ZZ Plant vs. Ficus | The Ultimate Houseplant Smackdown

Today, we’re putting two of the most popular green friends in the spotlight: ZZ Plant and Ficus. Are you ready for a leafy showdown? If so then lets get started.

ZZ Plant vs. Ficus

ZZ Plant – The Chill Cuz

Scientific name: Zamioculcas zamiifolia

Hailing from the land of Africa, the ZZ Plant (or Zanzibar Gem) is that low-maintenance cousin you only see at family gatherings. It’s happy to hang out in the corner, doesn’t demand much attention, and thrives on neglect.

Ficus – The Needy Sibling

Scientific name: Ficus spp.

The Ficus family has a lot of members, including the popular Fiddle Leaf Fig and Rubber Tree. These babies are native to the tropics and subtropics, and they can be a bit more… temperamental. Think of them as that sibling who’s always borrowing your clothes and complaining about their latest drama.

Round 1: Caring for Your Green Buddy

Watering: ZZ Plant vs. Ficus

PlantWatering needs
ZZ PlantLow
FicusModerate to High

ZZ Plant

The ZZ Plant is like that friend who doesn’t drink much at parties. Just give it a sip of water every now and then, and it’ll be golden. Too much H2O, and it’ll be like, “Dude, chill.” You can get away with watering this bad boy every 2-3 weeks.


Ficus, on the other hand, likes to stay hydrated. It’s like that gym rat friend who’s always carrying a water bottle. Be prepared to water your Ficus more frequently – about once a week. And don’t forget to adjust the watering schedule based on the season and your home’s humidity!

Light Requirements: ZZ Plant vs. Ficus

PlantLight requirements
ZZ PlantLow to Moderate
FicusModerate to High

ZZ Plant

The ZZ Plant is pretty chill when it comes to sunlight. It’s like that person who enjoys hanging out in the shade, sipping lemonade. It can survive in low light conditions but prefers bright, indirect light. Just keep it away from direct sunlight, or it’ll be like, “Hey, I’m not a sunbathing beauty, alright?”


Ficus is a sun-loving diva. It craves bright, indirect light and will sulk if it doesn’t get enough of it. Imagine it as that friend who needs to post a sunny beach pic on Instagram every summer. If you want to keep your Ficus happy, make sure it has a sunny spot in your home.

Round 2: Growing Pains (and Gains)

Growth Speed: ZZ Plant vs. Ficus

PlantGrowth speed
ZZ PlantSlow
FicusModerate to Fast

ZZ Plant

The ZZ Plant is like that friend who’s always “fashionably late.” It takes its sweet time growing, but hey, who’s in a rush? Its slow growth means it won’t outgrow your home anytime soon.


Ficus, on the other hand, is like that overachiever who’s always one step ahead. It grows at a moderate to fast pace, so be prepared to provide it with some space to stretch its leaves. You might even find yourself pruning and repotting this green speedster more frequently.

Size: ZZ Plant vs. Ficus

ZZ Plant2-3 feet (indoor)
Ficus2-10 feet (indoor, varies)

ZZ Plant

The ZZ Plant is that compact buddy who’s always comfortable in tight spaces. It typically grows to about 2-3 feet indoors, making it the perfect plant for small apartments or spaces with limited room.


The Ficus family varies in size, but they can generally grow to be pretty tall. Imagine them as that cousin who’s always towering over everyone else in family photos. Some species, like the Fiddle Leaf Fig, can grow up to 10 feet indoors. Make sure to give them plenty of room to grow and show off their leafy splendor.

Round 3: Pests and Problems

Common Issues: ZZ Plant vs. Ficus

PlantCommon issues
ZZ PlantOverwatering, yellowing leaves
FicusRoot rot, leaf drop, pests

ZZ Plant

The ZZ Plant is pretty laid-back and doesn’t have many issues. The most common problem you’ll face is overwatering. Remember, it’s like that friend who’s always “fine, thanks” when you ask if they need anything. Just keep an eye out for yellowing leaves, which might signal that you’re being a bit too generous with the watering can.


Ficus can be a bit more finicky. It’s like that drama queen friend who’s always got something going on. If you don’t pay close attention, you might end up with root rot, leaf drop, or even pesky critters like spider mites and mealybugs. Keep an eye on your Ficus, and make sure to give it the right care and attention to prevent these problems.

The Final Verdict

So, which plant should you choose? Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preferences and lifestyle.

If you’re looking for an easy-going, low-maintenance pal that doesn’t mind being neglected (or you just have a habit of killing plants), the ZZ Plant is your best bet.

But, if you’re up for a bit of a challenge and have a penchant for raising divas, the Ficus family might be more your speed. Just be prepared to put in a little extra time and effort to keep these green drama queens happy and healthy.


Can I propagate my ZZ Plant or Ficus?

Absolutely! ZZ Plants can be propagated by dividing the rhizome (bulb-like part of the root) or by leaf cuttings. Ficus can be propagated through stem cuttings. Just be aware that the propagation process may take a bit longer for ZZ Plants than for Ficus due to their slower growth rate.

Are ZZ Plants or Ficus plants pet-friendly?

Unfortunately, both ZZ Plants and Ficus can be toxic to pets if ingested. The ZZ Plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation and vomiting in animals. Ficus plants, particularly the Fiddle Leaf Fig, can cause similar symptoms. If you have pets at home, it’s best to keep these plants out of their reach or consider opting for pet-friendly alternatives.

Can I grow a ZZ Plant or Ficus outdoors?

While both plants are usually grown indoors, they can be grown outdoors if you live in a suitable climate. ZZ Plants can tolerate temperatures down to around 45°F (7°C), while Ficus species can vary in their cold tolerance. If you live in a warm, frost-free climate, you can try growing these plants outdoors, but make sure they have proper drainage and protection from extreme weather conditions.

Why are the leaves on my Ficus dropping?

Ficus plants, particularly the Fiddle Leaf Fig, are notorious for dropping leaves when they’re unhappy. The main reasons for leaf drop include insufficient light, over- or under-watering, or sudden changes in temperature or humidity. Make sure to provide your Ficus with consistent care and avoid moving it around too much to prevent unnecessary drama.

How often should I fertilize my ZZ Plant or Ficus?

ZZ Plants don’t require much fertilization, and you can get away with feeding them once or twice a year with a balanced houseplant fertilizer. Ficus plants, on the other hand, appreciate more frequent fertilization during the growing season (spring and summer) to support their faster growth rate. Feed your Ficus with a balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during this time, and reduce the frequency during the dormant season (fall and winter).

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