Overwatered Pilea peperomioides? How to Save your Chinese Money plant


Many houseplant owners are afraid of underwatering their plants, so they overcorrect and give them too much water. Unfortunately, overwatering is one of the surest ways of killing Pilea peperomioides (Chinese money plant). Early signs of overwatering are discoloration and drooping leaves.

How can you save a Pilea that has been overwatered? Place the plant in a shaded spot and let it dry completely. Remove the Pilea from its container to dry to accelerate the process. If your plant appears to have root rot, trim back the injured roots before repotting with new soil.

If you notice the signs early enough, your overwatered Pilea can be saved. If you have overwatered your plant, there is still hope and here you will find out how to save your Chinese money plant by adding some new actions to your plant care routine.

Signs of overwatering

Discoloration and drooping leaves are the most common indicators of overwatered Pileas. Pileas with too much water lose their deep green colour and begin to fade from pale green to yellow, finally dropping their leaves and dying.

The major signs that you have overwatered your Pilea is if most of the leaves are drooping, rather than just a couple at the bottom.

Steps to saving an overwatered pilea

Stop watering your plant

If the roots have become saturated, adding more water will only make matters worse. No additional water should be added until the soil has dried out.

Place the Pilea in a shaded location

When plants are stressed, they are at the greatest risk of dying. When your Pilea’s root system isn’t working properly, it puts the plant in a stressful situation.

Plant roots that are too damp have a tough time sending nutrients up to the top of the plant, in addition to the stress. In this situation, the leaves are more likely to dry up. You’ll need to preserve your Pilea by moving it out of the light until the soil and roots have had a chance to dry out.

Remove Dead or Dying Leaves

If your leaves have died as a result of overwatering, you’ll need to cut them back. Most of the time, this can be accomplished by simply pinching the yellow or brown leaves off or you can use scissors.

Plants push energy out to every part, healthy or dying. Your Pilea is still trying to force energy into a dying leaf. Cutting back the dying leaves allows your plant to conserve its energy and to use it to heal rather than waste it on dying or dead leaves.

Take your Pilea out of its pot

Removing the plant from its pot can speed up the drying process in a natural way.

It’s vital to remove the Pilea from its pot with caution. Overwatered Pileas are already weaker than usual and pulling the plant could lead to damage. Start by tapping the planter’s edges to loosen the soil, then circle your hand around it, tilt the container upside down, and try to slide it out.

If you want to speed up the drying process, place the plant on a tray or baking rack for a couple of days. The soil will be able to breathe and dry out as a result of this.

Remove any roots that have been damaged.

If you examine your roots and discover that they are dark, brown, mushy, or slimy, prune them right away.
To prune the roots of your Pilea, make sure you have a clear view of the problem. If you haven’t previously, run the roots of the plant under the tap to remove as much soil as possible. The brown and mushy roots on your Pilea should be clipped away, leaving only the healthy, white roots.

Cut back the leaves

To free up as much energy as possible for your plant to begin regrowing new roots, cut the plant’s leaves and stem down to roughly a third of their former size.

Remove the soil and clean the pot

It’s time to replant your Pilea once the soil is dry, the roots have been appropriately clipped, and your previous pot has been cleaned or replaced.

Root rot

Root rot is a common issue with houseplants, which is caused by a fungal infection. The underlying issue is usually overwatering. Depending on the severity of the problem, your plant may or may not survive, despite your best efforts.

Root Rot Symptoms

Yellow or droopy leaves

When the root dies, the plants are unable to absorb the necessary nutrients. The leaves start to turn yellow and may droop. New leaf blooming is delayed, and the leaves begin to fall off.

Darks Spots and Mushy Stem

Root rot also causes brown and dark spots on the leaves. It can also cause the stem to have a mushy texture, as well as mould forming on top of the soil.

Crumbly Roots

You will need to get a closer look, so take your Pilea out of its pot. The signs to look for are mushy and crumbling roots, they often give out a bad smell which will indicate that it is most likely root rot. Healthy looking roots are normally white and firm in their color and texture.

Stunted Growth

It is always a good idea to monitor how your plant is growing, this is a great indicator to see if anything ominous is occurring. If you notice that your Pilea isn’t growing as fast as it used to, there could be some problem with the roots.

How To Treat Root Rot

Discard The Damaged Roots

This is essential because if the unhealthy roots aren’t removed, the fungus will spread to the healthy roots and kill them, even if the soil is changed. Remove all brown or black roots that are tender to the touch. Clean the roots by running them under water.

Repot Your Plant

Remove any existing soil and thoroughly clean the container. Fill one-third of the pot with your chosen soil. It’s best to get a good quality, well-draining soil. You can choose an all-purpose soil mix and add some perlite or sand to aid drainage if you wish.

Place the Pilea plant in the pot and pack the soil tightly around it, leaving no room around the rootball.
Will damaged leaves grow back?

Once you have found and solved the reason why your Pilea leaves are damaged, then they should grow back. The plant will recover and produce new leaves, but it could take up to six months in colder climes and three months in warmer climates.

The Pilea plant is strong and known to bounce back but patience is key here. So, if you find that your Pilea’s leaves are damaged, just adjust how you are looking after them and more often than not the leaves should grow back, as good as new.

How to prevent overwatering problems

Buy pots that have drainage holes. This is a crucial element that many people overlook. If a pot does not have drainage holes, it is almost certain that it will become waterlogged. The extra water simply sits inside, suffocating the roots.

A rule of thumb is to water your plant only when the soil is dry. Preferably, you should only water your pilea when the top inch of soil is dry. This is better than watering regularly, such as every three days, as you run the risk of overwatering your pilea.

Final thoughts on overwatered Pilea

Pilea peperomioides (Chinese money plant) is a sturdy and relatively low maintenance houseplant, but one thing they can’t stand is being overwatered. However, an overwatered Pilea can be saved.

If your plant has been overwatered, trim the affected areas and replant in fresh soil. Severely affected plants can have their healthy growth pruned and propagated.

If you act quick enough, you may be able to save your plant. Root rot can be extremely damaging to your Pilea, but it can be avoided or treated by following a few basic procedures and keeping a close eye on your plant.

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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