Pilea peperomioides might be a mouthful to say, but there’s no mistaking those mysterious round leaves. Originally from China, Western botanists were unsure how to classify it until nearly 40 years later, in the 1980s. By then, Pilea peperomioides had become a staple in every houseplant collection. It is affectionately called the Chinese money plant after its coin-shaped foliage.
Pilea peperomioides do not like to be planted in the ground; they much prefer the coziness of a traditional pot. Choose a container that is, at most, two inches wider in diameter than the current container. This will ensure optimal space for root growth while maintaining that snugness the roots prefer. A visibly overgrown plant is usually an indication that it's time to repot. The production of pups, or baby plants, at the root system is also a sign that it's ready for a new home.
Pilea peperomioides is an interesting species in that it readily reproduces itself. The tiny baby plants, or pups, popping up from the soil are entirely new plants that will grow with a little bit of help. To propagate, identify a pup that is at least two inches in height. Gently remove the Pilea peperomioides from its container and massage away soil from the root ball until the pup and mother root are exposed. Using a pair of sterilized scissors, carefully cut the pup from the main root, while ensuring the new plant does not lose any of its roots. Once free from the mother plant, the pups are ready to be planted. Treat them as you would a full-sized Pilea peperomioides.
Pilea peperomioides likes a consistent watering schedule, so long as the top two inches of soil are allowed to dry between each drink. Make an effort to learn your plant's habits. When it comes time to water, saturate the top layer of soil until excess water comes out of the drainage hole and the pot feels heavier.
Some folks allow their Pilea peperomioides to dry out too much between waterings, and this can cause the leaves to droop. Watering will correct this issue, but if it happens too often, it could cause lasting damage.
In its native home, Pilea peperomioides grows in little pockets on cloudy mountainsides. They aren't exposed to too much direct sunlight, and they seem to like it that way. Chinese money plants do best indoors or under cover. So long as there is a lot of ambient light, your plant will be happy.
Shy away from leaving this fellow in direct sunlight for too long, especially if it's spent most of its life under cover. This can cause irreparable sunburn damage that could ultimately kill your plant. A nice sunny windowsill will do just fine. The glass of the window will filter the sun's harmful rays while allowing your Pilea peperomioides to bask.
When it comes to the type of container you want your Pilea peperomioides to live in, opt for plastic or terracotta. As mentioned, ensure the new pot is not more than two inches larger in diameter than the last.
Plastic is best at retaining water for Pilea peperomioides. Its lack of porosity and light weight slows evaporation. Although terracotta is quite porous and does lose water the quickest, the predictability of this type of container is best for those who wish to maintain a consistent watering schedule.
Soil is the foundation upon which the health of your Pilea peperomioides will be built, so make sure you use the right kind. Well-draining potting mixes that are light and fluffy are best, as they won't suffocate the roots or hold on to too much water. Many commercial soil preparations available for succulents and cacti work well for Pilea peperomioides.
Pilea peperomioides is susceptible to whitefly and aphids, tiny biting insects that can be quite challenging to deal with. Aphids look like colorful dots on the undersides of leaves. The substance they excrete causes mold. Neem oil applied topically will often take care of them.
An infestation of whitefly is hard to miss. These bugs form clusters of silky, powdery webbing underneath the leaves where they munch away at your plant, sapping it of vital nutrients. To treat, use a bit of insect-killing soap or spray your Pilea peperomioides with neem oil.
Pilea peperomioides is good at letting you know when something is amiss. These plants aren't prone to any diseases but they may announce a lack of nutrients. A Chinese money plant with leaves curling inward like an umbrella is an indication to too little nitrogen, while leaves that look burnt and rotted despite a lack of direct sun are indicative of a potassium deficiency. Correcting the situation is easy: supplement these minerals through the soil. It might be time to repot your plant with fresh, nutrient-rich soil.
Feeding your Pilea peperomioides is an optional step, but has some advantages, ensuring optimal nutrition and promoting impressive growth and occasional blooms. The flowers aren't much to behold, but they're a sign that your plant is extremely happy. The general consensus is that a diluted solution of houseplant fertilizer once a month is enough. Take care not to overdo it, as too much fertilizer can cause burning and damage. Look for a fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium — like a 10-10-10 formulation.
Perhaps its forgotten history as the friendship plant is one of this plant's most charming characteristics. Many nurseries sell Pileas, but the saying goes that you never need to buy one because a friend will likely gift you a pup of theirs. Botanists in the 1980s found out this sharing tendency is how the plant became so widespread and popular in the 70s.