Zamioculcas zamiifolia is an unusual Aroid that is commonly kept as a housplant. It has several interesting common names, including ZZ Plant, Aroid Palm, and Succulent Philodendron. If you’ll remember the old Sesame Street game and were given a line up of Aroids, including the ZZ Plant, I can guarantee everyone would pick the ZZ as the plant that is “not like the others.”
And unlike other Aroids, the ZZ plant has a unique method of propagation. Many plants can be rooted from a single leaf; this is a common method for Begonias and African Violets. But the ZZ plant doesn’t merely produce roots when a leaf is used for propagation.
I received a ZZ Plant from my Aroid-collecting friend, Russ, about 9 months ago. Somewhere in the mix, a couple of leaves fell off the plant and I decided to try a propagation technique that I heard was somewhat successful for ZZ plants. I stuck two of the leaves into the potting soil, right next to the rest of the plant. I haven’t given the plant any special care whatsoever. It has been sitting outside in the shade and getting watered with the rest of my plants – weekly or a little more often when it is really hot and dry.
Recently, I was repotting my ZZ plant into a more suitable container when I noticed that one of the leaves had a new stem growing next to it. I gently removed each of the leaves from the soil to find that both of them had successfully begun to produce new tubers! I have read that this process can be very slow – often a year or more. I’m pretty sure mine has not been in the soil for more than 6-8 months and both of them have taken.
Most Aroids can not be propagated from a single leaf and petiole. Most Aroids require at least one section of stem (from joint to joint) in order to produce roots and form a new plant. The ZZ apparently carries all of its reproductive needs within the petiole. I have had one occasion where I propagated a Monstera from a single leaf and petiole that had been torn off my plant by my Boston Terrier, Pee-Wee. I haven’t heard of other people propagating Monsteras this way, so I’m not sure how successful this type of propagation normally is. I just stuck the long petiole in water, not really expecting anything to happen, just enjoying the leaf while it was still green. The leaf never browned and eventually started forming a thick white root from the base of the petiole.