Pruning zz Plant

I have heard this saying, “When something is not broken, don’t fix it.” How appropriate is this when it comes to the area of pruning?  If a plant does not need pruning, there is no need to prune it. I wonder if the same would apply in the Pruning Of A zz Plant.

While regular pruning is not always necessary, in the case of zz plants, there are certain occasions where a certain degree of pruning will benefit the plant’s longevity. Grabbing your garden shears might come in handy when removing damaged or diseased foliage and cutting back on leggy growth.

After watering and taking care of the plant’s nutrient needs, the next logical step is pruning. Join me as we delve deeper to gain more insight in this regard.

Should A zz Plant Be Pruned?

The above question is common amongst many newbie gardeners. The question is often posed since the zz plant is low maintenance, tough, resilient plant that can survive with minimum fuss. At some stage in a plant’s life, no matter how low maintenance, the need will arise for some pruning; the zz plant is no different. Let’s explore the reasons as to why the need may arise.

Close up of ZZ plant

The Reasons For Pruning Of A zz Plant

Although it has already been established that not much pruning is required in the life of a zz plant, there are a few reasons where pruning can be of benefit to the plant. Before you plan to implement the process of pruning, you first need to understand the purpose of pruning. Until you understand the purpose of pruning, the actual process will be illogical.

Below are the main purposes for pruning of a zz plant;

  • For propagation
  • To prune off yellow leaf, bending, arching stem.
  • To remove dead or diseased plant material.
  • For light general plant shaping without comprising the plant’s natural lines.
  • To keep the zz plant from growing too tall.
  • To improve the overall production of the plant.
  • If you need to prune your zz plant back for some reason, new growth will eventually appear.

A plant that is healthy and thriving might not require constant pruning.

Related: How To Propagate Zz Plant

Important Factors To Note Before Pruning Of A zz Plant

Calcium Oxalate is a compound found in the sap inside a zz Plant; when it is exposed to your skin, it can irritate. Whenever you cut into a zz stem, you will, without a doubt, encounter this sap. Wearing gloves during pruning is most advisable. If you do not wear gloves, avoid touching your face and eyes. Always ensure that you wash hands afterward with a strong disinfectant.

How Do I Prune My zz Plant?

Although the zz plant is a slow-growing plant that virtually shapes itself, light pruning might be necessary to stimulate growth. Here are some simple techniques to prune a zz plant. Before pruning, you will require a pair of gloves and a pair of sharp, clean gardening shears.

Pruning Of Yellow Leaves

Throughout the year, monitor if any leaves on the zz plant is yellowing. Any leaves that show signs of yellowing will need to be gently pulled out, avoiding damage to the rest of the plant. The appearance of the occasional yellow leaf on your zz plant is no reason to be concerned. When a mature zz plant ages, it is normal to drop old leaves.

The most important factor is that your plant is healthy and producing new leaves.

If the leaf is completely dead, you can pull out the leaf by hand or use scissors or a knife. A blunt knife can damage the plant. Pruning off a dead leaf might give the rest of the zz plant a better chance at survival, as pruning off the dead leaves makes way for the growth of new leaves.

 ZZ leaves that are already wrinkled cannot be restored; hence pruning is best. A dead or dying stem could be the result of improper watering. Sudden leaf and stem decline occurs when the plant is kept too wet or allowed to dehydrate over two or three months.

If there is a discoloration of the majority of the leaves, then there may be an issue with the zz plant that needs to be investigated and possible solutions found.

Pruning A zz Plant That Has Become Too Large

Pruning shears and tools

 A zz Plant can usually grow 2-3 feet in height and spread out and take over a space. If you prefer smaller zz plants to larger ones, then you might want to consider pruning. You can proceed by;

  • Using a sharp scissor or knife, clip off the stem’s ends that have become too long. This action not only stimulates new growth but may also contribute to the overall appearance of the fullness of the zz plant.
  • Clip the tips of the zz plant to maintain the plant’s original look. It is recommended that when pruning, you do not trim more than 20% off the plant at once; this will result in plant shock.
  • If you have no option but to remove the entire stem, clip at the base as close to the soil as possible.

Reader Also Checked: ZZ Plant Leaves Curling

Pruning Of Dead And Dying Stems

The appearance of yellow stems is often a result of damaged or rotted roots. In this case, you might want to;

  • Remove the zz plant from its original container and examine the roots. If the roots are white, then the plant is healthy; if the roots are brown or mushy, then the roots are unhealthy. If the roots are unhealthy, it would be best to prune them back before replanting.
  • Once you have completely evaluated the root cause, removing a zz plant stem is simple. A dead stem will be easier to remove from the ground. As simple as just pulling on the stem to remove it from the ground. In the case of a good root system, you can use a blade.
  • This removal process is the same as that of the removal of dead leaves. If you do not have access to a blade, you can also use a pair of sharp scissors or a knife to remove the stem. Avoid the use of serrated blades or any sawing motions. Ensure that all cuts are quick and clean.
  • When handling the stem, please approach with extra caution as you could expose yourself to the sap, resulting in skin irritation.

Pruning Of Stems That Are Odd Looking

As a zz plant grows, the stems also seem to get heavier; in some cases, you might end up with the growth of some odd-looking stems.  If you are not happy with the look of these stems, you can clip them off. You can also consider propagating to start the growth of a second plant.

Propagate Instead Of Discarding zz Plant Cuttings

zz plant leaf propagation

The amazing thing about pruning is from the cuttings of a zz plant; you can create new life. Instead of discarding the odd-looking stems, you can clip them up and propagate them.

 Will Pruning Encourage Faster Growth In The zz Plant?

ZZ Plants are generally slow growers, and even if they are pruned, it is highly unlikely that they will start growing faster. Perhaps cutting back leaves, branches and stems may encourage other plants to grow faster.

When Is The Best Season To Prune zz Plant?

The best season to prune a zz plant is in winter. During this season, the wounds from pruning can heal faster. Pruning will allow the zz plant to regain its former glory.


ZZ Plants are extremely hardy plants, but no matter how tough they may appear, they are still prone to the harsh elements of nature. Although their hardiness has been one of the reasons they require minimum pruning, even the toughest of plants still require some pamper.

It might be possible that the leaves turning yellow or stem drying out is the zz plant’s way of begging for a makeover. Bring out those garden shears and let the pruning begin.