Plant Sheet: Chinese Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides)

One of the more recent celebrities in our houseplant gardens is Pilea peperomioides, commonly known as the Chinese Money Plant, Friendship Plant, or Pancake Plant.

Pilea peperomioides has its origins in the Southwestern Chinese mountain forests and is known for its striking coin-shaped leaves. It prefers bright indirect light, high humidity, and well-draining but moist soil.

The aesthetics of these round, bright green leaves are an eye-catcher and it is such an easily satisfied plant, there is no reason why you shouldn’t add it to your indoor plant family.

Origin And Natural Habitat of Pilea peperomioides

As its common name suggests, the Chinese Money Plant has its origins in the Southwestern Sichuan and Western Yunnan provinces of China where it grows on rocks in the cool and moist mountain woods at an altitude of about 4900-9800 feet (1500-3000m).

It was mainly a Norwegian missionary called Agnar Espegren that helped it spread by bringing the plant to Europe in 1946. After enthralling the Scandinavians, the Pilea became more and more popular as a houseplant in all of Europe and nowadays in the whole world.

Brighten Up Pilea’s Day: Light and Water Requirements

In its natural habitat, it is used to well-draining but moist soil as well as a lot of humidity. As part of the undergrowth of the lighter mountain forests, it gets a lot of light but not much direct sunlight.

A bright spot that mainly gets indirect light is suitable for the Pilea. Some morning or late afternoon suns are fine but do not expose it to harsh midday sun as this can scorch its sensitive leaves.

The Pilea loves humidity though it can also do well with drier air. Water it about once a week or whenever the top layer of the soil has dried out. Make sure to use appropriate drainage in its pot as it does not like to sit in water.

Tip: Want to know how to create an adequate drainage system in any type of pot? Click through to my post on how to drain any type of pot and what materials you can use for drainage!

A Pilea’s Guide to Happiness: Care Tips

It doesn’t take much to make the Chinese Money Plant happy. Still, here are some tips to ensure it thrives:

  • North- or East-facing window: To suit the Pilea’s needs of bright but mainly indirect light, choose a window facing North or East.
  • Fragile leaves: When handling the Pilea, be careful not to accidentally rip off their round leaves. The attachment of the leaves to the thin stems is quite fragile.
  • Drooping leaves: The Pilea tells you when it is in need of water. If you see its leaves drooping, that is a clear sign that the plant needs watering.
  • Support structure: Pileas are not true tree climbers as they do not have aerial roots or vines but neither do they grow a stem thick enough to support their weight in the long run. To make sure your Pilea keeps growing up instead of twisting and growing sideways, give it a growth pole or some sort of support structure to control its direction of growth.
  • Pruning: If you want a more compact, bushier plant rather than a leggy, stretched-out one, then I suggest pruning it regularly. For pruning, cut back the main stem but make sure to leave at least 4-6 inches (10-15cm) of the lower stem. With the head cutting, you can propagate a new plant by letting it take roots in water.
  • Fertilizer: Just like any other houseplant, add fertilizer in summer every second week and in winter almost none as the plant is resting.

How to Propagate Pilea pereomioides

Any mature Pilea will start producing lots of offshoots around its lower stem area or from beneath the soil. All of these little babies can become new plants by themselves.

Tweak or cut off one of the many offshoots. Make sure to take along the tiny stem or even some roots, if possible, of the offshoot. It is easiest propagated by letting the offshoot take root in water. For that purpose, just put it in a glass or jar of water with its stem submerged and the leaves above water. Normally, it will root within 1-2 weeks.

Once it has grown a fair batch of fresh white roots, it is ready to be planted into a pot.

As an alternative, you can also let the offshoot root directly in the soil. With soil, it is just a little more difficult to tell whether it has rooted well or not.

Tip: Pileas need well-draining soil which should contain humus but also a good part of more coarse draining matter. Learn more about what makes good potting soil for indoor plants and how you can easily mix your own potting soil in my post linked here. It is not much effort but makes a big difference to your plants!

Pilea Superpowers

The Chinese Money Plant is sometimes also called the Friendship Plant. Because of the round shape of its leaves looking like coins, people believed that this plant brings good fortune and often gave it away as a gift. Maybe it brings good luck and fortune to your home as well.

It doesn’t only bring good fortune, the Pilea also brings clean air along. It is one of the best air-purifying plant types. By filtering out toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and xylene, the Pilea comes with high skills as a natural air cleaner.

Related Questions

What Houseplant Should A Beginner Start With?

The Chinese Money Plant is certainly a great beginner plant but it is by far not the only suitable plant type for someone who just starts to grow a green thumb.

As a matter of fact, there are many common houseplants that are low in maintenance and that can tolerate variations in their water and light requirements. In my post linked here, I present 9 beginner houseplants and how to find the one that fits you best. Enjoy reading!

How to Water Plants When Away?

If you’re new to having houseplants, this issue will come up before your next vacation: What to do about your plants while you are on vacation? They don’t have to die! There are many easy ways of keeping your plants cared for. Find out what the easiest ways of watering your plants are for shorter as well as longer vacations in my post linked right here!

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