Zamioculcas Raven, the jet-black Raven ZZ plant – care, watering, origin

Zamioculcas zamiifolia raven ZZ plant with dark green, almost black leaves in a small white pot on a tray.

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

NameZamioculcas zamiifolia Raven™
Cultivar Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Dowon’
Common name – Raven ZZ

FamilyAraceae
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. You’ll soon be sporting one of the trendiest indoor plants in the world!

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 ZZ 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.

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. Indeed, it can grow 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. For instance, during the winter season, new leaves are rare.

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.

As regards diseases, the most probable infection you’ll encounter is a form of root rot that results directly from overwatering. Zamioculcas raven leaves turn 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

Multiplying the Raven ZZ plant is possible from leaves, as shown in this leaf cutting.This plant is simply 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.

However, this plant variety has a plant patent on it. This means it cannot legally be multiplied and sold in the United States. Basically, only nurseries who struck deals 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!

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. As a result, sap can be mildly irritating to sensitive skins. Wear gloves if you’re in that situation and need to repot or split your plant.

Cats, dogs and the Raven ZZ plant

Furthermore, the same calcium oxalate crystals can wreck havoc in your pet’s digestive systems if they ingest too much of it. You can provide them with plants like nepeta instead to satisfy their need for greens!

Learn more about Zamioculcas Raven

Raven ZZ plant black leaves against a white wall.The Raven Zamioculcas is a striking, almost black-leaved indoor plant. The ZZ plant is a great choice for office buildings and homes, and the crow-colored variety is no exception.

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.
  • What’s more, the mutation kept carrying on even over 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 then submitted for review. Officials released the patent on Christmas day, on December 25th, 2018! His discovery, with plant patent number PP30035, is now finally protected for the next decade and a half.

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 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!

Raven ZZ on social media

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Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Raven ZZ in pot (also on social media) by Rosaria Flores ★, private agreement
Rooted Raven ZZ leaf prop (also on social media) by Yeliz Durmaz ★, private agreement
Zoom on Raven ZZ leaves (also on social media) by Rosaria Flores ★, private agreement