Pilea Peperomioides

Oh, man is that a mouthful! We will just call it a Pilea for pronunciation’s sake. Also known as the Friendship Plant or Pass It On Plant, these super quirky plants are a great addition to any houseplant collection. Pileas are still pretty new to the houseplant scene, and you can trace Pileas back to the first person to grow them indoors and share them as houseplants in the 1940s. A year ago when I found mine they were still fairly unheard of. But now you are likely able to find them at most garden centers or even ask a friend, someone is like as not to have babies to share!

Bending towards the light.

Potting: I find that my Pileas seem to do better in terra-cotta pots, the clay helps pull extra moisture away and lets more air into the roots. If you don’t like the look of terra-cotta, you can place them inside a prettier cache pot. They do like to be repotted and will have a growth spurt after getting a bigger pot. So I would recommend repotting each spring, at least until get gets to the size you would like it to be. As for soil, I use just basic potting soil for indoor plants with some perlite and bark thrown in to lighten the soil and help it drain better.

Light: I see a lot of confusion on where to put your Pileas so they are getting the right amount of light. A lot the recommendations say bright indirect light, and most people take that to mean they can’t have any sun on them in the house. But all light indoors is considered indirect, even right in a window. So Pileas are the happiest right in the window! I keep mine in my east-facing window and it has really taken off. Pileas will grow towards the window so if you want it to stay fairly straight be sure to rotate your pot once a week, otherwise, it will get really bendy. If your Pilea isn’t getting enough light they will get leggy and reach for the light. They will also lose leaves seem to be barely growing new ones. Low light can also cause watering issues because the plant doesn’t have enough light to utilize the water, leading to root rot.

Watering: Pileas are fairly thirsty plants and I find I have to water about once a week or so. But be sure to let them dry out quite a bit before watering because their roots rot easily. I lift my pots to see how heavy they are before watering, if they are light then I water, if they are still heavy I wait a few days. Another way to tell if they need water is you will see their leaves start to droop.

Fertilizing: It is a good idea to fertilize your Pilea in the spring and summer months to see the best growth. Use a houseplant fertilizer designed around container plants, if it’s meant for gardens you will burn your houseplants. There are a lot of fertilizer options depending on what you are looking for. Osmocote Plus is a great slow-release fertilizer that you apply in early spring and it feeds every time you water. Foliage Pro is another great one, but it’s a little more involved because you have to mix it with your water and remember to feed your plants. Regardless of which fertilizer you choose, only feed at half strength to avoid burning your plants.

All the babies!

Propagation and Pruning: Oh my goodness, all the babies! Pilea really couldn’t be easier to propagate, just wait a bit and it will put out pups from under the soil or on the trunk. The pups that are on the trunk are pretty slow-growing, so I haven’t removed any of them yet. But the pups in the soil grow like well, weeds! Once you see babies in your pot wait until the stem/trunk is about 2 inches tall before separating them from the momma. This ensures they are more likely to make it. To separate, just dig down a ways and clip the pup off. After clipping them off the momma I just put them in a small pot(about 2″) while they get roots. Then after a month or so I move them to a 4 inch nursery pot. You can also just root them in water and then pot them up when they have some roots.

Toxicity: Pilea Peperomioides are not toxic to humans or pets, but if consumed in large quantities will cause an upset stomach.

They even get babies on their trunks!