Pilea

OFFICIAL NAME

Pilea peperomioides

ALSO KNOWN AS

Chinese Money Plant, Pancake Plant, Coin Plant, UFO Plant, Friendship Plant

ORIGINS & CLIMATE

Southern China | Humid Subtropical

ABOUT THE
PLANT

This perky little plant is a delight for both their cute round leaves and a penchant for producing plantlets (pups) that are easily propagated—the reason they're also known as the "friendship plant".

HOW MANY GREEN THUMBS?

easy going, bright indirect, goldilocks, petite, upright, shelf, tabletop, subtropical, low light tolerant

HMP PLANT PICK

Pilea

The basics

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. A droopy Pilea can be a sign that they are need of water, but always check the soil first. And take extra care in winter to avoid overwatering.

Water

Preferred Light

Bright, indirect light is ideal for your Pilea. Susceptible to leaf burn in long stretches of direct light. Can tolerate lower light conditions, but be sure to adjust watering and expect the leaves to turn a darker green. The plant will likely take on an elongated and sparser look.

Light

Humidity Needs

While not too bothered about high humidity, your Pilea will appreciate the occasional misting, which helps remove dust from their leaves.

Humidity

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but may complain with some leaf drop when exposed to cold drafts or dry heat from vents.

Temperature

Toxic or Not?

Generally considered pet safe, but can cause vomiting or nausea if consumed in huge quantities.

Toxicity

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow up to around 12 inches tall with a similar spread (when mature and with enough light)!

Size

Overall Look

A petite, but striking plant. Generally grows with a straight upright stem that shoots out perky round leaves in every direction, creating something of an orb-like canopy. Will look fantastic on a tabletop or shelf!

Format

Leaf Look

Noted for the unique round pad-like foliage in an eye-catching shade of vivid green.

Leaf Shape

Pro Tip

Pilea are known to lean toward the sun—leading to lopsided growth, so do try to provide even, consistent light year-round and give your plant a little turn every few waterings to promote well-balanced growth.

Pro Tip

Did You Know?

Pilea is so easy to propagate, they're often referred to as the “friendship plant” because you'll quickly want to share with friends or maybe make a friend in the process!

Fun Fact

Water

|

Allow top inches of soil to dry between waterings.

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. A droopy Pilea can be a sign that they are need of water, but always check the soil first. And take extra care in winter to avoid overwatering.

Light

|

Low light tolerant. Bright, indirect light preferred.

Preferred Light

Bright, indirect light is ideal for your Pilea. Susceptible to leaf burn in long stretches of direct light. Can tolerate lower light conditions, but be sure to adjust watering and expect the leaves to turn a darker green. The plant will likely take on an elongated and sparser look.

Humidity

|

Not too concerned by humidity levels.

Humidity Needs

While not too bothered about high humidity, your Pilea will appreciate the occasional misting, which helps remove dust from their leaves.

Temperature

|

Can adapt, but doesn't like sudden change.

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but may complain with some leaf drop when exposed to cold drafts or dry heat from vents.

Toxicity

|

Mildly toxic to humans and pets if ingested.

Toxic or Not?

Generally considered pet safe, but can cause vomiting or nausea if consumed in huge quantities.

Size

|

A petite plant pal.

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow up to around 12 inches tall with a similar spread (when mature and with enough light)!

Format

|

Upright stem with a globular growth pattern.

Overall Look

A petite, but striking plant. Generally grows with a straight upright stem that shoots out perky round leaves in every direction, creating something of an orb-like canopy. Will look fantastic on a tabletop or shelf!

Leaf Shape

|

Vivid green in a perfectly round pad-like shape.

Leaf Look

Noted for the unique round pad-like foliage in an eye-catching shade of vivid green.

Pro Tip

|

Rotate every few waterings for even growth.

Pro Tip

Pilea are known to lean toward the sun—leading to lopsided growth, so do try to provide even, consistent light year-round and give your plant a little turn every few waterings to promote well-balanced growth.

Fun Fact

|

Propagate your Pilea, make friends.

Did You Know?

Pilea is so easy to propagate, they're often referred to as the “friendship plant” because you'll quickly want to share with friends or maybe make a friend in the process!

Beyond The Basics

Soil & Potting

Thrives in a rich, very well-draining potting mix—you can use a good quality potting mix labeled for indoor plants or make your own mix. You can try a 1:1:1:0.5 mix of potting mix, orchid bark, perlite, and activated charcoal. Ensure the pot has the appropriate drainage and don't forget to pour out any excess water collected in the drainage tray or cachepot.

Repotting

Try to repot every 1-2 years in the spring, especially when tending to a younger plant. Increase the pot size by about 2 inches each time or until you're satisfied with the size. It's still important to repot at this stage, but it'll be an exercise of refreshing the soil, keeping the pot size the same, and possibly doing some root trimming to restrict the plant's growth. More on repotting here.

Feeding

If you're not already planning to repot, you can fertilize during the spring and summer months. Once to every two months should be plenty. No fertilizer is necessary during the winter when plant growth naturally slows down. You can try a balanced liquid or water-soluble fertilizer—always diluted more than the recommended strength. More on using fertilizer here.

Grooming

Can be prone to legginess (or straggly, elongated growth). Regular pruning of the new growth (up to a third of the whole plant) will promote a fuller, bushier appearance. New leaves will emerge from the cut stem. Plus, you can use these stem cuttings to propagate! In addition, it's always good practice to regularly remove yellowed or dying leaves and any fallen plant debris. Ensure your scissors or pruners are sanitized to avoid spreading disease or pests.

Propagation

Pilea practically propagate themselves! You’ll see little mini Pilea offsets, or pups, popping up from the soil near the base of the parent plant. You’ll want to wait until the pup is at least a few inches in length. Dig under and around a little bit and cut the pup out from the soil, making sure to get some roots. You can then place the pup in water to develop stronger roots or pot up right away if the root system is complex enough. More on propagation techniques here.

Variants

TrOUBlESHOOTING

Why are the leaves on my Pilea curved or domed instead of flat?

Symptom

Leaf edges curling, either inward or outward. Usually accompanied by some discoloration.

Cause

Leaves curling inward is often a sign of dehydration from either too much light or not enough water. Leaves curling outward is more likely a sign of not enough light or too much water.

Solution

The key is a well tuned balance between the amount of light and your frequency of watering. Instead of going by a set schedule, check-in with your plant to see if they need the water or not. You'll want to allow around half the soil to dry out completely before watering again. While this may be on a consistent schedule for some months, as the seasons change, so will the amount of light and therefore your watering schedule must shift.

More on watering here.
1/2

Why are the leaf tips on my Pilea browning?

Symptom

Leaves turning brown just on the edges or tips. These edges may gradually change from yellow to brown, crispy, and possibly a bit curled.

Cause

Browning just on the edges of tips is usually a reaction to low humidity. Since many of our houseplants have tropical origins, they also thrive in humid conditions. Our average indoor humidity is usually adequate, but some plants are simply more sensitive to changes in humidity than others. You may notice this more acutely when conditions are particularly dry—like when you turn on the heater in winter.

Solution

Try to accommodate your plant's needs by locating them in more naturally humid places, like the bathroom or kitchen, or grouping a bunch of humidity-loving plants together. But the only way to truly guarantee increased humidity is to get a humidifier!

Once you've addressed the problem: If the brown tips bother you, you can trim them back. Do your best to follow the shape of the leaf to help them look natural. Also, try to cut just short of the discolored edge so it doesn’t expand.

More on leaf changes here.
1/2

Why are the leaves on my Pilea wilting and yellowing?

Symptom

Multiple leaves are wilting and turning yellow—particularly the older, lower leaves. You may also notice stunted growth and mushy stems.

Cause

The most likely culprit is overwatering and initial signs of root rot. When a plant's roots sit in waterlogged soil for too long, a fungal infection can quickly take over, causing the roots to rot (turning brown and mushy).

Solution

First, ensure that your plant has appropriate drainage (both in terms of well-draining soil and plenty of drainage holes in the plant's container).

If you think you've caught the overwatering early on, you can simply let the plant dry out more than you have been. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering again. Continue monitoring and only water when needed. You may also try using chopsticks (or something similar) to poke holes in the soil to help the roots get more oxygen. And finally, you can try to "wick" the excess moisture out of the soil by placing the whole pot (with drainage holes) in a tray or container with dry soil. This new layer of dry soil should soak up some of the excess moisture from the waterlogged areas around your plant's roots.

However, if you suspect a serious case of root rot, you'll definitely need to take a peak at the roots by removing the plant entirely from their container. If there are any black and mushy roots, trim them back completely before repotting with fresh soil in a new or sterilized container.

More on leaf changes here.
1/2

Why does my Pilea have patchy, pale spots?

Symptom

Larger grey or pale patches on a few leaves. The spot may look dried out and somewhat bleached.

Cause

When your plant is exposed to the hot sun, it begins to evaporate more moisture from the leaf surface than the plant can replace. Leading to bleached areas or large grey patches on leaves.

Solution

You may be pushing the limits on how much direct sun your plant can handle. Try moving it out of reach of those direct rays of sun or moving to a spot that receives only minimal direct sun in the mornings or evenings. While this should prevent further burning, the spots will not "heal", so it's up to you if you'd like to prune off the affected leaves.

More on leaf changes here.
1/2