Pilea Peperomioides part 1 - taking care of a Pilea
If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably noticed my love for this cute houseplant with it's round shaped leaves. It's name is Pilea Peperomioides, but it's also known as Chinese Moneyplant, Missionaryplant and Pancake plant. I always get a lot of questions about taking care of this plant and propagating it, that's why I've decided to write a blogpost about it. This first post will be about the origin of the plant and how to take care of it. I will do a second post about propagating a Pilea.
The Pilea is a very popular plant at the moment, especially amongst people on Instagram. What makes the plant so special, is that it has been spread amongst amateur gardeners via cuttings, without being well-known to botanist. That's probably also the reason why the plant is so hard to get in most countries. I got my first Pilea in 2014 from a cutting by mail sent to me by Saskia (@sasvanweert on Instagram). At that time you couldn't get Pileas in the shop and it was only spread through cuttings. Now it's really easy to get a Pilea in The Netherlands, you can buy them in most big garden centres and in a lot of other plant shops. But some people still prefer to only get them by cuttings and grow them big themselves instead of buying a mature plant in a garden shop.
History of the Pilea.
The Pilea Peperomioides originates from China, where a Norwegian missionary, Agnar Espegren, found it and brought it to Norway in 1946. Mr Espegren subsequently travelled widely in Norway and often gave basal shoots of the plant to friends. In this way the plant was effectively distributed around Norway where it is now widespread as a window sill plant, and where it is known as 'the missionary plant'. You can read the full story of the origin of the Pilea here.
Taking care of my pilea's
At the moment my Pilea's aren't looking as good as they used too, but this is due to us moving from Amsterdam to Barcelona in the middle of the summer. They were in a box for several days inside a hot moving van and they needed some time to recover from that and get used to the new climate. They are doing much better now, but did lose a lot of leaves. The pictures that are in this blogpost are from when we were still living in Amsterdam. I will tell you what worked best for my plants as far as a container, water and sunlight.
I keep most of my Pilea's in Terracotta pots because I like the look of them. I also keep some Pilea's in plastic pots. All the pilea's are doing fine, so I don't think it matters what container you choose. What is important, is that the container you choose has drainage holes in the bottom so the roots don't stay too wet.
I water my Pilea's about once a week, depending on the season. On hot summer days they might need a bit more water than on colder days. What's important is to not keep the soil wet, but let it dry out a bit in between waterings, but also don't let it dry out completely either. The plants in Terracotta pots might need watering more often because the Terracotta absorbs a part of the water.
All my Pilea's love a spot in front of a window, where they get of light, but almost no direct sunlight. This is where they grow best. In a spot where there's more shade, they will do fine too, but the leaves might turn a darker green. Too much bright direct sunlight might scorch the leaves. I do rotate my plants a few times a week, because the leaves grow in the direction of the sun.
It's autumn and it's getting colder, which probably means the heaters are turned on again. It's really important not to put your Pilea anywhere near a heater. I did that with my first Pilea, and it almost lost all of it's leaves. Luckily it recovered again after putting it in a different spot, with only three leaves left and look at it now!
If you have any questions about how to care for your Pilea Peperomioides, please leave a comment and I'll be sure to get back to you! Next up will be a post about how to propagate your Pilea.