Raven ZZ, the black Zamioculcas – care & propagation

Raven ZZ plant

The Raven ZZ plant boasts a striking deep black color!

Raven ZZ facts

Name: Zamioculcas zamiifolia Raven™
Cultivar: Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Dowon’
Common name: Raven ZZ plant

Family: Araceae
Type: houseplant
Hardiness: zone 9+ (US) or H1 (UK)

Height & Width: 1 ½ to 3 feet (45-90 cm) – Exposure: well-lit – Soil type: draining mix

Many are familiar with the survivor plant Zamioculcas zamiifolia. Give your Raven proper water, exposure and care. It’s among the trendiest indoor plants ever!

What makes the Raven ZZ special?

Black raven ZZ plantA picture is worth a thousand words, but we’ll still give you one: color! The Raven ZZ plant is black all over: leaves, stems… Only flowers are a lighter green hue.

Growth rate and exposure needs are identical to all ZZ plant varieties, as long as they’re planted correctly.

It’s dark black through-and-through. But new “sports” are appearing as propagation repeats. These are sometimes variegated (ZZ raven variegata) with white or pink spots and even albino white leaves.

Planting a Raven ZZ

ZZ raven plant vs lucky giant
Raven (left), Lucky Giant (right)

The main care it needs is simply repotting.

If ideal growing conditions are met, this plant sends up a new shoot fast. Indeed, it can grow up to an inch in three days (1 cm/day).

  • New shoots are a surprising bright green! They will darken to a violet purple black as time passes.

Most of the time it seems to stay dormant, usually because it’s a bit cold or dark.

For instance, during the winter season, new leaves are rare.

Repotting the raven ZZ

Raven ZZ plantingZamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Raven’ usually grows slowly. No need to repot often.

  • Repot your raven zamioculcas every 2 or 3 years.
  • Split the plant if it’s too large.

This plant will stay small in size if you keep it in smaller pots.

  • For it to grow to a full three feet (1 meter), use a pot least a foot and a half across (45 cm) and deep.

Planting Raven ZZ outside

  • Find a shady spot in soil that drains very well.
  • If need be, set it in a raised bed so it doesn’t ever wallow in water.
  • Special guide for growing a ZZ plant outside

Zamioculcas zamiifolia raven cannot survive colds lower than 40°F (5°C).

Watering Zamioculcas Raven & Care

Zamioculcas raven, originating from the African-born ZZ plant, is a flexible plant: it copes well with irregular watering.

  • Watering Raven Zamioculcas ZamiifoliaWatering in summer – water a small amount every two weeks.
  • Watering in winter – dormant phase: the raven ZZ plant only needs water once a month.

Allow the soil to dry out entirely before watering again. Zamioculcas raven has tuber-like rhizomes that store water. Letting soil dry out avoids root rot.

Misting helps leaves stay alive longer (and makes cleaning easier, too).

Exposure for Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Raven’

Zamioculcas raven will survive in very low light conditions.

ZZ raven exposureThat’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 facing lots of sun (South in the Northern hemisphere, North-facing in the Southern hemisphere).
  • BUT 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.

Why is the ZZ plant black?

Time is what makes the black ZZ plant turn dark. Fresh leaves start out bright green and gradually turn black with time.

Raven ZZ black whyIt may take up to two months for a stem and leaves to turn black completely, but usually it’s dark after 4-6 weeks.

The pigment that makes the raven ZZ black is fragile: when a leaf dies, the black color fades to normal yellow and brown.

Exposure to strong lights or artificial lighting only influences color a tiny bit, so no point investing in such devices for your Raven ZZ.

Zamioculcas raven problems

The ZZ plant is famous for being extra-resistant: you won’t have many problems with this plant.

Diseases and pests on ZZ raven

It’s very rare for the Raven ZZ to fall sick. When it does, you’ll notice yellowing leaves and collapsing, mushy stems. It’s usually a sign that it needs better, more regular care. Indeed, a healthy ZZ raven will fend off any pests on its own.

Make sure your watering schedule is right, and check the link below for specific issues (yellow leaves, leaf drop, bugs and insects…)

Propagating and multiplying the Raven ZZ

Propagating Raven ZZ plantThis plant is a variety of Zamioculcas zamiifolia. Propagate and multiply it just as you would varieties that are more common.

Techniques that work best are crown division, leaf cuttings (shown on the picture to the left), and stem cuttings.

Note: the Raven ZZ plant has a patent on it. It cannot legally be multiplied and sold in many countries. Only nurseries who deal with the original breeder can do this.

In other words, the only thing you can do is prepare a personal back-up in case your main plant dies off!

Is the Raven ZZ toxic?

Toxicity of the Zamioculcas raven ZZ plant

Non-lethal calcium oxalate crystals appear in all parts of the plant. As a result, sap can be mildly irritating to sensitive skins. Wear gloves to repot or split your plant.

  • Note: Calcium oxalate is not what makes the raven zz plant black.

Cats, dogs and the Raven ZZ plant

Furthermore, calcium oxalate crystals may wreck havoc in animal digestive systems. Though not deadly, dogs and cats will get sick if they ingest too much of it.

Provide cats with plants like nepeta instead to satisfy their need for greens!

Learn more about Zamioculcas Raven

The ZZ plant is a great choice for offices and homes, and this crow-colored variety is no exception.

History and discovery of the ZZ raven

Raven ZZ plant black leaves against a white wall.Originally, this plant appeared in 2006 in a South Korean nursery.

Hyuk Jin Lee, a plant breeder, noticed a plant with a single dark-colored branch among the regular Zamioculcas.

  • This plant mutation appeared naturally.
  • He propagated leaves from this branch. All new plants grew and stayed black, too.
  • What’s more, the mutation kept carrying on even over several generations.

He filed for a patent in the United States. Year later, officials granted the patent on Christmas day, December 25th, 2018! The cultivar’s name is ‘Dowon’.

The discovery is protected until 2033 with plant patent number PP30035.

Where to buy the ZZ raven

It is now a common find in large garden centers and online across the world.

  • In Europe, a Dutch houseplant grower, Van Winden-Erica B.V. sells it in bulk to retail stores. It holds the “Raven” trademark for this cultivar.
  • In the United States, Costa Farms has exclusive rights to propagate and sell the plant. It operates in Florida.

Imports are allowed from abroad, provided the grower also has an agreement with Van Winden-Erica.

Smart tip about Zamioculcas raven

This black-colored leaf houseplant is a wonderful addition to the home. It pairs well with arrangements that include tall orchid flowers because the contrast is elegant and water needs are very similar!

Images: adobestock: Linda, Thanit, Umapohn Y., Chaiwat, : Flower Council Holland; Pixabay: Jan Van Bizar; Private agreement: Rosaria Flores, Yeliz Durmaz