Raven ZZ Plant Care | Everything You Need to Know

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This post is all about Raven ZZ plant care, filled with care tips and all your questions answered.

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Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Dowon’, better known as the Raven ZZ or Jet-Black Raven lives up to its cool common name.

The Raven ZZ sports shiny, dark purple-greenish leaves that look nearly black. This gives it a sleek and unique look for any modern plant collection.

If you’re looking for a trendy black plant that makes a bold statement, this is the one for you.

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a trend for black plants or “goth plants”. If you’re interested in this trend, then we highly suggest you start with the Raven ZZ. It’s easy to find and very low-maintenance, making it the perfect houseplant for your black plant collection.

Use this Raven ZZ plant care guide to help you grow a spectacular looking Raven ZZ.

Raven ZZ Plant Care – Quick Guide

Light: Bright indirect light. Avoid direct sun.

Soil: Well-draining. Add perlite to regular potting soil if needed.

Watering: Let soil completely dry out between watering. Water approximately once every 2 weeks in the Spring and Summer and approximately once per month in the Fall and Winter.

Humidity: Average household humidity.

Temperature: Above 60ºF or 16ºC. Avoid frost.

Fertilizing: Balanced fertilizer one to two times per year in the Spring and Summer months.

The appeal and origin of the Raven ZZ

You’ve seen a standard green ZZ plant in many places or you may have one of your own.

Shopping centers, offices, and plant lovers keep standard ZZ plants to adorn their spaces because they require minimal care, yet complement any decor aesthetic.

Now imagine that same low-maintenance plant in a new unique color – black. It’s simply outstanding.

The Raven ZZ originated in a South Korean nursery in 2006 as a natural mutation after the nursery owner noticed a dark-colored petiole with dark leaflets growing from one of his standard ZZ plants.

The nursery propagated that isolated dark-colored petiole resulting in all subsequent propagations to grow with that gorgeous black color.

And surprisingly, all of those propagations maintained their dark coloring over the next generations.

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Dark foliage on Raven ZZ plant

Raven ZZ Description

The new leaves on a Raven ZZ start off lime green in color and then turn that deep dark purple-greenish (almost black) color as they age.

It can take several weeks for the leaves to mature and turn dark. But they will turn black, rest-assured, plus it’s fun to watch them change color.

Not only are the leaves black, they are also waxy and shiny, which only adds to the sleekness of this plant.

Sometimes the leaves get dusty, but spraying the leaves with water or gently wiping the leaves with a moist cloth brings back its sheen.

Like all ZZ plants, the Raven ZZ stores water inside its thick petioles and also inside its tuber-like rhizomes under the soil.

This is what makes the Raven ZZ an incredibly low-maintenance house plant.

It doesn’t need to be watered very often because it stores water and can withstand dark growing conditions.

This is a slow-growing plant which makes it perfect as an indoor houseplant. It grows to a height of 1.5 to 3 feet.

The Raven ZZ is one of the best plants for beginner or forgetful houseplant enthusiasts because they can withstand low light and dry soil conditions.

They truly are a hardy species that grows well indoors and are extremely popular in interior design.

Raven ZZ Plant Care: Light Requirements

Raven ZZ plants will survive in very low levels of light, even in rooms with only fluorescent light.

This why they are the perfect choice for offices, stairways, windowless bathrooms and other poorly-lit rooms of a house.

Although they will survive in very low light conditions, they will thrive and do their very best in bright indirect sunlight.

Brighter light for your Raven ZZ results in more growth and a larger plant.

While a very well-lit location is optimal for Raven ZZ plants, remember to avoid direct sunlight.

The leaves may get scalded and burned if the plant receives direct sunlight.

The Best Locations for Your Raven ZZ

If you plan on keeping your Raven ZZ indoors, place it near a window that faces the sun for most of the day.

That means a south-facing window if you live in the Northern Hemisphere or a north-facing window if you live in the Southern Hemisphere.

Just be sure that the plant doesn’t get direct sunlight on it during the brightest hours of the day, which is usually from 11am to 3pm. This can cause burn damage to the leaves.

If sunlight lands directly on your plant during this time of day, set up a thin curtain over your window.

Alternatively, move the plant to the side of the window or further away from it.

If your Raven ZZ will live outdoors, keep it under a shady area.

Part sun will be okay only in the early morning or late afternoon when the rays of the sun are less intense.

A Raven ZZ plant that receives too little light may grow leggier. You’ll know this is happening when you see more distance between the sets of leaves on the petiole.

Your Raven ZZ is stretching for light and is letting you know that it needs more of it.

If this happens, simply move your plant to a brighter location and it’s new growth will begin to look fuller.

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New growth on Raven ZZ plant

Raven ZZ Plant Care: What’s the Best Soil for My Raven ZZ?

Luckily, the Raven ZZ isn’t too particular about the type of soil it’s planted in.

However, to ensure plant health and to prevent overwatering, plant or repot your Raven ZZ in well-draining potting mix.

Your plant doesn’t need special soil, it just needs to be well-draining soil.

You can achieve a well-draining soil by adding a few handfuls of perlite to standard potting soil.

You can also use a succulent and cactus potting mix since this type of soil mix usually consists of large porous pieces that make the soil well-draining.

If you would like to DIY a great soil for your Raven ZZ and other aroid plants, follow this aroid soil mix recipe.

Also make sure to plant or repot your Raven ZZ in a pot with drainage holes on the bottom.

Well-draining soil needs a pot with proper drainage to be effective.

Raven ZZ Plant Care: Watering Requirements

Fortunately, Raven ZZ is a hardy plant that can cope with irregular watering.

This plant stores water inside its thick petioles and tuber-like rhizome structures under the soil, making it the perfect plant for forgetful plant parents.

But this feature also makes the Raven ZZ susceptible to overwatering.

While the Raven ZZ does well with infrequent and irregular watering, it will not tolerate constantly wet soil.

So don’t overwater your Raven ZZ, which happens quite often, surprisingly, to even the most seasoned houseplant owners.

Overwatering will lead to wet feet or root rot, which could eventually mean the end for your Raven ZZ.

Water your Raven ZZ when the soil has completely dried out.

During the Spring and Summer, water your plant approximately twice per month when the the soil is completely dry.

During the Fall and Winter, your plant will be dormant and will require even less water – approximately once per month.

3 Ways to Prevent Root Rot

To prevent your Raven ZZ from falling into that ever-dreaded root rot, follow these 3 simple tips:

  1. Use well-draining soil
  2. Water your plant when the soil has completely dried out
  3. Use a pot with a drainage hole

You’ll know when a Raven ZZ plant has root rot when its leaves turn yellow and the rhizome structures visible at the soil surface look mushy.

If this happens, stop watering your plant for 6 weeks and repot it if you need a better soil that drains well.

Raven ZZ Plant Care: How Much Humidity Does a Raven ZZ Need?

Luckily, Raven ZZ plants don’t require much in terms of humidity.

While some houseplants need specific humidity levels to thrive, the Raven ZZ is not picky at all.

That’s another characteristic that makes the Raven ZZ the perfect houseplant. No extra steps needed here, so hooray!

Average household humidity level is just fine for your Raven ZZ.

You won’t need to turn on a humidifier for this plant.

Raven ZZ Plant Care: What is the Best Temperature for a Raven ZZ?

Raven ZZ plants grow just fine indoors at conventional household temperatures.

There isn’t a particular temperature that a Raven ZZ needs for optimal growth.

Just remember to keep your plant away from drafts caused by air conditioners and heaters.

If you keep your Raven ZZ outdoors, grow it in a container and bring it in once the temperature falls below 60°F (16°C).

That means if you live in a temperate climate with mild winters, your plant can remain outside.

But keep up with weather reports of any cold fronts that may require you to bring your Raven ZZ indoors.

Fertilizing your Raven ZZ

Raven ZZ plants don’t require fertilizer. However, you can use a balanced fertilizer once or twice a year in the Spring and Summer to encourage growth on your Raven ZZ. We also like to use fish emulsion weekly to bi-weekly diluted to 1/4 strength.

Look for a fertilizer that has a balanced NPK ratio.

This means that all the numbers in the ratio are the same, like 10:10:10 or 20:20:20.

Dilute the fertilizer in water according to the product directions.

Raven ZZ Plant Care Questions Answered

How often should I repot my Raven ZZ?

Raven ZZ plants grow rather slowly and may require repotting only every 2 to 3 years.

Take advantage of splitting or propagating your Raven ZZ during repotting time.

After repotting your Raven ZZ, you may notice new growth. New shoots can grow as fast as 1cm per day.

However, a long dormancy period usually follows after new shoots arise.

How long will it take for my new Raven ZZ leaves to turn black?

New Raven ZZ leaves start off bright green and then turn black with age.

It can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 2 months for the leaves to turn their cool black color.

Does light exposure affect how fast my Raven ZZ leaves turn black?

Exposure to bright indirect light helps a bit to get your leaves to its black color, but this is only a marginal influence.

Time and age of the leaves determines when the leaves change color.

What pests are on my Raven ZZ?

Raven ZZ plants are not highly susceptible to pests.

Its waxy leaves are not enticing for pests and they will leave once they have access to a different, more appetizing plant.

However, you may occasionally encounter mealy bugs or scale on your Raven ZZ, but they can be eradicated fairly easily.

Simply wipe off any pests with a paper towel dipped in alcohol or a mixture of neem oil and dish detergent. 

Is the Raven ZZ toxic to humans and/or animals?

Like many houseplants, Raven ZZ plants contain calcium oxalate crystals which can be mildly irritating to people with sensitive skin.

If you have sensitive skin, wear gloves while handling your Raven ZZ.

It’s also a good idea to keep your Raven ZZ plant away from children and pets.

Ingestion of any part of the ZZ plant may cause gastrointestinal and digestive issues, such as vomiting.

Can I propagate and sell Raven ZZ plants?

Costa Farms in Florida holds exclusive propagation rights for the Raven ZZ in the United States.

Outright propagation and resale of a Raven ZZ is not allowed. Propagation should be reserved for your own personal use.

Raven ZZ Plant Care: The Trendiest Low Maintenance Houseplant You’ll Ever Find

Costa Farms makes the Raven ZZ readily available at most large nurseries and retailers, so it’s fairly easy to find one.

When you do find one or if you already have one of your own, we hope this Raven ZZ Plant Care guide will help you grow your best Raven ZZ ever.

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