Pilea Peperomoides Care – Chinese Money Plant

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Learn all about Pilea peperomoides care, a wonderful and popular plant that has found its place in many homes. Easy to come by, this plant can be brought as a small pup plant or as a full-grown plant. Either way, you should have the same success with growing one.

So, what is this plant exactly? Pilea peperomioides, more commonly known as the Chinese money plant, is a plant native to Yunnan, China. It was brought to the Norwegian regions through cuttings and has spread throughout since. The “peperomioides” part of the name literally translates to Peperomia -like as its identification has been a controversy until around 1978 when the plant’s flower was first recorded. The flowers are similar to other Pilea species.

Pilea Peperomoides Care

What makes this plant so popular are its coin-shaped leaves that are waxy and deep green. The leaves emerge from the main stem and are alternately arranged. Oftentimes compared and sometimes mixed up with two other plants – the pennywort (Centella Asiatica), whose leaves are subtly serrated, and the Raindrop Peperomia (Peperomia polybotrya), which has a similar texture to the Chinese money plant but has a subtle teardrop shape.

This plant is known to grow in damp and rocky rainforests of China and is known by other names such as the UFO plant or pancake plant because of its leaves. It is also believed to bring luck in terms of money in Chinese folklore, thus its common local name, Chinese money plant. Despite its extreme popularity, this plant is super easy and does not need a lot of attention.

Quick Summary

All the relevant Pilea peperomoides care information at a glance.

Plant name: Pilea peperomioides

Common names: Chinese money plant, UFO plant, Pancake plant

Native to: China

Lighting: Will tolerate low light but will eventually become leggy. Prefers bright, indirect light.

Care: Allow the top 2 to 3 inches of the soil to dry out before watering. Routinely rotate this plant for it to receive equal amount of light. Fertilize regularly during the growing season. Use a well-draining potting mixture.

Common problems: Mealy bugs, spider mites, leaf scales, root rot, and leaf spots.

Toxicity: Non-toxic for pets and humans.

How To Care For Pilea Peperomoides Plant

Bringing the Plant Home

For cuttings and pups, inspect the stem if there are any pests and allow them to root in water with added rooting hormones or directly plant them in soil. For store-bought plants, likewise, inspect the plant for any type of problems especially underneath the leaves.

Keep away from other plants for a week or two and regularly check for signs of pests.

Light conditions

Bright indirect light is ideal. Some direct sunlight will benefit the plant. If you have a chance, place it in a spot where it can receive a good amount of light from the morning sun.

A spot that receives afternoon sun is OK too, but afternoon sun can be a bit too strong depending on your location. So keep this in mind.

Direct light might be too much for your pilea peperomoides, so consider moving it further away from your windows or diffuse the light with curtains. Although a bit waxy, the leaves can still burn with direct light.

If grown indoors, rotate your plant once in a while to give it an equal amount of light from all sides. This helps to make the growth even on all sides of the plant.

You may have seen some specimens with large gaps between each node or very long petioles. A lack of light causes this. If this plant doesn’t receive enough light, it starts to show it fast.

When the plant grows, the upper leaves might cast shade on the lower ones. As the lower ones won’t receive enough light, they will eventually shed.

The amount of light can also affect the frequency of pups growing or offshoots and the size of the leaves.

Pilea peperomoides do well with grow lights. If your home lacks light from the sun, you can invest in a good grow light and make this plant happy.

How to care for Pilea Peperomoides

How much and when to water your Pilea Peperomoides?

Right watering routine is key in Pilea peperomoides care. This plant acts similar to how many Peperomia would when lacking water. The leaves start to droop down as well as the stem. While this indicates the plant needs watering, it’s best to water it before it starts to get droopy. Give your plant a good drenching, and it will be springing right back up.

This plant does not require to be in consistently moist soil. It is best to wait for the soil to dry up a little and then water generously. This could be once or more a week if you have a tiny pot in a warm and sunny location or once every two weeks or so if you have a larger pot. Feel the soil, observe your plant, and water when needed.

When taking care of a Pilea, it’s better to be on the side of under than overwatering. The roots are susceptible to rot, which will cause the whole plant to deteriorate and go limp slowly. Cut back on watering during winter to avoid oversoaking your plant.

Water with room temperature water. Distilled, filtered, or rainwater is best. Most tap water will be OK too. If you have hard water, you might notice white bumps under the leaf of your pilea peperomoides. Those are mineral deposits. You can remove those by gently wiping them off. If the tap water is too hard and heavy with minerals it may cause browning of the leaves.

White Bumps - Mineral Deposits on Pilea Peperomoides Leaves
White Bumps – Mineral Deposits on Pilea Peperomoides Leaves

Humidity and Temperature for Pilea Peperomoides

This plant will not respond well to temperatures constantly below 50°F (10°C). Despite this, a bit of low temperature can actually help the plant send out flower shoots. Generally, Pilea peperomioides prefer to be in a warm and humid environment.

High humidity levels will keep this plant happy, but being an easy plant, it can tolerate most regular conditions inside a household. Humidity around or above 50% is ideal.

During winter or in summer, keep the plant away from extreme conditions – either extreme cold or hot temperatures.

Cleaning and Pruning

Cut unhealthy leaves using a pair of clean shears.

Pruning can also encourage growths of pups or new stems. Prune the top growth for a fuller looking plant. In addition to pruning, you can also clean the leaves of your plant.

Clean the leaves with a damp cloth. If your plant is too big and you don’t want to clean it leaf by leaf, you can turn the plant upside down (secure the soil) and dunk it into lukewarm water.

With time your plant can develop white spots / bumps under it’s leaves. Those are mineral deposits that can be removed by wiping them off. They don’t harm your plant, but if you don’t like them, remove them.

How often to fertilize?

You can fertilize your plant during the growing season, from spring to end of summer.

Any general liquid houseplant fertilizer will do, mix it up as instructed on the box and use it roughly once a month. Some fertilizers should be used weekly as per instructions. You can use them less often.

Do not fertilize your plant during late fall and throughout the winter, or it will cause over-fertilization as the plant enters its dormant stage. Keep in mind that too much fertilizer can cause mineral burns on the leaves of your plant.

Repotting Your Plant

With proper care, this plant is a relatively fast grower. The roots form extensively, and the plant grows vertically fast. Depending on how fast it grows, this will determine how often you will need to move it to a bigger pot. You might even need to repot yearly. Roots may start to poke out of the pot as a sign that the plant needs to be repotted. The growth of the plant may be stunted if the roots become pot bound.

When choosing which pot to use, consider the moisture needs of your plants over aesthetics. Plastic pots tend to retain moisture for a longer time. This is because the pots are impermeable, and moisture can only escape through the surface.

Repotting is also a necessity when the soil becomes too compact.

When repoting to a bigger pot, only go up a size or two.

The right soil for your plant

A well-draining soil rich in nutrients will work best for your Chinese money plant. A mixture of garden soil, compost, peat, and a bit of perlite is good enough to keep your plant healthy.

Any general houseplant potting soil will be OK. Avoid soil mixes for tropical plants that are generally mixed to retain moisture.

You do not want the soil of your plant to retain too much moisture. This is the main cause of rotting. Good drainage is also key to prevent this from happening. For a ready-made soil mix, African Violet mixes would do great for a Pilea peperomioides.

Best way to propagate a Pilea peperomioides

With proper Pilea peperomoides care you will be able to propagate it in no time, This is one of the very fun parts of owning a Pilea. This plant produces offshoots which are sometimes called pups at its base and even at the nodes sometimes. This is where its nickname “sharing plant” comes from.

These shoots can either be rooted directly in soil or in water. Shoots which present themselves along the nodes of the plant can be easily snapped or gently cut from the plant. Be careful not to damage the main stem. This can attract pests or diseases on the plant.

For pups growing from the base, gently remove some of the soil surrounding the plant and cut them from the main plant. In doing so, make sure that the propagation cutting has a few roots so it can have more chances of surviving.

To grow the propagations well, provide the plant with high humidity until it becomes well established. Do not give the plant too much water as it can rot the cutting. Resume watering and feeding once the roots have formed.

Pilea cuttings

Is Pilea Peperomoides safe for cats, dogs and humans?

Another reason why this plant is a perfect houseplant is because it is safe and non-toxic for your pets.

Still this plant isn’t edible and shouldn’t be ingested.

Pests and diseases to be aware of

Despite being generally resilient to pests, Pilea peperomioides is not immune to them. In very low humidity conditions, spider mites, mealy bugs, and fungus gnats become attracted to the succulent petioles of the plant.

Scale can also hide under the leaves of your Pilea. These pests, when left uncontrolled can cause your plants to get yellowing leaves or even droopy stems. If you have deduced that lighting and watering are not the problems, then the next thing to check is pests.

Regularly check your plants to prevent pests from invading them. Light infestation calls for very minimal action. Dehydrate the tiny bodies of scales and mealybugs using a Q-tip dipped in alcohol. For more serious infestations, you can also use insecticides.

If left untreated, pests cannot only make the plant weak, they can also introduce fungus and bacteria into the plant. Aside from pests, you plant is also susceptible to root rot if your soil is not well draining and if you are overwatering your plants. Overwatering can also hinder your plant to produce pups as they can get too soaked and easily die.

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