Plant Care  |  October 17, 2018

Pilea Peperomioides Care


PRO TIP: Be sure to rotate the plant frequently as Pilea peperomioides grow quickly and orient towards the light.

The Pilea Peperomioides is known by many names, including the Chinese money plant, the UFO plant, the friendship plant, or the missionary plant. Noted for its unique pad-like foliage in an eye-catching bright shade of green, this plant has been popular in Scandanavia for years. Cuttings of the plant were taken from its native China by a Norwegian missionary who helped propagate it in Europe and grow its popularity there. It's only become widely available in the USA in the past few years, but has quickly become a favorite of plant enthusiasts on this side of the world too.

Pilea peperomioides is a low maintenance species that thrives in a bright spot near a window, but it is best to keep the plant out of direct sunlight as too much direct sun can cause the leaves to burn. However, too little light can cause the leaves to fade and the plant's overall health to suffer, so take time to find a spot that's just right.

If you are unsure of the lighting conditions in your home or office, check out our guide for how to measure light in your space.


Pilea Peperomiodes Leaf

Pilea peperomioides is one of the easiest and most interesting plants to propagate in water. Cuttings and pups spread it around the world, earning it one of its many nicknames, the Friendship Plant. This plant is the gift that keeps on giving!

Routine Maintenance

PRO TIP: This plant is quite communicative! Watch for the leaves beginning to droop, as this can be a sign that it needs water.

Always be sure to assess your plant’s watering needs upon receiving it. Before giving your plant a drink, it is best to check the moisture level in the soil first to ensure it isn’t moist right beneath the surface. A soil probe is an excellent tool to have to check the moisture of your plants at the root level. You may also want to consider aerating the soil of your plant before the initial watering. Many growers compact the soil to avoid shifting during transit, so aerating can help the soil breathe, improve drainage, and allow moisture to be released if the soil is overly damp.

Allow the top 2”-3” of the Pilea peperomioides' soil to dry between waterings. Typically, deeply watering this plant once a week will suffice, but it will depend on the amount and quality of light it is receiving. Drooping leaves can be an indication that the plant is in need of water, but always check the soil moisture a few inches below the surface to confirm your diagnosis before watering.

Rotate your plant periodically to ensure even growth on all sides and clean the leaves often so the plant can photosynthesize efficiently. When cleaning and dusting the leaves, also take the opportunity to inspect the undersides and keep an eye out for pests. For tips on dusting, cleaning, and misting your leaves, be sure to read our article all about misting houseplants.

Remember each plant is a unique living thing and may have varying needs, especially in their individual locations. Pay attention to the condition of your Pilea Peperomioides and its watering needs and you will have a long and happy relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions

The lower leaves on my Pilea are turning yellow and falling off. What is going on?

  • Most often this is due to an issue with watering. It is more common for this plant to be overwatered rather than underwatered, but it could be either. Consider recent care given and feel the soil of your plant and consider investing in a soil probe so you can check the soil moisture at the root level of the plant. If the soil is moist, then use the probe to aerate it and wait until it is dry before you next water. If the soil feels very dry, then your plant likely needs a drink and should be watered throughly.

How do I propagate my Pilea?

  • There are two ways to do this: In soil or in water. We have found the soil method is quite easy and eliminates one step, but it’s entirely up to you! Once you have had your plant for awhile, you will most likely see it produce little offshoots or pups in the soil. Remove one of these shoots and be sure to take some of its roots along with it. Pot it in a small 2” terra cotta pot and care for it as usual. Please note: You will need to monitor this plant more frequently than the mother plant because the pot is smaller and the plant will need more water until its roots have established.
  • To root in water, simply take a leaf cutting and let the stem sit in water until a good amount of roots appear. You can also take a pup and let its roots sit in water and grow. Transfer to a small pot and provide care as usual.

Why are my Pilea’s leaves drooping?

  • This could be happening for a few different reasons. The Pilea’s leaves often droop when the plant is thirsty. Feel the soil, and if it’s dry to the touch in the top few inches then your plant is ready for a drink. If the soil is moist throughout then the droopiness is being caused by something else.
  • Another reason your Pilea could be droopy is the plant may not be receiving enough light. This plant prefers a bright, but indirect light source. It will not fare well in low light conditions.

What are the white spots under my Pilea's leaves?

  • The white spots are pores! Also known as stomata. They are a mineral residue from water vapor being released through the pores. Not to worry, they are not pests or fungus.

Why are there brown spots on my Pilea’s leaves?

  • This is often a result of overwatering. When overwatered, the Pilea's leaves will develop brown spotting and edging, and the leaves will begin to fall off the plant. If your plant is showing these symptoms, feel the soil. If it’s moist then hold off on watering until the soil dries all the way through the pot. Reference the care instructions for re-establishing a watering routine with your plant.
  • Other causes for brown spotting are too much fertilizer, too much sun, or pests.

How often should I fertilize my plant?

  • In general, house plants will thrive when they are fertilized spring through fall. Fertilize once a month with an organic houseplant fertilizer, following the package instructions for dilution and administration. Greenery NYC uses an organic potting mix with a slow release fertilizer in the soil, so your plant will not need fertilizer within the first 6 months of receiving it.

How often does my plant need to be repotted?

  • For smaller desktop plants, we suggest repotting once every 12-18 months. Typically you want to choose a potting vessel 1”- 2” larger in diameter to allow for growth. Don’t choose a pot much larger than the previous as this could drown the plant's roots. If you prefer to maintain the current size of your plant, repot into the same vessel, providing new soil and trimming away some roots and foliage. Spring or summer is the ideal time to repot as the plant is at its strongest.

Standard Planter Instructions

There are two types of standard planters offered by Greenery Unlimited—those with drainage holes, and those without. Within these two categories are an array of sizes and styles to choose from. The presence of drainage holes and the size of the planted vessel both play a role in the quantity and frequency of water given to your plant.

Plants purchased in pots without a drainage hole have been set up with a built-in drainage system. A layer of Aeration Stones (porous, absorbent material made of recycled clay) has been placed beneath the soil to act as a reservoir for any excess water that flows through the soil. You will need to be slightly more cautious not to pour too much water into these containers as there is no way for the excess water to escape. We suggest slowly pouring small amounts of water in bit by bit, until you have reached the desired moisture level in the soil.

For plants potted with drainage, water until the excess begins to come out the bottom of the pot and into the catch tray.

Self Watering Container Instructions

The self-watering containers require a deep and thorough watering of the topsoil after they are first placed. This is important because the roots of the plants first need to grow into the reservoir in order to drink from it. Follow the standard planter instructions for at least four weeks, before testing the reservoir. During the dormant seasons, or for plants that have slower growing habits, consider top watering for up to ten weeks. 

TEST: After the initial top water period, fill the water reservoir until the red indicator reaches half way between the MAX and MIN line. If the indicator goes down over the first few days, it means the plant is ready for regular reservoir servicing. If not, be sure to continue top watering for a few more weeks, until the red indicator goes down, meaning the plant has started drinking from the reservoir. 

RESERVOIR SERVICING: Once the indicator goes down, do not refill the reservoir right away. Similar to how humans need a breath of air between gulps of water, almost all plants require a drying out period. Always allow for the reservoir to empty all the way, and after a drying out period of a few days, be sure to refill it until the indicator reaches the MAX line.

From here on out, you should NEVER topwater the plant while using the reservoir system. If you water from the top, it can drown the plant. In the Self Watering Container, the top layer of soil will eventually become extremely dry and hard, and may even pull away from the edges of the pot. This is not a cause for concern, but simply because the plant is drinking directly from its roots in the water reservoir. You may opt for adding fresh soil into the gaps between the soil and planter, so as to give the plant a nutrient boost. You may annually, or bi annually, top water the plant to flush the foot system. Only do so when the reservoir is empty and the plant is ready for more water. 

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