The Allure of the Raven ZZ Plant

Lead photo of Raven ZZ Plant growing in blue pot

Do you want to add a touch of drama and elegance to your indoor space? Look no further than the Raven ZZ plant. With its unique black foliage and low-maintenance nature, this striking houseplant is perfect for both novice gardeners and those with busy lifestyles. In this article, we will explore the essential care tips needed to keep this jazzy plant healthy and thriving.

Introducing the Raven ZZ Plant

When it was first introduced in 2015, the Raven ZZ plant was considered a rarity. However, it has become more readily available over time. Patented by Costa Farms as the Raven ZZ Plant, it quickly gained popularity. Its dark foliage, more accurately described as a deep purple-black, adds a touch of sophistication to any space. And the best part? It requires no special care to maintain its stunning appearance.

Botanical Name and Common Names

The Raven ZZ plant goes by the botanical name Zamioculcas zamiifolia Raven, but it is also known as the Black ZZ Plant, Raven Plant, or Black Raven ZZ Plant.

Traits of the Raven ZZ Plant

Rows of ZZ Plants growing in a plant nursery, raven zz plant and green common zz plant.

Size

The Raven ZZ plant can grow to impressive heights. After eighteen months, my own Black ZZ plant reached 38″ in height and 48″ in width. In comparison, my six-year-old common ZZ plant stands at an impressive 48″ tall and 60″ wide.

Growth Rate

The Raven ZZ plant has a slow rate of growth. As it ages, it produces more new shoots that open and develop slowly. However, if the light levels are too low, the growth rate will be even slower.

Uses

Smaller sizes, such as the 4″ and 6″ pots, are ideal for tabletop display. Larger sizes, starting from 10″ pots and above, make beautiful low, wide floor plants.

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The Allure of Black Leaves

The older growth next to the new growth.

One of the main attractions of the Raven ZZ plant is its dramatic black leaves. Very few indoor plants boast such dark foliage, making this plant truly unique. To add to its allure, the leaves also have a glossy appearance.

As the plant grows, you will witness something truly magical. The new leaves emerge as a vibrant green or lime green, gradually darkening as they age. This colorful transformation adds a dynamic and ever-changing element to your Raven ZZ plant.

Growth Habits

Contrary to popular belief, the naturally arching growth habit of the ZZ plant is not due to poor care. Even with optimal conditions, the plant will eventually spread and develop stems that arch outward. This natural growth pattern can be quite appealing and adds a touch of whimsy to your indoor space.

Raven ZZ Plant Care

Nell Foster shown standing next to her large common green zz plant in white planter in living room.

Light Requirements

Similar to many other houseplants, the Raven ZZ plant thrives in indirect sunlight and moderate light exposure. It is important to keep it away from direct sunlight to prevent sunburn. Placing the plant about 7 feet from a north-facing window or 14 feet from a trio of south-facing windows is ideal. However, it is worth noting that the Raven ZZ plant can tolerate low light conditions, although this may result in slower growth and leggy stems. In winter, consider moving your plant to a spot with more light. If you decide to move it outdoors during the summer, protect it from direct sunlight and harsh rains, and bring it back indoors before temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Watering

When it comes to watering the Raven ZZ plant, it’s important to take a “less is more” approach. This plant thrives with less frequent waterings. I personally allow my plant to dry out completely before watering it again. During the summer months, watering every 14 days is sufficient, while in winter, every 21 days should suffice. However, these intervals may vary depending on several factors, such as pot size, soil type, location, and environmental conditions. It’s crucial to prevent overwatering, as this could lead to root rot. Ensure that the pot has at least one drainage hole to allow excess water to escape.

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Temperature and Humidity

The Raven ZZ plant is adaptable to average indoor temperatures. Avoid exposing it to cold drafts and direct airflow from heating or cooling vents. Interestingly, despite being native to tropical regions, this plant handles low humidity exceptionally well. You can mist the leaves occasionally or place the plant outdoors in the rain to provide extra moisture and clean the foliage. If needed, you can also invest in a humidity meter to track humidity levels in your home.

Fertilizing/Feeding

Raven zz plant growing indoors in blue pot.

Feeding the Raven ZZ plant is an essential part of its care routine. During the growing season, which typically runs from mid-February through October, I like to fertilize with a blend of Maxsea or Sea Grow, Grow Big, and Liquid Kelp. These tropical plant fertilizers provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth. It’s important not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to salt buildup and root burn. Avoid fertilizing stressed plants, such as those that are bone dry or excessively wet. In late fall and winter, when the plant is not in its active growing phase, refrain from fertilizing.

Soil Mix and Repotting

To ensure optimal growth, it is crucial to use a well-draining soil mix that allows the plant to dry out between waterings. When repotting, I recommend using a blend of 3/4 potting soil formulated for indoor plants, 1/4 cactus and succulent mix, and a touch of compost or worm compost for added richness. You can also use a DIY cactus and succulent mix with coco chips, coir, and pumice. Repotting should be done during spring, summer, or early fall. Depending on the growth of your Raven ZZ plant, repotting every four to six years is generally sufficient. When selecting a new pot, choose one that is slightly larger than the current pot, keeping in mind that a significantly larger pot may lead to overwatering and root rot.

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Propagation, Pests, and Pet Toxicity

Propagation of the Raven ZZ plant is best achieved through division or stem cuttings. Division is the faster method, while stem cuttings require patience. It’s worth noting that this plant is generally pest-resistant. However, it can be susceptible to aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and scale. Regularly inspect your plant for signs of pests and take immediate control measures if necessary. Also, be aware that all parts of the Raven ZZ plant are toxic to pets. However, in my experience, cats tend to show no interest in this plant. If you have pets, it’s always advisable to keep toxic plants out of their reach.

Cleaning the Foliage

Just like any other houseplant, the Raven ZZ plant benefits from regular foliage cleaning. Its naturally shiny leaves make it even more appealing when free from dust and debris. You can clean the leaves by placing the plant outdoors in the rain or using a handheld shower head for a gentle hose down. Alternatively, you can wipe the leaves with a damp cloth. Avoid using commercial leaf shine products, as they can clog the plant’s pores.

Where Can I Find a Raven ZZ Plant?

If you’re eager to add a Raven ZZ plant to your collection, they can be found at local plant nurseries and online sources such as Amazon, Walmart, and Home Depot. With its minimal watering requirements and low-maintenance nature, the Raven ZZ plant is an ideal addition to any home or office space. Keep it in bright indirect light, use the proper soil mix, and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Embrace the drama and elegance this plant brings without the hassle of extensive care. Happy gardening!

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