Container gardening makes it convenient to grow almost any houseplant inside the home, on a balcony, or in an outdoor garden with limited space. ZZ plants, for example, can be grown in your living room to add a visual appeal to your space.
In order to keep your ZZ beautiful and flourishing, you must make sure that all their basic needs are met – and that includes planting it in the right-sized pot!
If you are not sure how to select the right pot size for your ZZ, then this guide is for you. We will share the must-have features you need to look for when choosing a pot, including the pot sizes and pot types.
The importance of choosing the right pot size
ZZ plants are slow-growers. Under normal conditions, it can take a few years before a ZZ grows to a few feet high. Sometimes, though, these plants can grow a bit faster in areas with optimal temperature, water, and lighting conditions. Then, their roots will start to take up more and more space in the planter, and this can leave them root-bound. You might even notice some roots starting to grow out of the container’s drainage holes.
If the pot is too small, there will be less soil and more roots, and thus fewer nutrients available for the plant. This will also limit the growth of new roots. A plant that is too constricted in its container will have stunted growth and start to look generally sick.
On the flip side, if the pot is too large for the plant, you risk overwatering it. The larger volume of soil will stay wet for longer, thus increasing the risk of root rot, yellowing leaves, and your plant’s early demise.
For this reason, it is extremely important to choose the correct pot size for your ZZ. The pot should allow enough space for growth so you do not have to repot it too frequently, without being overly large for the plant’s current size.
How to select the right pot size for your ZZ
There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a pot size for your ZZ plant. These are summarized below:
- ZZ plants grow well when their pots are two inches bigger in diameter than their rootball (if you are using a round planter). If you are repotting your ZZ, make sure the new pot is also about two inches larger than the current one.
- Make sure you know how to measure the size of your pot. Pots and planters come in different shapes, so they might be measured in different ways. The most common ones are round planters and the sizes are usually specified in terms of diameter. Others might come in different shapes and may be measured in terms of trade gallons (volume of soil).
- If you want to repot your ZZ into a very large pot, you may want to avoid terracotta, marble, or metal pots, as these large-sized planters can be too heavy to move around the house.
- Do not hesitate to ask advice from gardening experts at your local plant shop if you are not sure about the right pot size for your ZZ plant.
Other must-have features of pots
Choosing the right pot can be a challenging task for novice gardeners. If you are just starting to grow ZZ plants indoors or in your outdoor garden, do check out these other factors before making your selection:
1. Drainage holes
Drainage holes, no matter what pot type or shape you choose, are extremely important to protect your plant from standing water.
Roots need oxygen to survive, and if excess water is allowed to accumulate in the pot, it closes off all the tiny air pockets in the soil, thus cutting off the supply of oxygen to the roots. This can lead to root rot and fungal diseases.
With drainage holes, any excess water can flow freely from the container after watering. This will prevent the bottom of the soil from becoming waterlogged, hence protecting the plant’s sensitive roots from fungus and root rot.
2. Inner and outer pots
Some growers recommend planting a ZZ in a combined inner and outer pot. A plastic inner pot, with drainage holes, is often preferable as it is lighter and easier to move. Keep in mind that there are also other pot types you can choose, like ceramic and eco pots (this will be further described later).
Next, the inner pot with holes is placed inside another outer pot (without drain holes). This is for convenience and aesthetics. Later, you can just change the outer pot if you want to give your plant a new look by trying other pot designs with different colors or textures. You can also reuse the outer pot repeatedly and only change the inner pot when repotting.
There are many types of outer pots you can choose – some are ceramic while others are made from recycled plastics. As mentioned, these pots are designed without drainage holes, so they will catch any drips or runaway soil from the inner pot. Choose the right size so that the inner pot fits perfectly inside the outer pot.
3. Pot trays
Pots with drainage holes are best paired with pot trays, especially if you intend to place your ZZ indoors. These trays help catch the excess water from the pot and prevent any mess. Just remember to throw away the excess water from the trays to prevent your plant from sitting in this water. You can also place your ZZ in a sink or outside to drain after watering, before returning it to its pot tray.
The best pot sizes for ZZ plants
Pots are generally available in three different sizes, as follows:
1. Small size (four to six inches)
The small size is usually what you would get when you initially buy your ZZ. Because ZZ plants are not heavy feeders and take months to grow, you can leave your plant in this small-sized planter for some time before it is ready to be transplanted to a new container.
Smaller pots are also preferable if you intend to put your ZZ indoors. They are light and easier to move around the house, and generally look good in indoor spaces.
You can also choose small pots if you plan to propagate your ZZ plant. Simply divide your plant by cutting off a few stems that have healthy leaves on them. Then, let the cuttings establish their own roots in the small pots.
2. Medium size ( seven to 10 inches)
If your ZZ has outgrown its original container, you will need to repot it in a medium-sized planter. This will give it enough space for its roots to grow for another few years without issues.
3. Large size (above 10 inches)
Large-sized pots are usually for plants that are at least five feet tall. So, if you have been growing your ZZ for a long time and it has reached this height, you should consider this larger size.
However, indoor ZZs do not usually grow this tall in their lifetime, so it is quite rare to use such large pots for a ZZ.
Hence, the best size for ZZ plants is usually medium, unless you plan to divide your plant every time it grows larger, in which case you can stick with the small pots.
The best pot types for ZZ plants
1. Ceramic pots
Ceramic pots come with a lacquer coating to prevent the soil from drying out easily. Since the pot tends to hold moisture for longer periods, you will need to watch your watering habits closely to prevent overwatering your ZZ. Alternatively, use a ceramic pot as your outer pot, and another, better-draining pot as an inner pot.
Ceramic pots are designed with beautiful colors and textures that can give your ZZ an elegant look. Depending on your preferences, you can choose a matte or shiny finish, or one with a textured appearance.
2. Plastic inner pots
We have mentioned before the advantage of using plastic pots as inner pots – they are lighter and easier to move. They usually come in very plain designs and colors, unlike the ceramic ones. But do not worry – if used as inner pots, you will not see them once they are placed inside outer pots. Just make sure these inner pots have drainage holes and fit well inside your preferred outer pots!
3. Eco plastic pots
Eco plastic pots are made from recycled plastics and natural stone. From the name itself, you can tell that these pots are completely recyclable and highly durable, lasting more than 10 years. Eco pots are also UV resistant, so if you choose one of these super-hardy containers for your ZZ, you are sure to save money on plant supplies as it will not easily fade or crack, no matter the weather.
Do ZZ plants like bigger pots?
ZZ plants do not appreciate being grown in pots that are overly large for their size. As mentioned before, larger pots tend to hold more moisture and put your ZZ at risk of developing root rot and fungal diseases. Furthermore, a ZZ plant in the correct pot size also looks better than in an oversized (or undersized) planter.
Do ZZ plants need a deep pot?
ZZ plants are perfectly happy in a regular, small or medium-sized pot. Just remember that drainage holes are extremely important, so make sure to choose a pot that has them. It is also recommended to use the appropriate potting mix with good aeration to keep the roots healthy. Do not forget to repot your plants once every two to three years to prevent them from becoming rootbound.
Choosing the right pot size for your ZZ can be challenging if you are a newbie gardener. If you are just starting to grow a ZZ plant at home, you will find the repotting process is really quite easy – just make sure you do your research beforehand so that you understand the basic needs of your plants. This way, the repotting experience will be smooth and enjoyable for you and your plant!
Image: istockphoto.com / OleseaV