How to propagate ZZ plant

ZZ plants (Zanzibar Gem) are long-lived houseplants that are very low maintenance, making them popular among plant lovers. If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ll know that ZZ plants reign supreme amongst Millennials and Gen Z-ers alike. Fortunately, they are also quite easy to propagate at home!

ZZ plants can be propagated by stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, or by root division. Stem cuttings are taken off ZZ plants below the soil line and then propagated in either water or soil. To propagate by leaf cuttings, leaves are simply snapped off and allowed to root into a moist potting mix. For propagation by root division, the plant is removed from its planter and the entire root ball is carefully divided up into smaller sections which are then repotted in separate planters.

This article is for you if you currently own a ZZ plant and are looking to up your plant game by propagating a new plant. This article will cover the basics and methods of propagating a ZZ plant so that you can do it yourself! 

How to propagate zz plant

ZZ plant propagation basics

Propagating ZZ plants is a great way to get the most out of your plant without having to buy a new one. The best time to propagate a ZZ plant is in the spring as the plant is the most active during this time. Keep in mind this plant grows very slowly and will take longer than most other houseplants to propagate. However, it is extremely rewarding when it does!

How to propagate zz plant - give adequate light for growth
Providing the zz plant with adequate bright filtered light (both before and after propagation) can help this slow-growing plant grow more quickly than it would in a low-light room.

Methods of propagating ZZ plants

There are several different methods of propagating ZZ plants. Let’s look at the main ways to grow more plants from a mother plant:

1. Stem cuttings

Using stem cuttings for propagation involves cutting a stalk at the base of the plant and propagating it in either water or soil. This propagation method is the most popular. 

2. Leaf cuttings

Using leaf cuttings for propagation involves cutting off one or more leaves at the base with some stem attached. This method is much slower but still produces the same result. 

3. Division

Using division for propagation involves dividing the plant into multiple sections with developed roots. 

How to propagate zz plant
Note the bulbous ends on these zz plant cuttings. Stem cuttings from zz plant roots are best if the cuts are made below the soil line.

Propagating ZZ plants from stem cuttings

Propagating a ZZ plant from stem cuttings is the quickest method for propagating a new plant.

Materials you need to propagate ZZ plants in water

To properly propagate ZZ plants in water, you will need a few materials.

  • Sharp pruning shears or a good pair of scissors
  • Dilute solution of alcohol or bleach
  • Rooting hormone powder
  • Clean container with fresh water

How to propagate a ZZ plant in water

  1. Disinfect your scissors using a dilute solution of alcohol or bleach. Disinfecting your scissors prevents bacteria and other debris from contaminating the fresh-cut stems.
  2. Pick the stems you want to cut off your plant. Make sure these stems are young with healthy tips as these are optimal for propagation. Stems on the outside of the plant are generally easiest to cut off the mother plant.
  3. Follow the first stem you’ve chosen all the way down the stem to the soil line. Carefully loosen the soil and look for a bulbous root. Slice the stem off the main plant so it includes the bulbous end if possible. Take more whole stems off as cuttings if desired.
  4. Replace the soil around the mother plant and wash the excess soil off the root end of the cuttings.
  5. Dip the cut end of each stem into rooting hormone powder. This is optional; however, it can be helpful if you’re new to propagating houseplants.
  6. Place the stem base into a clean container filled with fresh water. Place each stem in its container or group a few in larger containers. Make sure the cuttings are not crowded and the air circulation is good. (The easiest way to monitor root development is through clear glass containers to see the ZZ stem cuttings.
  7. Move the cuttings to a location with bright indirect light. If using a plant light, make sure it is at least a couple of feet away from the cuttings to avoid foliage burn.
  8. Monitor the plants every few days, changing the water to keep it fresh and looking for root development. Remove any yellow or mushy cuttings and plant the healthy cuttings into planters once they have emerging roots.
  9. Put the rooted cuttings into groups and place them into a planter with organic potting soil. Water the cuttings, making sure the water drains freely out of the bottom of the planter.
How to propagate zz plant in potting mix

Materials you need to propagate ZZ plants in soil

To properly propagate ZZ plants in the soil, you will need a few materials.

  • Sharp pruning shears or a good pair of scissors
  • Dilute solution of alcohol or bleach
  • Hormone Powder
  • Planter pot with moist potting mix

How to propagate a ZZ plant in soil

Propagating a ZZ plant in soil is extremely similar to propagating in water. Repeat steps 1-5 from above and continue with the following steps for propagating in the soil.

  1. Fill the bottom 1/3 of a planter pot with moist high-quality potting mix. Make sure your pot is at least 4-6 inches wide and has good drainage holes at the bottom. Tropical potting mix made with coco coir and perlite works well for propagating ZZ plants. 
  2. Place several cuttings into the planter pot. Usually, about three cuttings fit into a 4-inch wide planter, while five cuttings suit a 6-inch wide planter. The base of each cutting should be resting on the bed of potting mix.
  3. Fill the rest of the planter with potting mix. Fill the remaining space surrounding the ZZ stem cuttings, leaving around an inch of space at the top. Then, water the planter, making sure the water is draining well out of the bottom. Keep in mind, the soil may settle after watering, but this is entirely normal. 
  4. Move the planter to a location with bright indirect light that is not too close to the cuttings to avoid foliage burn.
  5. Monitor the plant every few days, watering before the soil becomes too dry. ZZ stem cuttings grow best in moist, not soggy, or muddy soil. 

Propagating ZZ plants from leaf cuttings

Propagating a ZZ plant from leaf cuttings takes a little longer than stem cuttings because it takes longer to develop a rhizome and roots. However, it is possible!

  1. Cut off a leaf from your ZZ plant, keeping a little bit of the stem attached. Let the ends become dry and callous before planting to prevent the cuttings from rotting. This usually takes a day or two at most.
  2. Place the leaf into the potting mix with the cut end facing down into the soil. Repeat with multiple leaf cuttings as this increases your chance of propagation.
  3. Place in a warm, bright area. You may not see any growth for a few months; however, that is entirely normal. Water only as needed.
How to propagate zz plant by root division

Propagating ZZ plants by division

Propagating by division is precisely like it sounds – the roots are divided up into smaller sections. This tends to work best with large established ZZ Plants as these plants grow slowly.

First, divide the plant into parts, each with a set of developed roots. How many sections you have depends on how many plants you wish to propagate. Each root section needs at least one healthy stem showing above ground. Then, place each section into a planter with well-draining soil and water thoroughly.

Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a quintessential Canadian gardener. An engineer by trade, she tends to an ever-expanding collection of plants. In her world, laughter blooms as freely as her flowers, and every plant is raised with a dash of Canadian grit.

Mary Jane is a certified Master Gardener and also holds a Permaculture Design Certificate. She's also a proud mom of three, teaching her little sprouts the crucial difference between a garden friend and foe.

When she's not playing in the dirt, Mary Jane revels in her love for Taylor Swift, Gilmore Girls, ice hockey, and the surprisingly soothing sounds of bluegrass covers of classic hip-hop songs. She invites you to join her garden party, a place where you can share in the joy of growing and where every day is a new opportunity to find the perfect spot for yet another plant.

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