Gathering a beautiful array of houseplants has become a goal for many a nature lover. With chaos on all sides, watching your plants grow and thrive can be as relaxing as it is rewarding, making it a top-tier goal in modern times. And if you're looking to take your green thumb to the next level by investing in a new potted project, pileas are the perfect addition to your personal jungle.
Although monsteras have been trending in the plant community for a hot minute, pileas are the latest contender in the race for the title of most beloved houseplant. Read on to discover what pileas and their lily pad-like leaves have to offer—aside from whimsical beauty, of course.
So, What's a Pilea Plant?
Pilea peperomioides, more commonly known as the pilea plant, is a popular ornamental houseplant. It's nicknamed the Chinese money plant, pancake plant, and UFO plant due to the auspicious round shape of its leaves. You can find them at local greenhouses, or buy them online from plant stores like Bloomscape and The Sill.
Pileas were first documented in the Sichuan and Yunnan provinces of southwestern China. They spent several decades in sheer obscurity before explorers happened upon the eye-catching plant and brought it over to Western countries. Another of its nicknames, the missionary plant, comes via Norwegian missionary Agnar Espegren and his transport of the pilea to Europe in 1946, where he gifted the plant's propagations to friends and family. This began the tradition of receiving pileas from loved ones or acquaintances rather than buying them on your own, earning pilea yet another nickname: the friendship plant or pass-it-on plant.
The Pilea plant's recent surge in popularity is easy to divine: Their unique circular-shaped leaves make a statement within any space. But their scarcity likely drew interest as well. In fact, their presence in social media spaces like plant communities contributed turned new eyes to the plant, their (former) rarity adding to their intrigue.
Now, you can find them just about anywhere that carries plants. And if you have a furry friend at home, there's no need to worry—pileas are classified as a pet-friendly plant, as they're non-toxic to dogs and cats.
How to Care for Pilea
Congratulations: You're now a proud parent! Now it's time to learn how to care for pilea. To start, make sure your pilea is in a pot replete with drainage holes at the bottom—a must to avoid overwatering. Next, learn your pilea's lighting, temperature, and watering needs.
Overall, pileas are rather low-maintenance plants that won't make you feel like you have a black thumb. Here's everything you should know in order to keep yours in tip-top shape.
How Often to Water Pilea
The more light a pilea gets, the more water it needs. Some people prefer to water their plant once a week. Others wait to water it every 7 to 10 days. A good rule of thumb is to test the soil to see where your particular plant is at. Stick your finger an inch into the soil; if it's dry, it's time to water. If not, leave it alone.
Lighting and Optimal Temperature for Pilea
The optimal temperature for a pilea is 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so it should be very comfortable in a typical home setting. Pileas prefer plenty of bright, indirect light. Position yours near a window, but make sure to rotate it regularly to ensure it grows evenly on all sides, as the leaves always lean toward the light.
How to Spot an Unhappy Pilea
An unhealthy pilea will offer visual cure like a the drooping of its signature circular leaves or a yellowing hue. If signs are spotted, start the healing with process with adjustments to the room's humidity, light, and water.
How to Propagate Pilea
If you notice a tiny plant growing at the base of your pilea plant, that's called a pup—aka a baby pilea. Pileas grow like wild, making continuing the tradition of gifting cuttings of the plant to your friends and family an easy affair.
Learning how to propagate pilea is easy. Simply take a sharp pair of scissors and cut the pup at the base, as close to the dirt as you can. The plant roots very easily; all you need to do is plant it in a separate pot. Add your soil, make a hole in the middle, then secure the pup so it's poking out of the top.
Before you know it, you'll have another thriving pilea plant to keep or pass along to someone you love.