ZZ Plant Soil: Selection And Preparation

While the ZZ plant, Zamioculcas zamiifolia is one of the easiest houseplants you can grow, that doesn’t mean it is indestructible. 

These striking evergreen plants will be happy with only a small drink of water now and then, and bright indirect light, although they can also survive in deep shade.

However, for a ZZ plant to thrive, you need to have it in the right soil (see also ZZ Raven Care Guide), otherwise, it does not matter if you give it the most ideal environment in the world, it will die.

Let’s take a look.

ZZ Soil Needs

ZZ plants are famous for their ability to adapt to nearly any household environment and conditions (Unfortunately, they are toxic to pets. See also ZZ Plant Toxicity). 

They will survive both bright light and nearly no light at all, and if you forget to water them for a while, you will largely find them just the same.

The secret to their easy care lies beneath the soil, in the rhizomes. These rhizomes act as a store for nutrients and moisture, which sustains the plant.

This means that the ZZ plant can easily withstand dry spells without a problem, but this does make it vulnerable to overwatering (see also ZZ Zenzi Plant Care Guide). Overwatering is the number one killer of these beautiful plants. 

Luckily, it’s fairly easy to prevent this. With the right soil and a consistent watering schedule, there’s no reason for your plant to develop root rot.

Consider A Commercial Mix, Or Make Your Own

When it comes to the ideal soil for ZZ plants, it needs to have plenty of drainage, some nutrients to sustain the plant and a pH that’s either neutral or slightly acidic.

As the ZZ plant more or less acts like a succulent in the way it stores water (see also Propagating ZZ Plants Through Leaf Propagation), it stands to reason that you can use a commercial cactus and succulent potting mix.

This does make it a lot easier, but if you don’t fancy buying a whole bag of the stuff just for one plant, you can make your own. Use a well-draining, general potting mix, but mix in a quarter of perlite or sand.

This will help improve the drainage properties of the soil. If you use perlite, this helps keep the oxygen going to the roots. 

How Well Does The Soil Need To Drain?

In an ideal world, you want the soil to absorb and hold any water to let the plant suck up the moisture it needs, but not long enough so that the plant is constantly sitting in water and rotting the roots.

Depending on the temperature and growing conditions of where you place the ZZ plant, you might be watering it as sparingly as every few weeks, or as much as once a week.

Give the plant a good drench each time you water it, but let the soil dry out before watering again. If you put your finger into the bottom of the drainage hole and the soil is dry, it’s time to water it again.

How Much Soil Is Too Much?

One thing that’s worth noting is that the size of the pot and root system will affect how often you need to water your plant. 

For instance, if you have a pot-bound plant, where the roots have grown into the shape of the pot, compacting the soil, you will need to water it much more often than if the roots have plenty of room.

However, if the pot is too big for the plant, and there are hardly any roots compared to the amount of soil, a good watering is likely to rot the plant, as it will be sitting in water for much longer.

So it’s a good idea to make sure that when you repot your plant, you only go up one pot size. This gives the plant enough room and nutrients, without drowning it every time you water it.

Should You Feed A ZZ Plant In New Soil?

Feeding a ZZ plant that you’ve just repotted is not necessary. Fresh compost contains fresh nutrients, and more often than not, most compost mixes come with slow-release fertilizer, so hold off feeding your plant for a few months.

Final Thoughts

ZZ plants are easy to care for (see also 6 ZZ Plants To Try Growing Yourself), as long as you can keep the soil draining well to stop root rot and make sure you let the soil dry out between watering.

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