ZZ plants are often recommended as low-maintenance houseplants, but even the toughest plants can go to waste if they are in the wrong pot.
Choosing the right pot can make a difference between helping your ZZ happily thrive or merely survive. Features like pot size, material, and drainage contribute to the plant’s quality of life.
Therefore, this guide will be all about choosing the best pot for your beloved ZZ plant. In addition to key considerations for pot choice, you’ll also learn the answers to some commonly asked questions.
Let us begin.
Best Pots for ZZ Plant: Key Considerations
Choosing the best pot for your ZZ plant is not a difficult task. You only need to keep a few fundamentals in mind.
The pot size matters because even though the ZZ plant grows slowly, it does become root-bound with time. The plant also grows roots and rhizomes faster than its leaves and stems.
Therefore, the pot should be big enough to give its roots ample space to grow.
But there’s also a problem with choosing too big a pot, and that is soggy soil. Overwatering is a weakness of ZZ plants, and the soil in needlessly large pots dries out slowly. As the roots and rhizomes stay in soggy soil longer, they become vulnerable to issues like root rot.
So the question is, how do you strike a balance?
Regardless of the size of a plant, you can follow a thumb rule to select the perfect pot size easily. Whenever planting a ZZ plant in a pot, ensure it is roughly 2 inches wider and deeper than the rhizome(s) of the plant. The rhizome should be about 2 inches below the lip of the pot when you measure the pot.
It will give the roots enough space to grow while letting the soil dry out fast enough relative to the plant’s size. A 1-inch wider and deeper pot is recommended for smaller plants and transplants.
Proper drainage is absolutely essential as it helps mimic the plant’s natural habitat. Even if you choose the right pot size, improper drainage can quickly lead to soggy soil and root rot.
Always choose a pot with at least 3-4 drainage holes. If the container has no drainage holes, you can make them with a handheld drill.
You’ll encounter different pot materials, such as plastic, ceramic, or terracotta.
Before discussing which type is best, let me tell you something. Many people recommend ONLY using terracotta pot as it is porous and helps wick away the moisture. They say this because the ZZ plant prefers dry soil between watering.
Even though it is true, I have found that the pot material has a negligible effect on the plant’s overall health.
The ZZ plant is not considered “hardy” for nothing. It will thrive in pretty much any pot if there are enough drainage holes, a proper watering schedule, the right soil mix, and bright indirect light.
But I personally prefer terracotta pots. I just like their moisture wicking quality as an added benefit. I would not recommend them if you move your plant frequently because they can be heavy, especially with a large plant.
How to Choose the Best Pot for Repotting a ZZ Plant?
You might need to repot a ZZ plant for the following reasons:
- It has become root-bound.
- You just bought it from a store.
- You want to repot cuttings.
- You want to repot after treating it for root rot.
Whatever the reason, the simple thumb rule is that the pot should be 2 inches wider and deeper than the rhizome(s) when it is sitting 2 inches below the pot lip. I have found this to be a safe balance between enough growing space that doesn’t leave the soil wet for too long.
If you are treating the plant for root rot, you might need to cut off a few sick roots or some parts of rhizomes. As a result, the plant’s root system will become smaller. But in this case too, you should follow the repotting thumb rule mentioned above.
Can You Reuse Old Pots for ZZ Plants?
If you normally repot and transplant ZZ plants, old pots (from nurseries and other plants) can be quite useful. Saving them can help you find the right pot size for a new ZZ plant without rushing to the garden store every time.
The only thing you need to ensure when using old pots is that they’re clean and disinfected.
You’ll notice a white crust on your old clay pots (ceramic, terracotta, concrete, etc.). It happens because of mineral buildup after prolonged use. Clean it with a stiff bristle brush or a steel wool pad dipped in a vinegar-water (1:1) solution.
Rinse these pots with warm soapy water (do the same for old plastic pots) and soak them in a bleach mix (9 parts water and 1 part bleach) for 20 minutes. Doing so will kill any bacteria, pest eggs, fungi, and mold on them.
Did you know that you can also use old pots as inner pots? Here’s a brief word about them.
Using Inner Pots and Pot Trays
You may need to use inner pots or pot trays depending on how you water your ZZ plant.
If you normally water it where it is placed, you will have to add a pot tray. This pot tray will collect excess water that drains out of the plant. Once the tray collects the water, you must empty it to prevent the soil staying soggy.
On the other hand, if you need to move your plant somewhere else every time you water it (like in a sink), an inner plastic pot will make things easier. An inner pot serves two purposes. First, it is lighter and easier to move around. Secondly, it helps maintain aesthetics as you can place it inside a better looking terracotta pot.
Old and used plastic pots can be really handy as inner pots, so save them whenever you can!
There are only a few things worth remembering when choosing a pot for a ZZ plant.
- Firstly, it should be 2 inches wider and deeper than the rhizome(s) when it is placed about 2 inches below the pot lip.
- Secondly, the pot should have at least 3-4 drainage holes to prevent moisture retention.
- Thirdly, the pot material doesn’t matter as much, but if possible, it is better to use terracotta pots.
If you remember these fundamentals and provide ideal growing conditions, your ZZ plant will thrive and might even surprise you with its rapid growth.
Does the ZZ plant like big pots?
Not really. The rule of thumb is to pot the plant in a container 2 inches wider and deeper than the rhizome, as the rhizome rests 2 inches below the lip. A pot bigger than that will likely leave the soil wet for too long, leading to serious overwatering issues like root rot.
Is terracotta good for ZZ plants?
Yes, because its porous composition helps wick excess moisture from the soil and dries it out quicker. This helps mimic the natural conditions where the plant spends most of the time in dry, well-draining, and aerated soil.
How deep should a ZZ plant be planted?
The ZZ plant should be planted deep enough that its rhizome(s) should be at least two inches below the pot lip, but also about two inches higher than the bottom of the pot.
Can I reuse old pots for ZZ plants?
Yes, you can, and the only thing to ensure is that you clean and disinfect them thoroughly. If you’re reusing clay pots(terracotta, ceramic, concrete, etc.), scrub off the white residue with a steel wool pad. Soak the pot in a 1-part bleach and 9-parts water solution to disinfect them. If you’re reusing plastic pots, clean them with warm, soapy water and disinfect them the same way.
Which pot size should I choose when repotting or transplanting a ZZ plant?
When repotting or transplanting a ZZ plant, ensure that the pot is at least 2 inches wider and deeper than the rhizome when it is resting 2 inches below the pot’s lip.