Wondering how to propagate a ZZ plant? Multiplying this popular and hardy houseplant is super easy and there are actually three different ways to do it. You only need a tiny part of the mother plant to create a whole new ZZ.
Find out how to propagate a ZZ plant to keep or give away!
How to propagate a ZZ plant from stem cuttings
Taking stem cuttings from a ZZ plant is pretty easy and you don’t need much to make a new plant.
- First, take a sterilized knife or scissors and cut off a stem from the mother plant. Make sure that the cutting is at least two inches long with some healthy leaves near the top.
- You can propagate a ZZ plant with just one large cutting, or you can cut the large cutting into sections. As long as each section is still at least two inches long with a couple of healthy leaves each, it should work fine.
- After taking the stem cuttings, it’s recommended to lay them out somewhere warm for a short period of time to let the cut ends callous over. Some people do this only for a few hours while others wait for up to three days. It’s not an absolute must, it just decreases the chances of rot.
Once your stem cuttings are ready, you have two options: the soil method and the water method. Both are easy to do.
The water method requires less effort and houseplant cuttings in a nice vase are pretty decorative, so let’s start with that one!
Tip: Propagating any houseplant is easier and quicker during the summer months. This is when they are actively growing; during wintertime, they slow down.
Stem cuttings in water
All you need to do for this method is place the stem cuttings you just took into a container or glass of water. It doesn’t have to be a lot of water: just enough to make sure to cover the cut ends. Place the container in a warm and light place and change the water once or twice a week.
The time it takes for new roots to develop varies, but be prepared to wait a while. The first signs of movement can occur within a week or two, but it can take two months or more for the roots to grow enough to even consider repotting. Sometimes even longer!
Stem cuttings in soil
Just like with the stem cuttings in water method, you’ll need to cut a stem into one or multiple pieces. Again, it’s recommended to give the stem cuttings a chance to heal a bit before going any further.
Once the cuts have calloused over, you can place the cuttings into loose, well-draining soil. Normal potting soil mixed with some perlite and/or orchid bark works perfectly for houseplants with succulent-like properties like this one. Once you’ve planted the cuttings, water generously.
This method also takes a while. Be patient! Your cuttings will work on their root system before putting out new growth above ground, which means it can take a good while before any leaves pop up.
Not sure whether your ZZ plant propagation attempt has been successful? If it’s already been a bit, you can give the cutting a slight tug. If you feel resistance, that means roots have developed! Just don’t disturb your new plants too much to avoid damaging the delicate roots by accident.
How to propagate a ZZ plant from leaf cuttings
ZZ plant propagation is possible from a single leaf, just like with succulent propagation. It takes a good while to get a mature plant this way, but it means that you barely have to damage the mother plant to propagate it.
For propagating a ZZ plant using the leaf cuttings method, just pinch off a few healthy leaves from the mother plant, getting as close to the base as you can.
Once you have as many leaves as you’d like, the more the better, you have some options.
Leaf cuttings in water
There are a couple different ways of propagating ZZ plant leaves in water. One way is to simply place the leaves into water (a shot glass is handy here!) and let them do their own thing.
Another way is to make a clean cut along the bottom of the leaves, snipping off the bottom quarter, to encourage new growth. If you choose the latter method, you should let the leaves heal over before placing them into the water.
What’s great about the water method, whether you’re using leaf or stem cuttings, is that you can very easily see the roots growing. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process and you can pot up the result once the root system is nicely established.
Leaf cuttings in soil
The first steps for propagating ZZ plant leaves in soil are the same as the water method, but end with you gently pressing the leaves upright into soil with the pinched or cut side down.
Give the substrate a generous watering and then keep it lightly moist. After that, all you can do is wait and hope for the best! Again, you can give the leaves a slight tug to check if they’ve rooted.
Once the leaves appear to start moving upwards, that means a rhizome and stem are well on their way to developing.
How to propagate a ZZ plant through division
The division method is by far the quickest and easiest way to propagate a ZZ plant. It does, however, mean that you need a pretty mature plant with multiple stems.
ZZ plant propagation through division works because they’re clustering rhizome plants. If you see new stems popping up from the soil next to the mother plant, that means yours is ready to take apart.
Just take the mother plant out of its container, loosen the soil, and separate the plant into multiples. Make sure that each section has plenty of leaves and roots, plant in fresh soil, and you’re good to go!
The nice thing, of course, is that these new plants are already pretty established. They might sulk for a bit but should continue growing just fine with a high success rate.
Did you know? Unlike some other tuberous plants, a ZZ plant unfortunately can’t be propagated by dividing its tubers.Cutter, 1962
How to care for ZZ plants
ZZ plants, like most common houseplants, enjoy bright, indirect sunlight. What this means is that they’ll do best when kept in front of a window.
If you only have window that receive bright sun, then just place your plant a few feet away from it or use a sheer curtain to block the harshest rays. This helps avoid discolored and burned leaves.
Since they are tropical plants, ZZ plants like spaces that are warm and humid. That’s great for us: because long as you are cozy in your home, your ZZ plants probably are as well.
As for the soil, ZZ plants aren’t too picky as long as the soil is well-draining. The recommendation is to mix 3 parts general potting soil to 1 part succulent or cactus mix.
You can also toss in some bark or perlite to make the soil even more airy.
What makes ZZ plants so hardy and lovable is that they’re pretty forgiving when it comes to watering. Who hasn’t forgotten to water their plants once or twice? They need more water than some seem to think (they’re not real succulents), but there’s no need to watch them too closely.
You may only need to water your ZZ plant once every two weeks or so, depending on your household conditions. Just let the soil dry a couple of inches and then water generously, making sure that the water runs all the way through the planter.
While ZZ plants aren’t demanding, they do appreciate an extra dose of nutrients every once in a while. This especially applies if your ZZ is chugging along nicely and putting out lots of new growth.
During the growing season, you can use a diluted general houseplant fertilizer once a month or so. In the winter, when the plant growth slows, you can stop fertilizing until the spring.
Are ZZ plants toxic to cats and dogs?
Unfortunately, ZZ plants are poisonous to cats and dogs. In fact, they’re poisonous to all animals and humans! Every part of the ZZ plant is considered poisonous and can cause problems when ingested, such as stomach aches, diarrhea, and vomiting.
You should even avoid touching the plant too much without gloves since it can cause skin and eye irritation. This is definitely one houseplant you’ll need to keep out of reach of pets and children!
Tip: For all the ins and outs of caring for this popular indoor plant, don’t forget to have a look at the full ZZ plant care guide.
Cover photo © Adiano on Adobe Stock. Other photos, in order, © jchizhe © Suradech and © Adiano on Adobe Stock.