How to Cultivate the Enigmatic Raven ZZ Plant

Lead photo of Raven ZZ Plant growing in blue pot

The Raven ZZ plant is an extraordinary houseplant with its captivating ebony foliage. This low-maintenance plant is perfect for those new to gardening or with a busy lifestyle. In this article, we will explore essential care tips to ensure the health and vibrancy of this enigmatic plant.

Unveiling the Mystique of the Raven ZZ Plant

The Raven ZZ plant, introduced in 2015, was once considered rare, but it is now more readily available. Costa Farms patented it as the Raven ZZ Plant, and it has since gained immense popularity. The dark foliage, more of a deep purple-black, adds a touch of elegance to any space. With minimal care, it thrives alongside other plants such as the Philodendron Birkin and Dancing Bones Cactus.

Unraveling the Traits of the Raven ZZ Plant

Rows of ZZ Plants growing in a plant nursery, raven zz plant and green common zz plant.
ZZ Plants & Raven ZZ Plants at The Plant Stand in Phoenix. The pops of lime green new growth are emerging on some of the Raven ZZs.

Size and Growth Rate

The Raven ZZ plant grows slowly, with new shoots gradually developing as the plant ages. It can reach a height of 38″ and a width of 48″ when grown in a 10″ pot. In comparison, the common ZZ plant, which is six years old, measures 48″ tall by 60″ wide.

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Uses and Unique Features

The Raven ZZ plant’s dramatic black leaves make it a rare gem among indoor plants. Its glossy foliage sets it apart, adding a touch of elegance to any space. Smaller sizes, such as the 4″ and 6″ plants, are suited for tabletop display, while larger plants are ideal as low, wide floor plants.

Adventurous New Growth

Hand shown holding 2 stems of a zz plant, older growth is black and new growth is green.
The older growth next to the new growth.

Witnessing the Raven ZZ plant’s new growth is a delightful journey. Its bright green leaves slowly darken as they age, adding an intriguing contrast to the overall appearance of the plant.

Unique Growth Habit

Many wonder how to make their ZZ plants grow straight, but the truth is that the plant naturally spreads and arches outward over time. Its compact, upright form gradually transforms, occupying more space as it matures. This growth habit gives the plant a visually captivating appeal, although it may require sufficient room to thrive.

Care Guide for the Raven ZZ Plant

Light Requirements

The Raven ZZ plant, like many houseplants, thrives in indirect sunlight and moderate light exposure. It is essential to protect it from direct sunlight, as excessive light can cause sunburn. Placement near a north-facing window or a few feet away from south-facing windows is ideal. However, it can withstand low light conditions, though growth may be limited and stems may become leggy. During winter, consider moving the plant to a spot with more light, and protect it from extreme temperatures.

Watering

Nell Foster shown standing next to her large common green zz plant in white planter in living room.
This is the ZZ I’ve had for six years. You can see how wide it is!

The Raven ZZ plant requires minimal watering. Allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. In summer, watering every 14 days is sufficient, while in winter, watering every 21 days is ideal. Factors such as pot size, soil type, growing location, and environmental conditions will affect the watering frequency. Remember not to overwater, as the plant’s rhizomes and thick stems store water, and excessive watering can lead to root rot.

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Temperature and Humidity

The Raven ZZ plant thrives in average indoor temperatures and adapts well to low humidity conditions. Avoid exposing the plant to cold drafts or placing it near air conditioning or heating vents. Occasional misting and placing the plant outdoors in light rain can help maintain humidity. Using a humidity meter can assist in monitoring and adjusting the moisture levels around the plant.

Fertilizing and Feeding

Raven zz plant growing indoors in blue pot.
The outer leaves eventually gracefully arch out.

During the growing season, fertilize the Raven ZZ plant seven times using a balanced indoor plant fertilizer or organic alternatives. Alternating between granular and liquid fertilizers is recommended. Avoid over-fertilizing, as it can lead to salt buildup and damage the plant’s roots. Refrain from fertilizing during the plant’s dormant period in late fall and winter.

Soil Mix and Repotting

The Raven ZZ plant requires a well-draining and aerated soil mix. To achieve this, use a blend of potting soil formulated for indoor plants, cactus and succulent mix, compost, and worm compost. Repotting is typically done in spring, summer, or early fall. ZZ plants do not require frequent repotting; every four to six years is generally sufficient. When repotting, increase the pot size if necessary, keeping in mind that larger pots retain more moisture, potentially leading to overwatering and root rot.

Propagation and Pest Control

Propagation of the Raven ZZ plant is best achieved through division or stem cuttings. Division involves separating the rhizomes to create new plants. Stem cuttings can also be taken, though this method requires patience. Watch out for common pests such as aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and scale. Regular monitoring and prompt action are essential to prevent infestations from spreading.

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Pet-Friendly and Foliage Maintenance

Although all parts of the Raven ZZ plant are toxic, it generally poses minimal risk to pets when kept out of reach. Clean the plant’s foliage regularly to enhance its natural shine. Light showers or misting can help keep the leaves clean, or wiping them gently with a damp cloth is also effective. Avoid using commercial leaf shine products, as they can clog the plant’s pores.

Where to Find the Raven ZZ Plant

If you are searching for a Raven ZZ plant, check local nurseries or explore online sources such as Amazon, Walmart, and Home Depot. With its low maintenance requirements and remarkable beauty, the Raven ZZ plant is an excellent addition to any home or office space. Take advantage of its versatility, resilience, and distinctive charm to create a captivating atmosphere without much fuss.

Happy gardening!

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