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How to grow Pilea: A Beginners Guide To Pilea Peperomioides and Other Varieties

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Pilea is a unique species of plant with over 400 varieties. They have gained popularity as houseplants in recent years. These plants are relatively easy to care for and offer an attractive addition to any room with their uniquely shaped leaves and striking textured appearances. In this article, we’ll go over some tips on how to care for your Pilea and explore some of the most popular Pilea varieties.

Origin

Pilea are understory plants found in the tropics and subtropical rainforests around the world. Pilea Pepermoidies in particular was found in Yunnan Province of Southern China while others like the Pilea Mollis “Moon Valley” are native to Columbia.  Because they are so widespread their care and preferred conditions can differ slightly depending on the specific plant cultivars.

Lighting

Pilea plants generally prefer bright, indirect light. Some varieties like the Pilea Pepermoidies can tolerate some direct sunlight, but too much can cause their leaves to burn. If your Pilea is not getting enough light, its leaves may start to droop and varieties might start to lose their colorful vibrancy. Also, remember to rotate your Pilea once a week so all the leaves get a chance at good lighting and can grow evenly around. If you do not you can have all the foliage growing on the well-lit side and be bare on the other. *Learn more about lighting here*

Watering

Pilea plants like to be kept moist, but not too wet. Water your plant when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch or the leaves start to droop slightly. Overwatering can cause root rot and kill your plant, so be careful not to overdo it. If you are very generous with your watering consider using terracotta pots or a terrarium with a thicker drainage layer.

Another thing to note is that Pilea Pepermoidies will get white crystal-like dots on the back of its foliage. This is due to excess minerals in the water and is very common. Many plant parents see this and think it is a pest issue. This is not the case at all and your plant is in no danger. It is just mineral content in your water.

Humidity

The one thing all Pilea agree on is that they love humidity. They prefer moderate to high humidity levels but can tolerate lower. Anywhere between 40% and 80% humidity is prime for a Pilea. Any lower and you will see crispy tips and higher you can get melting leaves. You can increase the humidity around your plant by utilizing pebble trays or by using a humidifier. Pilea also makes amazing plants for terrariums and can bring their texture to a whole new level inside the glass.

Soil and Repotting

Pilea does not like to be root bound and is like a well-draining but moisture-retentive potting mix. Check if your Pilea needs a report regularly to prevent the roots from becoming root bound in the pot. The roots are very fine and can cause the plant to drop leaves if they become damaged. When repotting your plant you can use a standard potting mix or a fine blend of sphagnum and fir bark for 75% and the other 25% of your mix should be a material of choice for added drainage. Most plant parents use perlite for this because it is inexpensive and readily available.

Temperature

Pilea plants prefer temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C). They can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures but are not frost tolerant and will drop leaves if there are sudden changes. For example, if you move your Pilea Pepermoidies from a very hot room to a room that stays very cool it will drop leaves. Slight changes over time are better tolerated by Pilea.

Fertilizer

Pilea plants can benefit from regular fertilization. Use a balanced fertilizer once a month or so. A 10:10:10 fertilizer works well. You can also use a slow-release fertilizer to follow the lowest amount according to the instructions on the package. Pilea are not heavy feeders and if you miss a feed it will not greatly impact your plant. Over-fertilization can cause left burn, crisping tips, and mineral deposits on the backside of the leaves. Less is better in this case of fertilization.

Propagation and Pruning

Pilea can be very easily propagated by stem cuttings. Be sure to use the main stem not just a leaf. A leaf can root but cannot grow a whole new plant. A node is needed for a new plant but roots can grow from any part of a Pilea. Pilea can be rooted in water or a propagation box. Just make sure they get a good amount of light and warmth to encourage quick rooting.

Pilea can also benefit from occasional pruning.  They become more bushy after being chopped back. So propagating your Pilea can create a more healthy and full-looking plant.

Toxicity

Pilea are all nontoxic and safe for pets and children. Fantastic plants for tables and bookshelves in kids’ rooms. They also thrive in various reptile and amphibian terrariums. Cats have a grand time playing with the Pilea Pepermoidies as well. It is always nice to have a whole species of plants safe for pets and people.

Pilea Peperomioides: Also known as the Chinese Money Plant and UFO Plant, is one of the most popular Pilea varieties. It has round, coin-shaped leaves that are held on long, thin stems. It can grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall and is relatively easy to care for with the right amount of light.

Pilea Glauca: This Pilea variety has small, round leaves that are a bluish-green color.

It grows slowly and is often used in terrariums or small planters. It can become a trailing or creeping plant adding shimmery growth to any space.

Pilea Involucrata: Also known as the Friendship Plant, this Pilea variety has small, shiny, round leaves that are pink when they first grow in and become a darker grey as they mature. It can be grown as a hanging plant or in a small pot and grows incredibly quickly in terrariums.

Pilea Cadierei: Also known as an aluminum plant this Pilea variety has striking silver and green leaves with a textured, quilted appearance. Absolutely stunning plant. It can grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall and is best grown in a pot with well-draining soil or in terrariums but needs to be pruned regularly to bush outwards as well as upwards.

Pilea Mollis: Also called the “Moon Valley Pilea” with fabulous brown venation and incredible bright green texture on its leaves. It only becomes more vibrant with more light. The leaves have an incredible texture to them as well. Its bushy nature makes it perfect for pots and terrariums depending on its size.

In conclusion, Pilea plants are relatively easy to care for and can add a unique and attractive touch to any room. By following the tips outlined in this article and choosing the right Pilea variety for your space, you can enjoy the beauty and benefits of these popular houseplants.

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