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Pilea, a trendy, stylish plant


Pilea peperomioides, also called “Chinese money plant”, is a very ornamental plant which is ideal in designer settings.

Pilea basics in a few words

Name – Pilea peperomioides
Family – Urticaceae
Type – succulent plant
Height – 12 inches (30 cm)

Soil: light, well-drained      –      Exposure: well-lit      –      Foliage: evergreen

Pilea plants are called money plants, but they won’t cost you much to care for!

Planting and repotting a Pilea plant

Pilea will slowly grow larger if you provide it slightly larger pots every year. If not, size will stabilize and offshoots will sprout to replace older stems.

Repotting your Pilea plant

  • Pilea repottingYou may repot your pilea just after having purchased it if you’ve purchased it when not in flower (a rare event anyways).

But you can also wait: for this plant, pots are usually designed for another two good years of service before growing too small.

  • After that, an annual repotting whenever your pilea looks like it is in a tight fit is recommended, with soil mix and sand, one part each.

In summer, bring your pilea outside earliest in May to make sure it doesn’t freeze. Find a spot that is well-lit but that doesn’t get direct sun during the hottest hours.

Placing your pilea in the perfect spot

The Pilea plant is native to South-West China, and it thus bodes best in climates where summers are warm and winters are mild.

Pilea exposureOutdoor Pilea normally can’t survive temperatures lower than 50°F (10°C) in winter.

Pilea loves sunny emplacements as long as they’re not scorching hot, so avoid placing it behind a window that faces full south, especially in summer.

  • It is best to grow your pilea indoors, since, indeed, the slightest frost will kill it.

Propagating Pilea

Pilea can be propagated by preparing 2-3 inch (6-7 cm) cuttings from young stems. It is usually quite easy to get the plant to sprout roots.

  • pilea propagationSlice young stems that are already bearing a couple leaves off with a sharp and disinfected blade. Proceed carefully because these young stems are delicate to handle.
  • Plant the young cutting in special cutting soil mix.
  • Always keep the soil moist without flooding it so that the young rootlets don’t rot.
  • Keep you cutting near light, but not in direct sunlight.

Pruning and caring for pilea

Caring for pileaAlthough caring for pilea is straightforward, a few tips will help you grow a very nice, long-living plant:

  • It requires a lot of sunlight.
  • Water regularly, about 2 times a week, but without overdoing it, or roots will drown.
  • Adding special indoor plant fertilizer in spring and summer is an advantage for the growth of your Pilea.

Pruning pilea

If you wish for the plant to keep a compact, bushy bearing with many branches, keep pinching young shoots off. Every time a couple leaves unfurl, nip the bud so new stems will appear on the side.

Pinching means snipping the bud off with your fingernails, short blade or small scissors. This stop the stem’s growth and forces the plant to branch out.

Pilea and red spider mites

Here is how to fight these mites and ticks off: red spider mites.

Learn more about the Pilea plant

Pilea plant with ruffled leavesNative to China, Pilea peperomioides first entered the West from Scandinavian countries, Norway in particular: a missionary had the great idea of bringing a cutting along in 1945.

Pilea peperomioides is the typical example of a plant that first spread thanks to passionate amateur gardeners who shared cuttings without the knowledge of professional botanists.

Although the Pilea genus numbers over 600 different tropical species, the most common one and therefore the one most appreciated as an indoor plant is the peperomioides variety.

However, it’s also possible to find crawling pilea varieties that look wonderful in hanging pot arrangements.

A rather fast-growing plant, your pilea should reach its adult size – about 12 inches (30 cm) – within about 2 years.

Smart tip about the Chinese money plant

Tradition says that burying a coin under a pilea plant will grant prosperity to your household. Why not try it? If it works, give your pilea a share of the tidings: give it a gold-covered pot!

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
CC BY 2.0: David Walsh, Dan Jones
Pixabay: Anna Łowińska
Unsplash: Patrick Reichboth, Severin Candrian
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