Plant Life Balance

The plant that looks like it’s from another planet

You’ve got to admit – it kind of looks like the ‘rona under a microscope. Or like an itty bitty alien. But it’s still pretty cute! One of the internet’s favourite indoor plants, the pilea has completely stolen our hearts – not to mention all the space on our coffee table.

We might have ‘rona on our minds, but people have been comparing the pilea plant to a bunch of things over the years – anything from coins to pancakes, lily pads and even alien ears!

With its striking foliage and easy-going care routine, it’s not hard to see why Pilea peperomioides has become a firm favourite in Aussie homes this year. Here’s everything you need to know about caring for a pilea.

WHERE

Natively found growing in the Sichuan and Yunnan regions of China, the pilea’s natural habitat consists of rocky, shady, damp forests at altitudes ranging from 1,500 – 3,000m. Despite this very specific environment, the pilea will happily grow in homes around Australia, if taken care of correctly.

This fast grower thrives in stable, moderate climates. Avoid placing it where it will be exposed to conditions at either end of the weather spectrum (i.e. where it’s very hot, cold, windy or rainy). Indoor environments are perfect – just ensure it’s not in direct sunlight, or sitting directly under an air-con unit or heater – or otherwise a sheltered, shady outdoor spot.

CARE

The pilea likes growing in moist soil, so check the soil by regularly popping your index finger into the pot up to the second knuckle. If the soil still feels damp, leave it – if the soil is dry, give it a good drink. It will tell you if it’s getting too dry – the leaves will start to wilt and curl inwards, and the stem will bend slightly. If you notice this happening, just give it a good water and it should quickly perk right back up. Pileas need less watering over the cooler winter months.

As with many other indoor plants, the pilea likes to be nice and snug in its pot, meaning it will still grow quite large even if kept in a smaller space. If you notice its roots are starting to creep out the bottom of the pot, take a pic and head to your closest nursery or garden centre to find out which will be the best next pot size for replanting.

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my recent pilea update in my stories the other day was a H O T topic, soooo I’m doing a post on them to minimize how many questions I have to answer over and over again. 🙃 I was TIRED, friend. I got about 100 replies. 🥴 I’ve been documenting the rehab journey of two pileas in my stories and the first thing people ask me after seeing a progress update is, “OMG! How?!!”. The second is, “what’s your secret?!”. Friend, you still don’t know me well. NEGLECT is my secret 😂. I couldn’t even tell you how often I water them because it’s so inconsistent. You might think “goals” now but ALL of these plants had to be rehabbed and I’m still having issues now. Hello, bacterial infection that spread from my philo pink princess. 🙃 SWIPE for progress photos. the last photo is the beginning. my main tips would be to start off with a good base. Use a pot with a drainage hole (I also keep the pots small), use a fast draining soil mix (my soil mix is highlighted on my page) and give your pilea lots of LIGHT. Simple. All of my pileas live directly in a west facing window. They receive about 4hrs of direct sunlight. Since I neglect them, they are usually bone dry by the time I water them again. Leaves be all droopy, sad and pale🤦🏾‍♀️. This causes the leaves to grow in funky sometimes. When I’m being a good plant mama, I water them once a week or at least every two weeks. The leaves stay beautiful round and flat with LOTS of light and consistent watering. yes, the bottom leaves do yellow and fall off. That’s how they naturally grow. The babies will grow in and fill it out and you have to stake the plant in order for it to grow upright or else it will hang and curl, which is cute too. I let two of them grow wild for a while before staking them. Overall, they are really easy to care for being that I barely do anything for them. That’s it! photo break down will be in the comments if you’re interested. 🖤

A post shared by 𝓙𝓮𝓷𝓷𝓲𝓯𝓮𝓻 🌿 (@jungleinaroom) on

ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW?

With those big shiny waxy leaves, the pilea can be a bit of a dust collector, so help it can breathe easy by regularly giving the leaves a gentle wipe over with a damp cloth.

When it’s thriving, the pilea will produce little ‘pups’, or new mini pilea plants. These can be carefully detached from the mother plant with a sharp knife, repotted in another pot or given away as a gift. If the pup doesn’t have any roots attached to it, you can easily propagate it in water first before planting.

Finally, to ensure a lovely round shape, rotate your pilea every few weeks to encourage growth in new directions.

ALSO KNOW AS

Pilea peperomioides, Chinese money tree, money plant, pancake plant

Ready to introduce the pilea to your plant collection? Head to your nearest garden or nursery centre to have a chat with the experts.

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