The Zamia pumila is a small evergreen shrub, similar to a small palm, in fact the genus Zamiacee belongs to the family of the cicadaceae; they are native to Central America. It has a short woody stem, which often develops underground; the long evergreen leaves are fleshy, thick and leathery; they are finned, consisting of some oval or lanceolate leaves. The foliage of the Zamia is bright green, usually the bottom page is brown or reddish.
They are dioecious plants, therefore there are male and female plants; the flowers are produced in early spring: the female plants produce, at ground level, small dark panicles, from which emerge small bright red seeds. In general, it is difficult for specimens grown in pots to reach flowering. These plants are poisonous, so it is good to be careful that they do not come into contact with children or pets, even if the disgusting taste makes them decidedly unattractive.
Exposure is a very important factor to consider if you want to grow a plant. Depending on the species, it will be necessary to prefer a sunny position, half shade or total shade. Let’s see together what are the specific cultivation needs of zamia pumila.
Unlike many other varieties, they can be grown in any position, as they bear the direct sun but also the dark and shady positions; in Europe they are grown as indoor plants, although in fact they could easily withstand temperatures close to zero, so in the southern regions could be used as garden plants, if placed in a place sheltered from the wind. Usually they are cultivated in places with minimum temperatures close to 10-12°C.
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Watering and soil
Water regularly, but only when the soil is very dry for a few days, avoiding surpluses; during the winter months let’s irrigate only sporadically, keeping the soil dry for the most part. During the winter season, in fact, most plants need less water. As for the soil, the zamia pumila are grown in soft and very well drained soil, consisting of universal soil mixed in equal quantities with sand or lapilli.
Usually, they do not need to be repotted very often, also because the growth is very slow, and, usually, it takes some years for the plants to reach the 70-90 cm of height, with a diameter of the trunk close to the 20-25 cm.
The multiplication of the zamia pumila is done by seed; before the plants have an acceptable size it usually takes a few years of cultivation.
Zamia pumila: Parasites and diseases
As far as the development of parasites and diseases is concerned, the zamiac plants fear the attack of the cochineal, especially if cultivated in the house, seen the scarce ambient humidity and ventilation present in the apartment. Cochineal is a tiny insect (1-3 mm) that weakens our plant by piercing and sucking the sap. To combat the problem, it is advisable to use a cotton ball soaked in alcohol and rub the affected parts until these parasites are removed manually.
In the most serious cases, use specific pesticide products.