Zenzi vs. ZZ Plant: Are They the Same?

Published: November 9, 2022
© Palitsyn Evgenii/Shutterstock.com
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Zenzi vs. ZZ plants, what are the differences? Both Zenzi and ZZ plants are trendy houseplants because of their easy maintenance. However, the Zenzi is newly popular on the houseplant scene.

Zenzi is a cultivar of the ZZ plant, so they’re closely related, but the Zenzi grows differently. There are many varieties of ZZ plants, but the Zenzi has gained much attention recently!

Let’s explore what makes this plant a perfect houseplant and how it differs from other ZZ plants!

Zenzi vs. ZZ Plant at a Glance

ZenziZZ
SpeciesZamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Zenzi’Zamioculcas zamiifolia
LooksCompact shape; darker, curled leafletsGlossy green foliage that grows out from 2-3 main stems
Size1 foot at maturity3 feet at maturity
Growing NeedsVery low-maintenanceVery low-maintenance
SunlightSeveral hours of indirect lightSeveral hours of direct light
Water NeedsInfrequent wateringInfrequent watering

About Zenzi Plants

Zenzi is a unique cultivar of the ZZ plant, which means it was intentionally bred to get to the size and form that it has. In the past few years, this plant has become popular due to being an ideal houseplant.

Zenzi plants were bred to be smaller and more compact while still having the same amount of foliage. They are the smallest type of ZZ plant, making them more attractive as office plants or for small spaces. In addition, they’re incredibly easy to care for.

While having differentiating factors, they still need similar conditions to thrive as all other ZZ plants.

About ZZ Plants

ZZ plants get their name from their botanical name, Zamioculcas zamiifolia, which isn’t as easy to pronounce! They’re native to eastern Africa and have developed a strong resilience for the dry desert conditions there, which is why they have no problem growing in our homes.

There are several species of ZZ plants, so the name “ZZ plant” is more of an umbrella term referring to all the species. The most popular variety is the Zanzibar Gem, also called the ZZ plant. So, if you read something about the ZZ plant, it’s most likely about this variety.

Along with the various species, there are a couple of cultivars of ZZ plants aside from the Zenzi.

Looks

Zamioculcas Zamiifolia or ZZ Plant
The Zamioculcas Zamiifolia or ZZ Plant thrives in dry environments.

©iStock.com/Kseniia Soloveva

Zenzi plants have thicker and denser leaves since the plant is more compact, plus the leaves have curled tips. The leaves grow more closely together along the stems and are typically larger.

Its leaves are also darker than the Zanzibar Gem ZZ plant, but this varies. There are some ZZ plants with foliage so dark it’s almost black!

However, the most popular variety, Zanzibar Gem, has emerald green foliage and is lighter than the Zenzi. While the color of the foliage depends on the specific variety, all these plants have glossy foliage and share the same shape.

They have two to three stems from which the leaflets grow and spread outwards uniformly.

Size

The main differentiating factor is the size difference between a Zenzi and ZZ plant. Zenzi plants are at least a foot smaller and are the smallest kind of ZZ plant.

However, using height to indicate which plant you’re looking at can be challenging. All ZZ plants are very slow growers, and the height difference is only noticeable when they’re at their mature height.

Most ZZ plants reach two to three feet tall, but they take five to six years to reach maturity.

Growing a Zenzi vs. ZZ Plant

A houseplant. Zamiokulkas Zenzi, a dwarf species. The tropical plant is located in a round-shaped white pot against a gray concrete wall.
Zenzi plants are the smallest type of ZZ plant, making them more attractive as office plants or for small spaces.

©Palitsyn Evgenii/Shutterstock.com

Plant care for a Zenzi is similar to any other ZZ plant. ZZ plants are closely related to succulents and grow in the same easy-going way. These plants are incredibly tough and super resilient- a top choice for beginner houseplant owners!

Considering these plants need high temperatures if grown outdoors, they’re almost always grown as houseplants and hardly ever outdoors in gardens or landscaping.

They grow very well at standard room temperatures, between 60 to 75 F, and don’t require any extra humidity, unlike many houseplants that need high humidity levels.

However, you should be aware that they’re toxic to consume, so keep them at a safe distance from kids or pets.

Sunlight

ZZ plants are forgiving if they don’t receive enough sunlight and can stay alive with very little light. They can also handle direct sunlight right in front of a window but shouldn’t receive more than three hours of direct light.

Ideally, they should receive several hours each day of indirect light by being a few feet away from a window or behind other plants.

If the foliage becomes really thin or spreads out along the stem, that’s a sign that your plant isn’t receiving enough sunlight.

Soil Type

ZZ plants are native to the dry parts of eastern Africa, so they need dry and loose soil. The big concern with these plants is overwatering them and having them sit on wet ground.

They will need loose, rough soil that can provide lots of aeration and drains out excess water quickly. A standard cactus soil mix will work great, but it will help even more to add a bit of pumice to help retain some moisture in the soil.

You must pot a ZZ plant in soil that drains quickly, ideally with drainage holes. Additionally, if the pot is too big, the earth will retain more water than necessary, so make sure you’ve got a good fit.

Watering Needs

ZZ plants are super drought tolerant and prefer arid soil to soil that’s too wet. With ZZ plants, it’s much easier to recover from underwatering them than if you’ve overwatered them.

Because ZZ plants don’t need much water, if you give them too much, they’ll simply stop soaking it up, and the water will sit in the soil. This creates the right atmosphere for fungus to develop, which is hard to eliminate and could kill your plant.

You want to wait until the soil is completely dried before watering again. Ideally, the soil’s top half should dry before you water again. If you stick your fingers in the soil and feel that it’s a bit wet, wait a few more days to one week before watering.

Growing a ZZ is Super Easy!

Regardless of what type of ZZ plant you want to grow, they’re all super beginner-friendly and can easily be the newest addition to your houseplant collection. The Zenzi, in particular, is an excellent choice if you’d like to add a plant to your workspace. It’s also a great addition to any corner of your home.

These plants are great for those parts of your home that don’t get much sunlight or where you’re struggling to keep other plants alive. ZZ plants are often the go-to for those who have brown thumbs!

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The Featured Image

A houseplant. Zamiokulkas Zenzi, a dwarf species. The tropical plant is located in a round-shaped white pot against a gray concrete wall.
© Palitsyn Evgenii/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Peyton has always loved playing outside, as a kid and still well into her 20's. The connections between our lives, other animals, and all the plants around us has always fascinated her and fueled a drive to learn so much about the natural world. Through curiosity and experience, her knowledge has grown, specifically on medicinal plants and regenerative agriculture. Her favorite animal is the Holland Lop rabbit, after learning they're the greatest pet you could ever have.

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Sources
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  2. Nature and Garden, Available here: https://www.nature-and-garden.com/gardening/zamioculcas-zz-plant-varieties.html
  3. The Sill, Available here: https://www.thesill.com/blog/how-to-care-for-zz-zamioculcas-zamiifolia