Plant Portrait: Pilea Peperomioides

It’s time to introduce another plant to you. Last month I introduced you to a plant-favourite of mine: the Tradescantia Zebrina. A relatively easy plant to take care of and propagate, I thought this would be a perfect beginner plant for anyone who wants to start having and propagating plants. Even for more experienced plant parents the Tradescantia Zebrina is a lovely addition to their home because of the amazing vibrant colours it likes to show off. 

The plant I want to talk about today is one that divides opinions. You either love it or hate it, and it is not as easy to take care of. I myself have had my struggles with this plant, but it still managed to survive me! The plant I will devote this months Plant Portrait to is…..

Photo of Pilea Peperomioides
Pilea Peperomioides

The Pilea Peperomioides! Also known as the Chinese Moneyplant, this plant originates, as the name suggests, from China. What is very interesting about the history of this plant is that for years it was quite rare because it was only cultivated in Scandinavia. This fact really surprised me, because the pilea is very easy to propagate: new baby’s just grow next to the mother plant! Maybe the Scandinavians never told anyone about this? Anyway, lately this plant has gotten really popular and I understand why. With the big, almost perfect round leaves the pilea is a very appealing plant. And those little baby pilea’s growing next to it only makes them cuter.

My very own pilea was a gift from a friend, a baby from her plant which was a baby of a plant from her friend. More babies of those plants have been passed around so there are aunt and sister pilea’s all around. Is plant genealogy a thing? Anyway, I nurtured this little one and she grew bigger and bigger, so naturally I decided to give her a bigger pot so she could grow even bigger. What I wish I knew before is that pilea’s prefer tight pots. Most plants like a little room for their roots so the plant above the soil can grow strong and big. Pilea’s (and some other plants) are weird about that though, they prefer a snug fit. Being a little root bound (more about that in later blogs!) gives off sort of a stress signal to the plant. Most plants will wither under stress, but for others this stress signal is the cue to start making babies. I guess their reasoning is “oh, I’m going to die, better produce offspring so some part of me lives on”. Once I learned this and found out my pot was wayyy too big for my pilea, I put her in a smaller pot, and within a week she was sprouting new leaves all over the place. This resulted in a ehh.. curious.. look:

Photo of my pilea
My weird-looking pilea

Nevertheless, she has been doing really well in her small pot, and I was expecting her to start making new babies anytime. That is until winter came. All around me I hear pilea-parents about how their plant is suffering through winter, just as mine is. Leaves curling, browning and dropping, leaving a very bare stem and just a few leaves. No one seems to know why exactly this winter the plants are having a much harder time, last year all my plants (and those of others) did quite well. But somehow, this winter is brutal for the plants, even though it really isn’t cold at all. The only thing we can do to get our green friends through it is by giving very little water and making sure they get plenty of light. Hopefully they will recover in spring and grow big and lush, and produce plenty of offspring! Let me know in the comments if you’re experiencing the same with your pilea, or, if it is thriving, please let me in on your secrets!

Happy planting! 

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