ZZ plant propagation, how to multiply Zamioculcas

Zamioculcas propagation from dividing the root ball

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, compensating for its somewhat slow growth.

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This plant can take a rough handling, propagates even from broken-off leaves, and is generally called a “survivor plant”.

How to propagate a ZZ plant

There are several ways of multiplying a 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

A few separated zamioculcas roots and stemsThese 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

Three Zamioculcas zamiifolia leaves sprouted new shoots in a simple plastic pot.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 it 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 the soil, 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 slowly 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

A young zamioculcas flower just buddingThis 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.

Old partly fertilized zamioculcas flower with one marble-sized fruit growing on it for seedsIt’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.

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Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Zamioculcas clump (also on social media) 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 (also on social media) by Withfriesplease, private agreement
Blooming ZZ plant by Rusty Clark under © CC BY 2.0
Seeds of Zamioculcas zamiifolia by DiBlase under © CC BY-SA 3.0