Chinese Money Plant Care (Pilea peperomioides)


The Chinese money plant (Pilea peperomioides) has recently become really popular across homes and offices. It grows to a size of around 12 inches high with a spread of 12 inches (30 cm x 30 cm). This makes it ideal as a small plant to put next to your office desk or on a shelf at home.

The plant is a native to the Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of south-west China. It was brought to Europe at the beginning of the 20th century and has recently been a real hit amongst houseplant enthusiasts and Instagrammers worldwide. Pilea has beautiful disc -shaped leaves which has led to some people calling it the UFO plant.

Part of the reason for this plant being so popular is that it’s easy to care for and is suitable for beginners. It is fairly quick to grow and produces small plantlets that can be separated from the mother and planted up separately. These make a great gift for friends and family.

These plants were originally thought to bring good luck, prosperity and money to their owners. So, they make an ideal housewarming present. It also accounts for the plant’s common name of Chinese money plant. Not only is the plant associated with wealth, the oval leaves resemble coins stacked on top of each other.

chinese money plant - close up

Here’s my Chinese money plant care guide:

Light requirements

Pilea plants prefer moderate to bright indirect light. They can survive in lower light conditions, however they will not thrive and their leaves may become discoloured.

Their preference for indirect light is important. If they receive too much direct sunlight their leaves may become crispy and shows signs of burn spots or scorching. You can create good conditions for your plant by having a voile across a window or, if your window is south facing, move your plant a few feet back or to the side of the window.

Temperature requirements

The Chinese money plant prefers temperatures in the range of 60-75°F (15-24°C). These are ideal temperatures that are found in most homes, so you should not have any issues for the majority of the year.

This plant does not like low temperatures below 50°F. Take care during the winter if your plant is on a windowsill or in an unheated conservatory.

The humidity found in most homes will be fine for your Pilea.

Watering requirements

The amount of water your plant needs will depend on the temperature in your home, the type of pot that it is in and your home’s humidity. The best way to judge when you need to water, is to test the top of the soil with your finger. If the top half inch also of soil is dry, then it is time to water your plant.

During the winter months, you need to water less, as the plant is not growing as actively.

The Chinese money plant does not like wet feet. Avoid over watering or allowing your plant to sit in water. Your plant pot should have drainage holes and if there is a saucer, this should be emptied after watering.

chinese money plant in wicker basket

Soil requirements

A good quality, well-draining soil will suit your Pilea. You can choose an all-purpose soil mix and add some perlite to aid drainage if you wish. A 2-to-1 ratio should be sufficient. Some people have also had success by adding an organic mix to their soil.

When you first receive your money plant, there are no special requirements to immediately repot it because it should already arrive in a good quality soil from the grower. This will also reduce the amount of stress that new plant is put under. However, once the plant has grown and is ready for repotting, then you can use your own soil mix.

Special care

Pilea is a fairly easy-going plant and doesn’t demand any special requirements. It’s a good idea to fertilise your plant with a good quality houseplant fertiliser monthly during spring and summer. As this plant is a fast grower, this will ensure that it has all the nutrients that it requires.

The only other care requirements are that you dust your plant on a regular basis.

Propagating

Chinese money plant is quite easy to propagate, and this has been one of the reasons why it has spread across the world so quickly recently.

A healthy Pilea plant will produce plantlets, or pups. These are small plants that are attached to the mother underground. These can be separated and raised into separate plants. To do this just follow these simple steps:

  • Identify the plantlet and follow the stem underground, which is attached to the mother plant.
  • Using clean pruning shears, cut the stem and remove the plantlet
  • Prepare a small 2-inch plant pot with a good quality well-draining soil mix. Using the back of a spoon make a small hole in the centre of the soil. Place the plantlet in the whole and cover
  • Water the soil and keep a close eye on it for the next couple of weeks. Ensure that the soil remains moist during this time. The new plant develops its own root system and quickly become established.

Some houseplant growers like to propagate their Pilea in water. This is certainly possible; you just need to remove the plantlet as described above and place in water until it develops a root system. When it has done this, you can transplant it to a small pot full of soil.

Pests & problems

Pilea may become infested by the common pests of houseplants such as mealybugs and spider mites. If you find that you have an infestation of these bugs, we recommend that you treat them using a natural insecticide based on neem oil or soap. If there is just the occasional individual, you can use liquid alcohol applied on a cotton bud to remove it. Remain vigilant and check the plant to ensure that new pests do not emerge from eggs and reinvest the plant.

Toxicity

Chinese money plant is safe for pets including both cats and dogs. That being said it makes sense to keep all houseplants out of reach of household pets, as a precaution.

2 chinese money plants by windowsill

Common questions about Chinese money plant care

Why are my Chinese money plant leaves turning droopy?

Droopy leaves could be a sign that your plant is underwatered. Check the soil and if it is dry then give your plant a generous watering and see if this makes a difference.

On the other hand, drooping leaves can also be a sign of your plant being overwatered. This is a common problem with Pilea. If this is the case, simply allow your plant’s soil to dry out.

Ideally you should be watering your plant only when the top inch or so of the soil becomes dry. Doing this is far better than watering to a schedule, such as once every three days.

Another possible cause is that your plant is not receiving sufficient light. If this is the case, move it closer to a window where it can receive indirect light.

Should I mist my Pilea?

The humidity in most homes is sufficient for your Pilea plant. If your AC unit or radiators are on for long periods of the day, you can increase the humidity by misting. Also, if you notice your plant’s leaves are turning crispy this may be a sign that the humidity levels are quite low, and you should increase levels by misting or having a humidifier.

Does my Chinese money plant require direct sunlight?

The Chinese money plant prefers moderate to bright indirect light. A small amount of direct sunlight (a few hours a day) is okay but too much can lead to scorching of the leaves. So, you should take care if you have a south facing window and your Pilea is close to it or on the windowsill.

About the author 

Paul - Better Houseplants

Loves orchids and foliage houseplants. Always trying to be a better plant parent. Let's get growing!

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