The Enigmatic Black Raven ZZ Plant

Have you ever wanted to add a touch of darkness to your plant collection? Look no further than the enigmatic Black Raven ZZ Plant. In this article, we will delve into the intriguing world of caring for this stunning black variety of the ZZ plant, including propagation tips that will help it thrive in your home.

A Plant Shrouded in Mystery

The Black Raven ZZ Plant, with its purple-black shiny leaves, lives up to its cool name. You may already be familiar with the original ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), which gained popularity in the 90s as a low maintenance and hardy houseplant. Just like its green counterpart, the Black Raven ZZ shares many of the same characteristics. However, its leaves undergo a remarkable transformation from lime green to a deep and captivating purple-black shade as they mature.

The Rise to Stardom

The Black Raven ZZ Plant made its mark on the plant industry in 2018 when it was awarded the title of “Best New Plant” at the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition. Since then, it has steadily gained popularity, making its way into big-box garden centers. This newcomer to the plant world has become a favorite among plant enthusiasts due to its unique and striking appearance.

Unveiling the Secrets of Blackness

The Black Raven ZZ Plant owes its name, in part, to its predecessor, the original ZZ Plant. While the exact process of how the Black Raven turns black remains a mystery, we do know that it is a relatively new addition to garden centers in the United States, thanks to a plant patent that has kept some of its secrets under wraps. So, don’t be alarmed when the leaves initially appear bright green—just wait and watch as they undergo their captivating color transformation.

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Taming the Darkness: Light Requirements

One might assume that a plant with such dark leaves would require ample sunlight, but the Black Raven ZZ is surprisingly adaptable to low light conditions. It can thrive in various areas of your home, including bathrooms, living rooms, bedrooms, and even dark basements. However, to maintain its beautiful and healthy appearance, it is best to place it near a south-facing window where it can receive sufficient indirect light. Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight, as this can harm the plant. If it is positioned near a bright window, consider using a thin curtain to provide some shade and protect the leaves from intense sunlight.

A Delicate Balance: Watering the Black Raven ZZ

Watering the Black Raven ZZ is a delicate art, but fear not—it’s not as daunting as it may seem. This plant has an exceptional water storage system in its tuberous rhizome, allowing it to survive long periods without water. To ensure optimal care, allow the soil to completely dry out between waterings. During its growing season in the summer, watering the Black Raven ZZ once every two weeks will suffice. In the winter, when the plant is dormant, watering it once a month or every six weeks will be enough to keep it healthy.

Soil Selection and Drainage

Choosing the right soil is crucial to prevent overwatering and root rot. Thankfully, the Black Raven ZZ is not overly picky when it comes to soil. A well-draining potting mix or succulent-style potting soil mix will do the job perfectly. If you don’t have these mixes available, you can create a suitable blend by incorporating perlite and sand into regular potting soil. Remember to use a pot with drainage holes to avoid water accumulation, but if you’re extra cautious and attentive, you can have success with a pot without drainage holes by adding a layer of perlite at the bottom.

Thriving in Moderate Temperatures

The Black Raven ZZ is generally undemanding when it comes to temperature requirements. It thrives in the average household temperature range of 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, which covers most indoor environments. However, keep in mind that this plant originates from warm, dry climates in Eastern Africa, and temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit might make it uncomfortable. Anything below 40 degrees can be fatal to the plant, so it’s best to keep it indoors during chilly winter months unless you reside in a warm region year-round.

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Embracing Its Dry Heritage: Humidity Needs

Unlike some plants that require high humidity levels, the Black Raven ZZ is well-suited to average household humidity. It naturally grows in dry grasslands and forests, making it adaptable to normal humidity conditions. Placing several plants together can naturally increase the humidity in the air, providing an ideal environment for the Black Raven ZZ. However, during the winter when central heating is used and the air becomes drier, pay attention to the moisture levels in the plant’s soil to ensure it doesn’t dry out.

Unlocking the Secrets of Propagation

The Black Raven ZZ holds another mystery—the exclusivity of its propagation. Currently protected by a plant patent, it can only be multiplied and sold by registered nurseries. However, if you’re interested in propagating a backup plant for yourself, there are three methods you can explore.

1. Propagation by Stem Cuttings

Stem cuttings are the most effective way to propagate the Black Raven ZZ. Take a stem that is at least 6 inches long and place it in a jar of water. Change the water every few days and, within approximately three weeks, roots should begin to develop. Once the roots have reached about an inch in length, you can transplant the cutting into a pot with well-draining soil. If water propagation is not successful, you can try using LECA (lightweight expanded clay aggregate) instead.

2. Propagation by a Single Leaf

While propagating the Black Raven ZZ with a single leaf takes longer, it is still possible. Cut a single leaf from the plant, making sure to include a small portion of the stem. Place the cut end of the leaf into a shallow container with potting mix, deep enough for it to stand on its own. Water the leaf when the soil dries out, and after a few months, if you encounter resistance when gently tugging the leaf, it means successful propagation is underway.

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3. Propagation by Division

Dividing the plant is a simple way to propagate the Black Raven ZZ, although it’s not technically considered true propagation. Carefully remove the plant from its pot, identify an area where the rhizomes can be gently separated, and split them while ensuring that each division has an adequate portion of attached root system. Be cautious with the delicate stems at the rhizome, as breaking them off can lead to their demise.

Plant Safety and ZZ Myths

Contrary to popular myths, the ZZ plant, including the Black Raven variety, does not cause cancer. The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can be irritating to the skin, and it is mildly toxic if ingested by humans or animals. Therefore, it’s best to keep it out of reach of children and pets. However, with proper care and caution, many enthusiasts successfully keep the ZZ plant in their homes alongside pets. If you’re concerned about the well-being of your furry friends, consider exploring a list of pet-safe and non-toxic houseplants.

The Art of Leaf Maintenance

Keeping the leaves of the Black Raven ZZ clean is essential for its health and aesthetics. The thick, shiny black leaves tend to attract dust, which can impact the plant’s overall appearance. While individually cleaning the leaves is an option, a simple method involves giving the plant a shower in the bathroom during watering. Rinse the leaves with room temperature water to remove dust. If you are dealing with pest concerns, you can also spray the plant with a neem oil concentrate.

Unveiling the Beauty of the Black Raven ZZ

The Black Raven ZZ Plant is a captivating addition to any plant collection. Its mysterious dark leaves and low-maintenance nature make it a perfect choice for beginners and experienced plant enthusiasts alike. Whether you choose to propagate this unique plant or simply enjoy its beauty, the Black Raven ZZ will surely add a touch of elegance to any indoor space. So embrace the allure of the darkness and let the Black Raven ZZ become the star of your plant collection.

Ames Farm Center

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