The Fascinating ZZ Chameleon Plant: A Colorful Twist on a Classic

Are you ready to meet the coolest new addition to the world of houseplants? Introducing the ZZ chameleon plant, a unique variety of the resilient zamioculcas zamiifolia (ZZ) plant that changes colors as it grows. In this article, we’ll explore what sets this plant apart and whether it qualifies as a variegated plant. So, let’s dive in!

The Allure of the ZZ Chameleon Plant

When it comes to recommending starter plants for those venturing into the world of houseplants, the ZZ plant frequently tops the list. This hardy plant can withstand neglect and survive even in low-light conditions with minimal effort. Now, imagine a ZZ plant that not only possesses these qualities but also displays an enchanting color transformation throughout its growth cycle. That’s precisely what the ZZ chameleon plant offers!

Unveiling the ZZ Chameleon Plant

Derived from the classic all-green ZZ plant, the ZZ chameleon is a new and exciting addition to the ZZ line-up. Similar to the popular raven ZZ plant, the chameleon boasts a distinct appearance that sets it apart from its all-green counterpart. Its leaves emerge in a captivating shade of highlighter yellow with delicate green veining, gradually transitioning to a lush green as they mature.

Discovering the ZZ Chameleon

The journey of the ZZ chameleon began in November 2017, when Michael Kerry Rimland stumbled upon this remarkable plant at a plant nursery in Bangkok, Thailand. Rimland observed a spontaneous mutation in the plant, which he then selectively reproduced using cuttings throughout early 2018. The mutation proved stable and capable of being replicated, leading to the ZZ chameleon’s introduction to the market.

Further reading:  Heart Leaf Tree

Variegation vs. Chameleon

While the ZZ chameleon has been described as variegated in its patent information, it is important to note that it is not a true variegated ZZ plant. Although some leaves of the chameleon display variegation, they are accompanied by pure yellow and pure green leaves. The chameleon’s variegation is metachromatic, meaning it undergoes a color change from yellow to variegated green and yellow before settling into its final green shade. In contrast, a true variegated ZZ plant, such as Zamioculcas zamiifolia “LUCKYWHIT,” maintains its variegation without transitioning from light to dark hues.

Optimal Light Conditions for the ZZ Chameleon

While the all-green ZZ plant thrives in low-light conditions, the ZZ chameleon prefers medium to bright indirect light for optimal growth. This versatile plant can tolerate a fair distance from a window as long as it receives consistent natural light or supplemental grow light. Avoid exposing the ZZ chameleon to direct sunlight, as it may result in leaf burn. If you choose to take your plant outdoors during the summer, ensure it is placed on a covered patio or under a shade cloth.

zz chameleon leaves

Watering and Soil Considerations

Like its all-green counterpart, the ZZ chameleon is incredibly resilient and drought-tolerant. Planting it in a succulent or succulent-like mix facilitates proper water and oxygen flow, ensuring a healthy root system. The ZZ chameleon’s rhizomes, which resemble potatoes, play a vital role in water storage and sustaining the plant during long periods of drought. It is advisable to water the ZZ chameleon only when the soil has completely dried out to prevent overwatering and subsequent root and rhizome rot.

Further reading:  The Marvelous Purslane: A Plant With Many Uses

The ZZ Chameleon’s Growth Potential

ZZ plants, including the chameleon variety, are generally slow growers. Expect the ZZ chameleon to reach a height of approximately 4 feet or more under ideal conditions, although this may take a considerable amount of time. Repotting the ZZ chameleon every few years should be sufficient, making it a low-maintenance addition to your plant collection.

Temperature and Humidity Requirements

The ZZ chameleon thrives in typical household temperatures and humidity levels, making it undemanding in terms of these factors. It does best when exposed to temperatures between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Although not cold or frost hardy, ZZ plants, including the chameleon variety, can tolerate nighttime temperatures in the 40s occasionally. However, it is advisable to avoid subjecting the plant to such conditions regularly.

green and yellow zz chameleon leaves

ZZ Plants and Pet Safety

It is important to note that all parts of ZZ plants, including the chameleon variety, are toxic if ingested by pets. While it is safe to handle the plant and touch its foliage, ingestion can lead to pain, burning, and swelling. Therefore, it is best to keep ZZ plants away from children and pets prone to nibbling. Additionally, the plant’s sap can cause irritation in some individuals, so wearing protective gloves when pruning or repotting is advisable.

Propagation Restrictions

As a patented variety, propagating the ZZ chameleon plant for commercial purposes is prohibited. However, for personal use, you can easily separate and pot up ZZ plants at the rhizome level. This can be done by carefully dividing the rhizomes and giving each division its own pot.

Further reading:  How to Transform Your Rubber Plant into a Lush and Bushy Beauty

propagating a ZZ plant at the rhizome level


The ZZ chameleon plant offers a delightful twist on the classic ZZ plant. With its mesmerizing color transformation and resilient nature, it is a fantastic addition to any plant lover’s collection. Embrace the beauty and uniqueness of the ZZ chameleon as it brightens up your space with its vibrant foliage.

collage that says chameleon zz plant care with photos of the plant

To learn more about the ZZ chameleon and other exciting plant varieties, visit Ames Farm Center.

Images and original content courtesy of By Brittany Goldwyn.