ZZ plant massacre

Discussion in 'Garden Pest Management and Identification' started by binhanyc, May 24, 2008.

  1. binhanyc

    binhanyc Member

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    hi there, i'm wondering if any one here might be able to help me. i as watering my zz plant (pride of my life!!) today when i noticed a big -BIG- hole in the soil (i have moss covering the top, so i have to lift it to check the soil). when i removed the plant from the planter, the tubers were all eaten but i found no bug or any other animal... the plant is doing fine - no yellow leaves, new shoots, green, etc - but i am afraid and don't want it to die. can anyone help? what could dig a such a hole and disappear? and because i do have moss on top and keep the plant on top of the dinning room table, i would have noticed little moss all over the table if something was "going in" the planter... very troubling!!! please help!
     
  2. natureman

    natureman Active Member

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    At first I suspected maybe the tubers rotted away from overwatering, but the plant is fine - so this isn't the problem. Maybe the hole was always there?
     
  3. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Rodents?
     
  4. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Your plant is Zamioculcas zamiifolia (Loddiges)Engl and it is an African aroid. Could be several causes. First, get rid of the moss. This plant lives in very porous sandy soil in an area of Africa that has a distinct rainy season and a distinct dry season. All the leaves grow in one direction, a structure known to botany as pinnate leaves. Pinnate leaves are those arranged similar to the fronds of a palm. The species is often found in its natural habitat in dry grassland and lowland forests on rocky lightly shaded terrain. It needs to be in soil that contains sand, some soil such as cactus soil, Perlite and some orchid potting mix with charcoal. And that soil must be able to drain freely. The pot must have good drainage although a humidty tray beneath the pot is fine. Chance are one of the bulblets rotted leaving the hole. It needs at least a semi-dry season which does not need to be long and a wet season.

    The internet is filled with bad information on this plant. Someone figured out it would survive for long periods of time without water so decided to sell it as a plant that doesn't like water! Scientifically that is pure hogwash! Discussions among tropical garden curators have begun a trend toward growing it in an area of a tropical atrium where it gets plenty of water but also some period of semi dryness. It also needs moderately bright light.

    Many, many are thrown away when the leaves all drop off. In the wild that is totally natural and is always done in the dry season. The petiole (stem) acts like a succulent and can survive for long periods without a leaf on it because the plant is now in survival mode. The plant is definitely deciduous and naturally looses the leaves as a part of its reproductive cycle. Those leaves lay on the soil until the rains return and the humidity is higher. They then produce bulblets and new roots followed by a new plant but new growth is slow. However, it can also reproduce by the production of a spathe and spadix similar to that of a Peace Lily. In the case of this plant those spathes grow very close to the ground and once the spadix enters female anthesis it will actually bend and touch the ground. The plant is trying to make it easy for the natural pollinator, likely an ant or beetle, to climb on and bring along pollen from another plant. Once brown berries form seeds form inside. The berries are brown and elipsoid but that rarely happens in a home setting. In fact, no recorded data exists of it having happened unless the grower is experienced in artificially pollinating an aroid. And this plant is an aroid.

    Now, just in case you think I've gone nuts, if you can find a copy of the scientific text The Genera of Araceae by Dr. Simon May, J. Bogner, and P.C. Boyce (all botanists) this is explained in detail. However, it is in very technical scientific language. The explanation begins on page 146. That text is quite costly (around $180) so unless you are serious about aroids I don't recommend you buy it.
    but you might try a good library.

    I grow one and have done so for 3 years in a full blown tropical atrium. The plant is watered a couple of days a week in the winter months but every single day, sometimes twice a day in the summer for 10 minutes with an overhead misting system. This is the technique being used by more and more scientific gardens.

    I have rewritten all the scientific lingo and made it as understandable as possible for home growers. You can read the entire information here: http://www.exoticrainforest.com/Zamioculcas zamiifolia pc.html
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2008

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