The star of many Instagram and Pinterest posts, the Pilea Peperomioides (aka the Chinese Money Plant or Pancake Plant) has become one of the trendiest houseplants to own and add to your growing plant gang.
Thankfully for all of us style & trend enthusiasts who have caught the plant bug and are actively turning our homes into indoor jungles, this once impossible to find cutie is now becoming more widely available and their ease of propagation allows for sharing. Only a year ago did I purchase my first plant – a lovely midsized Pothos (shocking it took me so long considering mom has been a plant obsessed green thumb my entire life), which has grown 10-fold. Since then, I’ve amassed about 20 plant babies of varying species, but the Pilea is undoubtedly one of the trendiest and most stylish of the gang.
So, why has the Pilea become such a cult favorite? I suspect it’s due to its unique, almost alien-like quality and the fact that their plentiful plant babies are called “pups” (how freaking cute!).
I nabbed a tiny little Pilea (about 4″ tall) last Fall from my favorite local nursery and within months, this bad boy quadrupled in height and size. Although it survived in somewhat of a shady location in our living room for the first few months and even sprouted two little pups from the soil, I noticed it was growing leggy, the leaves looked sparse and the pups were growing slowly. So after a little research online, I moved it to a bright window sill in our bedroom and almost immediately, the leaves began growing more densely and an endless number of pups sprang up from the soil and along the primary stem (it appears that pups grow from nodes where stems have previously fallen off) and I couldn’t wait to start sharing!
Pilea Care Tips
Containers: Be sure your pot has good drainage – whether its ceramic, clay or plastic, this little guy’s roots won’t do well if the soil stays moist.
Watering: I transfer my Pilea to the kitchen sink and water until fully soaked, then allow the water to drain on a weekly basis. Watering weekly in my somewhat drafty NYC apartment appears to be working out quite well, but if you’re afraid of overwatering or live in warmer climates and require more frequent watering, you can wait until the leaves appear a bit droopy to give it a good soak.
Sunlight: Although the Pilea tolerates lower light conditions, I have found it to be happiest in a south facing window. To avoid having all the leaves growing in one direction, I rotate the plant 2-3 times per week. Recently, I inserted a bamboo skewer as a stake along the stem to prevent it from becoming slanted.
Soil: My Pilea has already been repotted twice in standard MiracleGro house plant soil, which seems to be working wonderfully. These plants are native to cool, mountainside terrain, so adding a bit of perlite or orchid mix would work well and avoid overly damp soil.
Propagating Pilea Pups
Now the fun part – how to propogate pilea pups. There are apparently three methods – from root plantlets, stem plantlets and single leaves, but all sources indicate that waiting for a single leaf to root is least successful, so I’ll be addressing the first two methods.
Healthy Pilea plants produce pups from both their roots, which will pop up through the soil, and their stems – both can be propagated, but the key is to wait until they are large enough (approximately 2-3″ tall) to survive on their own.
The easiest propagation method is using plantlets from the mother’s plant roots – i.e. the little pups that pop up from the surrounding soil – because they already have their own root system. To propagate from root plantlets, sever the pup from the mother’s plant roots with a sharp, clean knife thentransfer the pup into it’s own small pot (I used a 1.5 inch mini pot) with moist soil.
To propagate your Pilea from stem plantlets, remove the babies from the mother’s plant stem using a sharp, clean knife, then place the pup into a vase with water to root. Once it begin rooting, move the pup to its own pot.