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How Much Light Does a ZZ Plant Need? Expert Lighting Tips!

As someone who used to kill a plant by just looking at it, my love for them grew as I acquired hardy houseplants and realized how rewarding they could be.

And when it comes to houseplants, few are as hardy as the ZZ plant according to the University of Florida.

ZZ Plants can handle a fair amount of neglect before they shrivel up and die. Most of this is attributable to the rhizomes that grow under the soil.

It is definitely a plant able to grow under challenging conditions. But how much light does a ZZ plant need?

These fleshy structures hold water and distribute it to the plant if you forget to quench its thirst. 

But it’s not just water that a ZZ plant needs. They also need light in order to grow well and reach their full potential. 

So how does a plant survive if it doesn’t need a lot of light?

That’s what I will explain to you so you can get the most from your ZZ plant.

 

How Much Light Does a ZZ Plant Need?

A ZZ plant requires around 12 hours of bright indirect light a day. Don’t place it in a spot that gets bright direct light as this is too harsh and it will burn the leaves. While a ZZ plant can survive in low light, it won’t grow to the best of its ability and it may end up looking droopy and unhealthy.

 

How Much Light Does a ZZ Plant Need?

How Much Light Does a ZZ Plant Need?

 

Why Plants Need Sunlight

I’m going to take you back to your science lessons in school now.

Plants love sunlight because they use it as the energy source for photosynthesis. This is a chemical reaction that plants use when converting sunlight into food.

This process is needed for strong growth, bright green leaves, and flowers (if it’s a blooming plant.)

Without sunlight, the plant will run out of food. Even if you water it regularly, this won’t be enough for the plant to survive.

Sunlight is crucial to the life cycle of a plant.

 

How Much Light Does a ZZ Plant Need?

Bright, indirect lighting is ideal for a ZZ plant. Anything too bright is too harsh and will cause the glossy green leaves to burn.

ZZ plants require bright yet indirect light for them to grow

ZZ plants require bright yet indirect light for them to grow

If it’s possible, aim to give your plant around 12 hours a day. This is a similar length to the plant’s native country of Eastern Africa.

 

What Indirect Lighting Means

When the term “indirect lighting” is used, it can be difficult to know if you’re putting your plant in the right spot.

All rooms have light in them so how do you know the plant is getting the right amount of light?

Indirect lighting simply means away from a windowsill or direct rays coming from the sun.

For example, have you ever stood in a patch of sunlight that’s streaming in through the window? It feels warm and almost burns your skin if you stay there for too long.

That is direct light.

If plants specifically need indirect lighting, you want to place them somewhere that a ray of light doesn’t directly hit.

Stand in the spot you want to put the plant. As long as you don’t feel warm there or the light doesn’t burn, it’ll be ideal for your ZZ plant care.

 

Indirect lighting means that the rays of light do not directly hit your ZZ plant

Indirect lighting means that the rays of light do not directly hit your ZZ plant

Learn more about lighting levels for plants for you to better understand this important aspect of care for your ZZ plant.

 

What Happens to a ZZ Plant Getting Too Much Light

When a ZZ plant is placed in harsh, bright lighting, you’ll notice the effects fairly quickly.

ZZ plants have characteristically tall stems with leaves pointing towards the sky. Leaves will start to burn and drop off, while the stems may begin to droop.

 

When you place your ZZ plant in an area receiving bright lighting, its leaves will start to burn and drop off

When you place your ZZ plant in an area receiving bright lighting, its leaves will start to burn and drop off

 

If your plant experiences burning from too much lighting, it can be saved if it’s caught early.

Simply remove the burnt leaves or cut across the leaf to remove the crispy end. Then move your plant to a better location in your home where it’s not in direct light.

 

What Happens to a ZZ Plant not Getting Enough Light

Have you noticed your plant is leaning over in one direction?

If this is happening, it’s probably in a spot where it doesn’t get enough light so every stem is growing towards the only light source in the room.

If your ZZ plant doesn't receive enough light, its stem will grow to the only light source in the room

If your ZZ plant doesn’t receive enough light, its stem will grow to the only light source in the room

 

Leaves will also drop off if there’s not enough light and this can cause the plant to look bare.

The stems will also feel softer than usual which is your plant crying out for more light.

Because it’s not getting what it needs, the food source it does have is limited and the plant can’t distribute it evenly causing obvious issues with the growth.

 

Can a ZZ Plant Survive in Artificial Light – The Answer

Everyone has areas in their homes where light doesn’t reach or even rooms with no windows.

There’s no reason why you can’t adorn these areas with foliage, especially when grow lights are available.

Grow lights mimic the sunlight a plant would get in its native environment so ZZ plants can absolutely survive in artificial lighting as long as this light follows the same rules as natural light.

 

ZZ plants can grow under grow lights, but you need to follow the same rules when exposing them to natural light

ZZ plants can grow under grow lights, but you need to follow the same rules when exposing them to natural light

It will take some trial and error to place the light in the right position so it doesn’t burn the plant but once that sweet spot is discovered, the ZZ plant should thrive.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about How Much Light a ZZ Plant Needs

 

Can a ZZ plant survive in the dark?

This is a common misconception. ZZ plants have a reputation of being indestructible but all plants need a light source to survive. While it would live for a while, the ZZ plant wouldn’t thrive in the dark and it would eventually die.

 

Which window is best for a ZZ plant?

Even though the general rule is that ZZ plants shouldn’t be placed near a window, if you have east or west-facing windows, these are best for this kind of plant. You’ll get plenty of indirect lighting here but in the seasons where light is scarce, move it around a bit so it gets enough light.

 

How long can a ZZ plant survive without light?

Low light plants can survive for around 20 days without light but it’s more realistic to say that two weeks is the limit. Plants need light to create food and without food, no matter how much you water it, a plant will eventually die.


 

Conclusion About How Much Light Does a ZZ Plant Need

ZZ plants are known to handle a bit of neglect. But this doesn’t mean it can be placed in a dark room with no light at all.

Light is vital to a plant’s growth and wellbeing so if you want your ZZ plant to thrive and flourish, find a spot with bright, indirect lighting, and your plant will thank you for it.

Author Bio

Daniel Iseli

Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.