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|
|Water||Keep lightly moist|
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
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.
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.
Chinese money plant care: soil & planting
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).