Many are familiar with the survivor plant Zamioculcas zamiifolia – but the Raven ZZ boasts a deep purple-green sheen that blasts the houseplant world up to a whole new level!
Raven ZZ facts
Name – Zamioculcas zamiifolia Raven™
Cultivar – Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Dowon’
Common name – Raven ZZ
Family – Araceae
Type – houseplant
Height – 1 ½ to 3 feet (45 to 90 cm)
Exposure – well-lit
Soil type – draining soil mix
Foliage – everblack…
Give your Zamioculcas Raven proper water, exposure and care and you’ll soon be sporting one of the trendiest indoor plants in the world!
- Last minute: Children excited about staying home? Sacrifice a stem of your raven ZZ plant and propagate it with them. Great way to keep kids busy gardening during coronavirus lockdown, and grow a few more of these lovely leaf plants!
Many thanks to Rosie Ambriz and Yeliz Durmaz for sharing their pictures! See bottom for more information.
Raven ZZ care
How to plant and repot the raven ZZ
Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Raven’ usually grows rather slowly. It isn’t necessary to repot yearly.
- Repot your raven zamioculcas every 2 or 3 years.
- Take advantage of repotting to split the plant if you’re so inclined.
Growing Zamioculcas Raven indoors
This plant will stay constrained to smaller sizes if you provide it with smaller pots.
- For it to grow to a full three feet (1 meter), give it a pot that is at least a foot and a half across (45 cm) and deep.
Growing Raven ZZ outside
- Find a shady spot in soil that drains very well.
Note that Zamioculcas zamiifolia raven cannot survive temperatures lower than 40°F (5°C).
Watering Zamioculcas Raven
Zamioculcas raven, originating from the African-born Zamioculcas zamiifolia plant, is a flexible plant that can cope well with irregular watering.
- Watering in summer – Zamioculcas raven thrives when watered a small amount every two weeks.
- Watering in winter – this dormant phase means the raven ZZ plant only needs water once a month.
Allow the soil to dry out entirely before watering again. Zamioculcas raven has a tuber-like rhizome that stores water. Letting the soil dry out occasionally helps fend off root rot.
Exposure for Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Raven’
Zamioculcas raven will survive in very low light conditions. That’s why it is suitable for use in the office or even in poorly lit rooms like bathrooms. However, for it to thrive and grow, put it in a very well-lit place while avoiding direct sunlight.
- Place it near a window that faces the most sun (South in the Northern hemisphere, North-facing when in the Southern hemisphere).
- Ensure sun doesn’t land on it directly during the brightest hours (11 am to around 3 pm). Either set up a thin curtain veil or place it to the side of the window.
If you’re keeping the plant outdoors, prefer part sun only in the early morning or late afternoon.
- Read also: Zamioculcas, a perfect plant for the office
Color and hue of the Raven ZZ plant
Time is what makes the black ZZ plant turn dark. Fresh leaves start out bright green and gradually turn black with time.
It may take up to two months for a stem and leaves to turn back completely, although usually it already gets dark after six weeks.
Hues drop from bright green to dark green to purple black, and exposure to strong lights or artificial lighting only marginally influences the coloration.
Zamioculcas raven care, growing, and problems
If ideal growing conditions are met, this plant can send up a new shoot rather fast. It can reach growth of up to 1 cm/day, or an inch in three days.
- New shoots are a surprising bright green! They will darken to a violet purple black as time passes.
However, most of the time it seems to stay dormant, either because conditions aren’t optimal or because temperatures have dropped and slowed growth, as in the winter season.
Diseases and pests that infect Zamioculcas zamiifolia raven
Zamioculcas raven is virtually invulnerable to insects and pests, at most hosting a few scale insects or mealy bugs that will move to other plants as soon a better choice arrives.
- Discover what scale insects on a ZZ plant look like & how to treat them
As regards diseases, the most probable infection you’ll encounter is a form of root rot that results directly from overwatering. Zamioculcas raven leaves will yellow and turn to mush.
- Check that the plant pot drains well
- Stop watering for 6 weeks all together
- Only resume watering after ensuring proper drainage for the pot and soil mix (clay pebbles, gravel, sandy soil…)
- Follow guidance above on how to water the raven ZZ plant properly
Propagating and multiplying the Raven ZZ
This incredible plant is simply a special variety of Zamioculcas zamiifolia. Propagate and multiply it just as you would propagate Zamioculcas varieties that are more commonly found.
However, note that this plant variety has a plant patent on it and cannot legally be multiplied and sold in the United States. Only nurseries who have exclusive agreements with the original breeder can do this.
At most, simply propagate the plant to provide for a personal back-up in case your main plant dies off!
- Detailed article on how to propagate Zamioculcas (with video tips!)
Raven ZZ toxicity to handlers, children, pets
Toxicity of the Zamioculcas raven ZZ plant
Non-lethal calcium oxalate crystals occur in all parts of the plant and can be mildly irritating to sensitive skins. Wear gloves if you’re in that situation and need to repot or split your Zamioculcas raven.
Cats, dogs and the Raven ZZ plant
The same calcium oxalate crystals can wreck havoc in your pet’s digestive systems if they ingest too much of it. Try providing alternative plants like nepeta, the cat plant, to satisfy their need of greens!
Learn more about Zamioculcas Raven
- Zamioculcas in the office, a great choice
Although the ZZ plant also goes by the name “Emerald palm“, this variety hasn’t picked up the “Black coal palm” name – it goes by Raven ZZ instead!
History and discovery of the ZZ raven
Originally, this plant appeared in 2006 in a South Korean nursery near Seoul that was growing the conventional ZZ plant.
Hyuk Jin Lee, the nursery owner, noticed a single plant that sent out a single dark-colored branch.
- This plant mutation had appeared naturally.
- The nursery propagated leaves from this branch. All the new plants grew and stayed black, too.
- The mutation kept carrying on even after several generations.
After that, he filed for a plant patent in the United States. This required many years of measuring and analyzing the growth patterns of the plant.
The cultivar name ‘Dowon’ was submitted for review. Officials released the patent on Christmas day, on December 25th, 2018! His discovery, with plant patent number PP30035, is now fully protected for the next decade and a half.
- More about plant patent practices and what it means for you
Where to buy the ZZ raven
It is now a common find in large garden centers across the world.
In Europe, distribution is made available through the efforts of a Dutch houseplant grower, Van Winden-Erica B.V. This company holds the “Raven” trademark, meaning the name that is associated to this particular cultivar.
A propagation exclusivity agreement was signed with Costa Farms for the United States. It is the only authorized Raven ZZ grower there. It operates out of Florida and has been rolling out availability of the raven ZZ plant in the Americas since 2018.
However, imports are allowed from abroad, provided the grower also has a propagation agreement with Van Winden-Erica.
Smart tip about Zamioculcas raven
This deep, dark, black-colored leaf houseplant is a wonderful houseplant addition. It pairs well with arrangements that include tall orchid flower scapes. The striking contrast is elegant and their water needs are very similar!
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Raven ZZ in pot by Rosaria Flores ★, private agreement (Reddit user)
Rooted Raven ZZ leaf prop by Yeliz Durmaz ★, private agreement (Reddit user)
Zoom on Raven ZZ leaves by Rosaria Flores ★, private agreement (Reddit user)