Skip to Content

ZZ Plant Care: Growing and Propagation Tips

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links.

ZZ plant is one of the toughest and easiest to grow houseplants. If you are looking for a carefree plant that won’t suffer even if you neglect it for weeks or longer, then look no further than Zamioculcas zamiifolia, or ZZ plant!

This post will teach you about:

  • Proper light and temperature for ZZ plant
  • Factors that affect growth rate
  • Watering and fertilizing
  • What it means if ZZ plant leaves are turning yellow
  • How to propagate ZZ plant

Do ZZ Plants Grow Fast?

Most literature says that ZZ plants grow slowly, but this is not my experience! Give it proper care as detailed in this post, and your ZZ plant will grow quickly too!

In fact, my ZZ plant even shot out plenty of new growth in the middle of our dismal Ohio winters.

If you are looking for ways to make your ZZ plant grow more quickly, keep reading all my care information below.

ZZ PLANT CARE

LIGHT

ZZ plant is one of those houseplants that will survive practically anywhere you will put it! Anywhere between complete darkness and full direct sun will be suitable for this plant, and this is not an exaggeration. 

The best-case scenario would be to have bright indirect light, and a little bit of direct sun won’t hurt at all.  Although this plant is tolerant of very low light, don’t expect it to grow too much if your light is very poor. 

It is very tolerant, however, and it would be a perfect plant even for office areas with no windows and only overhead lighting.

When you see a plant tag that says “low light,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that the plant NEEDS low light. 

It simply means that it will TOLERATE low light.  That being said, this plant will still look great in lower light situations, but don’t expect it to grow too rapidly, and it may weaken over time. 

This plant is one of the best plants for lower light conditions, rivaling only a handful of others like Pothos and Sansevieria.

I have a ZZ plant on top of my kitchen table, which is a few feet away from a Western exposure window.  There is also a skylight right above the kitchen table. 

Throughout the year, it may get a glimmer of direct sun occasionally, but most of the day it sits in indirect light.  I would still consider it a lower light situation, but it is sufficient for me since the new growth is strong and the growth rate is actually much faster than I expected for this plant.

If your growth is floppy and very weak, you may need to increase your light levels.  But don’t go too far in the other direction as you don’t want these sitting in a lot of direct sun either.

TEMPERATURE

This plant is best grown in temperature ranges of 65F-80F (about 18C-27C).

WATERING

ZZ plants will tolerate a great amount of neglect when it comes to watering.  Similar to lighting conditions however, if you DON’T completely ignore the watering needs of your ZZ plant, it will reward you! 

But if you are a forgetful waterer, this is one of the best plants that you can grow!

Those of you that follow me on Instagram (@ohiotropics) know my stance on watering.  I like to water thoroughly until water drains out of the drainage holes. 

For ZZ plants, I will wait quite a while before watering again.  I don’t really use a calendar to determine when I water because it will drastically vary depending on many factors. 

After watering it thoroughly, I will wait pretty much until all of the soil is completely dry.  You definitely want to at least wait until the top inch or two of the soil is dry before watering again. 

Don’t even THINK about watering this plant again if you touch the surface of the soil and it is still moist! 

I know someone who only waters her giant ZZ plant once a month and it grew to monstrous proportions. This is really one of the few plants that can tolerate those conditions.

Never let this plant sit in water for extended periods of time, otherwise it may quickly rot.  It is very difficult to kill this plant unless you go heavy with the watering can! 

FERTILIZING

Most all-purpose or balanced houseplant fertilizers are good to use.

Like all of my houseplants, I like to fertilize dilutely at every watering starting in late Winter and continuing through early Fall.

ZZ PLANT SOIL

ZZ plants need excellent drainage. I like to use a cactus and succulent mix for these plants, but I also will mix in additional coarse perlite or pumice.

My go-to potting soil when I want to use a succulent/cactus mix is Miracle Gro Cactus Palm and Citrus mix.

I do like to add either additional coarse perlite or pumice to this mix as well. You will have an outstandingly well-draining potting mix as a result.

I don’t measure the proportions exactly, but it’s probably about one part perlite or pumice to 3 parts potting soil. You can adjust the ratios to your liking.

ZZ Plant Yellow Leaves

If your ZZ plant has a lot of yellow leaves, chances are that you have probably kept it too wet.

Feel your soil. Is it moist? Has your plant possibly been sitting in water for extended periods of time?

If so, your ZZ plant may have suffered from root rot. Promptly take it out of its pot and repot it. Remove any rotten roots and pot it up into a pot that is appropriate for the size of the root ball.

PROPAGATING ZZ PLANT

There are multiple ways you can propagate ZZ Plant, and I’ve written a separate blog post on how to propagate using leaves, but keep reading to get the gist of it, and I included a link below to my details post with photos that you can reference.

zz-plant-babies
These plants were made from single ZZ plant leaves that I propagated in water.

There are a 3 main ways that you can propagate the ZZ plant.

DIVISION

The quickest way is by division.  When you repot the plant, you would simply divide the plant at the root system and then simply repot. 

This may be a little tricky though because the plant produces very thick rhizomes so it may not be the easiest unless you want to instantly make new plants. You may run the risk of damaging the plant however since the rhizomes can be difficult to work with.

STEM CUTTINGS

Another way to propagate is to simply cut off an entire stem and place it in water.

zz-plant-stem-propagation-water

The one with the leaves ended up rooting, and I planted it into a 4 inch pot. After that point, it sat there doing nothing for about 10 months.

zz-plant-stem-propagation-water

The patience was well worth it. Take a look at the new shoot growing at the base!

zz-plant-stem-propagation-water
New ZZ Plant shoot growing

Looking to purchase a ZZ Plant? One of my favorite and most convenient one-stop-shops to buy practically any plant is Etsy. Check out the ZZ Plant selection (link to Etsy) today!

LEAF CUTTINGS

The other method, which is the safest but takes longer, is simply to take leaf cuttings!  The procedure is as follows:

Snip a single leaf off of the plant.  It is best to take a few leaves because not all of them will necessarily root!

You can allow the leaves to air dry for a day or so, but I’ve been successful without doing this.

At this point you can place the leaves in water or place them straight into potting mix. Here is what they will look like after several months in water.

zz-plant-leaf-propagation

If you choose soil propagation, simply insert the end of each leaf, where it was cut, partially into a pot to which you’ve added a special potting mix.  About 1/3 of the leaf or so should be in the potting mix.  Enough so that it is stable and doesn’t wobble around. 

For the potting mix, you can use about half seed starting potting mix (or even a normal all-purpose potting mix if that’s what you have on hand) and half perlite.  Or if you have a cactus/succulent mix, use half of this mixture and half perlite.

Water very lightly and place the pot in a warm location with bright indirect light.

Then just wait!  Water occasionally when the potting mix gets too dry.

Depending on how warm your home is, it may root is as quickly as a month, or it could take several months. 

Warmer conditions will make the process go much more quickly.  If you get curious, you can gently pull the leaf out after a month or so and inspect for any roots and rhizome formation. 

You can pot it up into its own pot after this, or leave it in the pot that you propagated it in.

For more a more detailed and visual post on how to propagate ZZ plant leaves in both water and soil, check out my blog post ZZ Plant Leaf Propagation: 2 Easy Water and Soil Methods. I show step by step exactly how to do this, and with photos.

Looking to purchase a ZZ Plant? One of my favorite and most convenient one-stop-shops to buy practically any plant is Etsy. Check out the ZZ Plant selection (link to Etsy) today!

Do you have a ZZ plant? It is a must have in any houseplant collection! Comment with your thoughts below!

Please do me a favor and share this post to social media because it will help me spread the Ohio Tropics houseplant care tips to the masses! Also, check out my shop on Amazon for all your houseplant care needs:

OHIO TROPICS PLANT CARE STOREFRONT

Dan C.

Saturday 7th of August 2021

Easiest house plant ever. I grew mine from three swiped leaves! Don't tell anyone! They took an entire summer outdoors in mostly shade to root and send up shoots. In my experience this plant appreciates a little morning sun and good indirect light. It has even sent up new shoots in the middle of dismal Pittsburgh winter last year. Have a raven ZZ in propagation this summer.

Raffaele

Saturday 7th of August 2021

Hi Dan! I agree with you that some morning sun is beneficial, and mine also tends to shoot out some new growth in the winter as well. It seems pretty typical! Enjoy your plants, and I love ZZ Raven! :-)

Kalyani

Thursday 29th of July 2021

I have my very first zz plant. One of my neighbors divided hers and gave me two stems that I have potted. I water it very cautiously, waiting to make sure the soil is completely dry. The plant sits on a north facing window sill Friday to Tuesday and on a book shelf in a well lighted room, a few feet away from the same window sill. One of the stems has lush, shiny, leaves. The leaves on the other stem are curling and a bit dry. They were that way when I got the plant. How will I know if the plant is settled into its new home and is starting to grow? What should I expect with the stem that has dry, curling leaves? Thanks! (house plant neophyte here :)

Raffaele

Tuesday 3rd of August 2021

Hi Kalyani, I'm wondering if the stem that is suffering is just from when your friend divided hers. Maybe the roots were damaged in the process. It's hard to determine the fate of the dry/curling leaves without seeing a photos though. As far as the growth, you'll just have to keep an eye on the plant and monitor the growth. It may grow more leaves at the tips, but it will most likely take quite a while longer to shoot out new growth from below the soil line. Just have some patience. :-)

dee

Wednesday 6th of January 2021

never heard of it till a month or so ago; saw 3 in kroger store and picked one up. one of the leaves looked yellowish on the top end. gave it a tug, leaf came out with a few short roots. now what?

Raffaele

Wednesday 6th of January 2021

Don't worry about it. Just try and follow what I describe in my post. You don't know how the plant was treated before you purchased it, so do your best to provide the conditions that it likes and you should be good! Yellow leaves can be caused by a huge variety of things.

green_dumb

Tuesday 13th of October 2020

I love your blog (and Instagram!)! Your plants all look so healthy. I searched for zz plant propagation on your blog but did not find a detailed one (i.e., one with info on where exactly do I pick the leaves off the stem, do I let it callous first before letting it sit in water?). I’ve seen you posted on Instagram the leaves you started propagating in water 3 months or so ago, which grew relatively big rhizomes. Was thinking maybe there is a post dedicated to it?

green_dumb

Monday 19th of October 2020

@Raffaele, great! I just read the post. Great job! You are my plant god! :-)

Raffaele

Tuesday 13th of October 2020

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoy my sites :-). I was planning on writing a post on ZZ plant leaf propagation, but haven't gotten around to it yet. You really can't go wrong though. Just snip the leaf off close to the stem, and place it in water. Wherever you snip the leaf, it will grow. I did not let my leaves callous over. You can put them straight into water. Hope this helps! I will be writing a post though at some point for my blog.

Lisa Zarrow

Sunday 30th of August 2020

When you repot a ZZ plant should the rhizomes be exposed or planted underneath the soil? Thank you!!!

Raffaele

Monday 31st of August 2020

Hi Lisa! The rhizomes should be underneath the soil :-)