ZZ Raven Care: 5 Awesome Tips For A Thriving Plant

The ZZ plant has a reputation for being very easy to care for, and it can adapt to a range of different growing conditions, even places where there is very little to no natural light.

‘Raven’ is a stunning variety that’s instantly recognizable, for its purple-black leaves, often growing alongside stems and leaves that are bright green.

This is a versatile plant that you can place pretty much anywhere in your home, and it also helps that it can tolerate a lot of neglect. 

It’s the perfect beginner houseplant, but it also remains a firm favorite with experienced growers across the world, for its fabulous foliage and low-maintenance habit.

Interested in growing your own ZZ ‘Raven’ plant? Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.

At A Glance: What You Should Know About The ZZ Raven Plant

While nearly everyone you come across will call this plant ZZ ‘Raven’ (which is both its common name and its patented name), its botanical name is Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Dowon’, and it’s always helpful to know the botanical name as you then know exactly what plant you’re getting.

It’s relatively new to the houseplant world, and though this cultivar was only discovered in 2015, it has taken the houseplant world by storm.

Other ZZ cultivars feature bright green leaves, while ZZ ‘Raven’ features nearly black, deep purple leaves, bound to capture anyone’s attention.

If you can’t decide between the two colors, ZZ ‘Raven’ will give you both anyway, as the new growth emerges in a beautiful lime green.

Over time, if the light levels are right, the new growth will turn deep purple as it matures. The deeper color appears in the veins of the leaves first, and then spreads outward.

How To Make Sure Your ZZ Raven Plant Thrives

Bright Indirect Light

ZZ plants, including ZZ ‘Raven’ can adapt to wildly different light levels without a problem. 

This makes it perfect for darker windows, or even rooms that have no windows at all, provided that there is enough artificial light to help the plant grow.

There are very few plants that will grow in low light conditions (see also Plants That Can Grow In Windowless Rooms), even a few feet away from a window, but ZZ ’Raven’ will weather these conditions without a problem.

It will grow noticeably slower than it should, and the growth won’t be as robust as it otherwise could be.

However, if you want to get the absolute best out of this plant, give it bright and indirect light, with some morning sunshine. 

Direct sunlight in the morning can make a huge difference in the growth of your plant. Don’t be tempted to overdo it by providing more than that and giving it direct sunlight all day, otherwise the leaves can scorch.

Aim For Comfortable Temperatures

ZZ plants can tolerate the same sort of temperatures that we can, so if you feel fine, your plant will, too.

Average indoor temperatures suit these plants very well, but for best results, aim between 60°F and 85°F.

These plants aren’t fussy when it comes to humidity, either. But if you do want to keep this plant at its absolute best, group it around other plants where the humidity level will be higher.

There’s no need to buy a humidifier just for this plant, but it does help finicky plants such as Anthuriums and Calatheas.

Alter Standard Houseplant Compost To Suit ZZ Raven

ZZ ‘Raven’ is not fussy about a lot of its growing conditions, but one thing you should definitely aim to get right is the soil.

It makes a big difference when it comes to watering. More than you might think. You can either use a succulent compost, or a standard houseplant compost, but it is worth adding some pumice to help sharpen up the drainage.

This helps keep water from pooling at the roots, and allows the compost to dry out a little quicker, without affecting how hydrated the soil gets.

Allow At Least Half Of The Compost Dry Out Before Watering

It’s always a good plan to water your plants thoroughly, and the ZZ plant is no different (see also How To Care For ZZ Zenzi). 

Always let all the water escape the drainage holes before putting your plant back, and tip any excess water away, not letting the plant sit in water for long.

Then let at least half of the soil dry out before you water the plant again. You can wait until the soil is fully dried out (checking by putting your finger in the bottom of the drainage hole), and this will not harm the plant.

The reason why this plant can survive for so long without any water is that the rhizomes act as water and nutrient storage, allowing the plant to go for a few weeks when conditions are bad.

Feed During The Active Growing Season

ZZ plants don’t need much in the way of added fertilizer besides what’s already in the soil. 

But it is always a good idea to fertilize a ZZ plant at least a couple of times during the growing season, which will help support the plant’s growth.

Always leave a break of one or two waterings without fertilizer to stop salts building up in the soil and burning the roots.

It’s also worth mentioning that if you feed a plant when the soil is very dry, this can damage the roots, so if in doubt, hydrate the plant before you water, or hold off until the next watering.

Do not feed ZZ plants, or any houseplants that have slowed down during fall and winter. Allow them to rest, instead.

Growing ZZ Raven: Other Things To Consider

A Note On Toxicity

It’s worth noting that ZZ ‘Raven’ is classed as toxic to pets, as it contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause a number of problems.

For this reason, keep this plant well out of reach of both pets and children to be safe.

Eventual Size

If you give a ZZ ‘Raven’ plant plenty of light, water, and good-quality soil, it can reach 4 feet tall and wide, though it can take a while to get there (see also How Do You Propagate ZZ Plants?).

If the foliage wasn’t beautiful enough already, it makes a stunning focal point when the plant gets big! It also helps contrast nearby plants with bright leaves, bringing the best out of both.

ZZ Raven Leaves Not Turning Black

If your ZZ ‘Raven’ plant is only putting out green leaves, don’t worry. Not all ZZ ‘Raven’ plants will produce dark growth straight away.

The foliage needs to mature before it can darken, so be patient. One thing that can help speed the process up, however, is to make sure that the plant is getting enough light.

If it is in a low-light area, the plant may stay greener for a while, as this keeps the levels of chlorophyll high, meaning that the plant has to do less work to extract energy from the light it is getting.

Moving it to a brighter and indirect position can help the leaves darken up quicker.

Final Thoughts

ZZ ‘Raven’ is a beautiful plant, worthy of any indoor jungle, whether you are just starting out on your houseplant journey, or you’re looking for a new plant to add to your collection.

Remember that this plant doesn’t do well with lots of moisture in the soil over a long period of time, so allow at least half of the compost to dry out before you water the plant again.

It’s also a good idea to avoid over-potting your plant. Don’t be tempted to give it lots of room when you repot – one size upward is all the plant needs, as too much soil can mean that the compost will take too long to dry out, which can cause root rot.

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