ZZ plants have become quite popular in recent years, mainly because of their low-maintenance and slow-growing properties. Still, at some point, your ZZ plant will outgrow its original pot and need to be repotted into a larger one.
Now, you’re probably wondering if you must be a seasoned gardener to carry out the repotting process. Well, you don’t. The process is easy, and ZZ plants only need repotting once a year or two.
Our in-depth guide will walk you through everything you need to know about repotting ZZ plants. So, read on and be ready to get your hands dirty!
ZZ plants are notorious for being hardy and tolerant because of how they grow.
They rely on underground rhizomes, which are horizontal underground stems that can store a massive amount of nutrients and moisture, allowing new roots and shoots to grow. That’s why ZZ plants can survive harsh growth conditions and extended dormancy periods.
A common question among novice ZZ plant owners is, do ZZ plants like to be root bound?
The short answer is no, but let’s find out why.
ZZ plants can tolerate being root-bound better than most other plants, but that doesn’t mean they enjoy being root-bound. These tropical beauties grow many large underground rhizomes, which occupy much pot space.
ZZ plants will handle being cramped in their roots for some time, but eventually, the lack of space negatively impacts their growth and overall health.
The roots become so dense that moisture and nutrients struggle to reach the different plant parts, leading to severe problems such as stress, root rot, and fungal infections.
Since ZZ plants are low-maintenance and slow-growing, they don’t need frequent repotting. You should repot your ZZ plant only once every 2-3 years or even more!
The hardy nature of ZZ plants allows them to tolerate being root bound for extended periods, but some other factors affect the repotting frequency.
For example, if your plant isn’t getting enough sunlight, it’ll grow slower. Thus, it might not need repotting even after 2 years.
On the other hand, if your plant is in ideal growing conditions, its growth rate will increase, requiring frequent repotting to avoid root rot problems.
That being said, it’s not ideal to just repot your ZZ plant at the same time every year or two. Instead, you should monitor your plant’s overall state and determine any signs your plant needs repotting.
Here are some telltale signs that your ZZ plant needs repotting:
- You see roots pushing up through the soil
- Wobbly and pale foliage
- Roots are growing out of the pot drainage holes
- Roots become tangled, creating a dense mat
- Slowed or stunted growth
- Root problems such as root rot, fungus, or mold
- Water runs straight through the pot without wetting the soil properly
Now that you know how to spot the signs your ZZ plant needs repotting, let’s discuss how to repot it properly.
The process might seem daunting at first, especially if you’re a novice plant owner, but if you follow the next steps, the repotting process will be much easier.
ZZ plants are well known for their resilience and tolerance, so they grow well in most soil mixes. Still, choosing a proper soil mix can be a game changer to your plant’s growth and overall health.
Thus, you should opt for soil mixes that can retain a decent amount of moisture and nutrients, but not too much that it suffocates your plant.
Stay away from regular garden soil as it’s not the best for aeration and water flow. Instead, opt for commercial succulent and cactus soil mixes as they retain adequate water and nutrients and provide excellent drainage.
A mix of one part cactus mix, one part compost, and three parts All-purpose soil mix is more than enough to create an ideal growth environment for your ZZ plant.
You know your ZZ plant needs a bigger home when roots and rhizomes protrude from drainage holes. The new pot should be one or two sizes larger than the current one.
Don’t go for extra large pots because there’s a risk your plant holds excess moisture. That’s because the roots won’t be able to utilize the extra water and nutrients in such a large pot. You should also choose a pot with enough drainage holes, as ZZ plants aren’t big fans of wet soil.
Gently grab your ZZ plant from its base at the soil line, and try to loosen the pot. If your plant doesn’t slide smoothly out of the pot, try to cut the soil loose with a small knife.
In case this doesn’t do the trick, run a trowel around the pot’s edges while tapping the pot’s bottom to further loosen your plant.
After you remove your ZZ plant from the old pot, it’s time to inspect the roots and rhizomes for signs of damage, rot, or mold.
You’ll notice some roots and rhizomes are dark and mushy, which means they must be removed to prevent further root problems after repotting.
Grab sterilized trimmers and gently prune the dead parts. After that, wash the healthy rhizomes with water and try to separate the multiple rhizomes to prevent overcrowding.
If you like, you can cut off some of the healthy roots in case you wish to keep your plant to its current size. However, you shouldn’t cut off more than 25% of the healthy roots to avoid thwarting your plant’s growth.
Ensure your new pot is clean, and then apply a suitable amount of the fresh soil mix. Make sure your plant is set in the pot, and fill the sides with more soil mix to ensure your plant is stable.
Note that the root ball should be only a few inches under the pot’s edge; if it’s higher, you’ll have to deal with overwatering issues later.
Generally, the fresh soil layer should be around 2 to 3 inches thick. This ensures enough room for your ZZ plant to grow outward and downward without overcrowding.
ZZ plants are prone to overwatering issues, so you should water them carefully, especially after repotting. Check the soil’s moisture level after you ensure your ZZ plant is secured in the new pot. If the soil is still wet from the last watering, rewatering your plant is unnecessary.
In case you notice the soil isn’t wet enough, water your plant thoroughly until water starts draining through the drainage holes. Then, check the state of your new potting mix; you might need to add extra soil after watering.
Check the moisture level of your potting mix regularly for the first few weeks after repotting. A general rule of thumb is to water your ZZ plant once every 2-3 weeks. You would also want to let the soil slightly dry between waterings.
ZZ plants, alongside many other houseplants, enter a state of dormancy in colder months. In winter and autumn, their growth rate massively declines or stops as they conserve energy. That’s why repotting your ZZ plant in the winter isn’t optimal.
On the other hand, spring and summer are ideal times to repot your ZZ plant. That’s because your plant will be in its active growing season, so repotting during these times allows it to grow more roots and rhizomes.
We hope our guide helped you understand how to repot your ZZ plant. We know the process might seem daunting if you’re a beginner, but it will be much easier if you follow the steps we mentioned in this guide.
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.