Pilea Peperomioides

Pilea Peperomioides was once one of the most sought after plants here in the US!

This is a plant that captured all of our hearts a few years ago. It was easily accessible throughout Europe and Asia but not here in the US. Pilea Peperomioides has many names such as UFO plant, Chinese money plant, or friendship plant and was a must have for many gardeners. The frenzy was crazy! These plants could be found selling for $50 for a small 4″ plant! Thankfully the plant has become a lot more accessible and affordable as the years have gone on.

Pilea History

Pilea Peperomioides is actually a plant that originates from Asia. They are native to Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of Southern China and were discovered by Agnar Espegren, a Norwegian missionary. They were discovered by him in 1945 when he was fleeing Hunan province. He took cuttings with him back to Norway and from there the rest is history. The plant became popular throughout Europe amongst amateur gardeners but was not classified until the 1980’s. In it’s native China the plant is somewhat endangered in their usual habitat but is grown as a popular ornamental plant.

Lighting & Temperature

Pileas love bright light! They absolutely need it. Shady areas make these plants look sad. On the flip side, prolonged hours of direct sun will scorch the plant. A happy medium is best. Any bright sunny window with a light shade cloth will do, or placing the plant a few feet away from a bright window. If the plant gets any direct lighting morning sun is best. Be sure to rotate your plant every so often to ensure that your plant grows evenly all around.

These plants are great for indoor settings! Most outdoor settings have too great of extremes when it comes to temperatures and lighting. They don’t respond well to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and extremes in heat will greatly damage the plant as well. Most indoor temperatures ranging from 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal.

Water & Humidity

A huge plus with these plants is that they don’t require a ton of watering. They are semi-succulent and benefit from drying out some between watering. Just be careful not to let the plant dry out too much as this may cause some of it’s leaves to fall.

Since the plant is also semi-succulent they are prone to root rot if left wet for too long. To ensure that you don’t overwater, water the plant once the top 2-3 inches of soil have dried out. You could use a moisture meter stick or you can stick your finger into the pot to test the moisture levels.

These plants do appreciate some humidity. In their native China, they grow in forest floors where they get humidity and bright indirect lighting. You can create more humidity by misting their leaves, supplying a pebble tray with water, or purchasing a humidifier.

Soil & Propagation

Soil requirements are similar to succulents and cacti. Pilea do best in well draining soil since they are semi-succulent. Any indoor mix with lots of soil or pumice will do just fine. Just so long as the soil has plenty of aeration to limit the risk of root rot.

Propagation in this plant is insanely easy! A healthy and robust Pilea will develop so many plant “pups” at it’s base. You can leave them on or separate them from the mother plant once they get to a decent size. I suggest leaving pups on the parent plant until they reach at least 4-5 inches tall. Because this plant can easily propagate itself the plant has earned the name Friendship Plant. Many Pilea Peperomioides were shared as cuttings amongst gardener friends.


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