Chinese money plant care | Pilea peperomioides

One of the absolute most popular houseplants of this moment is the Chinese money plant, better known as Pilea peperomioides.

Appreciated for its decorative pancake-shaped leaves and easy propagation, Pilea peperomioides is a great choice for anyone, whether beginner or more experienced, looking to add a little green to their home.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about Chinese money plant care and growing Pilea peperomioides in your own home!

Name(s) (common, scientific) Pilea, Chinese money plant, UFO plant, lefse plant, missionary plant, pancake plant, lucky plant, friendship plant, Pilea peperomioides
Difficulty level Easy
Recommended lighting Indirect
Water Keep lightly moist
Soil type Well-draining

Chinese money plant care: Natural habitat

There’s a reason this species is referred to as the Chinese money plant: it does actually naturally occur in China, specifically in the Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. Here, it grows at higher altitudes in mountain ranges.

The plant’s natural habitat tends to be forested, rocky, shaded and damp.

Chinese money plant care: light & temperature

Light

Pilea peperomioides appreciates a location with plenty of light but doesn’t do well in direct sunlight. This means it’s a good idea to avoid any locations that get a lot of direct afternoon sun.

A thin, sheer curtain can help to partly block the sun’s scorching rays without depriving your Pilea of light.

Temperature

Although it can be kept outside in warmer regions, Pilea peperomioides is only suitable as a houseplant in most locations.

This species doesn’t appreciate temperatures below 10 °C/50 °F and should be protected from sudden temperature swings.

Close-up of Pilea peperomioides (Chinese money plant) houseplant with pups | Full Pilea peperomioides care guide.

Chinese money plant care: soil & planting

Soil

Pilea peperomioides prefers lightly moist soil but, like many other houseplants, absolutely does not appreciate wet feet. This is definitely something that should be kept in mind while planting in order to prevent possible issues.

This means that when selecting soil to plant your Pilea in, you should go for something well-draining. A mix of potting soil with plenty of perlite should work well.

Planting

Always use a pot with drainage holes for Pilea peperomioides to prevent excess water from causing root rot. A plastic nursery pot like this one is a cheap option that should work well. Many sources recommend avoiding terracotta pots, as these absorb water and allow it to evaporate quickly, causing your Pilea’s soil to become too dry.

Not liking the look of nursery pots? Don’t worry, you can place the plant and plastic pot inside a decorative overpot and simply take them out when it’s time for watering.

Tip: Want to learn more about the ins and outs of (re)potting a Pilea? Have a look at the full Pilea peperomioides planting guide.

Pilea peperomioides (Chinese money plant) in seagrass hanging planter.

Chinese money plant care: watering

  • As discussed above, Pilea peperomioides does well when kept slightly moist but excess water should never be allowed to left standing in the pot for extended periods of time.
  • Wet feet can cause root rot, which can spread throughout the entire plant and quickly prove fatal.
  • As with all plants, the amount of water your Pilea needs depends on the amount of light it’s getting.
  • If you’re just starting to figure things out, twice a week during summer should be a good place to start.
  • When wintertime and darker days roll around your plant won’t be growing as vigorously and the soil takes longer to dry out. One watering a week will usually do during this time, although you should keep an extra eye on things if your Pilea is close to a heater.
  • If you’re not sure whether it’s time to water yet, sticking your finger or a chopstick into the soil can help figure out what to do. The soil should have dried out a little but not entirely.
  • If it’s bone dry or soaking wet, adjust your watering schedule accordingly!

Tip: Are you still unsure about figuring out when to water your Chinese money plant? Have a look at the full Pilea peperomioides watering guide.

Hand holding up Pilea peperomioides (Chinese money plant) houseplant.

Propagating Pilea peperomioides

One Pilea peperomioides characteristic that has made it so appealing to many houseplant owners around the world is its easy propagation.

If all care requirements are being met and your Pilea peperomioides is growing happily, it should actually take care of most of the propagation process itself by producing baby plants on its stem and in the soil. These baby plants can easily be removed and placed into their own pot to give away (or keep for yourself!) once they’re large enough to function on their own.

Baby Pilea peperomioides plants growing in the soil next to the mother plant are the easiest option when it comes to propagation. Once these have grown to a size of around 5-7 cm (2-3 inches) they are large enough to separate, which you can do by cutting their connection to the mother plant with a sharp, clean knife. They should already have their own root system and can simply be plopped into a new pot with moist soil.

To succesfully separate Pilea peperomioides babies growing on the mother plant’s stem, use a clean sharp knife to remove them. You can then place them in moist soil or keep them in a container with water until they develop their own root system.

Note: You can find a full article on Pilea peperomioides propagation on Houseplant Central here!

Pilea peperomioides houseplant in terracotta planter next to shiny bulbous white vase.

Chinese money plant care: fertilizer

Pilea peperomioides doesn’t require a lot of fertilizer, though you can feed it using a diluted regular houseplant fertilizer once a month or so during the growing season (Spring through early Fall).

Don’t use plant food outside of the growing months. If your plant is not putting out new leaves it won’t be able to use any fertilizer you give it, which can lead to root burn and discolored leaves. If this appears to be happening to your plant, flush its soil with distilled water to remove the excess fertilizer.

Buying Pilea peperomioides

It used to be quite a challenge to find Pilea peperomioides in plant stores, garden centers or online. Strange, as it has been a massively popular houseplant and the true ‘plant queen of Instagram’ for a good while now!

Luckily, things have changed since this care guide was first published. You should be able to find this species in most plant shops, garden centers and online plant stores. There are sellers on Amazon now, too: you can buy your Pilea online.

If you’re still having trouble finding this plant, your best bet is probably one of the many Pilea peperomioides exchange groups on social media, where many plant lovers are more than willing to send you a baby Pilea from their mother plant.

Shallow focus small Pilea peperomioides houseplant

Is Pilea peperomioides toxic to cats and dogs?

All plants in the Pilea peperomioides genus are considered non-toxic to cats, dogs, other pets and humans by the ASPCA and other sources.


If you have any more questions about Chinese money plant care or if you want to share your own experiences with the ‘pancake plant’ don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

Remember that if you’re having issues with your Pilea, there is also an article on Houseplant Central dedicated solely to identifying the issue and nursing the plant back to health. You can find it here.

Cover photo: Pflanzen in Küche 2 by blumenbiene (cropped).


Marijke Puts
About Marijke Puts
Marijke Puts has Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Science and is from The Netherlands. She has a certified master gardener and loves everything about houseplants and gardening.

23 thoughts on “Chinese money plant care | Pilea peperomioides”

  1. Hello, I own a pilea and everything seemed to go well until very recently when the leaves started drooping and some felt. They are curling a bit and I’ve noticed some brown spots here and there. What seems to be the problem? For reference, I’ve make sure to place the plant in a place where it receives indirect sunlight, I water it once every week and only use (diluted) fertilizer ever so sparingly.

    Reply
  2. When the leaves get curly ( as a taco) is because they are getting too much water. When I started growing pileas they did the same thing and I read somewhere that it was excess of water. I allow the soil to dry in between waterings and that was the solution. They don’t like to be wet and because the leaves are fleshy they store a lot of water.

    Reply
  3. I inherited five small cuttings that were potted together — they just started dropping leaves and leaf stems. Not sure if that’s due to over/underwatering or weather changes — I water about once a week and ketvthe soil dry out in between —all the cuttings seem to be developing new little leave but leaves on the larger cutting ( about 4 inches tall) and smaller ( about 2 inches high) are spreading out then falling off. Any ideas how to stop that … or is it just a normal transition after the trauma of “separation” . They near a window with blinds so diffused light. I think I’m doing something wrong — just not sure what!

    Reply
    • Hi!

      Sorry to hear you’re not having much luck with these cuttings so far. They can throw a temper tantrum for sure after being moved or separated, but that should pass after a few weeks. It’s very hard for me to establish what’s wrong without seeing the plants, but luckily I have an article that might be able to help you diagnose the issue yourself: Pilea peperomioides troubleshooting. I hope that helps you figure it out, good luck! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Hi! I have had my pilea for about two weeks I’ve watered thoroughly once already. The leaves aren’t droopy, well one is, but the rest are fine but I’ve noticed that the leaves are folding in like a taco. Any idea as to why? I have a huge east facing window so I dont think it’s a lighting issue.

    Reply
    • Hi! It can be very hard to diagnose a plant without seeing it and knowing the exact conditions it’s growing in. Folding leaves can be caused by overwatering, too much light, draft, overfertilization…

      I have an article that might help. I’ve compiled every problem with Pileas I can think of here – do you see anything that matches your issue and possible causes listed in here?

      Anyway, I wouldn’t get too worried just yet. All plants go through an adjustment period once you bring them home, so it’ll likely turn out just fine 🙂

      Reply
  5. Hi, there I have 2 Pilea peperomioides however they are dropping there bottom leaves quite regularly and I wondered what I am doing wrong.

    Reply
    • Hey! Have you had a look at the article on problems with Pilea peperomioides yet? It covers a whole bunch of different issues you can run into with your Pilea and why they might be happening, including some info on why a Pilea can start dropping leaves. It’s very difficult to tell you myself why it’s happening without knowing more details.

      Hope that helps 🙂

      Reply
  6. Immediately upon the adoption of my pilea I took off on some travels. … a bit of overwatering and inconsistent care led to some yellowing leaves. I’ve recovered from the emotional shock lol but my question is regarding root rot. I looked just now and I think it’s okay the roots are very compact and not mushy, white in appearance. Just asking for some confirmation. There are lots of little babies in a circle around the main plant stalk. I think I’m okay but just asking since I’m a new pilea Mom

    Reply
    • That sounds perfect. I don’t know if you saw, but I actually JUST posted an article on problems with Pilea peperomioides here. If you’re not seeing any of these symptoms any more then you should be good (although leaves that are already yellowed are obviously unfortunately not going to recover any more).

      If there’s babies, growth, white roots and everything I would assume things are going just fine 🙂
      Good luck with your Pilea!

      Reply
  7. Two questions:
    Does pilea prefer to be repotted so there’s only one tall stalk or multiple?
    How do you keep it looking full?

    Reply
    • Hi! Repotting-wise, anything is fine as long as there’s enough room. As for fullness, it’s normal for plants to shed their lower leaves eventually. If you don’t like this look, your best option is propagation (beheading!). You simply cut off the full head and re-root that. I always leave the stalk because it tends to produce some good new growth as well, which I can then also use.

      Hope that helps! 🙂

      Reply
      • When you re-root the head, do you merely stick it in soil, or let it scab over first? Add rooting hormone? Thanks so much for your help! I have a mama Pilea that has given me 10+ awesome babies, and it seems a bit tired (no new mama leaf growth for a while).

        Reply
        • I do wait one day or so just to be sure. Rooting hormone is always good, especially since beheading a Pilea is not the easiest way to propagate it.

          Have you added fresh soil and/or some fertilizer to mama’s pot recently? I had a Pilea that didn’t do anything for ages until my mom decided to repot it, and now it’s sprouting babies and leaves left, right and center! 🙂

          Reply
  8. Any tips on how to steak my pilea to keep it upright? It’s grown so much it’s getting top heavy and leaning. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi! I buy orchids sometimes and I like to keep the little stakes that they come with that support their flower spikes. I use those to stake other plants if necessary. But honestly, you could even use a chopstick and some thread or wire! Alternatively, I know some growers prefer to behead a top-heavy plant and propagate the top to turn it into two non-top heavy plants. 🙂

      Good luck!

      Reply

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