So you’ve decided to add some greenery to your home and chose a ZZ plant? Excellent choice! This plant is a tropical beauty that lasts for years and requires minimal maintenance. It can stand extended periods of drought and low light settings more than most houseplants.
Before you start potting your new ZZ plant, it’s crucial to have a well-draining and nutrient-rich soil mix. Whether you’ll opt for a commercial soil mix or prepare your own at home, there are some things to consider.
In this article, we’ll tell you how to choose the best soil for ZZ plants. So read on to ensure you have a thriving ZZ plant.
ZZ plants, scientifically known as Zamioculcas Zamiifolia, are popular houseplants native to Eastern Africa.
Since they’ve adapted to thrive in the dry climate of Eastern Africa, these plants are notorious for their hardiness. They can tolerate low light conditions, irregular watering, and long periods of drought, making them an ideal option for novice gardeners or those with busy lifestyles.
However, this doesn’t mean using any soil type for your ZZ plants is okay as there’s a huge difference between surviving and growing.
For instance, if you place your ZZ plant in non-draining soil, it’ll be at risk of root rot and other water issues. This might shift your plant to survival mode, in which growth dramatically slows or stops.
On the other hand, placing your ZZ plant in a suitable soil mix and growth conditions will help it grow and develop into a tropical beauty—and not just survive.
ZZ plants, like many other plants, rely on rhizomes as a unique and efficient method of growth, reproduction, and survival.
Rhizomes are horizontal, underground stems that store nutrients and water to give rise to new roots and shoots. Thanks to rhizomes, ZZ plants can survive in unfavorable conditions and periods of dormancy.
On the flip side, rhizomes are prone to rot if the soil becomes waterlogged. That’s because they always do their job of sucking in moisture and nutrients from the soil, regardless of the soil conditions.
So if the soil becomes waterlogged, rhizomes become at risk of rot. When this happens, your plant will stop growing, shifting to survival mode.
Choosing a proper soil mix is vital for your ZZ plant to thrive. You need a soil mix that drains well and doesn’t hold much moisture between waterings.
Similar to stem cuttings, you can root your ZZ plants in water or soil. Water allows you to watch how the rhizome develops and monitor its growth rate.
However, soil provides more resilient roots. Moreover, transplant shock is less likely to occur when transplanting in soil.
ZZ plants do well in most regular potting soils. However, you should understand your plant’s needs and pick the optimum soil mix.
As previously mentioned, ZZ plants are sensitive to overwatering. Why? Because rhizomes will store water and nutrients as much as possible, but they tend to rot if they absorb excess moisture.
To avoid this, you must pick well-draining soil to allow smooth water flow and prevent waterlogging. For example, garden soil is usually heavy and blocks water flow and aeration. Meanwhile, sand is light and barely holds any water.
A well-draining soil mix typically contains a blend of materials such as perlite, peat moss, coarse sand, and pine bark. These components provide enough drainage and aeration to help your ZZ plant grow.
The pH level is the next thing to consider when picking a soil mix. That’s because the pH controls the level of nutrients available for your plants to utilize. Some nutrients are more available in acidic conditions, while others prefer an alkaline environment.
Generally, the suitable soil pH for a ZZ plant is slightly acidic to neutral. That means a pH level ranging from 6.0 to 7.0. This pH level ensures that soil nutrients are available for plant uptake, promoting healthy growth.
If you want to adjust the pH of your current soil mix, use a pH meter or a test kit to measure the pH level and make any necessary amendments.
Even though ZZ plants can tolerate nutrient-poor soils, it’s best to grow them in soil with ample nutrients. Adding components like coco coir, perlite, compost, and bark fines can enrich the soil mix and provide all the essential nutrients for your plant.
ZZ plants generally grow well in store-bought soil mixes as they contain the necessary nutritional elements for optimum plant growth and development. If you’re a beginner, opting for commercial succulent or cactus mixes is best.
However, if you’re feeling more creative, you can prepare your own soil mix for your ZZ plant. Let’s see what makes a perfect soil mix for ZZ plants.
Peat moss is a popular organic soil component derived from decomposed sphagnum moss. It’s formed over thousands of years in peat bogs, which are waterlogged environments where plant materials accumulate and decompose slowly.
It’s widely used in gardening and horticulture thanks to its physical and chemical properties. But how does it benefit ZZ plants?
First, peat moss has excellent water retention properties. It can absorb and retain water up to 20 times its dry weight in water. That’s why it’s an ideal choice for soil mixes, as it ensures the plant gets a consistent moisture supply.
Peat moss has a low pH, ranging from 3.0 to 4.0. That means it can create an acidic to neutral environment when mixed with other ingredients, which is ideal for ZZ plants.
Furthermore, peat moss is usually sterile and free of pathogens, pests, and weeds. This makes it a clean and safe addition to your soil mix. Moreover, peat moss decomposes slowly, making it a long-lasting soil amendment as you won’t need to change it frequently.
Perlite is another beneficial component to add to your soil mix. It’s a lightweight, porous, and natural volcanic rock that expands at high temperatures forming small white particles with a popcorn-like appearance.
Thanks to its porous nature, perlite improves soil drainage, which is ideal for ZZ plants. Moreover, perlite creates air pockets in the soil which massively increases aeration to support plant growth. This helps maintain loose and well-drained soil.
Coco coir, also known as coconut coir, is a natural, renewable, and sustainable soil addition derived from the outer husks of coconuts. Coconut coir has several benefits, making it an attractive option for gardening and horticulture.
Coco coir has a high water-retention capacity, which helps keep the soil moist, ensuring your plant has a consistent moisture supply. On top of that, coco coir allows for decent soil drainage and aeration. Due to its fibrous nature, coco coir forms air pockets within the soil, creating well-aerated soil and preventing waterlogging.
Overall, coco coir has nearly the same benefits as peat moss. However, coco coir is a more sustainable option.
Pine bark fines are small particles cut from trees like pines, firs, and spruces. They’re often added to soil mixes as they act as soil conditioners.
They increase the pore space in the soil, promoting healthy plant growth by allowing better oxygen exchange.
ZZ plants grow well in commercial succulent and cactus soil mixes. Though, you can prepare your own soil mix to get the most out of your ZZ plant.
There are many recipes for soil mixes. Let’s see some examples.
ZZ plants thrive in All-purpose potting soil mixes. However, you might need a few soil amendments to improve drainage and aeration.
In this recipe, you need to mix the following ingredients: one part horticultural sand, one part perlite, and two parts All-purpose soil mix.
Cactus mix is a blend of inorganic materials such as gravel, sand, perlite, and limestone. This mix provides improved aeration, porosity, and drainage, creating an ideal environment for your ZZ plant.
To improve your cactus mix, blend the following ingredients:
- One part cactus mix
- One part compost
- Three parts All-purpose soil mix
It’s worth noting that you should wear protective gloves when dealing with ZZ plants. That’s because their sap contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can irritate your skin.
Choosing the best soil for your ZZ plant is key to keeping your plant healthy and thriving. Even though ZZ plants are resilient and tolerate harsh conditions, a well-draining and nutrient-rich soil mix can be a game changer in terms of growth and development.
Stay away from water-retentive soil mixes, which can lead to root rot. Opt for soil mixes that contain perlite, peat moss, coco coir, and fine bark.
Commercial succulent and cactus soil mixes provide ideal growth conditions for your ZZ plant. If you’re feeling creative, you can create your own soil mix using any of the mentioned recipes.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.