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Propagating A ZZ Plant: Rooting Stem Cuttings In Water

A few long stems broke off my ZZ Plant while dividing it into 3. This is all about propagating a ZZ Plant by rooting the stem cuttings in water. It takes some time but it works! These tips will help you out.

ZZ Plant stem cuttings in water on in a blue vase with green handles

I divided my humungous ZZ Plant into 3 separate plants several months backs quite successfully, thank you very much. I’d never done this before so I was a bit apprehensive to have at it with the pruning saw and cut some of those big tubers in half. All of the plants are doing great which is a salute to how tough the ZZ really is. 5 or 6 long stems broke off in the process so I decided to get on with propagating my ZZ Plant by rooting these stem cuttings in water.

I’d never propagated long stems of a ZZ Plant in water before so I was curious as to how it would go. The stems are soft and fleshy leading me to believe they might rot out. Oh not so! It’s definitely not a fast process and the majority of the stems aren’t showing roots after 7 months. That doesn’t bother me because they look great in the urn vase and aren’t showing a brown tip or a bit of discoloration.

The results of propagating a ZZ Plant by rooting stem cuttings in water:

The stems you see in the green vase are 28″ long, give or take a bit. A few short stems (around 8″) also broke off and they started showing roots in 3 or 4 weeks. I planted them up after 8 weeks and gave the new plant to a friend. If you’re in a hurry, go with the shorter stems. On the flip side, it will take them longer to grow tall so the choice is yours my friend.

2 short ZZ Plant stem cuttings on a red cloth both are showing roots

The root growth on the short stems after a few weeks. Once it appeared, the roots developed fast.

Things which are good to know:

I took these stem cuttings (except the 1 with the string) in late May. It’s now mid-January as I write this. It’s not a quick process with these long ones, that’s for sure.

I let the fleshy stem cuttings heal over for about an hour before putting them in water. Just be sure to keep them out of direct sun & hot conditions while doing this.

Don’t fill the vase up with water. I kept around 3″ of water in the vase at all times.

ZZ Plant Stem cuttings in a green vase with blue handles. A finger is pointing to the water line

Don’t let your cuttings dry out!

Use room temperature water. I changed it every 2 weeks or so – you want to keep the water fresh.

To the best of my understanding, you can’t root a ZZ Plant by a single leaf cutting. You need to get at least 2-3″ of stem & a couple of leaves for successful propagation.

6 long ZZ plant stem cuttings on a tile patio. 2 cuttings show big rootsThe stem cuttings, roots & no roots. The 1 on the far right has a string tied around it because I stuck that in the vase about 4 months after the other ones. The majority of the ones propagated earlier aren’t showing roots at all. You never know with plants, that’s for sure!

The root end of a ZZ Plant stem cutting. Small tubers are forming off the base

Here’s a close-up on the 1 with the most roots. To my surprise, little tubers are appearing at the base. That’s why I didn’t want to wait too long to get it planted.

You can also propagate shorter cuttings in a light mix. This takes time also; about 6-9 months to show a decent amount of roots.

ZZ Plants have small spadix type flowers which appear at the base. It makes sense you could propagate them by seed but I don’t know anyone who has done that. Except for vegetables & annual flowers, propagating by seed takes way too long in my book.

I divided my ZZ plant last year & won’t do it again for at least 2 or 3 years.

A large ZZ plant in a purple pot sites on a blue patio table

I planted the well rooted cutting in with my smaller ZZ Plant. The cutting is tall & has a bit of weight to it.  I used a short bamboo stake to hold it up while those roots settle in & provide support. As promised in the video, here’s the link to a groovy & very useful mini -trowel.

The stem cutting with the string broke off the plant in the bedroom. You’ll find that ZZ Plants will do that every now & then – the big long stems just bend & break. Now you know you can grow & root them in water!

Have you ever propagated a long ZZ Plant stem in water? How long did it take? Inquiring horticultural minds want to know!

You can buy a ZZ Plant online if you can’t find 1 locally. They’re glossy & gorgeous & super easy to care for.

Happy gardening,

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10 comments:

  1. Hi Nell, thanks for sharing this tip! My mum just divided a ZZ plant but all of the stems started to rot. (Not sure why, the soil was barely moist). Anyway, I’ve cut off the tops of the stems and I’m going to try them in water – hopefully I’ll salvage some.

    Do you know if the tuber will send out more shoots? I reburied it closer to the surface.

  2. Yes Bobbie, the tubers will send out more shoots. I divided my big plant in 3 last year (https://www.joyusgarden.com/propagating-a-zz-plant-by-division/) & the largest 1 is putting out a big growth spurt from all the tubers right now. I’ll do an updated post in fall! Nell

  3. I got a cutting from a friend’s big plant and rooted it in water as well. It took about a month to show roots. It has been 2 months now, and it has quite a few roots and some really small tubers. (I didn’t realize until you showed yours…I ran and checked mine and found some too!) I will pot it after the tubers get as big as those in your pictures. I recently visited my local greenhouse and they had small plants on sale for $22! Way out of my price range, so I am glad I propagated it myself for free. The only thing I did differently was I kept the water up to the bottom leaf on the stem. I don’t recommend that because the stem could rot more easily, so good point saying to keep the water level at about 3″. Ty Nell and good luck propagating everyone! – Adam from Toronto

  4. Hi Adam – Greetings from the toasty warm Arizona desert. Thank you for sharing your experience with the wonderful ZZ Plant. I prefer to keep the water level low because those stems are so spongy/fleshy & it seems to me that they could rot out. My 2 rooted stems that I planted in my smaller ZZ are doing well. Can you believe it … of the 4 remaining stems still in the water (after a year!) only 1 is showing roots. They look fine so go figure. Cheers, Nell

  5. Hi Nell, LOVE your channel, I watch all the time. My sister got her first zz on 5/18 this year and while she was repotting three leaves broke off. She dropped them in a vase with some other stuff she was propagating and when she checked them yesterday they had tiny tubers. She couldn’t believe it and neither could I. Lol. She also cut a few big stalks off on 6/23 and those are already showing roots. I’m going to start propagating mine on the weekend, such a gorgeous, easy plant.

  6. Hi! First off, I loved the video you made for these plants which ultimately led me here.

    Anyways, the ZZ plant in my office is looking a little lanky and I was thinking about cutting the tops off and propagating them around the existing plant. Is this okay to do? Then I have another question! I’ve read that every part of the ZZ plant is poisonous. You didnt mention that in your videos so I’m double checking to decide whether I need to use gloves or not.

    Thanks!

  7. Hi Leesa – They are easy. It’s fun to see those tubers form in the water. The other stems of my ZZ Plant in water that you see in this post have finally started to root after a year. Some fast, some slower. Crazy plant! Nell

  8. Hi Miki – I’ve worked with ZZ Plants many times with no problem at all. They might cause a bit of skin irritation so wear gloves in case. Cut the whole stems off, not just the tops. Nell

  9. Pingback: ZZ Plant Care Tips - Paisley + Sparrow

  10. Hi!! I was repotting my ZZ and some of the stems broke off the bulb (or tuberous—is that the right word? Ha!). I have them in water but I was curious if I should have diagnogally cut the bottom of the stems. Any thoughts? Also one of my stems kept one skinny root attached. I have that in the water with the stems. Curious to see if that helps or not.

    Thanks!

  11. Hi Bethany – I still have 1 stem in water from this batch I propagated almost 2 years ago. It’s just showing roots now! Cutting them straight is fine. I’ve done it both ways. I usually let them heal over for over night before putting in water. Nell

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