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A Comprehensive Guide to Propagating ZZ Plants

A Comprehensive Guide to Propagating ZZ Plants

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The Zamioculcas zamiifolia, also known as ZZ plant, has gained popularity as a decorative houseplant. If you’re planning to produce multiple plants, there are three ways available for propagating ZZ plants.

Those are: stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, or root division. Each method requires a slightly different process and yields different success rates.

In this article, we’ll provide step-to-step instructions on propagating your plant.

What You’ll Need to Propagate ZZ Plants

If you’re planning to propagate your ZZ plant, here are the materials you’ll need:

Sharp Shears or Knife

The stems of ZZ plants are quite thick, so a sharp knife or garden shears would be necessary to take cuttings. Alternatively, if you’re taking leaf cuttings, a craft knife will give you a more precise cut.

If you’re regularly using your cutting tool to handle other plants, ensure that it’s sanitized before you take stem cutting from your ZZ plant. This avoids the transfer of any harmful bacteria that may be present in the knife. You can do this by washing it with soap and water.

A Pot or a Container

Prepare clean pots or containers where you can plant your cuttings. They should have enough drainage holes to prevent water retention in the soil.

The size doesn’t matter since you’ll be repotting the ZZ cuttings once they have developed roots. You can also place multiple cuttings in one large container.

Potting Mix

ZZ plants require soil with good drainage. A recommended soil mix with be one part potting soil mixed with one part succulent mix. Further, you can add orchid barks or peat moss to prevent the soil from being pressed down.

A Decorative Vase or Glass

If you’re propagating ZZ plants using the water method, it’s possible to use any glass you may have available. However, if you want to add a flair to your home while doing it, you can use a decorative vase instead.

Ensure that the container is tall enough so your cuttings can stay upright. Further, the container should be cleaned thoroughly before using it for your cuttings.

Clean Water

ZZ cuttings require clean water during the propagation period.

First, the water should be free from any chemicals or impurities. Purified or distilled water will be the best for this job.

However, if you don’t have access to these, you can use clean tap water. Before using it, let it sit on a container for at least 24 hours.

Doing this will allow for the chlorine or any chemicals to dissipate, making it safe for your plants.

Then, the pH of the water can also affect the growth of your ZZ cuttings. The safe pH range for ZZ plants is between 6.0 and 7.0. To ensure you have the right pH, you can test the water quality using a water testing kit.

If you have all the materials ready, we’ll start discussing how you can propagate your ZZ plants.

How to Propagate ZZ Plants from Stems

One easy way to propagate your ZZ plant is through stem cuttings. It’s relatively easy and doesn’t take much effort.

Choose a stem that is healthy and free from any discoloration.

Then, cut off a stem at least two inches long from the parent plant. The stem should also have a few healthy leaves on top.

Alternatively, if you want to grow multiple plants, you can cut a large section of the stem and cut it into two-inch portions.

Next, you’ll need to remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting. This prevents the leaves from rotting once you plant the stem.

Although, you don’t need to discard the leaves. You can also place them next to the stem cuttings to produce more ZZ plants.

Let the cut ends callous over to prevent root rot. To do this, you can leave your cuttings in a warm area for a few hours up to three days.

After the cuttings are prepared, you are now ready to propagate them. You have two ways of doing this: through the soil or water methods. Let’s look into each one.

Soil Method

Now that you’re done preparing the cuttings, you can proceed with planting them.

Fill your pot or container with the prepared soil mix, leaving around 1–2 inches of space at the top.

Then, make a hole in the soil with your finger and insert a stem cutting. When planting multiple cuttings in a single container, ensure there are at least two inches of space between them to avoid overcrowding.

Once you’ve inserted the ZZ cuttings, tap the soil around the stem to keep it secure. After this, water the soil generously.

Place your stem cuttings in a humid area of your home for a few weeks. Keep the soil moist but avoid overwatering.

After six weeks, you can check if the ZZ plant is ready for transplanting by giving the base a gentle tug. If there’s resistance, it indicates a developed root system.

You can transplant it by transferring it to a bigger pot or directly into the ground.

Water Method

Propagating ZZ plants through the water method is straightforward. Once you have your glass or vase ready, put in enough water for the cut ends to be submerged.

Place the container in a bright area of your home, but away from direct sunlight. Placing the plant under direct sunlight can cause sunburn, and may kill your plant. After which, you should replace the water once or twice a week.

Propagating stem cuttings through water propagation might take up to two months or longer before you see a developed root system.

Leaf Propagation

One benefit of taking leaf cuttings for propagation is that it causes minimal harm to the parent plant. However, growing a new ZZ plant from leaves might take three or four months before you see any roots.

Preparing leaf cuttings is a much easier process than taking stems. If you’ve taken stem cuttings, you can pinch off leaves on the bottom half and place them next to the stems.

Although, if you’re planning to use just leaf cuttings, here’s how to do it.

Choose a healthy, mature, and full leaf and pinch it as close to the stem as possible. This is because cutting needs the petiole for new rhizomes to grow.

Also, if you want to be sure, you can use a craft knife to cut part of the stem along with the leaf. For higher chances of success, take multiple leaves from several stems of the ZZ plant to keep the foliage balanced.

After you’re satisfied with the number of leaf cuttings, allow the cut end to develop a tissue scar over a few hours. Lay the leaf cuttings out in a spot away from direct sunlight.

From there, you’re now ready to propagate your new plants.

Soil Method

Once you have prepared your container with your potting mix, water it generously and let it drain. By doing this, you can avoid disrupting the delicate leaves once they’ve been planted.

Then, place the leaf cuttings at least 1 cm deep into the soil. Hold the leaf upright, while you’re patting the soil around it to ensure that it doesn’t fall over.

When placing multiple leaf cuttings in a single container, ensure that there are around two inches of space between the cuttings. After which, place the container in a warm spot in your house. It should be away from direct sunlight to keep the leaves from getting sunburnt.

You should also ensure that the container is placed in a draft-free area to prevent the leaves from tipping over. To determine if your plant needs watering, stick your finger around one inch deep into the soil and check for moisture. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water the plant.

When the roots start to form, they will push the leaves upward. After three or four months, you can confirm if it has rooted by gently tugging on the leaf.

The leaf cuttings have successfully rooted when met with slight resistance.

Water Method

Since leaf cuttings are smaller, you can use a thin shot glass for propagation. The width of the container keeps the leaves from falling into the water and eventually rotting.

Fill the glass with some water and put the leaf inside the container, the cut end facing the bottom.

Maintaining the water level is much trickier than stem cuttings since the leaf-cutting only needs a small amount at a time. Once the water line is significantly low, replenish it immediately to avoid the leaf from drying out.

Similarly with stem cuttings, once you notice a developed root system on your leaf cuttings, it’s a sign to transplant your ZZ plant in soil.

Root Division

Propagating through root division gives you the highest success rate of producing new plants. Mature plants already have developed root systems which makes them sturdier than cuttings.

To start, choose a healthy and mature ZZ plant that has multiple stems.

Once you have identified your plant, remove the plant from its container. To do this safely and prevent damage to the plant, you can use a knife or garden shovel. Run it through the sides of the pot, while being careful not to hit the roots of the ZZ plant.

When the soil around the plant is loose enough, just give the pot a small tilt and carefully lift the plant. Then, brush off any remaining soil from the roots, so you can see the root growth.

You can also get a better look by rinsing it under running water. By then, you should clearly see the roots and the rhizomes of your ZZ plant.

Inspect the roots and rhizomes to identify how to properly divide the plant. Each section should have adequate rhizomes and root systems to ensure survival.

Some sections may be pulled apart by hand. However, it’s much better to use a sharp knife to cause the least possible damage.

Once you have your sections, prepare your pots and potting mix. The containers should be big enough to accommodate the root system.

Generally, it’s much better to use a soil mix similar to the original one. Although, you can easily give the roots and rhizomes a quick rinse before planting, so the original soil is removed from the plant.

Fill the bottom of the pot with soil, then hold the ZZ stalk upright while filling the remaining space. Press down around the section to keep it in place, and water generously.

Final Thoughts

ZZ plants are beautiful indoor plants that can be propagated through various methods.

Root division is an excellent way to multiply your plant. This gives you the best chance of success.

The stem method is an easy and effective way for producing new plants. Meanwhile, leaf propagation takes a while before you can see established plant growth.

Ultimately, whichever option you choose lies in following the correct methods and having the tools for the job.

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