Best Soil For ZZ Plant

ZZ plants are low-maintenance, easy-to-care-for houseplants that even gardeners with the blackest thumbs can care for. Although they are easy to maintain, they have a specific preference for their soil requirements.

A nutrient-rich and porous soil mix works best for a ZZ plant. You can also use regular potting soil with a mixture of perlite or cactus oil to help improve aeration in the soil. Garden soil is unsuitable for ZZ plants because it does not have good water drainage.

The soil provides nutrients and structure to the ZZ plant.  Soil selection is therefore critical to plant growth. I have put together some information on ZZ plants and their soil requirements, which will help you make the right choice.

The Soil Requirements For ZZ Plants

The ZZ plant originated from Eastern Africa; it is acclimatized to growing in dry conditions as a drought-resistant plant. If a plant is taken out of its natural environment, it is important to mimic its growing conditions as best as possible to adapt to its new home easily. It is therefore important that you consider the ZZ plants soil requirements, which comprise of;

  • A well-draining soil
  • A well-aerated soil
  • A soil that is rich in nutrients

ZZ Plants Require Well-Draining Soil

The ZZ plant is designed to survive long periods of drought. The resilience of the ZZ plant is based on its rhizome structures. When the plant is watered, the root absorbs the bulk of the water and stores it in the rhizomes. The rhizomes take on the role of the plant’s storage facility.

So even if you forget to water the plant for a month, the ZZ plant can go into survival mode by depending on the rhizomes for its water supply. Once the rhizomes reach their capacity, the soil should drain away from the excess moisture so that the root system can breathe.

As much as the rhizomes will try their utmost to absorb the excess moisture, if the soil is not well-draining, the soil can become waterlogged, limiting the oxygen supply to the roots, causing the development of fungal root rot and stagnation of growth.

Ingredients such as perlite and soil can be a great addition to the standard potting mix, which will ensure that the ZZ plant has well-draining soil.

ZZ Plants Require Soil That Is Well Aerated

Someone holding soil in their hand

The soil aeration process provides air supply by moving oxygen and carbon dioxide between the soil and the atmosphere. It prevents oxygen starvation in the plant and reduces harmful carbon dioxide levels in the air.

If the soil of the ZZ plant is poorly aerated, the roots can be deprived of oxygen. Roots are essential for absorbing nutrients and water; if they are deprived of oxygen, they will eventually die; hence, it is important to have well-aerated soil. Mixing cactus oil into the soil can also assist with aeration.

ZZ Plants Require Soil That Is Rich In Nutrients

The ZZ plant requires soil that is rich in nutrients for optimum growth. Some of the basic macronutrients required for the ZZ plant include nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.

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Best Soil Options For ZZ Plants

As a gardener, you want to ensure that you purchase a potting mix that will benefit your ZZ plant and be cost-effective. With the huge variety of brands on the market, finding a versatile and easily accessible brand is extremely difficult. I have listed my three favorite options that are highly recommended.

1. Black Gold’s Natural and Organic Potting Soil

The soil is enriched with pumice and perlite for proper drainage and has a small amount of organic fertilizer that should feed your plant while it gets acclimated to its new pot.

2. Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm, And Citrus Potting Mix

This product has a combination of perlite and soil to help improve drainage. The product is available in Walmart.

3. Hoffman Organic Cactus And Succulent Soil Mix

 Higher proportions of limestone, perlite, and sand will lighten up your potting soil to allow for better drainage. You can purchase this product on Amazon.

Mixing A Soil Mix For ZZ Plant

As gardeners, we often want to control all our plant’s needs; this sometimes means getting our hands dirty. If you’re going to be personally involved in mixing the right soil for your ZZ plant, here are some guidelines;

Purchase quality potting soil and some cactus or succulent soil.  You can start by blending three parts of potting soil into one part of the cactus mix. The proportions of perlite and sand in the cactus mix will add air space and coarse matter to the potting soil, leaving you with a lighter blend that drains efficiently.

Effects Of Using The Wrong Soil Mix For Your ZZ Plant

The holding water capacity of sandy soil is very poor; the soil drains too fast, not giving the ZZ plant’s roots sufficient time to absorb the water. So if you have no option but to plant in sandy soils, you can add organic matter to the planting area, which will increase the soil’s water-holding capacity.

Here are a few signs that you are using the wrong soil mix for your ZZ plant;

Yellowing Of ZZ Plant Leaves

If the lush green foliage of the ZZ plant has started to become yellow and discolored, it means that your soil mixture lacks nitrogen. Nitrogen is very important for your ZZ plant’s survival. The nitrogen ratio is often comparatively lower than potassium and phosphorus in the soil; adding some organic compost to the mixture will help remedy this problem.

Zz Plant Leaves Turning Purple

If the leaves of your ZZ plant have turned purple, there is a strong possibility that there is too much phosphorous in the soil. You can remedy this by spraying your plant with fertilizer that lacks phosphorous.

Browning Of ZZ Plant Leaves

Soil with high salt content will also cause your plants to have brown tips.  Fertilizers contain salts, and overuse of fertilizers can cause plant tips to turn brown. Therefore it is important to read the manufactures label on the fertilizer bag and follow as directed. Another solution would be to add constant water for a short period to help the salt to leach through the soil.


Curling Of ZZ Plant Leaves

Curled leaves on your ZZ plant are the cause of soggy potting soil, which can eventually lead to root rot. You can manage the soggy soil problem by allowing approximately 2.5 to 5 cm of the topsoil to dry out.

Signs Of Root Rot In A ZZ Plant

Root rot is caused by constant overwatering with poor soil drainage or fungi in the soil. Fungi can lie dormant in your soil where the ZZ plant has been planted for a long time. Once the plant has been overwatered once or twice, the fungi come to life, taking over the root system of your ZZ plant.

Hence it is advisable to change the soil regularly, as the fungi are not always clearly visible due to the coloring of the soil.

The Shriveling Or Wilting Of ZZ Plant Stems

If the stems of your ZZ plant are withering or wilting, it means that the soil is too dry and lacks moisture.  You might also start to see some cracks on the sand bed, which will verify the lack of moisture in the soil. ZZ plants prefer well-drained but hydrating soil mix. If your soil mix lacks water, it cannot transport nutrients to different parts of your plant.

Absence Of Flowers Or Fruits In The ZZ Plant

If your ZZ plant is not bearing any fruit or flowers, this indicates too much nitrogen in the soil. To neutralize the nitrogen level in your soil, you can try mulching. You can also add substances in your soil mix that attract insects that will help with pollination.

Soil Mix Of The ZZ Plant Has Turned Into Compacted Soil

When your soil has turned into compacted soil, it means that there is too much moisture in the soil mix and too little space for the ZZ plant to grow.  If the soil particles are pressed too tightly, the pore space reduces and gives no space for the plant roots to breathe.

Read more: How Often To Water ZZ Plant

The Most Suitable Soil PH Levels for ZZ Plants

ZZ plants do not thrive well in overly acidic soil. Some signs that show that your soil is too acidic for the zz plant include frequent leaf burns, without exposure to sunlight, and stunted plant growth, despite taking all the necessary measures. Zz plants prefer soil pH from 6.0 to 7.0.


By mimicking the ZZ plant’s natural growth conditions, you can give it a foundation to grow healthy and flourish. The right soil condition is key in this growing process. Planting the ZZ plant in soil that provides ample drainage, aeration and nutrients will ensure your ZZ plant’s optimal survival.

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