Repotting a zz plant

If you’ve ever thought you just “can’t grow plants” because you have a huge brown thumb, then I have a surprise for you….

The zz plant is the plant for you! It’s almost like it was designed for new gardeners that tend to kill plants. It’s one of the hardiest houseplants you’ll come across, making it the perfect choice for a beginner gardener.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the incredibly zamioculcas zamiifolia, more commonly referred to simply as the zz plant.

Contents

ZZ Plant Overview

The zz plant is one of the easiest houseplants to take care of!

Zamioculcas zamiifolia is in the aroid plant family, along with the Aglaonema, Spathiphyllum, Philodendron, and the Anthurium plant families. It’s native to East Africa.

You wouldn’t guess that just by looking at it, though! It looks similar to the cycad zamia furfuracea, also known as the cardboard palm.

These plants are also some times thought to be part the snake plants family but are not part of their family.

Zz plants have thick, fleshy, and glossy leaves. They were used extensively in malls and public spaces and people thought they were fake because they looked so glossy!

Planting the ZZ Plant

You’ll probably pick this plant up at a nursery or garden center, so you don’t need to worry about growing it from scratch. But you might want to propagate from cuttings or leaves. If so, scroll on down to to the propagation section!

You can use the same size pot that you purchase your zz plant in forever if you want. They do just fine in a small pot. But if you do want to repot your zz plant, just plop them in a larger pot and prune the roots a bit to avoid them getting root-bound.

Overall, zz plants are a slow growing. They can get up to 3′ tall indoors, which is actually much taller than they get in their natural habitat.

ZZ Plant Care Guide

Zamioculcas zamiifolia is one of the hardiest houseplants you can grow. It can survive — and even thrive — in almost any conditions. You could even say it “thrives on neglect.” What a perfect plant for someone with a brown thumb, right?

Sun / Light

Zz plants do just fine in both high and low-light environments. Just be sure that it isn’t in bright, direct light as the leaves will burn.

Water

If you have your zz plant in a high light environment, you’ll need to water more often than if it’s in a shady or filtered sun area. Be sure not to over water in either situation though, as you can cause the roots to rot.

Wait until the soil dries to around 2″ deep before watering again.

Soil and Fertilizer

Zz plants don’t need to be fertilized often. Once a quarter is more than enough to keep them looking happy and healthy.

When you do fertilize, use a standard liquid houseplant fertilizer and dilute it by 50%. Be sure not to pour directly onto the foliage, as the strength of the fertilizer may burn the leaves of your zz plant.

ZZ Plant Propagation

It’s relatively easy to propagate from cuttings of your zz plant, just be aware that it takes a while for cuttings to root.

Either take a leaf or a small branch and plop it into some water or some damp soil, and then be prepared to wait a few months!

Pests and Diseases

Part of what makes the zz plant so hardy is its near-complete resistance to all pests and diseases. There are no known pests that bother this plant, so you won’t have to worry about any pesky scales or mites (for once).

Diseases can strike, but they’re mostly caused by high humidity or too much moisture on either the plant’s leaves or soil (rot). Avoid those conditions and you’ll avoid all diseases as well.

Is the ZZ Plant Poisonous?

This is a common question, and an important one to answer! Being a member of the Aracaeae family, the zz plant contains calcium oxalate, which is toxic to pets.

To remove any risk, simply keep them in an area that’s inaccessible to your pets! And even if a pet does nibble on it, you’ll rest easy knowing it’s not a fatal poison. It will cause diarrhea and potentially vomiting if ingested, so keep a watchful eye.

FAQs

Q. A branch broke off of my ZZ plant…can I use it to propagate a new plant?

A. The answer is YES, but it takes a long time. The best way to propagate is to root the branch in water or damp soil. Make sure you have ample light and warm temperatures…but be prepared to wait. It can take a long time for the zz plant to set out new roots.

Q. My Zamioculcas Zamiifolia has stems that keep drooping over, but I’m not over or under watering. What’s wrong?

A. Although zz plants don’t need fertilizer often, if you’ve had the plant a while it may be time for a light dose of fertilizer. The other issue could be a lack of light. In extreme shade, zz plants like to droop a bit. Try moving it to a sunnier spot.

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Widely reputed to be easy to care for, and often said to thrive on neglect, ZZ plants (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) are a popular indoor plant. However, there are a few common problems such as zz plant stalks falling over, which can affect their health and aesthetics. This article is going to explain why ZZ plant stalks fall over or droop, and how to prevent and fix the problem for good.

Why are my ZZ plant stalks falling over? ZZ plant stalks most commonly droop or fall over due to overwatering, which leads to root rot. ZZ plant stems can also fall over due to light problems, severe under-watering, lack of or excessive fertilizer, cold stress, transplant stress or trauma.

The key to preventing and fixing a ZZ plant with stalks that are drooping is to correctly identify and treat the underlying problem. The good news is that there are solutions for most issues that could be plaguing your plant. Read on to learn exactly how to fix your ZZ plant.

Overwatering Is A Common Cause Of ZZ PLant Stalks Falling Over

The ZZ is a succulent native to Eastern Africa. Its history in semi-arid regions has made it adaptable to long periods of dryness and sporadic downpours. The rhizome root system of the ZZ allows it to hold on to water. However, it does need time to dry out between watering, as overly wet soil can cause the rhizomes to rot and decay.

If you see your ZZ plant stalks falling over, you must think of overwatering as the most likely cause and investigate. Overwatering causes persistently waterlogged soil that reduces aeration of the soil. This creates a root environment that is unable to absorb oxygen, creating unhealthy roots. Waterlogged soil is a perfect environment for a range of anaerobic bacteria and fungi to thrive, which can attack the roots, causing root rot.

When root rot strikes, the plant may look entirely healthy until the problem is quite severe. Once you notice yellowing of the leaves or ZZ plant stalks falling over and drooping, it may be too late.

  • If you suspect root rot, you should remove your ZZ plant from it’s pot.
  • Roots affected by root rot will be mushy and fragile and these should be removed with sterile pruning shears.
  • Repot your ZZ plant into well draining soil and ensure the pot is not excessively large and has plenty of drainage holes.
  • Once your plant has been successfully repotted, you should only water your ZZ plant once the potting mix is almost dry.
  • Ensure that you empty any excessive water from the drip tray or decorative pot a few minutes after watering.

Underwatering Can Cause Drooping Too

Although less common, underwatering can also cause ZZ plant stalks to fall over, but for a completely different reason. If you just forget to water your ZZ plant, or are excessively cautious with watering, your plant will slowly dehydrate. Although they hold up remarkably well, eventually, the leaves will start to dry up, curl and drop, and the plant stems will droop and start to fall over.

Thankfully, there is an easy fix to this problem. Check the soil, and if it is completely dry and the leaves are crispy and curled, simply water your plant thoroughly, and the stalks will soon stand up tall again once the under-watering has been remedied.

When watering your ZZ plant, I normally suggest checking on your plant once per week. Feel the soil, look at the leaves and feel the weight of the pot. These will all help you know if it is time to water your plant. I’ve covered exactly how to water your ZZ plant in this article, if you want to learn more.

Once your plant needs watered, don’t just give it a little trickle of water. Thoroughly soak the soil until water runs freely out the drainage holes. I normally take my plants to the sink to water them, ensuring the soil gets a good soaking, and then wait until excess water has drained from the pot, before replacing the plant back in it’s spot.

The frequency your plant needs watered will totally depend on the plant and your growing conditions. A ZZ plant may need watered once a week, or it may take as long as 4-5 weeks for the soil to dry out.

Be guided by your plant and the soil rather than any schedule you have read, and your ZZ plant will thank you for it and you won’t have to see your poor ZZ plant stalks drooping down to the floor.

Read more about how to assess the watering needs of your indoor plants in this article.

Lighting Problems Can Cause ZZ Plant Stalks To Droop

Your ZZ plant will be at its healthiest in bright to moderate indirect light, but they can tolerate a wide range of conditions without affecting their health too much.

They can generally handle a dull north facing room or bright light and some direct sunlight per day without suffering too much. However, at the extremes of lighting, your ZZ plant will start to show signs of trouble.

Excessive Light

In excessively bright conditions, you may notice that your plant’s stalks appear to be leaning away from sources of light or may be looking droopy. The leaves may also curl or yellow and could also start to fall off.

The best way to resolve an issue with lighting is to relocate the plant to a less sunshine-filled part of your home. If you can’t find another spot for the plant to grow, consider tempering the bright light with curtains or blinds.

Low Light

When exposed to very low light conditions, most ZZ plants grow much more slowly, but new growth will become stretched and arch away from the plant in search of light. This will produce stems that droop, spoiling the natural aesthetics of your ZZ plant.

Try moving your ZZ plant closer to a window or provide some supplemental lighting from fluorescent or LED grow lights, if your space has no access to natural light.

Fertilizer Problems Can Cause ZZ Plant Stalks To Fall Over

ZZ plants generally aren’t very picky about the type of fertilizer that they receive. While some ZZ plant growers maintain a belief that the plant doesn’t need to be fertilized, at all, most plants will benefit from soil additives at some point in order to promote healthy growth.

If you’ve eliminated all other potential reasons for the stalks drooping or falling over, you may find it simply needs a good boost of fertilizer to help encourage it to thrive.

You should fertilize your ZZ plant once every 3-6 months with a well-balanced water soluble fertilizer. This is the one I use. If your plant seems to be dropping leaves and drooping soon after fertilizing it, you may want to evaluate the type and amount of fertilizer that you are using.

Both over and under-fertilizing the plant can lead to a range of issues with it, resulting in the stalks falling over or yellowing.

Using fertilizer spikes typically isn’t advisable, as they can potentially be strong enough to burn the roots of your plant. If you have used fertilizer spikes or a too-strong liquid fertilizer, you may want to consider repotting the plant with fresh soil and holding off on fertilizing it for some time until it has had opportunity to recover.

Low Temperatures

The hardy ZZ plant generally thrives in temperatures that don’t dip below 65°F. Temperatures that drop below 45°F can lead to stunted growth, while exposure to freezing temperatures may result in the leaves wilting and falling off. The plant stalks may also fall over, turn brown, and ultimately break off. If your plant is suffering from cold stress or shock, it may not be too late to revive it and get those stalks back to standing tall.

Return the plant to a warm area of your home and cut back any of the damaged stalks. Keep the plant warm, with bright, indirect light and allow it to recover from the stress of being exposed to freezing temperatures.

Depending on the extent of the damage to the plant from the cold stress, it should start to stand up again and also show signs of new growth within a few weeks.

Transplant Stress

It’s just good plant care to periodically repot ZZ plants into larger containers. While most plants tolerate transplanting really well, even the hardiest of plants can begin to show a bit of stress after their roots have been disrupted. One of the first signs that a transplanted ZZ plant is struggling with transplant stress will be seeing the stalks slump over.

There are any number of reasons for ZZ plant stalks falling over after transplanting, with the primary concerns being related to a lack of water or some type of damage to the roots during the transplant.

Generally speaking, you should avoid transplanting during the warmer summer months as this can quickly lead to the roots drying out when they are exposed to the air.

A plant that is drooping and showing signs of stress from being transplanted should be given time to recover. The plant will focus on root growth versus providing energy for the stalks when it is under some type of stress. Once the roots have been able to recover, the plant should start to perk up well.

Physical Damage To The Plant

ZZ plant stalks falling over can also be a sign of trauma to your plant. Small children, pets or rough treatment of your plant can lead to damage to the stalks, causing them to break and fall over. Damaged stalks are very unlikely to recover and should be removed with sterile pruning shears.

Last Word

ZZ plant stalks falling over is a sign of a rather unhappy plant. This otherwise hardy houseplant is telling you that something is wrong. Think of overwatering first, before checking for any of the other problems. Best of luck in returning your ZZ plant to good health.

As far as houseplants go, can we ever have too many? I think not. My home is loaded with them and 1 of my very favorites is tough as nails and so easy to grow. I want to share with you these ZZ Plant care tips so you can enjoy this gorgeous, glossy plant too.

My ZZ was growing like crazy and had gotten tight in its pot so I divided it into 3 plants about a year and a half ago. I gave 1 away and kept 2. Their care requirements are few and they do well and look good even here in the Tucson desert. The leaves have very few dry tips and they’re shiny as can be.

ZZ Plants in 10″ grow pots in the greenhouse. See how upright they are?

The botanic name for the ZZ Plant is Zamioculcas zamiifolia and it also goes by the name Zanzibar Gem. It’s a relatively new introduction ( the late 90’s) and wasn’t around when I started my horticultural career in the interior plantscaping trade. I’m sure we would have used the ZZ Plant a lot!

How ZZ Plants Are Used

I’ve seen them used both as tabletop & floor plants. 1 of mine is directly planted into a decorative pot & sits on a plant stand. The larger 1 is a wide floor plant. I’ve also seen them in larger dish gardens.

Size

The average size a ZZ Plant grows to is 3′-4 x 3′-4. Mine floor plant is 4′ tall (in a 14″ grow pot) by 4′ wide. Over time they can reach 5′. I’ve seen them commonly sold in 4″ to 14″ grow pots.

Growth Rate

They’re reputed to be a slow-growing houseplant. They’ll grow slower in low lights conditions & when the temps are cooler. For me, they have a moderate growth rate. But then again I’m in the warm (almost always) sunny Arizona desert.

Mine didn’t do too much growing this summer but both are putting out a lot of new growth in October. I’ve noticed that they grow in spurts.

This is my smaller ZZ Plant which came as a result of dividing my larger ZZ Plant. The leaves arch & spread out much more than those in the photo above.

ZZ Plant Care Tips

Exposure

Moderate or medium-light is the key for this plant to look its best. They’re often billed as a low light plant but they simply tolerate it; it’s not their sweet spot. Low light = little new growth & stretchy stems. In other words, your ZZ Plant will become very leggy.

Conversely, if they’re in the hot sun or against a hot window, they’ll burn in no time. If you have a room with moderate to high light, keep your ZZ at least 10′ away from any windows.

Watering

It’s good to know that these plants grow from thick, round tuberous rhizomes. These store water as do the thick, fleshy roots & somewhat spongy stems. It’s very important that you don’t overwater (ie: too frequently) a ZZ Plant.

I give mine a thorough watering every 2-3 weeks in summer & every 3-4 weeks in winter. Adjust accordingly for your conditions. This post & video on houseplant watering 101 gives you factors to consider.

Temperature

If your home is comfortable for you, it’ll be so for your houseplants too. Just be sure to keep your ZZ Plants away from any cold drafts as well as air conditioning or heating vents.

This is a sunburn on a ZZ Plant leaf. I put mine out in the rain 1 afternoon & left it out the next morning until 11. Only this 1 leaf burned. And, it was the end of October – they burn fast!

Humidity

ZZ Plants are native to tropical regions. Despite this, are adaptable & do just fine in our homes which tend to have dry air. Here in hot dry Tucson, mine only has a few teeny, tiny brown tips.

If you think yours look stressed due to lack of humidity, fill the saucer with pebbles & water. Put the plant on the pebbles but make sure the drain holes &/or the bottom of the pot isn’t submerged in water. Misting a few times a week should help out too.

Fertilizing

ZZ Plants aren’t fussy at all when it comes to fertilizing. I feed mine with worm compost & compost. I’ve been doing it once a year but next year I’m going to start doing an application in late February/early March (here in Tucson where the weather warms early) & then again in July. Read about my worm compost/compost feeding right here.

Liquid kelp or fish emulsion would work fine as well as a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer (5-5-5 or lower) if you have that. Dilute any of these to half strength & apply in spring. If for some reason you think your ZZ needs another application, do it again in summer.

You don’t want to fertilize houseplants in late fall or winter because that’s their time for rest. Don’t over fertilize your ZZ Plant because salts build up & can burn the roots of the plant. Avoid fertilizing a houseplant which is stressed, ie. bone dry or soaking wet.

Soil

What works for me is a mix in this ratio: 3 parts potting soil, 1 part succulent & cactus mix, & 1 part coco coir. I always mix in a few handfuls (how many depends on the size pot) of compost & top with a 1/4- 1/2″ layer of worm compost.

The compost, succulent & cactus, & coco coir I buy from a local company. This is the potting soil & worm compost I use. Here are more online options for compost, succulent & cactus mix, & coco coir. Read about my worm compost/compost feeding right here.

Repotting/Transplanting

This is best done in spring or summer; early fall is fine if you’re in a warm climate. The faster your plant is growing, the sooner it’ll need repotting.

Both of mine are growing in plastic pots but terra cotta or ceramic are just fine too. I potted them up a few sizes to give them room to grow.

This is the mother plant. See how jazzy & glossy the leaves are! It’s putting out so much new growth this fall.

Pruning

Not much is needed. The main reasons to prune this plant are for propagation or to prune off the occasional lower yellow leaf or bending, arching stem.

If you needed to prune your ZZ Plant all the way back for some reason, new growth would eventually appear.

Just make sure your pruners are clean & sharp before you do any pruning.

Propagation

I’ve propagated a ZZ Plant successfully by division & rooting stems in water. These posts will explain everything to you. They apparently propagate via seed for me but I’m way too impatient for that. With division, you get instant plants!

Pests

Mine has never gotten any nor have I heard that they’re subject to any. You might want to keep your eyes open for mealy bugs & aphids.

Pet Safety

All parts of this plant are reported to be poisonous but who knows. I’ve never eaten any of it & neither have my kitties. We have plans to do so. The ASPCA site (the 1 I refer too) doesn’t list this plant.

Most houseplants are toxic to pets in some way & I want to share my thoughts with you regarding this topic. I’d be careful if your cat or dog likes to chew on plants &/or dig – keep it away from them to be safe.

Cleaning

Houseplants don’t like a build up of dirt or dust. I put mine out in the rain 2 or 3 times a year. Yours would appreciate a gentle hosing off in the shower or sink if you can’t put it outdoors.

It’s billed as a low light plant but I’ve found it looks much better in moderate or medium light conditions.

The leaves are naturally shiny. They look even better & the plant functions better when they’re clean. Please don’t use commercial leaf shine. It clogs the pores & the leaves have trouble breathing.

When you buy a ZZ Plant, it’s tight & upright. With age, it spreads & fans out.

Leaves which get too “spready” can be cut off & propagated in water.

Speaking of propagation, I divided mine about a year & a half ago. I won’t do it again for at least 3-5 years.

Burns in direct sunlight & is easy to over water. These are worth saying again!

Speaking of watering, don’t water yours too often & back off on the frequency in the winter. Plants are resting at this time of year.

There’s word floating around here & there that this plant is toxic to humans. The opinions vary & all I can say is that it’s never bothered me when I’ve touched or gotten it on my skin. To be safe wear gloves. Don’t get near your hands near your eyes, mouth or nose when handling this plant. And of course, don’t eat any!

This was taken at the Plant Stand in Phoenix. ZZ Plants in 15 gallons grow pots – yes, please!

I love my ZZ Plants and so do others who see them. They almost always get the comment: “what is that plant?”. When they put out that glossy green fresh new growth (like mine is doing now) it’s music to my eyes. Why not give the ZZ Plant a try? As you can see, ZZ Plant care tips are abundant here and easy to follow. If you can’t find 1 where you live, here’s an online option for you.

Happy gardening,

Zamioculcas Zamiifolia (ZZ Plant)

ZZ Plant Care Guide

Light

The ZZ plant will accommodate a broad spectrum of light conditions, however it doesn’t like harsh direct sunlight found in South facing windows.

Early morning, or late afternoon sun is acceptable, therefore try to aim for a North, East or West facing window. Deep shade must also be avoided if you want it to grow.

Watering

You must take care here, the number one cause of plant death is too much watering. So read on to make sure you’re doing it right.

The plant is adapted to surviving droughts, therefore heavy constant watering without allowing the soil to dry out in between, will turn the leaves yellow before rotting the tubers away.

On the other hand, for productive and fast growth the soil needs to be moist for the majority of the time between late Spring to early Autumn / Fall.

As a basic guide, in good light and warm temperatures, aim for a heavy watering once a week and once every two or three weeks in poor light conditions and over Winter. Adapt accordingly based on how the soil feels, if it’s still damp when you come back a week later don’t water again.

Humidity

Not important.

Feeding

If your plant isn’t growing, i.e. if it’s in one of its “moods” (see introduction above and problem section below) or in Winter don’t bother feeding. Even when it’s growing, a weak feed once a month is more than adequate.

Temperature

This plant needs an average temperature between, 13 °C – 26 °C / 55°F – 79 °F. Warmer temperatures in the upper range will give an increase in growth output.

Repotting

Only repot if it’s needed and do it in Spring or Summer.

Propagation

ZZ Plant propagation is commonly done in one of two ways. The first is division which means you basically divide the plant once it’s a very large size and too big for its pot. It’s just a case of removing the entire plant from the existing container and gently separating some of the tuberous rhizomes. You could half the plant, split into thirds or divide even further if you have a very congested root system. The more you divide the parent plant though the smaller the new ones are going to be, so think about this carefully.

If you don’t want to lose the overall size and bulk or your Z Z Plant isn’t that large yet, it’s also really easy to propagate more through leaf cuttings, which is the second commonly used method of creating more plants.

If you choose to propagate by leaf cuttings then it will be a while before you’ll see results. You could be waiting up to a year before anything substantial happens above ground. If you have the patience and love a challenge give it a try.

If you choose to propagate by leaf cuttings then it will be a while before you’ll see results. You could be waiting up to a year

All you need to do is gently pull off a leaf from the stem, allow the raw edge to dry slightly (few hours to a day) and then pot it up in a free draining compost mix with the raw edge going in first. Only a few centimeters of the leaf needs to actually be in the soil, just enough to hold it in place.

Most of the leaf needs to be above the ground which prevents rotting, and allows for photosynthesis to take place which in turn creates the new growth. Keep warm and water very occasionally.

After you’ve done this one of three things will eventually happen:

  • A new stem will emerge by the side of the leaf you planted (always leave the leaf where it is, as it is fueling this new growth). Congratulations you have a new plant on the way!
  • The leaf will suddenly die. If you gently pull it out of the soil you may notice small tubers at the raw edge. This is basically the plant’s energy store, put everything back into the soil and the tubers will hopefully push up new growth.
  • The leaf dies and when you pull it out there is nothing to see. The attempt has failed this time. It’s easy to feel disappointed when this happens especially if you have been caring for this sole leaf for a long time, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Don’t take it personally and give it another try!

If you want a visual guide for the leaf propagation method, we found a great video covering this on YouTube. You can watch it below.

There are a few other less common ways to propagate ZZ Plants such as rooting stem cuttings in water. This is handy if an entire stem falls out of the plant and you would rather try and get it back in with the rest of the plant in the future instead of stripping it’s leaves and trying to create multiple plants (see above).

Simply put the entire stem with all the leaves as they are into a container or tall vase. In a few months you should see roots forming at the base. Wait until the roots are reasonable substantial before either putting back into the pot with the original plant, or pot it up on it’s own. When we did this we waited 6 months for enough roots to have formed before transferring from the water vase to soil.

Speed of Growth

Slow to moderate. Warmer temperatures tend to result in more growth overall. The new stems emerge out of the soil and quickly get taller before opening up, just like a cocoon.

Inside are all the new glossy leaves which will gradually emerge and fan out.

Height / Spread

The stems can grow to 60cm / 24. It’s spread however is limited only by the size of the container it’s in, very wide containers will result in a bushy plant (after many years).

Flowers

The ZZ does grow flowers from time to time, but they’re basic and not very exciting (see gallery for pictures).

Is the ZZ Plant Poisonous?

All parts of the ZZ Plant are toxic to the majority of household pets including cats and dogs as well as people, so keep the plant away from curious animals or kids.

Anything else?

The leaves are naturally glossy, so if they become dusty the leaves will lose their shine. Popping it into a tepid shower will help wash all the leaves quickly. Don’t use leaf shine products as this can be harmful and once washed, the natural gloss will come back.

How to Care for ZZ Plant Summary

  1. Bright Light Avoid intense sunlight and very dark areas.

  2. Moderate Watering Around once a week in Summer and once every two or three weeks in Winter.

  3. Temperature Average room temperatures needed.

  4. Feeding No need to fertilise your ZZ more than once a month and only when it’s growing.

  • Growth will be very slow if the light levels are very low
  • To prevent yellowing leaves, do not overwater

ZZ Plant Problems

ZZ Plant not growing

Little or no growth isn’t really a problem but it’s actually the ZZ plant’s most annoying (but normal) trait. Some people have told us their plant hasn’t grown at all since they brought it… 6 months ago!

The solution here is to focus on three important variables, light, temperature and watering, forget everything else. Ensure the plant is put in a well lit location, not too dark, or too sunny.

Growth only tends to occur if the temperature is above 18°C / 64 °F. Finally the compost should be moist most of the time, rather than constantly bone dry or completely saturated.

Even when you get this balance spot on you might not see any change for weeks or even months, so the final piece of the puzzle comes down to patience.

My Plant is too small

If you take a look at our photo just below you can see three leaves sticking out of the soil. This is because when the plant was propagated, rather than just using one leaf a few were put quite close together to create several new plants all at once.

This process speeds things up massively and helps make a wider and more pleasing plant to look at (although technically of course it’s several plants all in one pot). If you want to know how to propagate ZZ Plants read this. Initially the plant(s) may still be quite small, but in time they will get bushier and bigger.

Why are the leaves on my ZZ Plant turning yellow?

Unlike a lot of houseplants it’s unusual for this one to drop its lower leaves as it ages. It does happen on occasion though, particularly as things get colder and Winter arrives all of which will result in ZZ Plant yellow leaves appearing.

On the other hand if your ZZ Plant leaves are turning yellow very quickly and there is a lot of them changing colour it’s normally a symptom of overwatering. The plant is sensitive to this, so be careful, when in doubt it’s better for the soil to be too dry rather than too wet.

Sudden leaf drop on ZZ Plant

This is usually a survival mechanism to drastic underwatering for prolonged periods. The plant is naturally adapted to lack of water, but if it’s been going on for a while it will take more radical action by shedding leaves to reduce the rate of water loss through them.

If you’re sure a drought hasn’t or isn’t taking place, then it’s probably caused by overwatering and the tubers are rotting away. If rot has set in then the affected parts of the plant are about to collapse into a mushy mess. Think about making replacement plants by propagating any healthy leaves that are still attached to the dying stem(s).

Uneven growth / Leggy and heavy stems

A Zamioculcas plant will grow and lean towards light sources, so rotate the pot every once in a while to encourage an evenly spread plant.

If light conditions are poor, the stems can become spindly, leggy or stretched and much longer than normal. It’s harder to see spindly growth in the ZZ plant because the stems are so thick and long anyway, so instead look for the leaves becoming very spaced out and the stems top heavy instead. If you see this, consider moving to a brighter location.

There are Aphids on my plant

Aphids are annoying for any houseplant and the chances of getting them are increased greatly if you put them outside in the Summer. Unfortunately if given the chance, Aphids love the chance to suck sap from the ZZ plant.

They can be a pain to get rid of and over time can spread viruses and diseases. The photo above shows an infestation along with the consequences – diseased leaves.

If your ZZ plant leaves ever show random yellow patterns including spots, or mosaic patterns (again see photo). Thoroughly check the plant for Aphids, they’re well camouflaged so you may have to look closely.

If the plant is outside when you notice the problem then its possible natural predators such as Ladybirds will help you out and finish them off so you could leave things as they are. However this is unlikely if the plant is already indoors, or want to bring your plant insider for Winter.

You can either rub the Aphids off with your fingers, or mix up a spray with one part washing up liquid or liquid soap to about 19 parts water.

It only needs to be a weak solution for it to work, then spray. After a short time wash all the soapy water off the plant leaves. Remove disease infested leaves to stop it spreading to the rest of your plant.

About the Author

Tom Knight

Over the last 20 years Tom has successfully owned hundreds of houseplants and is always happy to share knowledge and lend his horticulture skills to those in need. He is the main content writer for the Ourhouseplants Team.

Also on Ourhouseplants.com

(Gallery) Photo credit of the ZZ Plant in the home study Min An
(Gallery) Photo credit of the ZZ Plant on a wooden floor to Andreas Hammerschmidt

ZZ Plant Leaf Cuttings – Tips For Propagating ZZ Plants

ZZ plant is a slow growing, reliable performer that is doggedly loyal even when you mistreat it. It is such an easy plant that creating more of them to share with friends and family seems like a good idea. Propagating ZZ plants is easy but can take up nine months or more. Learn how to root ZZ plant cuttings for a better chance at success.

ZZ Plant Leaf Propagation

It is common to find a ZZ plant in an office setting with low light and no fresh air. The uncomplaining plant, Zamioculcus zamiifolia, is also known as eternity plant, fat boy, aroid palm and many more common names. It hails from the Southeast coast of Africa and has been an important houseplant in the industry for years. ZZ plants grow from large thick rhizomes. Propagating ZZ plants is as easy as separating these or you can try rooting leaf cuttings.

Propagation of ZZ plants by division can only be done once in a while. This is because the plant produces new rhizomes very slowly and removing some frequently will damage the parent plant. Since rhizomes are slow, it is best to look at leaf cuttings as the source of material for propagation.

Stems cuttings alone will not work well, but if you take

a cutting with two leaves and a bit of stem, the rooting and growth is quicker than just a single leaf and no stem. ZZ plant leaf cuttings are the recommended method by professional growers and can result in new rhizomes in about 4 weeks when grown in nearly 80 degree Fahrenheit (26 C.) conditions. However, most of us don’t have greenhouse conditions so the process could take nine months or more.

Soil for ZZ Leaf Cuttings

Once you have the correct type of cutting, it is time to consider the medium. Some houseplants can root in just a glass of water; however, rooting ZZ plant in water will likely result in a rotten cutting and isn’t the best way to establish new plants.

They need to be in well-drained soil or the newly forming rhizomes will mold and fall away. The best mixture for rooting is often one that is almost soilless. At best, it should have superior drainage.

Try a good potting soil with plenty of vermiculite or perlite added into it or use a mixture of half peat and half perlite. The perlite or vermiculite will give the medium a light texture and help prevent soil from maintaining too much moisture.

How to Root ZZ Plant Cuttings

Take your ZZ plant leaf cuttings from mature stems. Allow the cut end to callus over for a few hours. Then insert it into your medium, cut end down. Place in a warm area with bright light during the day.

Check for roots and rhizome formation after a month. Once you have a few tiny rootlets and the bud of a rhizome, you can transplant the cuttings to larger containers. It is a good idea to start many cuttings with ZZ plant leaf propagation because some of them may not take off.

Additionally, checking to see if they have roots may actually kill the cutting, but if you have more than one you still have a chance of more ZZ plants. Be very patient. Some growers have mentioned the nine month period as the end of all your waiting, but it could take even longer if the cutting doesn’t have enough light and temperatures aren’t warm enough.

Simply put the cuttings somewhere that you will remember to water them occasionally and wait it out. Over time, this slow grower will jump into action and provide you with the start of a new plant.

ZZ plant propagation reveals an incredibly surprising plant.

Multiplying the ZZ seems to call upon all possible means of reproduction!

Many techniques for propagating Zamioculcas zamiifolia exist. It compensates somewhat for its slow growth.

Brace yourself for up to half a year of patience or more…

Read also:

  • How to grow Zamioculcas zamiifolia
  • Zamioculcas, the perfect office plant

How propagate a ZZ plant

There are several ways of multiplying an existing Zamioculcas zamiifolia plant: cuttings from leaves or stems, root ball division, and waiting for it to go to seed. This is applicable both for the common green ZZ plant varieties and the new black raven ZZ.

Methods for propagating a ZZ plant

  • Dividing a thick ZZ plant clump
  • Preparing cuttings from both stem and leaves, in soil or in water
  • Lastly, seed reproduction – but this is extremely rare!

Note on which specimens to propagate

Healthy plants

As always when propagating, make sure you’ve got a healthy ZZ plant. There should be no trace of disease or weakness, since propagation will further weaken the plant!

  • If you’re trying to save a dying plant, though, go ahead and try propagating it in different manners. You’ll have a higher chance of having one or the other cutting survive!

Rare ZZ plants

If you’ve noticed a surprising new sport on your ZZ plant such as leaf variegation, a different growth habit, it is definitely worth propagating. This will preserve the new, distinctive trait and may even lead to formalizing a new variety!

However, rare plants sold in large garden centers often already result from such a quest. They’re often protected by a plant patent, which prohibits propagation (except by seed). Usually this protection lasts 15 years from the date the patent is granted.

Dividing a Zamioculcas plant into several bunches

These plants grow tuber-like roots where water and nutrients are stored along the underground rhizome. After a few years of growing, several tubers will have developed. This is called crown division or dividing the root clump for the Zamioculcas.

  • Refrain from watering for at least 2 weeks.
  • Remove the plant from its pot delicately.
  • Separate a tuber from which both roots and stems are growing, threading the roots out without damaging them.
  • It may require slicing with a clean blade. If wounded, cure the plant for a few hours (let it dry in open air in the shade).
  • Plant each separated plant into a clean pot with a layer of drainage at the bottom and light, well-draining soil.

This is the quickest propagation method. It has the advantage of producing several new leafy plants immediately.

Here’s a video that shows how it can be done very carefully. It’s also possible to simply slice through the bunch with a sharp knife, but this will create more wounds that will have to heal.

How to divide Zamioculcas zamiifolia, the ZZ plant

Preparing ZZ plant stem cuttings

This method is perfect to recycle your Zamioculcas trimmings when you prune your plant after it has grown too large.

  • Snip leaf scapes (or stems) into portions at least 6 inches long. It’s also possible to keep a scape whole.
  • Place the Zamioculcas stem in a tall glass of water.
  • Change the water every three days to one week.
  • Roots will start developing at the immersed tip.
  • When the roots are over an inch long, carefully transplant to a pot with well-draining soil and a hole at the bottom.

It takes at least 3 weeks for the first roots to grow, and they’ll be an inch long after 3 more weeks. The advantage of this method is that each propagated plant already has one full leafy frond to start with, which is great for giving away to friends.

  • Tip: you can also plant your Zamioculcas trimmings directly in soil without the water-in-glass requirement, as long as you endeavor to keep moisture constant without drowning the plant.

Preparing Zamioculcas leaf cuttings

ZZ plant leaf cuttings with soil

This relies on the same properties as the previous method: roots will develop at the base of leaves as they did for stems.

  • Cut a healthy stem off from the Zamioculcas plant.
  • Detach each leaf from the plant by pulling them out delicately. Let the plant tissue scar for a couple hours in the shade.
  • Prepare trays equipped with clear covers filled with soil mix.
  • Prick the zamioculcas leaves in, stem facing down, to a depth of half an inch (1 cm).
  • Space leaves by about 2 in (5 cm) to each side), and water.

Seal the trays or wrap the pots in clear plastic to lock moisture in. Keep the trays in a warm greenhouse or on a windowsill indoors.

The leaves will wilt away, but tubers will start forming and eventually new shoots will appear.

  • Tip: use this method to reuse leaves that have fallen from your Zamioculas plant when under water stress.

Note: When propagating the dark-leaved Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Raven’ – fresh new shoots always start off bright green and only turn dark black as time passes.

ZZ plant leaf water cuttings

Much as you would sprout avocado from seed, you can grow ZZ cuttings from leaves directly in water.

  • from a healthy stem, pluck one leaf or more from your ZZ plant
  • place it in a shallow glass with the cut portion in the water
  • you can stabilize the leaf with wooden toothpicks or bent paperclip (don’t use copper wire)
  • replace and replenish the water often to protect against algae (a piece of wood charcoal in the glass can help stabilize this, too).
  • roots and tuber will start growing
  • plant to soil when rootlets are at least an inch (3 cm) long

You can see what this looks like on this page about the raven ZZ.

ZZ plant propagation from seed

This is probably the least common method of multiplying your Zamioculcas. Flowers appear randomly and have evolved to be pollinated by crawling insects, something offices and houses don’t have much of!

  • The flower has two different portions: the tip is the male part, and the base just at the husk is the female part. As sterile zone separates both to reduce self-pollination.
  • When the female flowers are ready to be pollinated, the husk (or spathe) folds back and the flower bends down to the ground, granting access to insects.
  • These are attracted from flower to flower, brush up against the male portion before reaching the female portion.
  • A few flowers will develop into fruits that bear seed.

It’s possible to mimic the path that insects would follow with a moist, fine paintbrush at the appropriate time. Fruits will appear with seeds inside them. Seeds can be sown and, in time, will germinate.

Read also:

  • How to grow the Zamioculcas zamiifolia plant
  • A great plant for the office, Zamioculcas
  • Zamioculcas ‘Raven’, the black ZZ plant

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Zamioculcas clump by Flower Council Holland / the joy of plants
Roots of a Zamioculcas by Mokkie under © CC BY-SA 3.0
Video of ZZ plant propagation by Brian Robles, Nature & Garden contributor
ZZ plant leaf cuttings by Withfriesplease , private agreement (Reddit user)
Blooming ZZ plant by Rusty Clark under © CC BY 2.0
Seeds of Zamioculcas zamiifolia by DiBlase under © CC BY-SA 3.0

If you love free plants as much as I do, the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is going to be one of your favorite go-to’s for propagating houseplants. The ZZ plant is easy to root from a simple cutting placed in water. Plus it makes for a lovely decorative foliage arrangement while you wait for it to root!

This plant is one of my top 5 favorite easy-to-propagate plants which I shared recently.

Taking A Cutting

If your mama plant is a good healthy plant it will eventually produce beautiful long shoots. Those long shoots are my preferred pieces to cut (although not necessary…any piece will do). Cut them close to the base at a bit of an angle, and make sure there are several leaves at the top.

Just be aware that longer shoots seem to take a bit longer to root, but I like my plant to have a nice even trim, so I don’t mind.

You can also use shorter stalks, no need to wait until your plant produces long shoots. As a matter of fact, the shorter stalks might just root faster.

Tips For Rooting In Water

If you aren’t on well water, make sure you filter your tap water before placing the cutting in the water. Put enough water that it won’t evaporate and dry out after several weeks. And don’t be afraid to submerge much of the stem, it may turn a slightly darkened color, but that doesn’t seem to affect it negatively.

This ZZ plant cutting has 1″ of root and took about 2 months to grow this long, but some may take longer.

Whatever vase you choose, you’ll want to be mindful of the size of the vase opening. Be sure the vase opening is wide enough to take out the rooted stalk without damaging the roots.

No rooting hormone is necessary, just water and time! Not every stem will root, but I’ve had success with 80% of mine rooting.

Transplanting Rooted Plants To Soil

Once your plants have rooted, be patient and allow the roots to grow a couple inches before transplanting to soil. Root and plant two or three cuttings at the same time so it will round out the planter more. Plus cuttings seem to do better in a grouping of two or three…

One trick I employ is to blend my potting soil types. Especially when the potting soil is mostly composed of perlite and vermiculite, which drains well but has no real nutrients. You want to ensure the transition from water to soil goes smoothly by providing a bit of fertilizer.

Normally you want to allow the soil to dry out between waterings so that the roots don’t rot. However, the first couple weeks you’ll need to water a little more frequently because they are used to being in water.

Caring For The ZZ Plant

These wonderfully low maintenance plants do really well if you set them in indirect light, water every couple weeks, and remember to fertilize every so often.

If any of the leaves turn yellow, just cut it off; It may indicate you are over watering.

It may take a month or so for your plantlings to adjust to soil. So if you feel like it requires more maintenance than usual, hang in there! As long as you aren’t putting them in harsh sun, or over water them, they should level out and become easy plants. Eventually they will be your best low care plants, and even do well in lower light areas of your home!

Happy propagating!

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ZZ-plant or zamioculcas zamiifolia is a tropical perennial plant native to Africa, New Zealand, and Kenya. It is often called as drought tolerant plant as it has rhizomes that have the capability to store water for a long time.

The Plant has air-purifying quality for the indoor environment (i.e. home and offices). ZZ-plant is able to remove volatile organic compounds like benzene, toluene, xylene, and ethylbenzene. In some countries, the juice is extracted from leaves to treat an earache, inflammatory conditions and roots for ulcer problems.

Here in this article, you come to about the growing conditions of ZZ-plant and the factors affecting it. We also come with a solution to your air-purifying ZZ-plant problems.

Zanzibar Gem Plant Growing Conditions

USDA Zones : 9-12

Plant Height : 3 Feet

Temperature : 65-75 F

Seed Germination : 7-10 Days

Flowers : White, bright yellow, brown colors

Sunlight : Full Sun

Fertilizers : Balanced N-P-K (20-20-20), compost or manure

Other Names : ZZ-Plant-Zamioculcas Zamiifolia-Zuzu plant-Emerald palm-Zanzibar gem-Aroid palm-Eternity plant

Step-by-step procedure to Grow Zamioculcas plant

ZZ-plant is a popular slow-growing houseplant which is easy to take care of. Here is the step by step procedure to grow the zamioculcas plant from seed indoors.

  • Before start sowing the seeds in pots, place them in warm water for 1 day to speed up the germination process.
  • Take out the seeds and allow it to dry for some time. Now the seeds are ready to place in pots.
  • Select the pot or container of size 8-12 inches when you start growing from seeds. The pot is made up of clay or ceramic and has holes at the bottom to drain water completely.
  • Use well-drain fertile soil to grow ZZ-plants in pots. You can also use equal amounts of peat moss, perlite, and loamy soil to improve the soil fertility.
  • Water the plant regularly and also when the soil becomes dry completely. Avoid overwatering ZZ-plant as it may result in root rot.
  • The plant grows well in low or bright light conditions. The seed germinates within 10-14 days and allows it to receive sunlight for a minimum of 8 hours a day.
  • When planted outdoors the best temperature to grow ZZ-plant is 65-75F and reaches to a height of 3 feet tall.
  • Pests like aphids, spider mites, thrips, caterpillars, and whiteflies cause great damage to the plants by feeding on leaves. To overcome pets problem spray Neem oil or insecticidal soaps on plant leaves.
  • Nutrient deficiency can also be the serious problem in plants. Deficiency symptoms include yellow leaves, dark green foliage, mottle lower leaves, curry leaves and brittle petioles. To deal with nutrient deficiency issues use organic fertilizers.
  • ZZ-plants require balanced liquid fertilizers (N-P-K: 20-20-20) to boost the plant growth. Fertilize the plant when matures and once in every month to thrive quickly.

Can you Propagate ZZ-plant from Cuttings?

ZZ-plant is a common air-purifying plant that you can see in home and offices. Propagating ZZ-plants can be done by stem cuttings and division method. It is because the plant produces new rhizomes very slowly and damages the parent plant. But if you take stem cuttings with few leaves then the rooting and growth are quicker. Within 4 weeks roots establish completely when you maintain the temperature between 80-90F.

Propagating ZZ-plant in water

In this method take the mature stem cutting of height 6-12 inches from the healthy plant. Now place the stem in a jar of water. Place it near window location to receive bright indirect sunlight. Change water in the jar for every 2-3 days. You can see the roots emerging at the bottom of the stem.

Take out the stem and place it in a well-drain soil or a mix of vermiculite perlite. If necessary add fertilizers to the plant to ensure quick growth. The plant is ready to transplant or shift to your home and offices to purify surrounding atmosphere by eliminating harmful toxins.

Propagating ZZ-plant in Soil-Division Method

To propagate ZZ-plant by division method, select a healthy plant that has glossy green foliage. During spring or winter season it establishes a new growth forming new leaves and stems. Now divide the parent plant into 3 baby plants using a knife or cutters. Plant them outdoors in a well-drain fertile soil and provide successive waterings. Make sure the plant is kept in a partial shade location for better growth. Within months the baby ZZ-plant matures and is able to purify the surrounding air, making an eco-friendly plant to grow outdoors or landscape.

ZZ-Plant Care Instructions

  • Do not overwater as the plant cannot survive and may die.
  • Zamioculcas Zamiifolia plants cannot survive in frost conditions.
  • Wear goggles, gloves, shoes and face masks while pruning ZZ-plants.
  • Pollination is not necessary as they don’t bloom flowers in any season.
  • Make sure the ZZ-plant receives sunlight for a minimum of 6-8 hrs a day.
  • Follow instructions & warning labels on fertilizers before applying them.
  • Fertilize the plants once or twice in a year during spring and summer seasons.
  • The pot must have holes at the bottom for better air circulation and proper drainage.
  • Re-pot the plant every year only when the root emerges out of the pot and transplant it bigger pots.
  • Add mulches around the plant to maintain the soil moisture levels and to provide nutrients to the plants.

Where does the ZZ plant come from?

ZZ-plant or Zuzu plant is an air purifying plant that is mostly seen in African countries i.e. from southern Kenya to northeastern South Africa. It is sometimes called as aroid palm and eternity plant. These plants usually grow to a height of 3 feet tall when grown home indoors with proper care.

How big do ZZ-plants grow?

ZZ-plants grows to a height of 5 feet tall and spread up to 2-3 feet tall. The plant grows from an underground rhizome that looks like a potato. The plant matures and grows faster when more or large number of rhizomes are grown together.

What are the good companions for ZZ-Plant?

Snake plant, Aglaonema, Calathea, Kalanchoe, Cast Iron Plant, Ti Plant, Rattail Cactus, Ferns, Ficus, Mosses, Rhipsalis, Prayer plants, Sansevierias and Tradescantia are the good companion plants that help the ZZ- plant to thrive quickly by deterring pests and also provides sufficient nutrients to the plants.

Do ZZ-plant bloom flowers?

ZZ-plant produces small flowers at the base of the plant when planted outdoors. A flower is a type of sapthe with a spadix that is not seen easily when it grows. Because the ZZ-plant flowers are covered with its leaves as they grow along the base of the stem. The flowers are available in white, bright yellow, brown colors of thickness 20 cms long that grows easily when planted in a well drain soil.

How to prune ZZ-plant?

Remove yellow leaves throughout the year as mature plants drop older leaves. You can also prune stems if they are too long using cutters or shears. Cut them above the soil level as they cannot be restored once you prune them at ground level.

Is ZZ plant poisonous?

Zamioculcas zamiifolia or ZZ-plant all parts of the plant are poisonous. Wash your hands or wear gloves if you want to prune the plant. So keep children and pets (dogs & cats) away as they can’t tolerate the harmful toxins evolving from the plants.

How do you repot a ZZ plant?

ZZ-plant performs well in a wide variety of soils, so you can repot them in all-purpose potting mix soil. Repot the plant from smaller pots to bigger ones at outdoors. Use a mixture containing equal amounts of perilite, sterilized loamy soil and peat moss. It is done during the months of the spring season for better growth of Zuzu.

Why the leaves of ZZ plant turning yellow?

These plants do not require more water but can grow well with small amounts of water only when the soil is dry. Over-watering the plants can kill the plant. Sometimes nutrient deficiencies can also be the reason for your plant leaves turning yellow color.

For more information refer: Why are my plants turning yellow?

Start growing ZZ-plant in pots or outdoors that purifies air near your home and garden. If you have amazing ideas about growing ZZ-plant in your home, please share your experience with us in the comment section given below.

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Zamioculcas Zamiifolia

The ZZ is a rhizome plant that’s a real joy to grow and to have displayed within a home. Many people mention it’s a slow grower, however, one I grew one a few years go that only took about 3 years to grow stems as long as 2ft, which is not that slow. I think how quick it grows will depend on how much sun light the plant gets (do not allow the plant to sit in direct sunlight – though).

As mentioned above the plant tolerates low light, bright light and different levels of watering. However, watering depends on how much light it receives (i.e., less light = less water and more light = more water).

How it looks: The ZZ plant grows similar to tree plants or palms and has stems with many leaves growing from these stems. The leaves are a fleshy type which are only a couple of inches in length and an inch or so wide. Some of these stems from the same plant grow straight up and then others arch over, which may encourage you to prune odd looking stems to keep the plant looking full and shaped well.

Flowering: The ZZ plant does produce small flowers at the base of the plant when it’s grown in it’s own habitat or outdoors. The flower is a spathe type with a spadix that is not easily seen even when it does grow – because leaves can hide the flowers and they grow at the base of the stems.

Displaying: I can’t say the zz plant is that fussy about where it is displayed. The place where it grows just needs to be able to accommodate it’s size in diameter, which can become over 2ft once it matures – making a table area a nice place to display the plant.

Poisonous: All parts of this plant are said to be toxic if ingested by children, cats and dogs.

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