Pilea Peperomioides 101: How To Care For The Lucky, Low-Maintenance Plant
The Chinese Money plant (Pilea peperomioides) gets its name for its disc-like leaves that look like deep green coins. Considering adding this funky plant to your collection? Here's what green thumbs want you to know to keep it healthy and happy as a houseplant.
The Pilea peperomioides, or "Chinese money plant."
Native to rocky areas of southern China, the Pilea peperomioides goes by various other names too, including pancake plant, coin plant, and even UFO plant because of its round-shaped leaves.
According to Leslie F. Halleck, certified professional horticulturist, author of Gardening Under Lights, Plant Parenting, and Tiny Plants, and UCLA extension horticulture instructor, "Many in the plant space are shifting to using coin plant as a more culturally acceptable common name for Pilea peperomioides."
People choose this plant for its curious round-shaped leaves, and it's also considered a lucky, wealth-attracting plant in feng shui.
The Pilea peperomioides is a relatively common plant that you should be able to find at your local plant shop or nursery.
Planting & growing a Pilea peperomioides.
Growing a Pilea peperomioides indoors is easy as long as you place it in an area of your home where it gets adequate bright, indirect light but won't be shocked by cold drafts from windows or vents.
"The No. 1 thing for success is giving the plant the right environment," says Justin Hancock, horticulturist and head of brand marketing at Costa Farms. "Light is key—so look for a spot with sufficient natural or artificial light."
If your space doesn't get much sunlight, using a grow light is also an option, but you'll need to make sure it doesn't overpower your plant. "You don't want to place it too close to a grow lamp that will deliver intense light and heat," says Halleck.
Caring for the plant.
Once you've found a sunny spot for your plant, here's how experts recommend caring for it so it thrives.
These plants do best with infrequent watering, so wait until the soil dries out before giving them another drink. "Coin plants prefer a bit more oxygen at the root zone and need to approach dry before you apply another thorough watering," explains Halleck.
You can probably go longer between waterings than you think since these plants are hardy, resistant, and act more like succulents. A properly watered plant will be upright with flat, glossy leaves, says Halleck. "I'd always advise erring on the side of a little less water than more," she adds.
These plants prefer to be placed in an area that is bright but doesn't receive direct sunlight for most of the day, says Hancock.
With that being said, it's important to ensure this plant gets enough rays. "Not enough light results in slow growth with long internodes—the space between the leaves—resulting in an unattractive, lanky plant," says Hancock.
So what type of light should you aim for? "Morning sunlight and indirect afternoon sunlight is best," Michael Clarke, a horticulture expert and the founder of Pulled, tells mbg. For those living in the Northern Hemisphere, placing your plant near an east-facing window will be a good bet.
"Loose, well-draining soil is the best to allow proper drainage from the root zone and increase aeration," says Clarke. A standard organic potting soil should work well, but Halleck says you can also add coconut coir, perlite, or some worm castings for extra aeration.
"Don't over-pot these plants; meaning use smaller containers as plants have a relatively small root system," she adds.
Coin plants aren't finicky when it comes to temperature. "Plants are happy at normal household temperatures between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit," says Halleck.
You'll just want to avoid areas in the home where there can be sudden temp changes. "Keep [your plant] away from drafts and vents," she suggests. "Exposure to direct airflow that's significantly warmer or cooler than the ambient air temperature can damage the leaves, causing yellow or brown edges and premature leaf drop."
Common problems & how to fix.
Look out for the following signs that your coin plant could use some extra TLC:
- Curling leaves: When leaves curl inward, it can be an indicator that this plant is receiving too much light and needs to be moved. "This is often due to light exposure that is too intense," says Halleck. Leaf curl can also be a symptom of overwatering, says Clarke, so be sure to feel the top layer of soil. If it's damp, give your plant some more time to dry in between waterings.
- Bumpy leaves: "Edema (Oedema), which are blister-like bumps on the leaves, can form when you overwater or watering is very inconsistent," says Halleck. The best way to solve this issue is to allow time for the topsoil to dry out before watering again and stay on a consistent watering schedule. Unfortunately, the bumps that have found your plant are there to stay, but new foliage should be OK once you get the hang of your new routine, explains Clarke.
- Brown spots: "Exposure to high-intensity sun can cause brown scarring as well as yellow spotting on the leaves," says Clarke. "If this is occurring, it's best to move the plant to a more indirect light source." Brown spots can also be caused by the cold, especially during the winter. Over-fertilizing can provoke brown spots, too. "When fertilizing, it's best to dilute any fertilizer before applying it to the soil to prevent any damage," says Clarke.
- Insects and bugs: There are a few different pests that can bother your Pilea peperomioides. Spider mites can cause leaf curl, while mealybugs may provoke white, fuzzy spots tucked away in the leaf bases, says Clarke. If you do spot any bugs on your plant, Hancock recommends treating it with an insecticide, such as neem oil. Pro tip: You may have to spray it more than once to get to the root of the issue.
How to propagate.
Loving your coin plant and want to have more of them in your home? You're in luck because these houseplants are easy to propagate. “With good care, this plant can live for many years," says Hancock, "and it produces enough offspring that you can share it with many friends."
There are a few different ways to propagate plants, but the following method is simplest for the Pilea peperomioides:
- Carefully dig about 1 inch deep using your fingers, and take the plant out of the soil from its roots.
- Use a knife to separate a small section of the plant from the main plant. This will be gentler than tugging on the plant to remove this offshoot.
- Plant the baby plant in a container with soil, and water as normal. Within a month or so, you should see new growth.
The bottom line.
Pilea peperomioides' unique leaf shape and relatively easy care make this a great houseplant to give as a gift or snag for yourself. And according to feng shui, once you keep your "coin plant" happy with these expert tips, it might just bring some actual money your way.
Lauren David is a Chilean-American freelance writer. She writes about gardening, food, health and wellness, and sustainability. She has been published in Allrecipes, Greatist, The Healthy, The Kitchn and more.
When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time in her garden, experimenting with ingredients in the kitchen, or spending time by the ocean. See her portfolio on her website.