The ZZ plant (Zanzibar Gem or Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is an amazing houseplant that anybody can care for. These interesting evergreens thrive with just a little water from time to time and a bright part of the home that does not see any direct sunlight.
One of the keys to success when growing this tropical East African species is potting it in the right soil. Read on to learn how to choose, or even prepare the perfect medium for your ZZ plant.
The Best Soil For ZZ Plants
ZZ plants are legendary for their easy-going nature. These plants need hardly any attention, but what’s their secret? The fleshy potato-like rhizomes that the plants grow from hold a lot of moisture and even nutrients, which is what keeps the plants going in times of drought.
These underground structures, together with the plant’s robust and waxy leaves make this species a very efficient water user that doesn’t transpire too heavily and can easily survive a few missed waterings. What this plant doesn’t like, however, is too much water.
You could call wet feet the Achilles heel of the ZZ Plant- It tends to cause leaf yellowing and root rot. To prevent this, a well-drained potting medium is the best way to go. The actual composition is not all that important, as long as it does not hold onto too much water.
A good soil for your ZZ plant will be fast draining, contain organic compost, and have a neutral to slightly acidic pH. This plant behaves in much the same way as a succulent and therefore, a cactus & succulent potting mix is an ideal option, straight from the bag.
Alternatively, you can use a general potting mix and add about 25% sand just to improve drainage somewhat. Another amendment that you can consider adding is perlite. Perlite will improve drainage while having the added benefit of keeping the soil light and aerated. Again, a ratio of about 3 parts potting soil to 1 part perlite will be ideal for the ZZ plant.
Ideally, you want your soil to hold water for just long enough to give the plant a good drink and replenish its underground stores. The ZZ plant does best when watered once every two or three weeks, and in between waterings the soil should dry out well. If you can water the soil through, and find that it is dry to the touch to at least 2 inches below the soil surface after two weeks, you’re on the right track.
How long it takes for the soil to dry out does depend on a couple of factors like air temperature, air movement, soil volume, and plant transpiration activity. One factor that you are in control of is the soil volume, and this has a surprising effect on how quickly the water drains from your pot.
You might think that giving your plant plenty of soil to grow into would be a good thing, but in fact, the more soil you have, the more water it will hold onto. ZZ plants are quite comfortable in a fairly small volume of soil, so going up just one pot size is ideal when repotting.
After potting your plant in its new, fast-draining soil, an application of a diluted NPK fertilizer containing the necessary micronutrients that plants need is a good idea to get it growing well. Be aware that some potting mixes come already enriched with fertilizer, so be sure to read the labels to avoid burning the plant’s roots with too much fertilizer.
Everything about ZZ plant care is easy, provided you can keep their soil free-draining. The actual soil you use is less important, but the options mentioned in this article are a great place to start. Remember to let the soil dry out between waterings to keep a happy and healthy ZZ plant.