This article may contain affiliate / compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer here.
Finding the perfect soil mix will help you grow a super happy and healthy ZZ plant. Each plant requires different soil ratios, so which is best suited to a ZZ plant?
ZZ plants grow well in nutrient-rich and well-draining soil. You can easily achieve these soil properties by mixing together perlite, cactus soil, and some potting soil. You want to avoid using soil that retains water very well, as you’ll run the risk of root rot in your ZZ plant.
Fortunately, ZZ plants are super hardy and probably won’t mind the soil they’re placed in, but optimizing the soil mix will result in faster and stronger plant growth. Let’s see how you can mix the best soil, know when to repot, and more!
ZZ plants are some of the easiest houseplants available on the market.
They thrive in most light and soil conditions, but as with any plant, they’ll produce more growth when they’re growing in an optimal environment.
Most potting soil mixes will perform just fine. If you’re not into mixing your soil, you want to look for a potting mix containing a blend of perlite, peat moss, and sand to allow for moisture retention and good drainage.
While each plant is unique, you’ll generally find that these soil components will help you keep your ZZ plant happy and healthy with ample drainage and nutrient availability:
- Potting soil – This soil provides a great base for your potting medium. You ideally want something that looks and feels light, aerated, and consists of organic matter.
- Sphagnum / Peat moss – This moss has very fine particles but a coarse texture. Its texture helps retain water and contains nutrients needed by the ZZ plant to grow healthy and strong. It also helps to aerate the soil.
- Horticultural sand – This coarse sand consists of crushed stones, granite, or sandstone and helps to aerate your ZZ plant’s soil.
- Coco coir – This material consists of coconut husks and has a similar texture to peat moss. The difference is that it compacts a bit more over time.
- Pine bark fines – This component consists of small pieces of pine trees’ fir, pines, and spruces. It has a high lignin content which means it can retain its shape over time, making it a great option to help your soil remain aerated rather than compact on itself.
- Perlite – This rock looks and feels very similar to styrofoam but does not absorb water, making it a great option for aerating your potting soil and providing drainage.
Now that you understand what each component provides to a potting mix, here are two examples of recipes you can follow next time you’re repotting your ZZ plant.
- 3/4 part of organic potting soil
- 1/4 part of the succulent mix
- A handful of compost (to supply ample nutrients)
Mix these in a large container and add the mixture to your new ZZ plant container.
- 1/4 part potting soil
- 1/4 part peat moss
- 1/2 part of perlite or coarse sand
Add these to a container and mix everything before adding the mixture to your ZZ plant’s new pot.
Instead of peat moss, you can add 1/4 part of perlite or 1/4 part coco coir.
Using these recipes will help your ZZ plant to retain moisture without becoming waterlogged or needing watering more than once weekly (if not once every other week!).
ZZ plants require super well-draining potting soil. Leaving your ZZ plant’s roots in waterlogged soil will result in various problems.
If a ZZ plant has too much water and limited amounts of oxygen available, it will create fungal root rot, increase the risk of pests, hinder growth, and produce a dull and droopy ZZ plant.
Because ZZ plants have a rhizome root system, they’re prone to soak up water like a sponge. If they have too much water, they’ll reach their water capacity, and the plant will drown itself.
A great way to ensure your ZZ plant’s soil does not retain more moisture than needed is to use one of the abovementioned recipes when you’re repotting it.
Fortunately, the ZZ plant is happy in most soil environments, granted they have proper drainage.
It happens that sometimes we goof up the soil we use for our plants, so here are signs to look out for that you need to change the soil your ZZ plant is in:
- Leaves are yellowing or turning brown.
- Leaves are curling.
- The plant has rotten roots.
- Stems are shriveling or wilting.
There are other reasons your ZZ plant could be showing signs of distress that aren’t related to the soil it is in.
You’ll see some of these signs if your ZZ plant receives too much or too little light or in a particularly dry environment.
If you’ve ever wandered around the fertilizer section in your local gardening center, you’ll probably have noticed three numbers on the front of most fertilizer bottles.
These numbers (usually in an x:y:z format) guide to know which plants this fertilizer will work best on based on its composition.
Fertilizers will contain the following:
- Nitrogen (N) is essential for photosynthesis and promotes leafy green growth (especially in stems and leaves).
- Phosphorus (P) is essential in creating healthy root structures while encouraging flowers to bloom and produce fruit (not really an element present in ZZ plants).
- Potassium (K) is essential to help plants become hardy and tolerate harsh environments through regulating water uptake. It also improves the plant’s ability to fight off disease.
The numbers correlated to the NPK value will show you the percentage of each element in your fertilizer.
For example: A fertilizer with a 12:6:8 ratio will contain a mixture with 12% nitrogen, 6% phosphorus, and 8% potassium.
For example, plants like roses will require higher amounts of phosphorus to produce healthy flowers, while plants like ficus trees won’t need as much phosphorus as they don’t often flower.
As for ZZ plants, you’ll generally find that their fertilizer composition would contain more nitrogen and potassium than phosphorus.
ZZ plants have a lot of leaves, green growth and require correct watering to ensure optimal plant growth.
If you’re looking to buy fertilizer for your ZZ plant, you probably won’t find many stores that stock just ZZ plant fertilizer.
Instead, you’ll probably want to buy a fertilizer labeled as an “indoor plant fertilizer” – what’s nice about this is you can use it on your other plants too!
While most plant owners know the ZZ plant to be a slow grower, they can produce new growth pretty quickly in the right conditions.
With ample growth comes the challenge of repotting the ZZ plant and knowing which pot size to choose.
Ideally, you want to choose a pot that will give the plant ample space to expand, but not one that’s too large to shock the plant or too small to see proper growth before you repot the plant again.
While giving one straightforward answer is difficult, you can use the following guidelines to select the correct pot size for your ZZ plant.
If you’ve recently bought a new ZZ plant, it’ll likely be in a pot of this size.
Most plants you find in garden centers come in this size pot.
Fortunately, if you’ve only recently bought the ZZ plant, you don’t have to worry about repotting it immediately.
Allow the plant to continue growing in this pot for a few months before giving it a larger one.
You want to use this pot size if you’re looking at soil propagating your ZZ plant or transferring water propagated ZZ plant.
A smaller pot will allow the plant to establish new roots without shocking it and hindering growth.
Medium pots are the best size for most home ZZ plants. You generally want to select a pot of this size if you’re repotting your existing plant. This pot will last you a good few years and help your ZZ plant grow healthy and strong.
Medium-sized pots also make propagating easily if you want to divide the plant in a few years.
Large pots are reserved for massive ZZ plants, but the chances that you’ll need one if you’ve just bought your ZZ plant are slim.
Generally, you will use this planter size for plants that grow between 4-5 feet tall, and unfortunately, indoor ZZ plants rarely reach this size.
If you want the effect of a large and grand ZZ plant, you can always place it in a large cover pot, as in the third image in this ZZ plant care guide.
Here are a few things to consider when you’re upgrading your ZZ plant’s pot size:
- Don’t select a large or small pot size for the plant.
- If possible, take a pot the same size as your current ZZ plant to the garden center when buying a larger one.
- Avoid marble pots – they won’t allow proper circulation in the soil of the ZZ plant, which may result in root rot.
- Always select a pot size that is 2-inches larger than the current one.
If you use these guidelines when selecting a new pot for your ZZ plant, you’ll be sure to get the best-suited one!
Below are some frequently asked questions about ZZ plants and their soil:
Here are some simple ways you can see if your ZZ plant needs a new pot and soil:
- The ZZ plant’s soil is drying out faster than usual – i.e., You need to water your ZZ plant more than once per week to retain soil moisture.
- Roots are growing through the drainage holes – The plant will only start growing out the bottom of the pot if it has used all of its inside-the-pot real estates.
- You can easily remove the ZZ plant from the pot / the roots have grown into the shape of the container – Pot-bound ZZ plants will show little signs of available soil, and the roots will be super dense.
- Your ZZ plant looks limp or shows little new growth – Even if you regularly fertilize your ZZ plant, it will still fail to produce new growth if it has become root-bound. The plant will also lose moisture faster, resulting in a droopy plant.
These are generally the signs you’ll see if your ZZ plant has become root-bound, and you can fix this by breaking up the root ball and repotting it in a larger pot.
If you can’t see very obvious signs of a root-bound ZZ plant, you want to reconsider repotting it.
Sometimes ZZ plants will show distress from being shifted to a new environment/climate. If your ZZ plant is showing any signs of distress, you definitely do not want to repot it.
Repotting your ZZ plant while it is busy adjusting to a new environment can result in stunted growth.
You also don’t want to repot it if you’re only seeing limited growth – sometimes the problem can easily be solved by:
- Change the watering schedule – increasing or decreasing watering frequency.
- Check for bugs – pests will limit the growth of the ZZ plant.
- Give the ZZ plant more light – ZZ plants can grow in low-light, but they’ll produce the most growth in a well-lit environment.
- Reduce or increase fertilizer frequency – too much or too little fertilizer can have detrimental effects on the plant’s growth.
You also want to ensure that you repot your ZZ plant in the spring or summertime and, if possible, avoid repotting it in cooler months.
After repotting your ZZ plant, you want to hold off on the fertilizer for a while, and be sure not to overwater the ZZ plant.
Although cactus soil is a perfectly fine option to plant your ZZ plant in, it can become too dry to sustain the plant.
You ideally want to mix something that retains moisture into the cactus soil.
Do this by mixing together good quality potting and cactus soil.
You can also add peat moss, perlite, or coco coir to increase the soil’s water-retention abilities.
These elements will also have the benefit of added nutrition, resulting in the promotion of plant and root growth.
You ideally want to create a pH environment between 6.0 to 7.0 for your ZZ plant to thrive – this essentially means that ZZ plants can grow in neutral or more acidic soil types.
Being a ZZ plant owner is a simple job – these plants are hardy and don’t require much attention or watering.
They do, however, like optimal soil conditions and will give you tons of new growth in the right soil and light environment.
You want to ensure that you choose a well-draining soil and add elements like peat moss or perlite to your soil mix.
By adding these elements to your cactus and potting soil mix, you’ll reduce how frequently you need to water your ZZ plant and provide it with a nutrient-rich environment.
Optimize your ZZ plant’s growing environment, and you’re bound to see ample new growth in no time!