How to Water a ZZ Plant: Frequency & Timing

By: Matt Slaymaker
December 13, 2023
When & How Often to Water ZZ Plant
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Zamioculcas zamiifolia, or the ZZ plant, is a popular, tropical perennial houseplant native to Eastern Africa. It has attractive, glossy, dark green leaves, as well as air-purifying properties. The ZZ plant is also a low-maintenance and easy-to-grow plant, which makes it a great option for newbies or seasoned plant enthusiasts looking for an undemanding indoor plant. ZZ plants, belonging to the succulent family, are incredibly drought tolerant.

However, they have specific watering needs. So, knowing how to water a ZZ plant is key to your plant's well-being. This guide delves into the specifics of watering a ZZ plant, helping you ensure it thrives and looks its best.

ZZ Plant: Watering Requirements

ZZ plants are resilient members of the succulent family. They have unique watering needs for optimal health. ZZ plants thrive best in well-draining soil with proper aeration to prevent waterlogging. This section explores the requirements that set ZZ plants apart from other indoor houseplants and lays the foundation for effective watering practices.

How Do You Know If a ZZ Plant Needs Water?

How Do You Know If a ZZ Plant Needs Water

ZZ plants, being succulents, have unique characteristics that can guide you in recognizing the right time for watering. Here's how to assess ZZ plant water needs:

  • Assess soil moisture level
  • ZZ plants prefer their soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Stick your finger into the soil up to an inch deep. If it feels dry, it's time to water. Consider also using a digital moisture meter to get accurate results.

  • Check leaf appearance
  • ZZ plants store water in their rhizomes (underground stems), allowing them to withstand drought periods. If the leaves start drooping slightly, it may indicate the plant is thirsty. However, ZZ plants are resilient, and slight drooping is normal. Severe drooping leaves may indicate underwatering.

  • Examine leaf firmness
  • Gently squeeze a few leaves between your fingers. If they feel firm, the plant likely has enough water. In contrast, soft or limp leaves may indicate that it's time to water.

  • Monitor seasonal changes
  • Be mindful of seasonal changes. During the active growing season, typically spring and summer, your ZZ plant may require more frequent watering. In contrast, reduce watering during the dormant period in fall and winter.

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    Can I Use Succulent Soil for My ZZ Plant?

    Yes! Succulent soil, with its excellent drainage properties, is a suitable choice for ZZ plants. It mimics the natural conditions of their native environments, preventing waterlogged roots and associated issues.

    How to Water Your ZZ Plant

    Watering a ZZ Plant

    When it comes to watering a ZZ plant variety, including a Black Raven ZZ plant, there are several methods to suit different needs and preferences. Each watering approach is tailored to the unique needs of ZZ plants and ensures your plant receives the hydration it craves for optimal vitality and growth.

    Bottom Watering: Can I Bottom Water My ZZ Plant?

    Bottom watering is a fantastic technique for ZZ plants, providing a targeted and efficient way to nourish the roots. Follow these steps for successful bottom watering:

    1. Place your ZZ plant's pot in a saucer or tray large enough to accommodate water without overflowing.
    2. Fill the plant tray/saucer with water, allowing the plant to absorb moisture from the bottom up.
    3. Monitor absorption for around 10 minutes, ensuring the plant's roots absorb water without sitting in excess.
    4. Remove excess water from the tray if the soil is moist.
    5. Add more water to the tray if the soil is still dry.
    6. Wait for 20 or more minutes and discard excess water to prevent overwatering.

    Watering Over the Soil

    Consider watering your ZZ plant over the soil if you prefer conventional watering. Here's how to do it:

    1. Using a watering can pour water over the soil. Alternatively, placing your ZZ plant under a tap ensures an even distribution.
    2. Add water to the pot until it begins overflowing from the drainage holes.
    3. If you place a tray under the plant's pot when watering, remove all the collected water afterwards. Avoid letting your plant sit in water, as this may cause root rot.
    4. If you watered it directly under a tap, ensure the water stops running from the bottom before returning it.

    Should I Soak My ZZ Plant and When?

    Your ZZ plant may occasionally benefit from a thorough soak, especially when the soil is completely dry. In such a case, consider the bath watering technique, which involves the following steps:

    1. Fill a large bathtub, basin or bucket with lukewarm water.
    2. Gently place the ZZ plant pot in the water and stop where the plant's stem begins. Ensure all the soil is under water to allow for moisture absorption.
    3. Wait for the water to stop bubbling.
    4. Lift the plant pot and allow excess water to drain off.
    5. To prevent overwatering and root rot, place your ZZ plant back on the tray and ensure it isn't still sitting in water after an hour.

    Is a Self-watering Pot Good for ZZ Plants?

    Yes, a self-watering pot can be beneficial for ZZ plants. The self-watering feature helps maintain consistent moisture levels, ensuring optimal hydration for the ZZ plant without the risk of overwatering. This can be particularly advantageous if you find it challenging to follow a regular watering schedule, due to traveling, or for ZZ plants in environments with fluctuating humidity levels.

    Best Practices for Watering Your ZZ Plant and Tips

    Best Practices for Watering Your ZZ Plant
    Source: Fruugo

    Proper watering is fundamental to ZZ plant care, and adopting best practices ensures optimal health. From recognizing signs of thirst to adjusting your watering routine seasonally, here's a concise guide.

    How to Know When to Water a ZZ Plant

    Look for warning signs such as drooping, wilting, wrinkled leaves, and dry soil at the top. These indicators signal that it's time to water your ZZ plant.

    How Much Water to Give a ZZ Plant

    Determining the right amount of water is essential. Water your ZZ plant thoroughly, ensuring the entire root ball is moistened. Allow excess water to drain, preventing waterlogged soil that can lead to root rot.

    Frequency: How Often to Water a ZZ Plant

    Water your ZZ plant every 2-3 weeks while allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. This helps prevent overwatering and root rot. However, how often you should water your ZZ plant may vary, depending on factors like the size of the plant, light exposure, type of soil, and climate. Assess the soil's moisture level regularly and water when the top inch feels dry.

    Watering a ZZ Plant: Seasonal Factors

    Adjust your watering routine based on seasonal variations to accommodate your ZZ plant's changing needs.

    How Often Should I Water My ZZ Plant in the Summer?

    Increase watering in summer due to higher temperatures and evaporation rates. Water your ZZ plant more frequently, ensuring the soil remains consistently moist.

    How Often to Water a ZZ Plant in Winter

    You should water your drought-resistant ZZ plant every 2-3 weeks. However, reduce watering frequency in winter when ZZ plants experience dormancy. Allow the soil to partially dry between waterings, preventing the risk of overwatering during the plant's resting phase.

    Other Factors to Consider When Watering a ZZ Plant

    • Size of plant: Larger ZZ plants generally require more water. So, adjust your watering routine accordingly.
    • Light exposure: Plants in brighter light may need more frequent watering. Monitor the soil to meet the plant's light-related hydration requirements.
    • Type of soil: When repotting your ZZ plant, choose well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging. The right soil type facilitates adequate moisture retention without compromising aeration.
    • Climate (temperature and humidity): Tailor your watering routine to the climate. In arid conditions, you might need to water more frequently, while in humid environments, moderation is key.

    Watering a ZZ Plant: Common Problems and Solutions

    Common Watering Problems With ZZ Plants

    Is My ZZ Plant Overwatered or Underwatered?

    It is crucial to identify whether your ZZ plant is overwatered or underwatered. Recognize signs such as yellowing leaves or root rot and implement effective solutions to restore balance.

    Signs of Overwatering a ZZ Plant

    • Wilting, despite wet soil
    • Yellowing leaves and root rot
    • A foul odor emanating from the soil
    • Mushy brown stalks

    Solutions

    Adjust watering frequency, improve drainage, and consider repotting to rectify overwatering issues.

    Underwatered ZZ Plant: Symptoms

    • Drooping or wilting leaves
    • Dry and crispy leaves
    • Slow or stunted growth and leaf loss
    • Shriveled and wrinkled stems

    Solutions

    Increase watering frequency, ensure the soil remains consistently moist, and consider adjusting environmental conditions. If possible, mist the leaves.

    Related: How to Propagate a ZZ Plant: Follow These 3 Steps for Success

    How to Water a ZZ Plant: FAQs

    Q: Should I Water My ZZ Plant From the Top or Bottom?

    A: While both methods are viable, it's advisable to water your ZZ plant from the top. This allows water to reach the entire root ball, promoting even hydration. Watering from the top also mimics natural rainfall, ensuring moisture distribution across the plant's soil. Bottom watering won't wash away salts and other minerals from the soil, which may affect your plant's health.

    Q: How Long Can a ZZ Plant Go Without Water?

    A: Typically, ZZ plants can go without water for 2-4 weeks or more (2 months), as individual conditions may vary. They are resilient and prefer less water as they're vulnerable to overwatering.

    Q: How Do I Know if My ZZ Is Overwatered?

    A: Signs of overwatering in a ZZ plant include wilting despite wet soil, yellowing leaves, and a foul odor, indicating root rot. Adjust the watering frequency, improve drainage, and consider repotting if you suspect overwatering.

    Q: How Dry Should My ZZ Plant Be Before Watering?

    A: Water your ZZ plant when the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. This ensures you're not overwatering while allowing the plant to receive sufficient moisture. Regularly assess the soil moisture to maintain an optimal watering schedule.

    Conclusion

    Knowing how to water a ZZ plant is essential for its overall well-being. It involves identifying signs of thirst, such as drooping or wilted leaves and dry potting soil, and choosing either over the soil, water bath, or bottom watering method based on your plant's unique needs. You should monitor and address common issues of underwatering and overwatering to ensure optimal health for your ZZ plant. Remember to strike a balance in moisture, adapting to your plant's changing requirements, and you'll enjoy the enduring beauty of a healthy ZZ plant in your living space.