Written by Ivy
Dec 27 2022
ZZ plants, also known as Zamioculcas zamiifolia, are beloved for their laid-back nature, advantageous qualities, and Feng Shui applications, making them a popular choice among plant owners of all experience levels. This tropical perennial has glossy foliage that gives any space a lot of texture. The important thing is to use the right soil mix to set it up for success.
Proper drainage is the most important consideration when choosing the best soil for your ZZ plant. While most potting soils found in stores are fine, for better drainage, combine one part cactus soil or perlite with three parts potting soil.
To reduce the risk of root rot, a ZZ plant needs a soil mixture that drains well. The ZZ plant will flourish best in a mixture of regular houseplant soil and either cactus soil or perlite. Between waterings, this mixture won't become soggy because of its quick drainage.
The most crucial fact to be aware of regarding your ZZ Plant is that it originates from a rhizome, which is a fleshy, bulbous structure that serves as a storage container for water and nutrients for the plant.) The top of the rhizome produces stems and leaves, while the bottom produces roots.
Because of the way they've adapted to their native climate, in this case the dry grasslands of Eastern Africa, ZZ Plants are effective at drawing water from the ground. Plants native to this region must be able to take advantage of the infrequent, sporadic rainfalls and have mechanisms for longer periods of drought.
These rhizome structures are the reason ZZ Plants are so hardy. The plant's roots absorb as much water as they can while being watered and store it in the rhizome. They can use this water later on when it is drier, such as during the East African drought or, more likely, when you neglect to water your plants for a few weeks.
To grow successfully, any plant must have the right soil. Many new plant parents make the mistake of failing to realize how drastically different thriving is from merely existing.
The majority of the nutrients that the plant needs come from the soil. Additionally, it is where the roots are located, and these need to be maintained in the best possible shape to prevent damage to the plant above the soil.
Rhizomes need to be taken into account when working with a ZZ plant. Living beneath the soil are these fleshy objects that resemble plant bulbs.
They are the reason a ZZ plant can go for a few weeks without taking a shower because they collect any extra water.
I mean, surely all soil drains? You would be mistaken to believe that, however, as there are soil mixtures available that absorb water like a sponge.
There is a limit to how much water the rhizomes can hold, despite the fact that they absorb water. Rhizomes won't rot because the ideal soil will wick away any excess that is left behind.
Even though I've made several references to having a soil that drains well, how can you tell without testing it whether the soil removes excess water?
Look for a mix that mentions perlite if you decide to purchase it from a store. It's a natural substance that works wonders to enhance the drainage of ordinary potting soil.
If you already have some of this at home, a cactus or orchid mixture will work.
Additionally, you can make your own potting soil for ZZ plants in your kitchen.
Finding the ideal mixture may require some trial and error, but once you've discovered it, write it down and use it each time you repot your ZZ plant.
However, as a starting point, try combining three parts potting soil and one part cactus mix.
Perlite and sand, which are both excellent at enhancing soil aeration and thereby improving drainage, are both present in cactus soil.
A ZZ plant won't immediately alert you to a problem.
But keep an eye out for the classic signs that a houseplant isn't healthy:
The wrong soil type is not the only cause of these symptoms, so keep that in mind. These are typical symptoms that most houseplants will exhibit if something is wrong with their surroundings.
Change the soil it's in and see if that helps the plant's condition after you've ruled out any other potential causes.
Consider blending your own if you want to experiment more with producing the ideal soil environment for your ZZ Plant. The majority of potting soils are composed of a small number of ingredients in similar proportions; however, altering the amounts of each ingredient results in a variety of soils with very different properties.
Now, if you're new to the plant world or don't view yourself as a perfect plant parent (i.e. can't seem to keep your houseplant alive), my suggestion is to stick with store-bought potting mixes—no need to overcomplicate this.
Get some type of cactus or succulent soil and good potting soil. Mix three parts potting soil to one part cactus mix to begin. The ratios of perlite and sand in the cactus mix will give the potting soil air space and coarse matter, resulting in a lighter mixture that drains well.
A regular bag of potting soil can also have perlite added to it to improve drainage. Perlite
is a mined volcanic rock that resembles tiny balls of Styrofoam's light weight keeps the soil open and less compact, allowing for better water drainage. Although there is probably some perlite in your mixture already, you are welcome to add up to an additional part of perlite to every four parts of potting soil.
Both of these options will produce fantastic results for your ZZ Plant, and you can relax knowing that the enhanced drainage will safeguard your ZZ from excessive moisture if you use the watering can a little too liberally.
Keeping the raw materials for potting soil on hand and mixing small batches on the spot to meet your plants' needs may be a better and possibly more cost-effective option for you mad scientists, or at least those who have larger collections of houseplants that require various types of soil.
Don't be afraid to try something new if you find yourself in this situation! Most potting soil recipes are pretty simple, and you can spend hours combing through posts on creating "the perfect mix." However, I would advise sticking with one of the two alternatives because ZZ Plants' needs are rather straightforward and they tolerate a variety of soil media.
Even if you select the ideal type of soil for your plant, a consistent watering schedule is essential to its success.
The most frequent cause of houseplant death is excessive watering.
ZZ plants don't enjoy growing in wet soil. If you do this, it will result in a variety of issues below the soil, and by the time you realize what you've done, it might be too late to save it.
Check the top 2 inches of soil if you believe your plant needs water. It's time to give it a drink if they're dry.
The best way to ensure that all the roots are evenly watered is to water from the edge to the center.
Your plant should be housed in a container with drainage holes, the more the better. Place the plant back into a decorative pot or saucer after you've watered until you see water coming out of the holes, then wait until it stops.
The soggy soil will benefit from this as well.
A healthy ZZ plant needs well-draining soil, but it also needs to be properly watered in order to grow and thrive.
Does it really matter what kind of pot a ZZ Plant lives in if it doesn't really care what kind of soil it is planted in? No, ZZs are so unassuming that they will essentially live wherever you plant them, is the short answer.
I'll share a few pointers and techniques, though, to guarantee that your ZZ will flourish where it is planted.
There are so many options, but so little time. Plastic, metal, clay, terracotta, concrete, coir fiber, and on, and on…
When choosing a pot for your ZZ, don't worry too much about the material. I am aware that certain pots work best for some delicate plants. To ZZs, however, the differences in the benefits and drawbacks of various materials don't really matter.
Planters made of more porous materials, such as plastic or coir, will either retain moisture in the soil or wick it away to varying degrees. In the grand scheme of things, these effects are, however, quite minor.
Pot size does have an impact on plant health because ZZs, like the majority of plants, like to have some space to spread their roots and grow. These requirements are similar to those of the majority of plants. The pot primarily needs to be big enough for the plant.
The best way to choose the right pot for your ZZ Plant is to periodically remove the plant and soil ball from the planting container. Graduating to the next size up is necessary if the plant appears root-bound, the rhizome is touching, or is within an inch of the pot wall. The solution should be a pot that is only a few inches larger in diameter.
Starting rooted cuttings or divisions in smaller containers with minimal extra space is recommended. It's difficult to control water levels when a small plant is placed in a large pot.
Above all, your pot needs to have excellent drainage. This shouldn't come as a surprise to you if you've read this far. Except for sitting in soggy, waterlogged soil, ZZ Plants are generally adaptable. Whatever you choose to plant your ZZ in, make sure it has good drainage!
This indicates that your pot should ideally have at least one drain hole on the bottom. If your container doesn't already have one, create one with a hand drill or transplant to a pot that does.
If you can't add a drainage hole to your pot, you can improve drainage by adding a few inches of gravel to the bottom. As sitting water can spread disease, this isn't the best option, and you still need to be careful about how often you water.
ZZ Plants have a bit of a reputation for being slower growers, sometimes to the degree that people get a little miffed that their plant "isn't doing anything." Although they don't grow as quickly as other plants, if you are giving your ZZ the right care, you should see some growth at least once a season.
In fact, if you notice that the growth of your ZZ plant seems a little slowed down, that may be a sign that it's time to transplant it into a larger pot. Other warning signs include soil that is drying out too quickly, roots that are bound together or circling the soil's bottom (although a little of this is expected), and rhizomes that are pushing too far out of the soil (although some of this is expected).
Most frequently, when it's time to divide the plant, you will transplant your ZZ Plant. The plant's stems and enlarging rhizome will begin to crowd the surface of the pot. Divide the rhizomes and plant each one separately in new pots, making sure the pots are at least two inches in diameter and have enough depth to accommodate the rhizome and root.
To reduce the risk of root rot, a ZZ plant needs a soil mixture that drains well. Ideally, a mix of cactus soil or perlite and regular houseplant soil will be perfect for the ZZ plant. Between waterings, this mixture won't stay soggy because of its quick drainage.
Keep the leaves in the shade for a few hours so they can form a callus. Now, fill a tray or small pot with a soilless growing medium like cocopeat or a mixture of perlite and peat. Insert the leaf's tip half an inch deep. To prevent water loss, completely wet the tray, and then wrap it in plastic.
There will undoubtedly be a specific ZZ plant mixture if you look around, but this is probably just a marketing gimmick. Your ZZ plant will grow well as long as you use a soil that drains well.
There are pots made of terracotta or clay, which are better at wicking away moisture. ZZ plants, on the other hand, don't care much about the pot they live in. Choosing a plastic pot won't harm them, but if you want to be cautious, there are other options available.
The pH levels of various soil and potting mixes vary, and plants have preferences, if we're being scientific. ZZ plants will thrive in neutral or more acidic soil types. In terms of numbers, you want to aim for a level between 6.0 and 7.0.
One of the best things we can do for our plants is choose the right type of soil. ZZ plants are fairly resilient, though, and as long as the proper type of soil is found for them, they won't perish.