My pilea peperomioides care guide covers what you need to know to help this plant thrive.
How to care for pilea peperomioides (Chinese money plant)
Today we’re talking about pilea peperomioides care. Pilea pep is one of those plants that always elicits oohs and ahhs from people. It has a unique growth pattern and large, round, flat, succulent-like leaves that spring out from all around a center stem.
Native to southern China, it grows in shady, damp conditions. Given its native country is China, many also refer to this as the “Chinese money plant.” As it grows, it 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 guide, 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 given this plant the axe and brought it back to life like 5 times in as many years—a testament to its hardiness! 🙂
- Pilea peperomioides care overview
- How much light does it need?
- How often should I water it?
- What are signs of overwatering?
- What is the best soil?
- Temperature & humidity
- Growth pattern & encouraging bushiness
- When should I repot my pilea peperomioides?
- How do you encourage pilea babies?
- Propagating a pilea peperomioides
Pilea peperomioides care overview
- Pilea peperomioides (Chinese money plant) is a succulent-like plant native to southern China.
- Known for its unique growth pattern and large, round, flat leaves.
- Requires bright, indirect light to grow well and can tolerate medium light levels.
- Place near a window that gets good light; rotate every few weeks to ensure even growth.
- Too much light will scorch the leaves, while too little light can lead to smaller leaf growth and leginess.
- Water once the top few inches of soil have dried out.
- Plant in a well-draining houseplant soil mix.
- Prefers temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees F.
- Tolerates normal household humidity levels well but appreciates extra humidity.
- Propagate easily through cutting off and digging out offsets (known as “babies” or “pups”), planting them separately.
How much light does it need?
Let’s get started with 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.
I’ve moved my plants around quite a bit to figure out where they do best. I’ve found that 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.
A sign of too little light is that newer growth will have leaves smaller in diameter, and the space between the stems will expand. The stems on the plant will also look longer in comparison to the smaller leaves. Growth will also slow, and the plant will not produce as many babies.
The photo below shows that I mean. 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’re giving your plant too much light? Its leaves can start looking washed out or can sometimes even get burn spots. 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 adjusted the lighting conditions.
How often should I water it?
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 these plant grows in shady, damp conditions. I recommend watering the plant after the top few inches of soil dry out. I do not recommend letting the soil dry out anymore than that (as I have in the past) because it stresses the plant. Underwatered pileas can drop their bottom-most 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.
Bottom watering your pilea can be a good way to regulate moisture in the soil, and it can prevent water from pooling on the leaves or on the crown area of the plant. However, bottom watering isn’t totally necessary.
What are signs of overwatering?
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 (photo below). Too much humidity can also cause this, which makes sense because humidity is just dense, moist air.
Once I backed off of watering the plant, the new growth was totally normal. The plant still had the weird look hanging around on a few of the leaves, but I just pruned those leaves off as the plant got taller and produced newer healthy growth.
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 soils 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—a great peat moss alternative—to help with lightweight moisture retention, something that the pilea really enjoys.
Temperature & humidity
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.
The plant is also 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, but a humidifier is the best choice for consistently raising your room’s humidity level.
Growth pattern & encouraging bushiness
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.
To encourage bushiness while your plant is growing, make sure you are giving it 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.
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 (see below for an example).
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.)
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.
Propagating a pilea peperomioides
As I shared in the beginning of this article, 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 tutorial 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. Also FYI, while some plants can be propagated using a single leaf, this one cannot.
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.
Does this plant flower?
Yes, 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. But the real show stopper for these plants remains their gorgeous leaves.
Caring for your pilea peperomioides can be a bit of a rollercoaster, but once you find a good spot for it and get into a routine with watering, it’s not a difficult plant. Remember to provide your plant with bright, indirect light, keep the soil well-drained but moist, and don’t forget the occasional rotation for even growth.
Got any pilea success stories or questions? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! In the meantime, happy planting 🙂