How to Grow and Care for Raven ZZ Plant

A small raven ZZ plant in a cream-colored pot sits on a wooden stool next to a large regular ZZ plant against a white wall.

The Spruce / Cori Sears

ZZ plants are practically a household name in the houseplant world and are beloved for being super hardy and low-maintenance. Due to their popularity, growers have begun introducing new ZZ plant varieties including the dark and mysterious raven ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Raven’).

The raven ZZ plant made its debut back in 2019 (although it was first discovered in 2015) as a part of the Costa Farms “Trending Tropicals” collection and today it’s considered one of the trendiest houseplants on the market. It is characterized by deep purple, almost black foliage that first emerges as a bright lime green color and darkens over time. While it used to be difficult to acquire a raven ZZ plant, they are now much more readily available and can be found at most nurseries and plant shops. As with all ZZ plant varieties, pet owners and parents should be aware that these plants are considered toxic to pets and humans if ingested so exercise caution if you have kids or furry friends at home.

Common Name  Raven ZZ plant 
Botanical Name  Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Raven’ 
Family  Araceae 
Plant Type  Perennial, tuber 
Mature Size  30 in. tall, 30 in. wide 
Sun Exposure  Partial, shade 
Soil Type  Sandy, well-drained 
Soil pH  Acidic 
Bloom Time  Spring, summer 
Flower Color  Green 
Hardiness Zones  9-10, USDA 
Native Area  Asia 
Toxicity  Toxic to pets, toxic to humans

Raven ZZ Plant Care

Like other ZZ plants, the raven ZZ plant is a hardy and low-maintenance houseplant. It can survive in a range of lighting conditions and thanks to its thick rhizomes it is also drought-tolerant. Here’s what you need to know about growing these tropical plants indoors.

Dark purple raven ZZ plant stems and leaves against a white wall.

The Spruce / Cori Sears

New growth emerging at the base of a small ZZ plant.

The Spruce / Cori Sears

Close up image of dark raven ZZ plant foliage against a white wall.

The Spruce / Cori Sears


ZZ plants are known for being able to grow in a range of lighting conditions from bright indirect light to low light, and the raven ZZ plant is no exception. That being said, its ideal growing conditions include plenty of bright, indirect light. While it can survive in low-light conditions you won’t notice much, if any, growth, and the growth that you do see will likely be leggy and unattractive. Make sure that you also avoid placing your ZZ plant in a location where it receives direct sunlight, particularly harsh afternoon sunlight, as it is susceptible to leaf burn.


A soil mix that is airy and well-draining is ideal. While raven ZZ plants can survive in standard houseplant soil, they will do best when potted in a soil mix that is amended with plenty of perlite, pumice, or sand to help increase drainage. 


The raven ZZ plant has thick, water-storing rhizomes which means it is drought-tolerant and does not need to be watered frequently. In fact, overwatering this plant can lead to root rot which will quickly kill a ZZ plant. The best way to prevent overwatering is to allow the soil to dry out thoroughly between waterings. Keep in mind that during the spring and summer when the plant is actively growing it will need to be watered more frequently than in the fall or winter months when it is dormant. As a general rule of thumb, if you are unsure about whether it is time to water your ZZ plant, you are probably best to wait a little bit longer. It is better to underwater these succulents than to overwater them.

Temperature and Humidity

This tropical plant does well as a houseplant because it thrives in warm temperatures and average humidity levels. It also does well in humid conditions, although it doesn’t require them. Ensure temperatures stay between 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 29 degrees Celsius) to avoid sending your plant into shock. 


In addition to a soil mix that is rich with organic materials, the raven ZZ plant benefits from regular fertilization during its active growing period. Applying a balanced fertilizer designed for houseplants once every three to four weeks will encourage strong, healthy growth.

Potting and Repotting Raven ZZ Plant

Raven ZZ plants are slow-growing plants that only need to be repotted once they have outgrown their previous container. They also don’t mind being rootbound, so you will likely only need to repot your raven ZZ plant once every two to three years. Roots growing from the pot’s drainage holes or the plant’s rhizomes pushing up against the edge of the pot are both indications that your ZZ plant may be ready for a new container. Ensure that you only upgrade the size of your pot by a few inches at a time to avoid accidentally overwatering your plant (too much excess soil means more water will be held in the soil between waterings), and refresh as much of the soil during repotting as you can to provide your plant with lots of nutrients.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

A few common houseplant pests to watch out for with raven ZZ plants include mealybugs, scale, spider mites, and thrips. Ensure that you check your plant regularly for pests to catch any potential infestations early. Treat an affected plant with insecticide or neem oil and isolate it from your other houseplants immediately to prevent pests from spreading. In terms of diseases, root rot is the main one to watch out for with raven ZZ plants. Usually, root rot is a result of overwatering but can also be caused by soil that is contaminated with disease-causing bacteria. Either way, if you notice signs of root rot on your plant (i.e. mushy, rotting stems or roots), cut away any rotting parts as soon as possible in order to save your plant.

Common Problems With Raven ZZ Plant

Raven ZZ plants, like other types of ZZ plants, are known for being hardy and easy to grow. However, it’s not unusual to run into a few common problems while learning to grow these plants indoors. 

Yellow Leaves

Most houseplants are susceptible to developing yellow leaves at one point or another, including raven ZZ plants. Usually, yellow leaves are the result of a lack of light, pest problems, or underwatering. Check your plant closely for signs of pests, and if you can rule pests out then light or watering issues are likely the culprit. Remember that although these plants can survive in low light conditions, they do best in medium to bright indirect light. Raven ZZ plants growing in low light may lose the occasional leaves because they are not receiving enough light to support lots of foliage. Sudden changes in light exposure, like moving a plant from medium light to low light, can also result in leaves turning yellow and falling off. Lack of water can also cause yellow leaves, although it is less common since raven ZZ plants are very drought-tolerant. That being said, ensure that you are keeping up with regular watering, particularly during the spring and summer months to avoid underwatering issues.

Mushy Stems

Mushy stems are almost always a result of root rot. If you notice that your raven ZZ plant has mushy, rotting stems you will need to act quickly in order to save the plant. Cut away any rotted portions of the stems and roots to prevent the rot from spreading and repot your plant immediately in dry, well-draining soil. Avoid watering your plant for a few weeks to really let it dry out. Root rot is usually caused by overwatering, so it’s important to make sure that you are letting your plant dry in between waterings and providing plenty of drainage to avoid waterlogging the soil and drowning the roots.

  • How do you keep a raven ZZ plant black?

    Ensuring your raven ZZ plant gets adequate light is the best way to keep its color looking vibrant. Also, keep in mind that new shoots will always grow in bright green and turn purple or black as they mature.

  • Do raven ZZ plants like to be misted?

    While these tropical plants do well in humid conditions, avoid misting to increase humidity. Misting only increases humidity temporarily and leaving water on the leaves can lead to fungal infections. Instead, place your plant on a pebble tray filled with water or put it close to a humidifier if you want to give it some extra humidity.

  • Do raven ZZ plants need more light than green ZZ plants?

    While all varieties of ZZ plants do well in a range of different lighting conditions, raven ZZ plants tend to be a little pickier about their lighting conditions than their green counterparts—particularly if you want to keep the foliage nice and dark. While green ZZ plant varieties easily grow in low light conditions, the raven ZZ plant will display the most striking foliage in medium to bright indirect light.

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  1. The zz plant | horticulture and home pest news. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.