ZZ Plant Pruning: When, why, and how to Prune

How can you make your ZZ plant into a taller, fuller, straighter, and showstopper plant? 

It’s probably no surprise that ZZ plants don’t grow fast. Besides, it can seem daunting to prune them after hard-earned growth for months, years, or more. Although ZZ Plants do not require regular pruning, trimming them can be beneficial in the long run. A good reason to grab your shears is to trim back leggy growth and remove diseased or damaged foliage. Furthermore, pruning your ZZ Plant frequently won’t adversely affect its growth.

So, after knowing the reasons, are you considering pruning your ZZ plant? Don’t worry, if you haven’t yet gotten the courage to prune. Perhaps this article will help you. Today, in this article, I will discuss why you need to prune your ZZ plants and when! Also, keep reading till the end to learn the helpful tips about ZZ plant pruning.

So, grab your shears, because here we go!

Why should you prune your ZZ plant?


As mentioned before, ZZ’s are the slowest-growing plants. Also, cutting them back can be tricky. However, sometimes a small trim is just what your ZZ plant needs.

So, let’s take a look at why your ZZ plant needs trimming

1. To maintain a balanced look

ZZ Plants usually have a rogue stem. And this stem grows much faster than the rest. Thus, this creates lopsided growth in the ZZ plant. As a result of ZZ’s unorthodox growth habits, one stem may tower over the others.

Yet, if you prune the tallest stalk back, your ZZ Plant will look fuller and more visually pleasing. Additionally, the plant will have more energy to use elsewhere, hopefully pushing more growth on smaller stems.

2. Getting rid of old or dead foliage

Another common reason to prune the ZZ plant is to remove old or dead leaves. As ZZ’s grow, leaves age and die naturally, something that many plants experience. This usually occurs when the plant’s leaves turn yellow and fall off.

In this case, trim away those long-hanging leaves for a cleaner look. Also, this will prevent any possible sources of rot that may affect other parts of your plant. Moreover, fertilizing your ZZ Plant will allow you to compensate for nutrient reabsorption.

3. Get rid of diseased foliage

Although ZZ Plants are tough, they are susceptible to overwatering, which can lead to rot. If you notice brown, mushy tissues along the stems or on any leaves, trim them out.

It is common for rot to start at the soil line where the stalks meet the rhizome. This is the moist spot for roots. 

Seeing growth cut off because of disease is sad, but this is the only way to stop the spread of the disease.

4. To cut off leggy growth

There is one great thing about ZZ Plants: they can tolerate a wide range of light exposures

Unfortunately, we sometimes take this too literally and place our ZZs in places that are too dark. Due to this, our ZZs grow a bit leggy.

When your ZZ grows sparsely and weakly, it’s telling you they need more light to thrive. Hence, find the right location for your ZZ plant. Also, to make healthier foliage, prune out the weakest and most sparse growth.

You may find it difficult to trim away your ZZ’s hard-earned growth. However, a leggy stem is less likely to grow into a healthy stalk, so remove it immediately. As a result, your ZZ won’t waste energy that could be used somewhere else in the plant.

When to prune the ZZ plant?

When to prune the ZZ plant

As ZZ Plants tend to handle pruning well and bounce back quickly, you can trim your plant whenever necessary. Although many plants do better at certain times of the year, ZZ Plants heal quickly no matter what time you prune them. 

Yet, to be extra cautious, wait until your ZZ Plant has come out of dormancy in early spring. Once your ZZ has completed all its critical work of storing nutrients and strengthening roots for the growing season. After that, it will begin forming new growth (and healing tissue).

What Are the Essential Tools for Pruning ZZ Plants?

What Are the Essential Tools for Pruning ZZ Plants

Let’s collect the essential tools for ZZ plant pruning before jumping into how to prune them.

For ZZ plant pruning, you will need sharp plant snips or scissors. Also, it is important to sterilize them before every use to avoid bacterial or viral infections.

You can sterilize snips by mixing 1 part bleach with 9 parts water. After each use, soak the snips for 30 minutes in the solution.Make sure you wear gloves when handling your ZZ plant. Its sap contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can irritate the skin and eyes.

How to prune the ZZ plant?

There is no doubt that ZZ plants are not delicate like flowers. Whether it is a light trim, a hard prune, or anything in between, they come back without issue. They will bounce back even if you divide them regularly into multiple plants. That is why ZZ’s are popular as tough plants. 

Hopefully, this will ease your mind when you grab your scissors and worry about where and how to cut them.

For minor pruning of overgrown stalks, Cut the stem back to match the others to look more symmetrical. Consider removing whole stems if your stems are criss-crossed and crowded near the soil.

Eliminating older leaves or damaged parts, only cut off the damaged parts of the plant. Such as leaves meeting a stem or stems just below the point of damage. 

In combating a disease or rot issue, you will want to be more generous with the amount you remove. Typically, you should remove the entire stalk of the plant if rot is creeping up the stem from the soil line. Additionally, you should check the roots and rhizomes for rot under the soil. 

For leggy foliage, it is typically best to remove any sparse growth that reaches the soil line. It may be worth considering only removing the worst stems from your ZZ Plant if it hasn’t had proper light exposure for some time. This will allow it to grow new stems in the future. Later, you can prune the remaining leggy growth again.

No matter why you are trimming your ZZ Plant, make sure you use sharp, clean shears or scissors. It will allow the plant to heal faster and avoid introducing disease.

Important tips for you to know for ZZ plant pruning!

Important tips for you to know for ZZ plant pruning!

I know you have been waiting for this. So, let’s take a look at some important and helpful tips about ZZ plant pruning!

  • Clean a ZZ plant’s leaves once a week or every two weeks with a soft, damp cloth. By doing this, you will encourage aspiration and keep the leaves attractive and shiny. 
  • Do not use commercial leaf shining products on this plant.
  • Keep your ZZ plant well-watered. 
  • Once a week or twice a week, soak the soil surface but don’t let it become soggy.
  • Water the plant only when the soil is 1 inch below the soil surface. The plant can survive droughts for several months because of thick, succulent leaves, stems, and underground tubers. 
  • Consider re-evaluating your watering methods if all the leaves on your plant suddenly turn yellow.
  •  ZZ plants are drought-tolerant, but they have limits. When dehydrated, a ZZ plant dies stem by stem, unlike a thirsty plant that wilts all over.


Q1. Can a ZZ plant be pruned?

Ans. Not much pruning is needed. ZZ plants are pruned primarily for propagation or to remove lower yellow leaves and bending arching stems. Moreover, you could prune your ZZ plant back if necessary for some reason.

Q2. Can ZZ Plant be cut in half?

Ans. Rejoice, ZZ owners! It is easy to cut Zamioculcas zamiifolia into two, or even three, separate plants. Also, it is possible to separate and repot plants of all sizes due to their unique root systems.

Q3. Can I trim the roots of a ZZ Plant?

Ans. Yes, take your plant out of its container and examine the roots for signs of yellowing. If you find brown roots or mushy roots, prune them back before replanting. Also, it is not easy to kill ZZ plants. As long as you don’t interfere too much with them, they can survive in a wide range of conditions.

Q4. How do you shape a ZZ plant?

Ans. After removing the plant from its pot, rinse away all the soil surrounding the rhizome and roots. Think about where you might want to cut. Always cut the stems into groups of three to five. This makes the start more visually appealing.

Q5. Where do I prune a ZZ plant?

Ans. Whenever possible, remove a stem down to the soil level. To do this, use your sterilized sharp scissors or knife and clip the stem at its base. If the stem is healthy, you might consider propagating it to grow another plant.

Q6. Can you cut the stems of the ZZ plant?

Ans. Yes, cut off a straight stalk at the base of your plant, using a sanitized knife, to propagate a ZZ Plant cutting. Change the water every 3-4 weeks after placing the cut stem in it. If you forget, it’s fine, as long as mold doesn’t grow.


We sometimes fear cutting back our houseplants, especially slow growers like the ZZ Plant. But in the long run, you will find that giving your plant a quick trim will make it healthier, and more attractive.

In terms of pruning, ZZ plants require little maintenance. Spring or early summer is the best time to prune your plants if they appear leggy, uneven, or too large for their location. If possible, don’t prune outside the plant’s active growing season. 

Of course, you may prune diseased, dead, or damaged foliage at any time. Ensure that you use sharp, sterilized snips and only remove what you need to to keep the plant healthy.

In case there are still any questions regarding ZZ plant pruning, feel free to ask in the comments section. Also, don’t forget to share this article on social media and with your friends and family!

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  • Prachi Parate

    Prachi Parate is an enthusiast writer. She is a native of a science background, where botanical science was one of her favorite subjects. It was always Prachi's dream to combine her passion with a career. Hence, her fascination with plants led to a career as a writer. Also, she believes that taking good care of yourself is key to happiness. Time spent in nature is one of her favorite self-care practices. It is her goal to transform her learning into content that helps readers.

  • Vinni Balyan

    11 years ago when we left NY and started living in the suburbs, I developed the passion for gardening. I'm a mom of two, and a big time gardener here helping you pick you right battle in gardening. 🙂 Stay tuned.

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