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ZZ Plant Light Requirements: All Queries Solved!

The excellent air-purifying properties of the ZZ plant falter if you mess up its light requirements.

ZZ plants grow best in indirect light for at least 6 hours daily. Under harsh sunlight, the fragile leaves turn yellow, curl, and droop. While the low light causes leggy, stunted growth. In winter, use artificial grow lights to fulfill ZZ plant light requirements.

They make excellent houseplants that thrive even in minimal-growing conditions, but too little sunlight can eventually kill the plant.

Here is a guide to help you determine your ZZ plant’s light requirement and how to treat a sunburnt plant.

Can ZZ Plants Survive Without Sunlight?

Most new growers believe the ZZ plant does not require sunlight, but that is not true.

The ZZ plant tolerates low indirect light, but the growth will be slower than the plant receiving optimum light.

No to very low light exposure can cause the ZZ plant to wither down and lose glossy leaves.

An overly dark spot will also make them suffer. Although it may survive for a short period, it will eventually droop and wither.

The prolonged low light condition affects photosynthesis and pushes the growth of the ZZ plant.

zz plant in pot
Light deficient ZZ plant has very slow, leggy growth and new growths are often too small.

Furthermore, no sunlight can induce leaf discoloration and ultimately turn yellow.

Therefore, keeping them in the dark corners will push back their foliage growth and invite other plant-related diseases.

Even regular watering or fertilizing is unlikely to save your plant if it does not receive sunlight.

Quick Tip: In zones 10 to 12, you can grow them outside in areas with filtered light, as long as it does not dry up their leaves.

Signs your ZZ Plant Needs More or Less Light

ZZ plants are quite light-sensitive. Thus, you can tell your plant is getting excess or less sunlight within a few telltale signs.

Start with diagnosing these symptoms to determine whether your plant needs more sunlight or you should limit its light intake.

Signs of Light Deprived ZZ Plant

ZZ plant with low light conditions will show the following telltale signs.

  • Lanky, leaning stem towards the light source.
  • Leggy or stunted growth, even in the active growing season
  • No or small new leaf growth
  • Wilting, droopy leaves
  • Leaf discoloration causes leaves to turn yellow
  • Immature leaf and stalk drop

Signs of Light-Saturated ZZ Plant

Here are a few signs of a light-saturated ZZ plant.

  • Yellowing leaves
  • Brown spots with dry, brittle leaf tips
  • Curling, crispy leaves
  • Foliage turning away from the light source due to negative phototropism
  • Droopy, wrinkled stems due to excess transpiration

How Much Light does ZZ Plant Need?

ZZ Plant originates from the tropical forests of Africa, making it a drought-resistant plant that requires no direct sunlight.

A typical ZZ plant does well in bright to moderate indirect light and requires at least 8-10 hours of indirect sunlight daily.

It is not suited for intense, direct sunlight, so keeping them outdoors without any cover is a complete No-No.

Under adequate sunlight, they can attain a healthy stature of 2.5 feet with lush green foliage.

How to Grow ZZ Plants with Artificial Light?

ZZ plant does not complain about growing under artificial grow light and grows just fine.

Generally, artificial lights are often used in winter to cover the lack of sunlight.

A continuous supply of full-spectrum light with the correct bulb temperature ensures that the plant gets lighting equal to daylight.

Artificial light cannot entirely replace sunlight since artificial lights cannot replicate the specific colors of light optimal for plant growth.

You can easily mimic natural daylight by using the correct temperature of artificial light tubes suspended about 10-12 inches above the plant.

 But before investing in an artificial grow light suitable for the ZZ plant, you should consider some factors.

1. Use Right Light Temperature

Most indoor plants require a cool white or daylight shade, ranging from 6000K to 6500K, to grow.

Meanwhile, a warm white shade, 2700K to 3500K, encourages fruits and flowers.

However, ZZ plants rarely flower, so they do not need light bulbs with varying temperatures.

You can rely on cool white or daylight bulbs (6000k-6500k) to provide full-spectrum lighting that encourages foliage growth.

2. Use a Right Grow Light

As incandescent light bulbs emit a lot of high heat that can affect plants, so use standard fluorescent bulbs.

But again, there are many fluorescent lamps you can choose from. So, here are some grow lights suitable for the ZZ plant.

Light BulbSpecification
VIVOSUN T5 Cool and balanced T5 lamps emit a flat blue and violet spectrum at 6500K.
Hydrofarm AgrobriteProduces 1800 lumens and 6400K temp. that will last an average of 10,000 hours
Durolux Grow LightEach bulb produces 2500 lumens in a cool white shade perfect for indoor gardens.

Alternatively, you can use LED bulbs with the same wattage as effective as grow lights.

3. Reconsider Watering

You can control the watering intake of your indoor ZZ plant under artificial light.

Because the fluorescent growth light provides a maintained light intensity, you know when the soil will dry up.

Therefore, you would not need to water your indoor ZZ plants more often.

Water the ZZ plant once every 18-25 days when grown in a controlled environment to avoid overwatering.

Moreover, you need not cut back on watering in winter because your plant will be actively growing.

How to Ensure Optimum Light for ZZ Plant?

Although a low-maintenance houseplant, the ZZ plant requires ample lighting to ensure minimum upkeep throughout the day.

Here is how you can ensure optimum lighting conditions for this magnificent plant.

1. Plant Location

Be it outdoors or indoors, ensure to place them in a location that receives at least a faint amount of natural sunlight.

This low to medium-light-loving plant would suit a north-facing window that receives relatively less direct sunlight.

As they live under the shade of large trees in their natural habitat, place them in slightly shaded corners of the house.

If grown outdoors, ensure to use a canopy or mesh net that would block a significant amount of direct sunlight from reaching the plant.

2. Light Intensity

Light intensity also refers to the brightness produced by the light source.

It may be more relevant to plants grown using artificial lighting.

The impact of light intensity may depend on the distance between a light source and a plant.

When determining the light intensity of your grow light, consider these factors.

Light IntensitySpecification
Photosynthetic photon flux (PPF)ZZ plant requires 50-150 umol PPF to grow effectively.
LumensZZ plant requires 60-80 lumens of light bulb to grow effectively.
WattsZZ plant requires 10-15 watt of light energy to grow effectively

3. Light Quality and Distance

Maintaining the correct distance between the light source and the plant ensures balanced plant growth.

Keeping the ZZ plant closer to the light source may quickly dehydrate the plant.

Keep at least 12-24 inches between your adult ZZ plant and grow light of 10-15 wattage.

If your ZZ plant is younger, consider placing it at least 6-12 inches closer to the light.

The light spectrum used by the plant is called Photosynthetically Active Radiation, composed of red and blue light.

Non-flowering plants like the ZZ plant may require blue or mixed light to ensure green foliage.

4. Light Duration

Light duration is classified into three categories.

  • Short day –Plant requiring 6-8 hours of light each day.
  • Long day –Plant requiring 8-14 hours of light each day.
  • Day-neutral –plants that are insensitive to day length different

ZZ plant is naturally a long-day plant requiring over eight hours of light daily.

Alternate between indirect sunlight and artificial grow light to ensure the ZZ plant receives ample light.

Final Thoughts!

The ZZ plant does well without enough watering, but it may require ample low light to thrive.

You can start by finding a location that receives indirect sunlight throughout the day and leave your plant there day-long.

All The Best!

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