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The Plant Porn Edit: Pilea Peperomiodes


The Pilea is known by many names: the Chinese Money Plant, the Coin Plant, even the

Pancake Plant due to its coin (and pancake) shaped leaves. This Pilea is perfect if you're looking for a plant that looks like its from another planet. The Pilea is native to southern China and can be typically found at the base of the Himalayas.


Photo credit: @mijn.chaos on IG


From the Himalayas to Belfast!

The Pilea made its way to Europe through cuttings - that is, small sections of a Pilea were removed and then propagated. George Forrest was the first person to collect the Pilea in 1906, but the Pilea truly started its migration in 1945 when it was rediscovered by Agnar Espegren, a Norwegian missionary who lived with his family near the Himalayas. When they returned back to Norway, they gave out cuttings of their plant to friends and family and the plant was then traded in Sweden, England and beyond. The Sidebottoms of Cornwall were the first known Pilea owners in the UK, when their daughter was given one as a gift by a Norwegian friend. After being traded between friends and then in local markets, the Pilea became a staple houseplant by the 1960s and 70s.


How to Look After a Pilea


Light

Like most plants, the Pilea needs bright, indirect sunlight to thrive. The Pilea has very similar characteristics and care needs as a succulent - so it can tolerate direct sunlight as well. The perfect spot for a Pilea would be within two meters of a window. Do keep an eye if it is in direct sunlight, as there is a risk that it can get scorched, especially in the summer months. The Pilea can adapt to lower light conditions, however it will grow fewer new leaves and the leaves that do grow can be significantly smaller.


'Spin Me Right Round Baby Right Round'

Wise words from Dead or Alive. Rotation is really important when you're a Pilea parent; turning the plant every few weeks ensures that the plant will receive a good amount of light on all sides, which will make sure you get even growth around the whole plant and it remains symmetrical. This Pilea has grown mainly forward facing as it doesn't seem to have been rotated. Still looks lovely though!


Photo credit: @evitabotanica on IG.



Water

Watering can be one of the harder parts of plant care - how much is too much, or too little? The Pilea is a great communicator, as it has its own warning system: droopy leaves. When this happens, the Pilea is telling us there is something wrong and water is most probably the cause. Typically, the Pilea will need to be watered more in summer, and less in the winter months. If you allow the plant to almost completely dry out before watering, and then water well, it should be fine and dandy.


Overwatering

When the soil is moist and the Pilea's leaves droop, it is being overwatered. This is where you should let your Pilea's topsoil dry out before watering it again. It's leaves should stand more upright again once the plant has absorbed the remaining water.


Underwatering

The Pilea's leaves will also droop when it gets too little water. If the soil is dry, this is a good indication that it is drooping due to a lack of water. Give your Pilea a good soak, letting the water run out of the drainage holes.

Photo credit: @ohiotropics on IG.

Temperature

Pileas thrive in indoor environments with a good amount of warmth and humidity. Do try to keep a Pilea away from draughts and intense heat sources like radiators and heaters, as big temperature fluctuations can effect its health. The Pilea can survive quite happily in an environment above 10 degrees Celsius.


Soil

Pileas enjoy a rich soil that has a good amount of drainage, soils that have a peat or coir base work best for this plant. To improve drainage and avoid root rot, it's a good idea to fold some perlite in to the soil and place some hydrokorrels, stones or pebbles at the base of the pot.


Food

During the spring and summer, a Pilea will do well with a dose of multipurpose fertiliser once a month. A Pilea is dormant during winter and autumn, so avoid using fertiliser in these months.


Propagating a Pilea


Sharing is caring! Re-enact the spread of the Pilea across the globe with your friends; the Pilea is a great plant to propagate, as it sprouts up offshoots and nodes like nobody's business. Offshoots grow up from the root system, and appear to look like another miniature Pilea (cause that's what it is!).


If you want to separate an offshoot from the mother plant, all you need to do is dig around in the soil to expose the roots of the offshoot and, with a sharp knife, slice the main root (the thickest, biggest one)

roughly two inches below the soil. Photo credit: two.plant.mamas on IG

Pop the offshoot/mini Pilea in to a new

container with moist soil and keep it well watered until it forms its own root system. For more information on propagation, have a look at our Propagation blog post.

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