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Pilea Peperomioides (Chinese Money Plant) — Best Care Guide

Pilea Peperomioides (Chinese Money Plant) — Best Care Guide

If you are reading this, there is a chance you have just watched one of your friends post a picture of a newly planted Pilea Peperomioides on their social media and you can’t help but want one for yourself.

Because why not? As they say “Money doesn’t grow on trees” but this little plant, with its coin-shaped leaves, certainly brings a lot of joy to the money spent on it. 

Known by the Latin name Pilea Peperomioides, it is more commonly called Pilea, Chinese Money Plant, Pancake Plant, Friendship Plant, UFO Plant, or the Missionary Plant.

That’s quite a list I must say and rightly so for this beautiful and fun addition to my in-city apartment. 

The Chinese Money Plant is native to southern China, most commonly found in the Yunnan Province where it grows in forests at the foot of the Himalayas. It offers round coin-shaped leaves that have a remarkable bright green color with a glossy waxy sheen. 

 Money Plants like Pilea Peperomioides, Pachira Aquatica, Crassula Ovata (also called the Jade Plant) are generally considered lucky due to their good feng shui.

Another major reason because of which they are considered lucky is their mythological and historical background. 

The plant grows to a height of around 6 inches to 12 inches (20cm to 30cm), and makes fantastic additions to your indoor plant collection!

Pilea Peperomioides does not require a lot of maintenance, making it a popular pick for indoor plants!

 


 

Pilea Peperomioides Plant Care

Pilea Peperomioides does best in all-purpose potting soil. Water the plant for 3 to 4 days in a season and make sure the soil remains slightly moist. Make sure that the soil dries out from time to time, as waterlogging is quite harmful to the plant. The plant does want full sun but enjoys a bright spot with lots of light.  Temperatures should be between 55°F to 86°F (13°C to 30°C). Avoid temperatures below 50°F (10°C) as the plant does not tolerate frost and is not happy in the wider range of humidity. Average humidity should be the optimum requirement for the plant. The plant should be grown evenly on all sides, for a more aesthetic feel, so rotate the plant from side to side every alternate day.

 

Soil

Avoid keeping the soil moist for longer durations.

To make sure that the soil is as per the requirement, push your index finger into the soil and see if it is sticky. If the soil is sticking to your fingers, I’d suggest you wait for at least two days before you water again.

Overwatering is one of the main reasons why most plants wilt, ultimately leading to its death.

Also, the Chinese Money Plant enjoys well-draining potting soil, so look for pots that have tiny pores underneath—to allow excess water to trickle out from the soil.

And more importantly, ensure that there are no blockades near the pores, as this will defeat their purpose.

I like to use a premium mix of potting soil and then make it my own. I create a mix of 50% premium potting soil, 40% cactus mix, and 10% perlite. The cactus mix and the perlite provide the soil with a looser consistency that aids in water drainage. 

Remember to not overdo the cactus mix, as this is not a desert plant and it wants nutrients in the soil. To enhance my potting mix, I add a considerable amount of mulch, organic manure, peat, and pumice. Chinese Money Plant soil tip: To aid in soil aeration and drainage, do not pack the soil tightly into the container. 

Terracotta is another material that can be used to pot your tiny Pileas. Terra cotta is porous and hence, the soil drains the excess water quickly. However, it is advised to pot it in a plastic or ceramic container.

If you bought your plant in a terracotta one, then simply re-pot it into a plastic or ceramic container, as suggested above.

You can also be clever and place the plastic container inside the terracotta vessel, just for the aesthetics. If you have a saucer under the pot, then do not let water stagnate on it for more than a day.

Always get rid of stagnant water as it can cause root rot, which will indefinitely ruin your entire venture. 

Tight packing also clogs up the soil and reduces the water flow through the soil particles, so make sure your plant has a well dug up soil. The digging will also allow the roots to get some fresh air from the atmosphere for its regular nitrification process. 

 

Light

The Friendship plant enjoys lots of bright light. But, it does not want to sit in direct sunlight. If you are like me and think that every plant loves being in the sun, you will soon be disappointed to see that your plant is not happy. Direct sunlight causes sunburn. The leaves show bleached spots and turn yellow. 

The amount of light any window receives depends on a couple of important factors. Some of the factors are—the time of the year, the angle of the sun, whether you have an overhanging roof, or even maybe the tree shading the window.

The first thing you need to work on is to find the direction in which your window is facing.

If the sun shines into your room, in the early hours, that is before noon, then it is facing towards the East.

If you can feel direct sunlight coming in from the window, around the evening, or before the sun-set, then your window is facing towards the West.

If the sun never shines directly in through the window, then it is North faced and is not the ideal place to grow your plants.

And lastly, if your windows allow the sunlight to blaze in, during the afternoons or late mornings, then it is facing the South.

As for me, I have found a great spot near my south-facing window. It is bright but does not get direct sun. You can even keep it on the east-facing window for the early trickling light of the Sun.

This plant loves light and you will see that the leaves tend to grow on the side that faces the light. If it is left standing in the same position for a long time, you will have a lop-sided plant. It may even topple over due to all the weight being on one side.

One of the experts at the nursery told me to rotate the plant every few days. It will then produce stems and leaves in a lovely symmetrical pattern. 

Also, if you are unsure about the intensity of light that your plant receives, then try the ‘Shadow Test’ on it. If you observe a dark shadow cast by your plant then that means it’s receiving bright light.

However, if you feel that the light is not sufficient enough, you can always buy a not so costly LED plant light. The best part about an artificial light source, is the fact that you can even set a timer for it so that your plant always receives the optimum amount of light for the required period of time! 

 

Watering

For best watering care, your Chinese Money plant can be watered every 3 to 4 days in Spring and Summer. It requires less water in Winter. The soil can remain slightly moist but it must never be too soggy.

You should make sure that water does not stagnate near the roots of your Pileus, as it can cause the roots to rot. Now and then, permit the soil to drain its moisture completely. This is even more important in Winter. You don’t want your plant to stand in icy soil on a cold Winter’s night. 

Even though the round coin-shaped leaves are its most fabulous feature, they do have a downside as well.

The large leaf surfaces easily collect dust. The last thing you would want is dust particles making your bright green plant look pale and unattractive. Mist spraying or washing off the leaves is a great way to clean off the dust and give the plant a fresh look.

If you are indoors, do this in the kitchen sink and run water lightly over the leaves. Keep in mind to not drench the pot with water, as it will defeat the purpose of this entire process. 

If you do so by mistake, then ensure that the soil rids itself off the water. Alternatively, you can also wipe the water down on the leaves with a damp cloth if you don’t want to make too much of a mess with water.

Most plants respond better to water that does not come from a tap. Tap water is rich in volatile chemicals like fluoride and heavy metals. Therefore, it is always advised to use filtered or distilled water.

If you don’t have filtered or distilled water, boil water in a kettle and allow it to cool down for 24 hours before you use it.

 

Temperature

The  Money Plant enjoys warm temperatures. It is most happy in a temperature range of 55°F to 86°F (13°C to 30°C). It will not do well in temperatures that constantly remain below 50°F (10°C). It also doesn’t enjoy temperatures that fluctuate wildly. 

Try to ensure that your environment remains within the required range of temperature—even above it, if possible. I have read on some websites that keeping the plant in cooler temperatures may encourage little white and pink flowers to go because it rarely produces. I have not yet tried this. Perhaps I will re-pot one baby pup, keep it cold, and see how it goes. 

Pro Tip—If you have your plant outside on a patio, consider bringing it indoors during the winter months.

 

Humidity

While the Friendship Plant is not sensitive to humidity, we must keep in mind that it is neither a desert plant nor a tropical plant—so extremely high or low humid conditions is not ideal. 

If your home has an average humidity of around 40% to 50%, the plant will do fine. If you observe the leaves becoming crispier and losing their waxy texture, this could be because the plant is under low humidity. Try to increase the humidity levels if possible. You can also give the plant a mist spray to create some dampness in the environment. 

Like most plants, the Chinese Money Plant does not enjoy droughts. Don’t place it directly in front of an air conditioner or heating unit.

 

Fertilizer

Fertilizing the Pilea Peperomioides has quite a positive effect on it. However, go for fertilization only during the Spring and Summer months and completely avoid it during the Winters.

During its life cycle, a healthy mother plant will grow many baby plants that pop up from under the soil around it. When you observe this phenomenon, you can give it a dose of extra fertilizer to strengthen the mother plant. 

We suggest using only one-fourth to around half the strength of the recommended amount of the fertilizer, or to fertilize periodically—like once a month or only in the springtime. An all-purpose plant fertilizer will be ideal. Buy a packet from your local nursery or you can also make your own. I am maintaining an eco-friendly lifestyle wherever I can, so I stay away from chemical fertilizers. I like to purchase an organic mix. 

When I have time, I make my mix of peat, mulch, perlite, and crushed bark. I like to add in some coco husks as well, if I have them available. 

Pro tip— Do not over-fertilize and make sure to reduce fertilizing in Winter. It is the rest period for the plant. You can also use a time-release fertilizer— these fertilizers feed your plant as per its requirements without any external aid. 

 

Propagation

The name Friendship Plant comes from an interesting fact – at one stage, this plant was difficult to get hold of. And, when it was found in a nursery, it was very expensive. Because the plant self propagates so easily, people would remove the babies, repot them and give them to friends as a gift. 

This gave the plant its Friendship name and also helped make the species far more accessible to plant lovers. By cutting off the baby plants or rhizomes, you can easily propagate your Friendship Plant at home. Further on, you will find my detailed guide on how to do this.

 

Growth

The Chinese Money Plant is super cute and has the ability to make you smile. It grows happily in a pot to a height of around 8 inches to 12 inches (20cm to 30cm). 

New stems arise from a central stem and grow fairly long. These stems carry leaves that are lovely pancake shaped or coin shaped. The leaves display a bright green color with a glossy waxy sheen.

Leaves can reach a size of 4 inches (10cm) in diameter. Because this plant loves light so much, it produces leaves on the side that gets the most light. You will also see that existing stems tend to turn towards the light. 

Getting your plant to achieve that balance and symmetry is very easy – simply rotate your pot every alternate day or every 3 to 4 days. The mother plants self-propagates by growing babies that pop out of the soil around them. This can create an untidy-looking display. You can remove the babies carefully with a knife. 

The clear symptoms of a healthy pancake plant mostly include rich green leaves that are with a brisk texture. The petioles of this plant are naturally long but it does not contain the tissue needed to grow a full-sized plant. 

If the plant has been receiving adequate sunlight, it will not be elongated or yellow out. 

Another indication of a healthy UFO Plant is no brown decoloring on the outer boundaries of the leaves.

If you want to keep the ‘friendship’ going, why not re-pot and offer to family and friends as a gift? Pilea Peperomioides produces small white flowers with pink-tinted stems under a very healthy and happy condition but this might be rare.

 

Potting

Chinese Money Plants are often used to enhance Scandinavian décor themed rooms. That means a soft white, icy blue, or light pink pot! In reality, no matter what your décor theme is, the Pilea Peperomioides looks stunning in any decorative planter. 

As discussed earlier, just remember to choose a certain pot that can help your plant drain its excess moisture. The pot should have pores underneath its base. This is vital to prevent water from remaining in the pot and causing the roots to rot.

Firstly, I like to put down crushed granite, just a thin layer of it, to allow the water to drain and give access to airflow. Use an all-purpose potting soil and half fill your pot. Place your Chinese Money Plant into the center of the pot and fill the sides with soil using a scoop. Don’t pack the soil tightly. 

Water well and stand in a bright spot with lots of light. Avoid direct sunshine. Plastic containers that are tightly packed do not breathe and water can stagnate inside them. They also add to the pollution levels of the planet as they are not biodegradable.

Pro tip Stand your pot in an accessible position. This plant likes to be rotated every 3 to 4 days so that it maintains an even growth of leaves around the main stem.

 

Chinese Money Plant in-depth propagation guide

Your mother plant will soon start making babies that will start emerging around its base. I usually re-pot them and give them to my cousins or friends giving it the much-deserved name of the Friendship plant. 

I use a knife, with sharpened edges to lift the tiny plant and look around for its roots. If the baby roots are well developed, I carefully cut them away from the mother plant, set them down in new potting soil, and water them ever so lightly.

The baby plants might be as small as an inch and take time to attain maturity, for a year or two, after which you can re-pot it to a bigger terracotta pot for regular cuttings. You can also achieve a lush and full pot by planting multiple baby plants in one pot. 

This could be done in two ways: Not removing the baby plants or planting multiple cuttings of the baby plants together. 

Pilea Peperomioides do not spread their wings by their main shoot. So, in order to reproduce a whole family of Pilea Peperomioides of your own, you would require multiple plants, as the plant has a moderately low rate of growth. 

After a certain amount of time, the mother plant may also develop a central stem, making it look sort of like a Juniper or a Bonsai tree—although it won’t get much more than 15-16 inches tall and wide at most.

Propagate Chinese Money Plant from cuttings

  • A healthy Pilea Peperomioides will send up little plantlets through the soil around it
  • When the baby plants reach a height of around 2 inches to 3 inches (5cm to 7cm), you can remove them using a sharp knife
  • Always make sure that your knife is sterile
  • Half fill your new pots with all-purpose potting soil
  • You can work with the mother plant in its container itself
  • Using your fingers, follow the stem of the baby plant for about 1 inch (2.5cm) under the soil
  • Use the sterilized knife and cleanly cut the baby plant
  • Carefully lift out the cut section of the plant and shake it off to remove the loosely hanging soil particles
  • You can cut off some of the lower leaves to create a longer clean stem
  • Place into the new container and fill up with soil
  • You can prop up your baby with foam supports, if required
  • Place in a bright spot and keep the soil moist until you see new leaves appearing
  • You may also see that new plants grow from the main stem of the mother plant
  • You can remove these by holding them close to the stem and trimming them off
  • Because they won’t have roots, place them into a glass of distilled water until you see small roots appear
  • Now you can plant them into a pot filled with moist soil 

 

Common problems with Chinese Money Plant

 

Pest Control

Like most plants, your Pilea Peperomioides plant may become a home for nasty pests. 

It is your typical and the more household kind of pests that attack this plant like the mealybugs, fungus gnats, and spider mites. If you are up to it, pests can be removed by hand. Wear gloves and gently pry them off the underside of the leaves where they tend to hide.

If this is not for you, spray your plant with a diluted solution of rubbing alcohol and then wash it off with a spray of clean water. 

On the side note, I have found a natural pesticide that is easy to make and its ingredients can also be easily obtained. It is made of oil and the Neem Plant. The Neem plant has a strong and bitter taste that will naturally ward off pests.

 

Plant turns yellow

This is caused by too much of direct sun or overwatering. Move your plant into a spot that is bright but does not get direct sun. Reduce watering if you see that your soil is constantly wet.

Leaves start curling inwards

Once again, this could be due to high sun exposure. 

It could also be a result of the plant standing close to a heater, air conditioner, or fan. Move your plant to a more suitable spot and it should improve.

Durability Issues

One of the consistent challenges with growing your own Pilea Peperomioides can be the fact that you will soon find the plant to be quite delicate. Its leaves are prone to splinter off relatively easily—so it is best to keep them somewhere your kids or pets can’t accidentally damage them. 

White spots on the lower leaf surface

First, ensure that these are not pests. If they are not, then the spots are caused by deposits of heavy metals in the tap water you are using. You should try to water your plant with distilled water or boiled water. When using boiled water, allow the water to stand overnight. 

Tips to grow Chinese Money Plant problem-free

  • Plant into an all-purpose soil mix
  • Do not overwater
  • Soil can be slightly moist but should allow the moisture to settle down and dry out from time to time
  • Keep in a bright spot with no direct sunlight
  • Avoid very low or a place with a high amount of natural humidity
  • Do not expose it to frost. Maintaining the right temperature is important
  • Rotate after three to four days for an even amount of maturation on all sides
  • Fertilize during Spring and Summer
  • Fertilize when you see small plantlets appearing around the mother plant

 

Frequently asked questions about Chinese Money Plant

 

Can the Chinese Money Plant grow indoors?

Yes, it can. It looks stunning if you can plant it in a small pot where it offers a burst of bright green on its lovely round leaves. This is a very attractive indoor plant and makes a great gift to offer on a special occasion.

 

Is it easy to look after the Chinese Money Plants?

The Friendship Plant is a great choice for beginners. 

It only requires a bright spot, regular watering, and some care for regular rotation of the pot every other day. Fertilizing can be done in the growing season.

 

Is the Chinese Money Plant toxic?

The Urticaceae family is not considered toxic but it still might cause an allergic reaction. It also does not have spikes, spines, or sharp edges, which automatically makes it the perfect choice for a home with pets or children. 

 

How much does Pilea peperomioides cost?

Depending on the region and on its availability in that region, the Pilea Peperomioides can cost quite high to fairly moderate. You can browse on Amazon or other online stores and get an idea of the pricing range. But it’s advisable to buy it from the local florist or the gardening store if it’s available. You will usually find them at your local florists or a gardening shop in plastic pots. 

But purchasing it in terracotta pots can be the more appropriate choice. Terracotta pots usually dry out more quickly, thus giving your soil more space to breathe than the plastic pot. So, to show your Pilea Peperomioides plant the best care possible, I would recommend placing it in a ceramic or a terracotta pot. 

 

Conclusion

According to a National Gardening estimate in 2016 the United States, six million new Americans took up gardening in 2015 with five million of them being millennials. 

Pilea Peperomioides, thanks to their popularity, are now grown all around the world. It has become the most in-demand and talked about house plant in recent years across the US and around the world. It’s a pretty fascinating story.

This Chinese species, right under the nose of the western sciences, spread across thousands of homes in Europe just by the baby plants being passed from family to friends.

It’s quite reassuring to think that domestication can ensure the survival of scarce wild plants like Pilea Peperomioides. 

The Friendship Plant will make you smile. It has a fabulous bright green color and gorgeous pancake-shaped leaves. It makes an attractive display on a shelf or accent table a little distance away from a window.

Maybe, this is exactly what you have been looking for to get your hand on a touch of nature to bring home. After having watched my Pilea Peperomioides grow so well, I went off in search of other plants with attractive leaves. 

I found the glorious peperomia argyreia, the watermelon peperomia. It has lovely leaves with green and white hues that look like the texture of a watermelon.