This post shares all about pilea peperomioides care. I’m going to talk about light, water, and soil needs, as well as how to propagate pilea peperomioides and whether or not you should have it around your pets!
How to care for pilea peperomioides, aka the Chinese money plant
Alright gang, we’re talking about pilea peperomioides care today. Pilea pep is one of those plants that always elicits oohs and ahhs from people who aren’t familiar with plants. (And those who are familiar with them, too!)
It has a very unique growth pattern and large, round, flat leaves that spring out from all around a center stem. Pilea peperomioides is a plant species in the Urticaceae family, and it’s native to southern China, where it grows in shady, damp conditions. Given its native country is China, many also refer to this as the “Chinese money plant.”
Pilea peperomioides remains relatively compact, growing both up and out. It’s a succulent-like evergreen perennial that produces offsets (aka “babies” or “pups”) with ease, giving it its other common name—the “pass it on” plant. Trim the baby off, pass it on to a friend.
We’ll talk about caring for this plant throughout the post, and I’ll include lots of pictures and tips from my own pilea pep care journey. And it has been a journey…I think the fact that I have nearly killed this plant and brought it back to life like 5 times in as many years is a testament to its hardiness! 🙂
Table of contents
Here is a table of contents for everything I’ll cover in this post. If you’d like to jump ahead to a specific section, just click the link below!
- How much sun does a pilea need?
- Where should I place my pilea?
- Why is my Chinese money plant leggy or producing smaller leaves?
- How do you know if a pilea is getting too much light?
- How do I make my pilea bushier?
- How often should I water my pilea?
- Should you bottom water my pilea?
- How do I know if my pilea is overwatered?
- What is the best soil?
- What is the best temperature range?
- Do pilea like to be misted?
- How big do pilea plants get?
- How quickly does a pilea plant grow?
- When should I repot my pilea peperomioides?
- How do you encourage pilea babies?
- How do you propagate a pilea peperomioides?
- Can you propagate a pilea stem in water?
- Can you propagate pilea peperomioides with just a leaf?
- Other FAQs answered
How much sun does a pilea need?
I often hear people talking about how easy this plant is to care for, and I have to say…I mean, it’s not that hard. But it’s also not totally idiot-proof like the snake plant. So let’s chat about some of the critical things you need to remember to keep your pilea happy—first, light.
A pilea peperomioides needs a decent amount of light to grow successfully. Bright, indirect light is best. But because the plant is accustomed to growing in shady conditions in its natural habitat, it can do medium light levels as well. Just monitor the growth to make sure it isn’t showing any signs of stress.
Where should I place my pilea?
I’ve moved my plants around quite a bit to figure out where they do best, and here’s what I’ve found. My pilea pep likes to be right by a window that gets good light, but I need to rotate it every few weeks to ensure event growth.
I’ve also had pileas under a grow light in our bedroom, but the grow light was quite far away and the plants still did fine, though the leaves did get smaller. One of them hadn’t been doing well at all downstairs in a spot that had only medium indirect light, but moving it helped to turn things around.
In the summer, my pilea peperomioides have done well outdoors in a protected location. Under a covered patio or a larger plant that provides natural shade is a great option.
Why is my Chinese money plant leggy or producing smaller leaves?
Want to know if you don’t have enough light? You’ll probably notice the signs quickly. Newer growth will have leaves smaller in diameter, and the space between the stems will expand.
The stems on the plant will also seem longer—though they might just look longer in comparison to the smaller leaves. Growth will also slow, and the plant will not produce as many babies.
See the picture below? The smaller leaves on the top of the plant’s stem are the growth that occurred after I moved the plant. This location ended up being not the best for this plant, so I moved it in the spring.
How do you know if a pilea is getting too much light?
Want to know if you have too much light? Your plant’s leaves can start looking washed out or get burn spots in more dramatic conditions. Pilea peperomioides is actually one of the only plants I’ve burned indoors, too. Sometimes I think the plant isn’t getting enough light, so I move it. Then it burns.
It’s been a struggle finding the perfect spot for everything at my new house for sure. I burned some leaves by having them too close to a grow light at the old house and fixed that. Now, at the new house, I had the plant in a window that got too much sunlight. So a few of the leaves that faced the window burned.
Signs of burning or scorching are blanched or brown splotches. Below are a few examples of times when I’ve burned leaves on my pilea. Because these leaves will never revert to their all green glory, I simply removed them and hoped for the best.
How do I make my pilea bushier?
First, make sure you are giving your pilea the appropriate levels of light. Too little light will lead to smaller leaves and leggy growth. Too much light will burn the foliage. Once you have the right light levels, slowly rotate your plant every week or so to help keep the stem growing straight.
You also may want to keep the baby pilea peperomioides plants attached to the mother. As they grow, they’ll keep things looking quite full. (More on pilea babies later in the propagation section.)
If you have a light source to the side of your pilea (like a window) and don’t rotate the plant, the leaves will all begin to face toward the window. So instead of a beautiful circular 360-degree leaf growth, all leaves will begin stretching toward the light source.
How often should I water my pilea?
I’ve generally watered my pileas once a week in the spring and summer, once every 10-14 days in the fall and winter. However, the best way to tell if your plant needs water is by checking the soil moisture.
Remember that the Chinese money plant grows in shady, damp conditions. Therefore, I recommend watering the plant after the two few inches of soil have dried out. I do not recommend letting the soil dry out anymore than that (as I have in the past) because it definitely stresses the plant.
Underwatered pileas can drop leaves and generally just look a bit sad. You don’t want to keep the soil constantly wet, though. As a houseplant, they are susceptible to root rot, which occurs when constantly wet soil prevents the flow of oxygen. Oxygen is a critical part of ensuring a healthy root system.
Should you bottom water my pilea?
Bottom watering your pilea can be a good way to prevent water from pooling on the leaves or on the crown area of the plant. Both of these can lead to spotting and potential fungal issues. However, bottom watering isn’t totally necessary.
I’ve shared in the past that I am not a huge fan of bottom watering—no real reason, it just disrupts my watering routine. However, if you like it, have at it! Just make sure to water the plant from the top occasionally to flush out the soil.
How do I know if my pilea is overwatered?
Signs that you may have overwatered your pilea include limp leaves; distorted leaves; veiny, yellow leaves, and leaf drop. Of course these things can also be signs of other issues—but if they are coupled with consistently wet soil, it’s probably due to overwatering.
I had a pilea plant outside last summer, and it got too much water. It was actually doing really well growth-wise, but the leaves were looking a bit yellowish, veiny, and rippled around the edges. Too much humidity can also cause this, which makes sense because humidity is just dense, moist air.
The plant still has that weird look hanging around on a few of the leaves. But I’ll just plant to prune off that growth as the plant gets taller and produces newer healthy growth. Here’s a look.
What is the best soil?
A standard well-draining houseplant soil is best for this plant. It shouldn’t have too much sand and perlite in it, so avoid succulent soils (despite the pilea having “succulent-like” leaves). Anything labeled as designed for houseplants or indoor plants will work well.
These have enough perlite in them to enhance drainage and encourage the water to flow away from the roots. They also contain things like coco coir to help with lightweight moisture retention—something that the pilea really enjoys.
What is the best temperature range?
Pilea peperomioides does well in all normal household temperatures. The ideal range for optimal care is between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. They are not cold or frost hardy, but they can survive some nighttime dips down into the 50s. Growth will slow and the plant will suffer if temperatures remain that low for too long.
If temperatures get too high, the plant could also suffer. However, I’ve generally found that pilea remains pretty happy outdoors in our very hot summers. Temperatures routinely remain in the 90s, but it’s also very humid.
Do pilea like to be misted?
You do not need to mist your pilea plant, but you can if you’d like to. The Chinese money plant is generally pretty tolerant or normal household humidity levels, but it also appreciates some extra humidity.
Misting can provide a very temporary increase in the ambient humidity around the plant. It can also help you clean off the leaves a bit. If you do choose to mist, make sure you don’t let water pool on the leaves. Use a fine mister.
How big do pilea plants get?
My larger plant is about 1 foot tall and wide. A lot of that is bare stem, though. I kind of like the bonsai look. I’ve read that the plants typically top out around a foot tall…but I have also seen pictures that prove they can get much larger!
As for how long the plants live…it seems the information online is mixed. However, I have seen stories online of big, healthy pilea plants that are decades old. Let’s hope I can bring mine back from its current brink of death for like the 7th time…I’m hoping my plant can make it to its 10th birthday and be a decade old!
How quickly does a pilea plant grow?
When they are happy (even if they aren’t totally happy), pilea plants grow very fast. They remind me a lot of mint, where the main plant sends out runners under the soil that sprout and become babies. These babies are essentially new plants, but you can keep them attached to the mother plant as long as you’d like.
Since they love growing, they’ll appreciate a regular ol’ houseplant fertilizer once every few waterings during warm seasons. I usually feed my houseplants once a month during the spring, summer, and fall using a concentrated Liqui-Dirt plant food.
When should I repot my pilea peperomioides?
Pilea peperomioides do not mind being just a bit crowded in their pots. That said, you’ll know it’s time to repot your plant when you notice one or more of the following things:
- Your plant’s roots begin circling the inside of the pot or growing out of the pot’s drainage holes—note that this is less likely than some other plants in my experience; pilea’s roots are very fine
- The main produces enough babies to make things a bit more crowded (and you don’t want to cut the babies off)
- The plant’s soil is drying out very quickly with no other obvious cause
- Your plant seems to be suffering and you conduct a plant audit with no other obvious cause (especially if it has been a few years since you’ve repotted your plant—this happened with my bigger plant last year!)
When it’s time to repot your plant, make sure to choose a pot size that is only about an inch or so larger than the pot you’re sizing up from. Your plant will need a bit more room to grow, but a pot that is too big will retain too much moisture in all the extra soil.
How do you encourage pilea babies?
I’ve mention pilea babies quite a few times already. They are one of the best parts of this plant. But if your plant has’t produced any, you might be wondering how to encourage it to grow babies. Sometimes the answer is just that your plant needs to mature a big.
But there are a few other things you can do to push your plant in the right direction. Here are a few of them:
- Give the plant optimal care, including plenty of indirect light, appropriate watering, and diluted fertilizer or plant food monthly
- Don’t add any sort of decorative soil cover like rocks or pebbles; it could prevent the babies from successfully sprouting
- Trim a baby or two off if your plant begins producing them; this could make some room for more
- Pruning the top of the plant off can sometimes encourage it to produce babies…but I have never been brave enough to do this!
I’ve found that, even when I am kind of neglecting my plant, it still produces babies. If I’m underwatering the plant, the babies usually begin to suffer first. This is something I’ve really noticed since having my big plant in a terracotta pot, which sucks up a lot of the extra moisture from the soil.
How do you propagate a pilea peperomioides?
As I shared in the beginning of this post, the pilea peperomioides plant has lots of names. While the Chinese money plant is probably the most common, a lot of people call this plant the “pass it on plant” or the “pilea sharing plant.” Because it’s so easy to propagate and pass on to a friend!
I have a post all about pilea peperomioides propagation, but I’ll provide an overview here. The runners that the plants send out are essentially the lifeline for your new baby plants. Here’s what a little pup looks like on my plant. Once the pilea baby growing from the offshoot really establishes itself, you can cut it off and carefully dig it out with its brand new stem and roots.
I do recommend taking a bit of the root structure with you if you can. Often this doesn’t even involved taking the plant out of the pot—just using a knife to dig a little circle out around the base of the baby.
You can then pot this baby pilea plant up in a small container with fresh soil and water it. Keep the soil evenly moist until you notice new growth—then start watering as normal.
Can you propagate a pilea stem in water?
If you were not able to take any of the roots with you when you cut the baby off, you can root the cutting in water. However, you must have a piece of the stem, so cut the baby off as close to the mother plant as possible.
Nestle the stem part of the cutting in water. Try to keep the rest of the plant above water. Once the plant develops roots, you can transfer it to soil.
Can you propagate pilea peperomioides with just a leaf?
No, you cannot. If you pull a piece of the leaf off of your main stem, that will not root and produce a new plant. You’ll need to have a piece of the stem to root a new plant.
Other FAQs answered
Before I wrap up, here are a few other things you might be wondering about caring for you Chinese money plant.
Why are the bottom leaves of my pilea falling off?
Ah, the story of my life. If the bottom leaves of your pilea are falling off, you probably are not giving it enough water. The plant is trying to conserve its energy by killing off its oldest growth.
Make sure that only the top couple inches of soil dry out before watering. Don’t let the soil dry out completely like I often do when I lose track of time.
Does the Chinese money plant flower?
These pilea plants also flower! Their flowers are small and whiteish/greenish. To be honest, they aren’t that pretty. I mean, it’s cool to see them on a super healthy pilea. But the real show stopper for these plants remains their gorgeous leaves.
Why are my plant’s leaves curling?
If your pilea’s leaves are curling, it’s possible that the plant needs more light or water. Do a care audit. If the soil is very dry, it’s probably water. Make sure to aerate the soil by breaking up any caked or packed areas. Then thoroughly soak the soil, letting all of the water drain through the pot’s drainage holes.
Is pilea peperomioides toxic?
I have not read anything that indicates that the Chinese money plant specifically is toxic. However, I want to underscore that the plant is kept for ornamental purposes. Humans or pets should never ingest houseplants, and you should keep plants away from people and pets who might be tempted to have a taste.