What’s one of the most popular houseplants out there? We love ’em too, the Chinese money plant. Easy to grow if you know all the right care tips, but easy to kill if you don’t know the proper tricks. AKA Pilea Peperomioides, or just “Pilea”, these cute little plants are perfect for tabletop, but can be trained as hanging plants as well. They are lush and minimal at the same time, so perfect for any style home. We love those perfectly round little bright green leaves, and its compact habit, but fast growth. Apparently everyone else does too, as they are tough to keep on the shelves in nurseries and plant shops. Get them at The Sill online (more info at the bottom of the post). Learn about Chinese money plant care and propagation, and you will have a new favorite little plant pet for your collection!
About Pilea Peperomioides
Chinese money plant is native to… you guessed it, China. There it grows outdoors in the lush tropical forests, but in most parts of the world, we grow it indoors. It has round, pancake shaped leaves on arching green stems. There are several varieties, but the species Pilea Peperomioides is the most common.
Chinese Money Plant Care
Pilea plant care is not hard, as long as you pay attention to five important care principles.
How much do I water my Money Plant?
This is principle number one, and the most important! DO NOT overwater your Pilea. We get it, you want to drench them with love, right? Just stop. You literally want your pilea plant to almost dry out before watering. The fastest way to kill this plant is to do the opposite of what we just told you, and to casually toss a little water on them every time you see the surface look a little dry.
Check 2-3 inches down in the soil. If it’s dry, give it a good soak. If it’s even a little damp, wait. It’s better for your plant to start wilting a little from lack of water (it will perk right back up once watered!) then for you to overwater it. Ok, we clear here? ‘Cause this one counts, my friends! Water much less in winter. Check the soil, don’t just depend on a weekly watering schedule. In winter especially, there will be times it may be weeks until the soil is dry again. Chinese money plant care is super simple, IF you follow this one master rule. If you don’t trust yourself to be able to tell if the soil is dry, get a moisture meter. Yep, they are a thing, and they work.
Fertilize with a water soluble fertilizer every other watering in spring, summer and fall. We use Schultz, we have for 40 years. (Yep, seriously. Don’t fix what ain’t broke friends!) We’ll tell you where to find these supplies at the end of the post.
What kind of pot is best for my money plant?
We all know those super cute cache pots you find at the boutique plant shop. Your little Pilea pal would look too freakin’ adorable in it, right? Well if it doesn’t have good drainage… (no, make that great drainage), then forget about it. This supports principle one. If the soil stays too damp too long, your plant will rot and die. Honestly, the best pot for these types of plants are terra cotta. They breathe, and allow the soil to dry out faster. If you really must have that pot, and you can’t have at least 3 drainage holes drilled, then plant it in a better pot (with drainage holes) that can fit inside said pretty pot. When you do water, allow the plant to totally drain before putting it back into the pretty cache pot.
What kind of soil do I use?
Once again, supporting principle one. You can use standard potting soil, (we love Black Gold or Miracle Gro) but if you are prone to overloving your plants with water, try cactus or succulent mix. It dries out faster, and allows roots to breathe.
How much light do they need?
Give your Chinese money plant bright light, but absolutely no direct sun. Those pretty, lush, lily pad like green leaves will show sun scorch after just one day left to bake in that south facing window. On the flip side, make sure the light isn’t too dim, otherwise your plant will grow leggy and yellow.
You only need to repot Pilea every 2-3 years. Repot in spring, and pay attention to principle numbers 2&3 above.
Is the Pilea safe for my cats, dogs and kids?
You are in luck. The Pilea is one of those special plants that is on the SPCA non toxic list!
Pilea Propagation Tricks
What are Those Pilea Babies All About?
So as soon as you see those little Pilea babies growing at the base of your plant, you know it’s time to propagate. Using a sharp knife, reach under the soil and cut the baby loose from the mother plant. This is one of the easiest ways to propagate Chinese money plant. (And lets face it, the most fun!) Place the baby pilea in a small jar of water for several weeks until roots appear. Do not let the leaves get into the water. A baby food jar or a Oui Yoplait yogurt jar work great. Once it has a good root system, pot up with good potting soil and give a good watering.
Can you Grow from Cuttings?
You can cut the top off of your Chinese money plant just below a node, strip the bottom few leaves, then root it in water. This is a great way to revive a plant that has gotten too tall and leggy as well. Trim the top of the remaining plant if any stem remains.
Chinese Money Plant Common Problems
Pilea Leaves Curling
Curling leaves on your money plant is usually due to low light, temperatures under 55 degrees, or chronic over watering. See our Chinese money plant care tips above!
Ok, this one is more rare, and is likely due to chronic under watering. If the brown spots are crispy and in just a section of the leaf and not the entire leaf, you probably let that pot get a little too much sun, and you have sun scorch. Trim the damaged leaf, and make sure the plant is in indirect bright light only. Use sheer curtains if you must place it in a south facing window to protect the leaves.
Also, Chinese money plant does develop some light spots on some leaves over time, occasionally they look light brown… These are normal and nothing to be treated. Our photo below shows the normal spotting.
Ok, back to rule #1. This is usually overwatering, but also can be caused by cold temps or drafts. Keep in mind, it is perfectly normal for every plant to occasionally have the older, lower leaves turn yellow and drop. This is simply the leaves aging out.
Why are there gnats on my Chinese money plant?
Gnats on the soil in your houseplants isn’t just a Pilea problem… they can infest ALL your plants. Fungus Gnats are harmless, just super annoying. You can make or buy traps baited with apple cider vinegar, water the plants with a solution of tap water and hydrogen peroxide (1:4) or spray the soil surface with a neem based product every couple of days. The most effective strategy is a combination of two or more of those solutions. We use the peroxide water and the traps, with a little Captain Jacks if they get super obnoxious. See below.
White spots, leaf curl and webs?
You may be dealing with spider mites. We recommend Captain Jacks Dead Bug Juice. It’s natural and really effective.
But if you simply see white crystals on the back of your Pilea leaves, those are normal. You can wipe them off with a soft cloth if they bother you. They are caused by mineral deposits excreted by the leaves. Here is photo of the ones on ours.
Tips for Money Plant Care
- Turn your pilea a quarter turn every time you water. Money plants tend to lean toward the light, and grow their leaves on the side with brighter light.
- If you want to get a bushier plant, then let those baby pilea plants grow at the base of the mother plant, don’t propagate them.
- Do we need to say it one more time? Don’t overwater this plant, and everything else is easy! When was the last time you made something better by doing less? The perfect houseplant!
- You can train a money plant to hang. Do not propagate the babies to allow it to grow dense enough to drape over the sides of a pot. Keep in mind that pots hanging up near the ceiling tend to deal with drier air, so watch for brown edges to the leaves. If you see some, mist with water once a day.
Where to Buy Pilea Peperomioides and Supplies
If you are looking for a Chinese money plant and can’t find one at your local plant shop, then check out these online stores. If one is out, check the others! Also, here are some of the supplies we recommended in the post.
We love ‘The Sill‘, because you get to choose a pilea and a high quality ceramic pot to be delivered together. You get to choose from two styles and six colors of planter. Also a great place to buy plants as gifts! Another good choice is PlantedPot.
‘Etsy‘ is a great place to order your Chinese money plant, if you are careful enough to read reviews. We’ve gotten some awesome plants at good prices from Etsy sellers. You can also look for cute pots with good drainage here as well.
‘Amazon‘ also has sellers that carry pilea peperomioides as well.
You can find Captain Jacks at ‘Amazon‘. It’s super popular, so if one seller is out, try another.
We use the ‘Luster Leaf Digital Meter‘.
‘Black Gold Cactus & Succulent Mix‘.
We use this ‘Fruit Fly Trap‘, and load it with apple cider vinegar.
So learn Chinese money plant care so that you can have the hottest houseplant on the block too! We think you will also love our post on Must Have Plant Subscription Boxes, and 13 Creative DIY Plant Stand Ideas! Also check out 13 Indoor Vertical Garden Planter Ideas over at OhMeOhMy!