Best Potting Soil Mix for ZZ Plants to Thrive

My ZZ plants do best in potting mix that holds moisture yet also drains well. They prefer a soil mix with a slightly acidic pH in the range of 6.0-7.0. In my experience, a soil mix containing 2 parts all-purpose potting mix with 1 part coarse sand and 1 part perlite is an excellent mix for ZZ plants. This provides great drainage, some moisture retention, sufficient nutrients, and a stable base for healthy and robust ZZ plant growth.

Glossy Green Leaves of a ZZ plant

The Importance of Well-Draining Potting Soil

ZZ plants (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) require well-draining potting soil so they don’t sit too long in a soggy environment when you water your ZZ plant. Excess moisture limits the oxygen available at a ZZ plant’s roots. This can harm the plant’s health and even cause fungal root rot to develop. 

This plant has rhizomes in its root system, which soak up and store plenty of water. Once they’ve reached their capacity, the soil should drain away extra moisture so the root system can breathe. 

A great way to ensure well-draining soil for ZZ plants is to add ingredients like sand or perlite to a standard potting mix. 

What Soil pH Levels Are Best for ZZ Plants?

Your ZZ plant will prefer soil pH from 6.0 to 7.0. This means that it will grow well whether its soil is neutral or slightly acidic. 

The Ultimate ZZ Plant Potting Mix Recipe 

ZZ plant soil

Keep in mind, different conditions in your ZZ plant’s environment may change its needs slightly. However, in most cases, the ingredients listed below will be an excellent fit for this species in my experience.

Components of a ZZ Plant Potting Mix

Potting Soil – the soil provides the basic framework for your potting medium. Ideally, you want something light, aerated in texture, and comprising organic and aged natural matter. 

Sphagnum peat moss has fine particles yet a coarse texture. This leads to great water-holding and nutrient-holding capacities along with good aeration.

Horticultural sand – this very coarse ‘sand’ typically comprises crushed stones such as quartz, granite, or sandstone.

Coco coir is made from the husks of coconuts. It has a similar texture to peat moss but compacts a bit more over time.

Pine bark fines are small pieces of coniferous trees such as firs, pines, and spruces. This bark has a high percentage of lignin, which means it retains its shape over time. Therefore, it’s excellent at resisting compaction and providing air pockets.

Perlite is a type of expanded rock. It looks and feels a lot like styrofoam. It does not absorb water, so it is great at providing aeration and drainage to a soil mix.

Now that you understand a bit about what each component provides to a potting mix, here’s a great recipe to follow that I use for my ZZ plant at home. It offers excellent aeration and drainage, yet also holds enough water for your plant to take up all it needs.

This mix is made up of:

  • Your preferred all-purpose potting mix (2 parts)
  • Coarse horticultural sand (1 part).
  • Perlite or coco coir or pink bark fines (1 part)

How Do You Mix Soil for ZZ Plants?

Wear gloves when handling your ZZ plant and the pot. The plant’s sap contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause skin and eye irritation.

To mix your ZZ plant soil, start by deciding your preferred recipe and gathering your materials. Mix ingredients in a separate container adding a little water to moisten and prepare to add it into your ZZ plant’s new terracotta container. 

Add a few inches of this mix to the base of your planter so your ZZ plant’s root ball rests an inch or two below the pot’s lip.

Now, put the plant into its new container. Use the remaining soil to fill in any gaps, and make sure your Zamioculcas zamiifolia is sturdy in its pot. Remember, you don’t want to pack the soil too tight, as this plant needs a free-draining soil environment. 

If you don’t want to mix your own soil, there are plenty of pre-made options to choose from. Here are a few soil blends that would are an excellent fit for your new ZZ plant (via Garden Goods Direct): 

Soil Considerations Based on Planter Type

ZZ Plant on a wooden table indoors

Your ZZ plant will always need well-draining soil. But, drainage will be even more important in containers that retain moisture, like plastic pots. However, I recommend a terracotta pot with a drainage hole for this plant. Its rhizomes grow fast and can warp or crack plastic containers. 

The Best Potting Soil for Repotting

Once you’ve found the best potting soil for your ZZ plant, you can stick with this mix as the plant grows. Just be sure to replace its soil with a fresh blend every time you repot. You may need to add a bit more soil, as you’ll likely be increasing the pot size as this plant grows.

Check out our ZZ plant potting mix recipe if you’re looking for a new mix to try for repotting this species. 

Can You Use Cactus or Orchid Soil Mixes? 

Yes, a cactus and succulent mix will work well and provide the proper drainage for ZZ plants. You can also use a small amount of orchid bark to improve drainage for this species. 

Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix

Luckily, the lovely Zanzibar gem is tolerant of various soil types, as long as they have enough drainage. However, there are a few qualities you’ll want to steer clear of, like dense soil that retains too much moisture. 

Here are a few signs that you’re using the wrong soil mix for your ZZ plants.

  • Leaves are yellowing
  • Leaves are turning brown
  • Leaves are curling
  • The plant has developed root rot
  • Stems are shriveling or wilting

Remember that these issues could also be an issue with the ZZ plant’s other environmental needs. For instance, ZZ plants prefer humidity to overly dry environments, and it doesn’t like direct sunlight. Additionally, you may need to fertilize your ZZ plant in spring and summer to boost growth and prune periodically. With due care and attention, ZZ plants can live for years.

However, this plant is very easygoing, so these signs may indicate that it’s time to adjust your ZZ plant’s soil. 

The Role of Soil in Plant Health

Tall green leaves of a ZZ plant

Your ZZ plant’s soil is crucial for helping this species grow healthy and strong. But, why does soil impact this plant’s ability to thrive?

Well, soil contains minerals and organic matter that help plants receive proper nutrition. Soil also impacts the moisture and oxygen available to a plant’s root system. So, the soil needs to have the right composition, or the plants growing in it may not receive crucial elements for their health. 

Additionally, plants are particular about other soil conditions like pH levels. By mimicking these parts of a houseplant’s natural growth conditions, you can give it a foundation to grow healthy and look its best. 

Wrapping Up

Now that you’ve perfected the recipe for ZZ plant soil, you’re ready to grow a few  Zamioculcas zamiifolias in your home. Between its easy care needs and its gorgeous, glossy foliage, this species is a worthy addition to your houseplant collection.

Further reading: Discover our in-depth guide to ZZ plant care at home.

Contributing Editor | brandy@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Brandy Wells is an American copywriter and content writer living in Spain. From hiking in her hometown near the Smoky Mountains to digging in the dirt in rural Oregon, she has always put a love of nature at the heart of her endeavors. These days, you’ll catch her writing content, and of course, taking breaks to tend to her growing houseplant collection.

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