Although it is often referred to as the cardboard palm, the Zamia furfuracea is not a palm tree. The name is derived based on the plant’s similar growth habits with palms. The Zamia plant produces pinnate leaves that grow alternately along the stem. Each leaf is composed of smaller leaflets on both sides of a stem.
Healthy leaflets tend to have a bright green color with an oval structure. Zamia plants are extremely resilient and require little attention to thrive. Place them near a sunny spot outdoors and nature will run its course!
How to Care for Cardboard Palm Plant
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Younger Zamia palms grow at an incredibly slow rate. However, they will grow at a faster rate after the formation of a trunk. Make sure that it receives as much light as possible during its growth season, which happens once or twice a year.
They are fairly hardy plants and can handle extremely cold temperatures down to 20 Fahrenheit. Note that leaf damage will start at about 28 Fahrenheit. Thanks to its underground trunk, the Zamia palm is incredibly drought tolerant and doesn’t require much water. With that said, it prefers well drained soil.
The following sections will explore more details.
The key to successfully growing Zamia palms is to provide them with good drainage. Use a sandy potting mix. You may also use cactus compost to supplement the soil. The plant prefers slightly acidic conditions at about 6.0.
Zamia palms grow best under full sun with bright light. They require at least six hours of bright sunlight every day. It is highly recommended to plant them outdoors. You can plant Zamia palms indoors as long as you place them near the brightest window. Remember to rotate them so that all parts of the plant receive an even amount of sunlight.
Failing to rotate the pot will result in a lopsided plant. Direct sunlight is beneficial for the plant during its growing season. It can still grow in partial sunlight, but if you want to maximize the growth potential of your Zamia palm, you should place it under direct sunlight.
Avoid areas of your garden that receive too much shade or where the light is too restrictive to support the plant’s growth requirements.
Zamia palms thrive in the temperature range from 65°F to 75°F. However, it is extremely resilient and can survive cold drafts and low temperature conditions down to 15°F. This will obviously slow the growth rate of the plants. But the summer months should allow the Zamia palm to make a full recovery.
The watering frequency for the Zamia palm will depend on the time of year. As a rule, the soil should be slightly moist in the growing season, usually from March to June. Use the finger testing method to determine the moisture level of the soil. For more accurate tests, use a moisture detector.
You should reduce the watering frequency in the winter months. This is because the Zamia palm stores water in its trunks. Allow the first two inches of the soil to dry before watering again.
Although Zamia plants are incredibly resilient, this doesn’t mean they will tolerate overwatering. Too much moisture will increase the risk of root rot. Treating root rot in such a large plant may be difficult for most beginners.
Feed the Cardboard plant once in the spring and summer using a time-release fertilizer. You can feed the Zamia palm at the time of watering to prevent fertilizer burn and overwatering.
The plant is prone to pests such as spider mites, whitefly, and thrips. Most of the pest colonies can be cleared out with the help of predator bugs.
But if the pest infestation reaches an advanced stage, you may have to use a natural insecticide. Neem oil should do the trick in most cases.
The ZZ plant is most vulnerable to root rot, rust, and powdery mildew. You may use a fungicide to treat various diseases, but it is better to exercise good sanitation and care practices. As long as your Zamia palm is in good health, it should resist most types of disease.
Here are quick solutions for common diseases:
Root rot: Inspect the roots for signs of root rot. If they appear brown, gray, and slimy instead of crips and white, you have a root rot problem. Prune the infected roots to give your Zamia palm a fighting chance.
Rust: Use an organic fungicide to treat rust. In some cases, it may be necessary to prune infected leaves.
Powdery Mildew: Use potassium bicarbonate to eliminate powdery mildew once it is there. The substance can kill powdery mildew spores quickly, preventing them from infecting the Zamia plant again.
Repotting (for indoor plants)
Consider repotting your Cardboard Palms every two to three years in a larger pot. Repotting also provides an opportunity to inspect the roots for signs of root rot. Note that repotting will come as a big shock to the plant. Signs of transplant shock include wilting of the leaves, yellowing, brown leaves, and stunted growth.
Zamia Cardboard Palm Size
Zamia palms are slow growing plants, which is very similar to palms. They grow in clumps and can reach a height of up to 60″ in size, and hold up to 6 and 12 evergreen leaflets measuring nearly 8″ long and 2″ wide. Overall, the Zamia palm can grow up to 4 feet tall and 6 feet wide.
Why the Zamia Plant is Easy for Beginners
Zamia is a shrub-like plant that stores water in its trunk. Its semi-succulent underground trunk can hold water in times of drought. This makes the Zamia ideal for xeriscape gardens. The Zamia cardboard palm does require enough moisture for the trunk to be healthy. If the trunk and stem look wrinkled and dry, the plant is already too dehydrated.
So there you have it, an in-depth look at the care instructions for Zamia plants, including watering frequency, soil conditions, and fertilizer. The ZZ plant’s dark green leaves and low maintenance requirements make it ideal for beginners.