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ZZ Plant Care: Growing and Propagation Tips

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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! Don’t miss my blog post on ZZ plant varieties, and 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

Joe

Saturday 2nd of April 2022

Raffaele, I have two ZZ plants and I'm amazed at how well they are doing. I've had them less than a year but I am getting a good amount of new growth. Both are located about ten feet away from an eastern-facing sliding glass door. I think I should consider repotting them as the one is about 30" tall and is just in a 4" pot! Thanks so much for your help.

Raffaele

Sunday 3rd of April 2022

Wow! It sounds like they're doing quite well, and you should definitely consider a 6 inch pot next :-)

buddy villa

Friday 17th of December 2021

Do zz plants put out any blooms? Please reply. [email protected]

Raffaele

Saturday 18th of December 2021

They can bloom yes, but it's not that common indoors.

Antoinette Cornish

Thursday 25th of November 2021

I have two Zz plants. I had four, two zz raven and two regular zz plant. I made the mistake of repotting them and combining them together, two raven and the two regular. The regular zz plant started turning yellow unfortunately. So I repotted it again but used a different soil potting mix. Cactus, pet moss, and pumice, and also Orchid mix. Hopefully that will work. I also took the yellow leave out and discarded them. I really need to purchase a BIGGER Zz plant to get the look im looking for.

Thank you for all of your help.

Antoinette C.

Raffaele

Saturday 27th of November 2021

Hi Antoniette! Combining them together won't necessarily cause the leaves to yellow. I would need to know more details on how you repotted, and the piece of the puzzle that I'm wondering about is your soil moisture. Did you feel the soil moisture? How are you approaching watering? Not knowing the ratios of components in your potting mix, the mix that you described is probably good, but it sounds like it will probably dry out pretty quickly, which is good. But just keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't stay completely dry for too long. Yes, they do like to dry out, but even these will suffer if you let them stay too dry for too long. Make sure you're watering thoroughly and give your plant enough light. I'm assuming you have drainage holes...These are my initial thoughts. I hope this helps!

Cynthia

Sunday 14th of November 2021

Help! My ZZ was doing fine until recently where the leaves started turning yellow. Panicked, I took the plant out of it’s pot to inspect the roots and reservoir and they seemed ok—nothing brown or mushy and soil was bone dry/dusty. I repotted the plant anyway and the leaves are still turning yellow, so I went through the inspection/repotting process again and found no issues. Any tips? Plant has been in a low light setting, but I have had new growth and been happy with its progress (and actually found two new stems that I hope I didn’t crush in the repotting process). Thanks for your help—my M-I-L got me hooked to your site!

Cynthia

Wednesday 17th of November 2021

@Raffaele, thank you so much for your response! I am so paranoid about overwatering my plants that I may have gone too far in the other direction. Yes, the water does run through as you describe (actually for a few of my Christmas cacti that I’ve been worried I’m underwatering as well). I will give the plant a little more light and a good soak. I appreciate your tips on how to rewet the soil. In the meantime, I’m also going to read your propagation tips just in case. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!! (And please ignore the its vs it’s issue in my earlier comment). Will be on the lookout for Houseplant Warrior. Best of luck to you. Thanks again.

Raffaele

Sunday 14th of November 2021

Hi Cynthia! That's for your description. All the details really help (and thank your MIL too :). It sounds like your plant went super dry and the yellow leaves are caused by that. Yes, ZZ plants are tough, resilient plants, but they have their breaking point too. Did you give your plant a good soaking? You have to be keep in mind though that sometimes when potting mix goes super dry, it will repel water. And when you go and try to water, the water will stream straight through. Have you experienced this? If so, you have to really soak the soil several times in a row in order to "rewet" the potting mix so that it will hold moisture again. After you recondition the soil, try not to let it go bone dry anymore and you will be ok. I hope this helps! You may want to increase your light a bit too, at least for a little while until it stabilizes. I talk about this more in detail in my book coming out in March, Houseplant Warrior :-)

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! :-)