This post shares all about pilea peperomioides care, otherwise known as the coin plant, the pancake plant, the UFO plant, the round leaf houseplant, the pass it on plant, the pilea sharing plant, and the houseplant with leaves that look like lily pads. Yes, it has a lot of names! 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!
Pilea Peperomioides Care (aka the Chinese Money Plant)
Alright gang, we’re talking about pilea peperomioides care today, so let’s just right in. Pilea peperomioides is a plant species in the Urticaceae family, and it’s native to southern China, where it grows in shady, damp conditions (but it won’t grow well under 55 degrees F). In fact, the first westerner to collect this pilea plant was in the early 1900s—but it wasn’t truly classified by western botanists until after 1980.
The pilea peperomioides plant is a pretty relatively compact little plant that grows about 1 foot tall and wide, growing both up and out. It’s a succulent, evergreen perennial with stunning thick, dark green leaves. These leaves can be up to 4 inches in diameter and grow out of a long stem that shoots straight up and out.
Pilea Peperomioides Light: How much does it need?
I often hear people talking about how easy this plant is to care for, and I have to say…I mean, yeah, 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 you pilea happy—first, light.
If you’re wondering how much light a pilea needs to grow successfully, it’s on the higher end. It doesn’t require bright, direct sunlight all the time, but I’ve found that my pilea plants have suffered when they are in spots that get only bright, indirect light all day. I’ve moved them around quite a bit to figure out where they do best, and here’s what I’ve found.
They like to be right by a window that gets good light. I currently have both of them under a grow light in our bedroom, too, and they are doing well. One of them hadn’t been doing well at all downstairs in a spot that had only bright indirect light, but now it’s turning around! 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 they could also begin curling.
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. In the summer, my pileas have done well outdoors in a protected location. If they aren’t in a protected location, they might get too much direct sunlight at the day’s peak. This happened to one of my plant’s last year, but it rebounded quickly.
How does light affect how the pilea peperomioides grows?
Light also affects the shape of the pilea plant, which I’ve seen firsthand. There are two basic “looks” you can get with your pilea: tall and stemmy or full and bushy. I have two pilea plants right now, and I think they represent these two looks pretty well.
For a tall and stemmy plant, you need to encourage the plant’s main stem to grow straight up. It’s a sturdy stem and is capable of growing straight up, but it needs an overhead light source to grow toward. A small grow light hanging from the ceiling like the one I have is the perfect solution.
For a full and bushy plant, you can slowly rotate your plant every week to help keep the stem growing straight. You’ll also want to keep the baby pilea 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. I’m not a huge fan of this look.
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 in the wild on a super healthy pilea, but the real show stopper for these plants remains their gorgeous leaves.
Want more plant care tips? You’ll also love my guides on how to take care of monstera plants, the ponytail palm, snake plants, elephant ear plants, pothos plants, rubber plants, fiddle leaf figs, cape ivy, peperomia plants, succulents, and philodendron.
Watering needs and yellow leaves on a Chinese Money plant
Water is easy to manage. Simply water the plant when the soil is dry. I do a good thorough watering, then I let it dry out thoroughly before watering again. If your plant is desperate for water, it will begin to flop over a bit. But…if you water too much, it might also begin to flop over. So that’s kind of tricky.
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. Here’s a look.
Pilea peperomioides care: What is the best soil for pilea peperomioides?
A standard well-draining houseplant soil is best for this plant, but you don’t want to use something for succulents, for example. So it shouldn’t have too much sand and perlite in it, for example. Since pilea plants grow so quickly, so need repotted more than your average houseplant. However, if you chop off the pilea babies (see propagation section), then that could buy you some time in an existing pot.
Interested in plant-related DIYs? Check out my test tube propagation station, my glass jar propagation station, my midcentury plant stand, my stainless steel bowl hanging planter, and my hanging plant pot holder.
How quickly does a pilea plant grow?
When they are happy (even if they aren’t totally happy), pilea plants grow like weeds. 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 fertilize my houseplants once a month during the spring, summer, and fall—less in the winter.
How to propagate pilea from pilea babies
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.” Why’s that? Well, because it’s so easy to propagate!
I shared earlier in the post that it grows like a weed and sends out runners under the soil, and these runners are essentially new plants. New pilea babies that you can…you got it—pass it on or share with a friend. 🙂 Here’s what a little pup looks like on my plant. I’m going to let these get a bit more mature before I cut them off for my brother’s girlfriend.
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. If you can’t get any roots, there is another option: rooting in water. While you can’t root a single stem in water (like the pothos plant), you can root an offset with a bit of the stem attached.
This is very important: You must get a piece of the brownish stem because that’s where the roots grow from. So ensure you get this, cut off the pilea baby as close to the mother plant as you can. Pop them in water, refreshing the water every week or so, and wait for the roots to develop.
Once your lovely new roots develop, you can gently plant the rooted pilea peperomioides plant in fresh all-purpose indoor houseplant soil. Keep the soil a bit damp for a week or so as it begins rooting. Then water as normal, keeping it in preferable lighting and humidity conditions as described above. 🙂
Pilea peperomioides problems
This is generally an easy plant to care for pest-wise, but here are a few problems you might encounter.
- Yellowing or washed-out leaves: Likely too much water, like what happened with my pilea outside. Older leaves can also yellow and fall off.
- Leaves curled in: It might need more light or need its water levels adjusted.
- Leaves curled out: I might be getting too much light or need its water levels adjusted.
- Houseplant pets: The usual suspects—aphids and the like—could be a problem, but pilea plants aren’t especially vulnerable.
- Fungal infection: Likely from overwatering or infection from another plant. Remove affected areas and repot in fresh soil.
- Crispy brown spots: It’s light damage from too much light.
Can I have pilea peperomioides around cats, dogs, and kids?
Pilea peperomioides plants are safe to have around cats, dogs, and kids. They aren’t toxic, but you still shouldn’t consume them. It isn’t leafy, so my kitties ignore it completely.