Alan Chan is a passionate plant collector, gardener, plant blogger and stylist. He lives in a small inner-city studio apartment in Sydney, Australia. Living in a high-rise urban setting, meant that Alan had to think creatively to include greenery into his tight-spaced home. On the weekends, Alan loves caring for his balcony garden, checking up on his parents’ backyard in Bondi and visiting local nurseries. In his spare time, he enjoys researching and learning about unique and rare house plants. Alan uses his background experience in Sculpture and Installation Art, applying his artistic thinking into the garden.
Pilea Peperomioides, also known as Chinese money plant or pancake plant has easily become one of the world’s most favourite household plants of all. The beautiful round leaves are incredibly elegant and their adorable size and decorative nature, makes Pileas the perfect statement piece for any home dining or side table. When I first began my Pilea Peperomioides collection, it was really difficult to get your hands on one. In fact, my original ones were all mailed to me from another city. For me, plant mail is the best mail! I get so excited and it makes purchasing unique and rare plants more accessible. Luckily, nowadays Pileas are a bit more widely available and affordable. Here I share some of my personal plant tips on providing the best care you can for your Pilea plant.
All my pileas are currently in terracotta pots. You can also use glazed ceramic pots of your choice as well. Personally, I have had great success growing Pileas in terracotta pots, so that’s the choice of container I recommend to everyone. Terracotta is very porous and allows the plant roots to breathe well in the soil. If you’re someone who tends to overwater your plants, well Terracotta is the perfect choice for you, as it helps to absorb any excess water/moisture and prevents the plant from rotting. Terracotta pots are also very affordable and easily found at local nurseries. No matter what pot you choose, make sure it has excellent drainage. All my pots have drainage holes, so the water can pass through very easily. When your Pilea first arrives home from the nursery (or in the mail in my case), it will normally be in a small plastic pot. Don’t repot the plant straight away. I leave the Pilea plant in its current container for approximately 1-2 weeks. This allows time for your Pilea to adjust and accustom to your home environment. If you repot straight away, you may cause it unnecessary stress (and it is probably already stressed if it has been knocked around in the mail during transportation!). When you do repot it, ensure the pot size is not too big and is appropriate to the size of your Pilea. They perform much better in smaller containers with some room to grow.
Good bright lighting is so important and makes a huge difference in Pilea health and wellbeing. As I am located in the Southern Hemisphere, my Pilea plants enjoy ample, bright North-facing light. This is different if you’re located in the Northern Hemisphere, where you desire South-facing windows. Pilea plants prefer warm temperatures and bright indirect light. No direct sunlight is required. My Pileas sit next to the window, where they can access all-day indirect light and they’re very happy there. You will notice the Pilea leaves tend to face or grow in the direction of the light. You can either opt for a slanted look (I like it because it adds character) or alternatively, you need to rotate the plant regularly, to achieve a more even look and growth.
I water my Pilea plants once a week in the warmer months and once a fortnight in the cooler months. This can change however, based on external and internal temperature conditions. There might be several hot days and heatwaves, so your watering schedule may be increased. You might have the heater running in Winter and this can cause the air to become drier. So, you adjust your watering, based on the temperature and the amount of lighting in your home. Generally, you want to keep the soil moist in Summer and allow the plant to dry out longer between watering during Winter. Another hot tip I like to share is once a month, I like to “flush” my Pileas, by repeatedly watering the plant 4-5 times in one sitting, each time letting all the water slowly drain out. By doing so, it helps to wash out any built-up of unnecessary salts and minerals that may have accumulated over time in the soil.
I personally prefer to use premium Cacti and Succulent soil potting mix for growing my Pilea plants. It doesn’t hold too much water or moisture and it’s perfect in assisting with good drainage. I also mix in a small portion of perlite (roughly 10%, ie. One part perlite to nine parts soil). Perlite is great for soil aeration and drainage. In the warmer months, you can feed the soil with a liquid fertiliser once a month. Prior to repotting your Pilea plants in fresh soil, always ensure you carefully observe and inspect the soil for any fungus gnats or other pests. If the new soil is already infected, it can cause plant problems and potential stress. Either treat the soil or grab a new bag!
Propagating Pilea plants are fun and relatively a simple, easy process. In the warmer Summer months, the “mother” Pilea plant will produce Pilea pups or “babies”. They normally appear up through the soil. This is why it is important, not to cover the soil with any rocks or decorative pebbles, otherwise the Pilea pups have a hard time coming up in the soil. I usually wait a few weeks for the pups to become a decent size and then I gently remove the pup with sharp knife. I prefer to root them in water and then transfer to soil. It will usually take about a month, for the baby Pilea to establish itself in the soil and produce its own new leaves. This process is so exciting, and before you know it, you will go from owning one Pilea to five Pilea plants in no time!
Once, you have gained experience growing Pilea plants in your home, you will be able to propagate them every Summer and spread the Pilea joy around. Share this gorgeous and easy to care for houseplant with all your family and plant loving friends. After all, sharing is caring!