Table of Content
- Pests & Diseases
- Pruning & Propagating
- Troubleshooting & Tips
- Pilea Peperomoides Alumi Moon Valley
- Pilea Glaucophylla Greyzy Silver Sparkles
Pilea is one of the largest groups of flowering plants within the Uritacaeae which is the nettle family. Consisting of approximately 600 to 715 different species this huge group of plants have produced some incredibly popular houseplants. They have won their place as must-have plants by being easy to care for and producing different colours, textures and leaf shapes that add to and enhance the already large catalogue of choices you are faced with when deciding on a new member of your plant tribe.
Like most of the best houseplants, Pilea is distributed through the warm temperate regions of the globe, mainly found in the tropics and subtropics. The majority of the species are made up shade loving plants and shrubs that are often herbaceous succulents. This unusual plant mix is easily distinguishable by its bright colours, inflorescence or unusual leaves and textures.
The species is most famously known for Pilea peperomiodes, which have become a must-have plant in recent years and hails from southern China. Commonly known as the Chinese money plants, or missionary plants, they pass it along plant or pancake plant. This unique plant has leaves shaped like large green coins. With its tolerance to low light coupled with its fast-growing habit, this plant has become the low-maintenance king of beginner-friendly plants. It is happy to bare a touch of neglect whilst you’re learning the ropes but once you learn how to care for this plant it can go on to quickly become one of the most rewarding plants to keep.
As most houseplant Pileas are succulents they will be happiest in the brightest indirect sunlight. These types of conditions will promote quick and healthy growth. It’s important to note, like a lot of houseplants Pileas won’t tolerate harsh direct sunlight which will cause yellow spotting and damage to the leaves.
Some Pilea will adapt to lower light conditions. More herbaceous varieties will not mind slightly lower light conditions but it will over time be no substitute for an abundance of bright indirect light. Succulent varieties will not be a fan of lower light and will become leggy as they stretch towards what light they can find.
Being a plant that is found almost exclusively in tropical climates, Pileas need higher than average levels of humidity to perform well. They prefer high humidity around 50-80%, which is quite a bit higher than the standard humidity found in most homes (40%). You may be able to keep them happy if they are grouped in a tight cluster of other plants but more often than not the humidity will need to be increased to get the most out of your Pilea.
Misting is often the go-to answer when trying to raise humidity but it’s best to avoid misting with Pileas and find an alternative way to increase the humidity levels. This is because the leaves of Pileas tend to develop watermarks when water comes into contact with the leaves, this won’t harm the plant but can detract from the overall look.
With their love for humidity, Pileas are perfectly suited for use in terrariums and will also make their care much easier. They will thrive in the humidity-rich environment and the only problem you’ll face is the plant quickly outgrowing their space, however, this is easily maintained by pruning and you’ll be left with a lot of propagating material!
The best way to maintain high humidity is to use a humidifier placed about a metre away from your plant to provide high ambient humidity. Alternatively, you could place your plant on an undertray filled with Leca pebbles sitting in a shallow layer of water. Make sure the plant is not submerged in any water as this can lead to root rot. As the water from the undertray evaporates from the surface of the pebbles or stones it will keep humidity levels high precisely where you need it most.
Pilea is fairly easy and predictable to water when planted in the right soil. They enjoy slightly moist soil for most of the time but wait until the soil starts to dry out a bit before they are watered again. They will not enjoy being waterlogged as this can quickly cause root rot. Also letting them dry out completely will be a quick way to start losing leaves.
Always water from the base of the plant. Sitting your plant in an under tray and allowing it to absorb water from the base will reduce the risk of overwatering and is a good preventative measure for fungus gnats. Remember to always set a timer from the minute the plant goes in the water, we don’t want any forgotten casualties on our hands.
Before you water your plant, take note of the weight of the pot. Once you’ve watered the plant, try to notice the difference in weight from before. Now you can quickly tell if your plant needs water by just lifting it up
Pilea needs well-draining soil, that can hold onto a good degree of moisture without staying saturated. A good houseplant compost should do the job. But you can always add perlite for some additional drainage, and vermiculite for added water retention. With a combination of these, you can provide the best environment for your plant to thrive. Coconut Coir is also a great option to help retain moisture while still allowing excess water to run through the soil and not hang around the roots.
Pests & Diseases
Even though Pilea is easy to care for they can still suffer from pests, and the chance of them making an unwelcome appearance is still very possible.
It is good practice to regularly check your plants for any signs of aphids, red spider mites, mealy bugs, and thrips. You may notice some signs of distress but by checking regularly you allow yourself time to prevent a full-blown attack.
The most common pests that occur with Pilea are aphids and mealy bugs which will often happen due to a lack of humidity.
Check our video on homemade pest remedies or head over and read Fungus Gnat Fact Check and Home Remedies how to guide
Pilea only requires feeding during the warmer months, a balanced houseplant feed can be applied once a month after watering. There is no need to feed your Pilea during the winter as they will more than likely go dormant and will struggle to process the feed in this state.
Pruning & Propagating
The variety of your Pilea will determine whether the plant is worth pruning. In most cases, there is not much of a need to keep the plants trimmed and pruned, they dont often become unruly or untidy.
There are two really easy ways to propagate from your Pilea and both often have a high success rate and are easy to do. This is why it has been given the name ‘the pass it along plant’. Your two best options are either from a leaf cutting, which doesn’t need to be cut they can normally be neatly pinched away from the main stem, or little offshoots of pups.
Both of these can either be placed into either a jar of water or a small pot of well-draining soil.
You will have to wait longer for the leaf-cutting to develop roots, sometimes a half and a half method is best for leaf cuttings. Start them off in a glass of water to develop some roots before placing them into a small pot of soil. The only thing to take note of with this method is, don’t transplant the cutting into the soil at the first signs of roots, water developed roots are weaker than soil-developed roots and if transplanted too early can cause the root system to fail very quickly.
If you’re looking to propagate from your pups you can follow the same methodology as above, take care to gently remove the pup from the mother plant ensuring that they come with an adequate amount of roots attached.
In both cases by the time these cuttings get into small pots place them in a warm and humid environment to start them off on their journey. Watch them closely as they are likely to dry out quickly.
Pilea can be a little bit fussy when it comes to repotting and roughly should be changed every year to a year and a half depending on the growing conditions. They don’t enjoy being root-bound and they also dont enjoy being in large pots where their roots can quickly get waterlogged and starved of oxygen.
It is best to step these plants up little by little, placing them in a marginally larger pot when the time is right. As long as they have one or two inches of the extra growing room they will be happy enough. It is better to do this than run the risk of stepping them up into a pot that’s too large as the consequence of this tends to happen quite quickly and before you know it the plant can completely fail.
The best time to repot your plant is when spring arrives. Outside temperatures will rise and the daylight hours will increase. When this happens your plant will react quickly to the environmental change and start producing lots of new foliage growth.
You will need to pick a pot with good drainage, we don’t want water hanging around the roots.
Next, fill a third of the way up with a houseplant potting mix. Place the root ball of the plant in the centre of the pot.
Fill with the remaining soil and gently firm down around the root ball.
When you’ve finished and got your plant back in the perfect spot you can give it a thorough watering to settle the plant into its new pot. Keep a close eye on it for the first couple of weeks and then relax back into your normal watering and feeding schedule.
Troubleshooting & Tips
- Drooping leaves can be an early indicator of two things, the most common, your plant is ready for a drink and needs to be watered. The second reason is if the plant has been watered and still fails to pick up, this can indicate the light conditions are too low and the plant needs to be moved to a brighter location.
- Brown spotting on the leaves is often a sign of over watering, the plant will need to dry out. You may lose a few leaves if this is the case.
- Brown spots can also be caused by overfeeding or exposure to direct sunlight.
- Yellow and brown leaves at the base are normal and are to be expected. These are just the oldest leaves on the plant and as the plant develops new leaves it will inevitably lose the oldest ones first.
Pretty much all standard varieties of houseplant Pilea are non-toxic. So there’s nothing to worry about and another tick in the box for Pilea being a great choice for houseplants, they are safe for humans, dogs, cats and any other type of pet.
Pilea Peperomoides Alumi Moon Valley
Pilea Peperomioides ‘Alumi Moon Valley’ is an attractive variety of the Pilea. The ‘Alumi Moon Valley’ variety is known for its small, round leaves that grow on long, thin stems. The leaves are a bright green colour with a metallic sheen and a textured appearance that resembles the surface of the moon. The foliage is compact and grows in a dense rosette pattern, making it a great choice for small spaces or as an accent piece in a larger plant collection.
Pilea Glaucophylla Greyzy Silver Sparkles
Pilea glaucophylla ‘Greyzy Silver Sparkles’ is a unique and eye-catching plant known for its distinctive, silvery-grey foliage that sparkles in the light. The ‘Greyzy Silver Sparkles’ variety is a relatively small plant, growing up to 6-8 inches tall and wide. It has small, circular leaves that are densely packed together on short stems. The leaves are a pale silver colour with a shimmering metallic sheen, and they have a slightly wavy, textured appearance.
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