Rooting ZZ Plant Leaflets

MiseurAssMarch 14, 2012

I recently purchased a small zz plant with two tubers, the biggest oneaybe 9". I took one of the leaflets and potted it in a small pot with some well draing soil. The soil was moist when I planted it 2 days ago. I know the ZZ plant prefers to dry out between waterings, but do i need to ad a little bit of water ever few days to help the cutting grow?

Im scared that the single leaflet will have trouble rooting in dry soil. The stuff its planted in is miracle grow moisture control or something, and retains very little water even if it gets drenched.


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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi MS,

Miracle Grow moisture control likely has something like a wetting agent in it. I suggest you not water for a week at least.

Perhaps you could tell exactly what it's in that you think is fast draining, as I can pretty well assure you Miracle Grow is not that, especially w/ wetting agents.

ZZ plants are succulent by nature, that is to say able to hold water in reserve in their stems, & tubers. I'd suggest cactus & succulent mix w/ 30-50% more perlite at least.

Two days is nothing, if you water this every few days when it has no roots, it's likely to rot not root. If you must water, perhaps lightly mist the mix around the outer edge of the pot once a week.

It's a slow process to do this, I've done it a number of times & it can take a LONG time to root. It you don't have a lot of patience, this may not be the thing for you. Also, down the road pls. don't tug on it to see if it's rooted.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 9:50PM
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Basically my supreme question is: Since it is just a leaflet sticking in soil; do i need to raise the humidity to help it root Ie. putting a sandwich bag over the pot so the leaflet can absorb moisture since it doesnt have roots yet? I know this is common when rooting cuttings of other plants.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 1:00AM
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The soil is mostly peat moss and perlite. It is quite quck draining

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 1:05AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

"do i need to raise the humidity to help it root Ie. "

No, the answer is no. Leaving this sealed in the bag is likely to rot this. This is not an ordinary houseplant w/ which to do this. It may not sound like it, but open air is the way to do it.

I doubt this peat is quick draining, does the water flow through immediately when you water? If not, it's not fast draining.

Sounds like your mind is already made up, but the answer is still NO, don't keep it bagged or try to raise its humidity like that.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 7:49AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Not knowing a thing about the propagation of this plant, I did a little reading on it. The literature says that it is VERY slow to in several months instead of the few weeks it takes most plant. Does anyone have any light to shed on this for Miseur? Pirate Girl?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 11:24AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi Miseur,

Sorry, I do see you said

"miracle grow moisture control or something, and retains very little water even if it gets drenched."

and that it's "mostly peat & perlite".

Just find it hard to believe, given my experience w/ peat mixes tending to collect water on top &/or harden to rock over time.

Hi Rhizo,

Yes it takes a VERY long time, months sounds about right, maybe even months & months. It's been a while since I've done this & I no longer have notes from my plant tags reminding me of the dates I started things.

Even if/when the leaf begins to shrivel up & look dead or dying, Pls. DO NOTHING & don't pull it out of the mix. It's rooting down below the surface where we can't see it. Eventually one will see new growth, a sprout.

I spent some time here last night searching for old posts of mine about these. I had some showing several plantlets pulled out of their mix, to show the tubers.

I'd also had a separate post where I'd shown the results of water rooting a stem of these, forms a little green pea looking tuber at the base of the plantlet under water.

I can't seem to find any of the posts, don't know why. Maybe Rhizo you could pls. try as well & see if you fare better?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 12:48PM
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dellis326 (Danny)

ZZ's should be watered often but they should not be kept in an enclosed container to keep them humid.

They've evolved in areas that are forest and savanna that have both a rainy season and a dry season. They do not need to experience a false dry season to thrive in your house. In fact if you keep them too dry they will go dormant and start loosing their leaflets. In the wild those leaflets can start new plants and sometimes that can take months for the rains to come back so yes it can take a long time. Keep moist, not wet.

They are found in rocky/gravelly soil so in the home something like cactus soil mixes do well. regular bagged mixes should be cut 50/50 (at least) with perlite or something similar.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 10:45AM
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My small ZZ came from 2 leaves I rooted quite a while ago. Yes, it does take a while, and the plant stays small for long time from a leaf cutting, but the actual rooting process is not difficult.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 10:10PM
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I started these ZZ Plants over 2 years ago (May 2010). It took over one year for the taller shoot to emerge. The shorter shoot just emerged about a month ago, over two years after I put the mother leaflet down (it's dried up but still attached).

I first kept the leaflets enclosed in a plastic deli container--in a pretty moist and humid environment because it's very dry where I live. I removed the cover after the little tubers developed to the size of a small pea. It took about 6 months to reach this point. After another 6-7 months is when the first shoot came up.

I have repotted these into the 2-oz solo cup seen here and included a wick. I put water into the bottom container every 2 or 3 days to a depth of about 1/4-inch. It wicks up the water pretty quickly, but doesn't actually sit in the water. I know everybody says not to water very frequently, but I think watering should depend on your specific climate and microclimate conditions.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 4:23PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

"I think watering should depend on your specific climate and microclimate conditions."

Actually not in this case Honey Bear. If you read, search or research ZZ plants including their stems, you'll see fat, thick stems which themselves are water storage organs, that's not to mention their tubers under ground which are also water storage organs.

This is not a houseplant for these reasons, it's a succulent & also why it shouldn't be watered so often,if done once the stems are fattening up w/ water, it's likely to rot.

I would definitely not use a wick on a water reservoir for these; I'd be afraid of rot. (I believe I'm on my 4th pot of these, all of which I started from single leaves.)

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 5:48PM
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The ZZ Plant I posted above back in March gets very little water, In fact, through sheer neglect, I have gone months at a time without watering it. In my opinion, I would rather risk underwatering, than lose a plant that took years to develop to a decent size to root rot. That tuber under the soil must serve some purpose, as Karen pointed out.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 8:24PM
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Where I live all of the plants that are not consistently watered will dry up. They don't rot! (Notice I used the word "consistently" as opposed to constantly.) As you can see, the mother leaflet is dry, it's been there for 2+ years, and it isn't rotten. I haven't removed it because it is still attached to the baby. The tubers and roots are healthy also--how do I know?--because I was regularly checking them all along.

I should specify that my potting mix is very light and the water just pours out the bottom immediately. I also have a big ZZ plant and it's doing just fine--has been going on that way for a long time. It of course is not wicked, and I water it about once a week. I don't let any of my plants stand in water. They are very dry before I water them again, which is what happens to plants here in this environment, even though it seems like a short amount of time between waterings. The little bit of water I give the baby is wicked up in a few minutes. I'm not telling anybody else how to grow their ZZ plants, or even pretend to know their growing conditions, but hopefully I'm sharing a different perspective on what is working for me.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 8:39PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Well OK HB, I too hope it's fine to share different ways of growing, also I see how very fast draining your mix looks which makes a huge difference as we all know.

Also, I did catch your mention of just a bit of water in the reservoir, not deep or drinking on an ongoing basis. Because I grow some stuff Hydro, I noticed those details you shared which could be how this works for you.

May I pls. ask what part of the country you're in since you refer to such dryness (just curious)?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2012 at 10:38PM
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PG: I live in the low desert area of So Cal. It routinely gets 110+ degrees in the summer (big emphasis on the +). We've had quite a few days of 115 already, even back in May. Today was a "cooler" day, only 104! Being as dry as it is, many people here use evaporative coolers instead of AC. I have a traditional central AC system and it's never gotten higher than 40% humidity inside my home, and usually much lower. I leave little cups of water around my houseplants to increase humidity and have to refill them every two days.

My outside garden plants are watered twice a day by automatic sprinklers--even the agave--a desert plant, has it's own sprinkler and would die without it because it's still only a year old. I have to water my houseplants 3 times as often as my friends in L.A. They can get away with watering once a week; I water mine every day-and-a-half. (If I water in the morning today, it'll need it again in the late afternoon tomorrow.) If I have time I'll try to post up some pictures of the area. The elevation not too far from here is 100 ft below sea level. Maybe this is more information than you asked for?

About my potting mix, I do make my own. It's equal portions sphagnum, perlite, vermiculite with some horticultural charcoal and a tiny bit of trace elements and pH checked at the end. In the past when I've used store-bought mix it just didn't work right for me because it would get dried-out too fast and became too hard. Because of the looseness of my mix I was able to check the development of the tubers without disturbing the roots. I can also easily stick my finger down into this mix to check whether it needs water, not just feeling the surface.

PG, I'd love to see pictures of the ZZ's you grew from leaflets!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 1:38AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hey HB,

Thanks for explaining, sounds hot, hot hot & dry.

I don't have any current pix, will try for some on the weekend. I checked around & I currently have 3 of these plants (Think I gave one of my home started ones away). They're not very impressive & a bit slow growing.

Actually, try a search here & at Cactus & Succulents (C&S for short), I can't recall where, but I had posted some pix of my ZZ unpotted to show their tubers of slightly different sized plantlets.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 7:57PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)


I'm rather late to respond, but these are recent pix of new growth on this ZZ, one I've grown from leaf.

another shot

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 7:17PM
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