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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 a couple ways that you can propagate the ZZ plant.

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.

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!

Allow the leaves to air dry for a day or so.

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.

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

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Knolly

Wednesday 27th of May 2020

Great post I’ll be following your guidance. I just received my ZZ, actually last week. Any suggestions on pot size? I’ll be keeping it on my porch where there is great natural light.

Raffaele

Thursday 28th of May 2020

I can't really say without knowing what your plant is currently in. As a general rule of thumb, only go up one pot size from where you are currently at. That is, if your plant even needs a bigger pot now. :-)

Joey MacDougall

Saturday 11th of April 2020

Wonderful post on the beautiful ZZ plant. I have read several articles that say they are very slow growing and are best in low like. I too grow my ZZ in bright moderate light and has started sending 7 new stalks at once and is so beautiful. You are so correct that they love sunlight. Our plants here in Florida grow very large. Thank you for your very informative blog (website). Joey

Raffaele

Saturday 11th of April 2020

Hi Joey! I'm glad you enjoyed the blog post! They do like a little sunlight to some extent for sure! Be sure you don't place them in too much direct sun though...but it sounds like whatever you are doing to your plant is working well :-). Take care and thanks for commenting! I love to hear from my readers.

mary midkiff

Tuesday 4th of February 2020

in planting the zz, where does the root ball go. should it be where it can be seen or under the dirt.

Raffaele

Tuesday 4th of February 2020

Hi Mary! The root ball should go under the soil line for sure.

Angela

Thursday 7th of November 2019

Thank you for this post. Literally every article I read with regards to zz plants says they are slow growers and shouldn't even bother to fertilise them, which I didn't for 1 and half years since I got them. I will definitely follow your advice.

Raffaele

Friday 8th of November 2019

You're welcome Angela! If it is kept too dark, they will be slow growers. If you give them good light and fertilize during the growing season, they will grow much faster.

Rennie

Saturday 20th of July 2019

Love my ZZ plant so much I'm now on a mission to collect all the cultivars. Maybe you update with all the variations on the future.

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Monday 22nd of July 2019

Hi Rennie. They are great plants! I would love a ZZ Raven.