure you give your ZZ Plant a well-draining pot with good-quality potting soil.
How Long Can a ZZ Plant Live?
The ZZ Plant is a slow-growing plant, and it can take years just for the plant to reach a mature height of 2 to 3 feet (60 to 90 cm) tall. On average, this plant grows only about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) every year. Like most houseplants, the ZZ Plant can live for about five years. Of course, this number will increase if the plant is grown in ideal conditions and is well cared for. A well-kept ZZ Plant can live as long as ten years!
Can I Keep a ZZ Plant in the Bathroom?
Bathrooms are typically a great location for tropical plants because they’re bright, warm, and more humid than any other room in your home. While the ZZ Plant can tolerate some humidity, it prefers drier air. The bathroom would not be an ideal location for this plant, because the high humidity may encourage water to sit in the soil and cause root rot.
A better location for the ZZ Plant is a tucked away area like an office or a bedroom side table. Save the space in the bathroom for humidity-loving plants like a fern or spider plant!
ZZ Plant Disadvantages
It’s hard to imagine that this simple houseplant has any disadvantages, but there is one. The ZZ Plant contains a compound called calcium oxalate, which is toxic to both humans and pets. The leaves and stems of the ZZ Plant contain calcium oxalate, which makes ingesting this plant dangerous.
For humans, the effects of calcium oxalate are usually quite minor. You may experience some skin irritation if you happen to touch the sap of the ZZ Plant.
The ZZ Plant is actually far more dangerous for our furry friends. Calcium oxalate contains tiny crystals that cause a painful prickling sensation on the tongue, gums, and esophagus. Dogs or cats who ingest the ZZ Plant will also likely experience an upset stomach and possibly diarrhea and vomiting.
As with any toxic household product or plant, make sure you keep the ZZ Plant out of the reach of pets or small children. If you’re really concerned, consider placing this plant in a private area, like an office.
Plants have always been more than just something pretty to look at. They purify the air, reduce stress, and in the case of the ZZ Plant they even hold spiritual meaning.
One of the most important meanings attributed to the ZZ Plant is its ability to block negative energy by purifying toxins in the air. The plant’s round shiny leaves have been said to resemble coins, giving it meaning as a symbol of good fortune and wealth. And as a wood element in Feng Shui, it’s also thought to emit energy that promotes growth and vitality.
Looking to add more harmony to your home? The ZZ Plant with its many physical and spiritual benefits is a great choice!