No plant has made quite such an impression in American culture in recent years as pilea peperomioides. Also known as Chinese money plant, coin plant, missionary plant, or pancake plant, this cute, easy-care houseplant with flat, round, succulent leaves has a history of being shared between friends.
Long cultivated in China, pilea peperomioides was brought to Europe by a Norwegian missionary in the 1940s—hence some of its many nicknames. Since a healthy, happy pilea peperomioides will readily produce offsets, or baby plants, from its roots and stem, home gardeners would share and trade new plants they’d propagated from the offsets.
Since the houseplant trend exploded in recent years, supply for pilea peperomioides has caught up with demand, and commercial growers have started raising them for sale. If you don’t have access to a friend or neighbor’s pilea peperomioides offset, you can purchase one at your local nursery, garden center, or houseplant store. They can sometimes be found at supermarkets like Trader Joe’s, too.
When purchasing a pilea peperomioides plant, choose a full, healthy-looking specimen. Be sure to check and see if any of the plants already have offsets growing from the central stem or in the soil. You’ll have plant babies to propagate and share much sooner this way.
Best Growing Conditions for Pilea Peperomioides
Pilea peperomioides grow best in lots of bright, indirect light, ideally near a window—but be sure to keep them out of direct sun. Use a well-draining soil mix that dries out relatively quickly. Some gardeners prefer to plant their pileas in a succulent soil mix or an all-purpose potting soil with the addition of a little perlite or coarse sand to promote drainage.
For the same reason, many home gardeners choose to plant their pilea peperomioides in terra cotta pots, which allow moisture to evaporate from the soil more quickly than plastic or glazed ceramic pots. However, any of these choices will work as long as the container has a drainage hole or two in the bottom.
Choose a spot to display your pilea peperomioides that’s no cooler than 50 degrees at night.
Just make sure to check soil moisture regularly and water accordingly. Pilea also tend to flourish in a slightly undersized pot, so keep that in mind, especially when potting up smaller specimens.
While you want to avoid children or pets chowing down on your pilea’s leaves, it’s comforting to know that this plant is non-toxic to humans, cats, and dogs.
How to Care for Your Pilea Peperomioides
With the right soil and bright, indirect light, pilea peperomioides are quite easy to care for.
Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, and avoid letting your pilea sit in water—overwatering is one of the few ways to damage this plant. Always water from the top rather than allowing your pilea to soak up water from the bottom.
If you notice your pilea’s leaves starting to droop and the soil is dry, that’s a sign to give it a drink.
Leaves curling can indicate that your plant isn’t getting enough light, so if you see this, move it to a brighter space (still out of direct sunlight). It’s also helpful to rotate your pilea every week so all sides of the plant have a chance to get the brightest light. Some yellowing or leaf drop, especially of the larger, lower leaves, is normal as long as your plant is growing new leaves and looks otherwise healthy.
Feed your pilea peperomioides with monthly doses of liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half-strength during spring and summer to encourage growth. If you’re not seeing any baby plants, make sure you’re fertilizing, pinching off any dead growth, and giving your plant sufficient light.
If your plant is tall and top-heavy, try cutting off the top portion to propagate on its own; this can spur new growth and offsets in the mother plant. For a fuller-looking pilea, simply leave the offsets in the soil or on the stem and remove them only to help spur new growth. Pilea peperomioides are grown primarily for their leaves, but they do produce inflorescences of tiny, white flowers.
Plan to repot your pilea peperomioides every two years or so, ideally in early spring at the very start of the growing season; avoid repotting in winter when growth has slowed. Repot in a container that’s one size larger or use the same pot as before with fresh soil.
Repotting time is also a good opportunity to remove and pot up root offsets from your plant.
How to Propagate Your Pilea Peperomioides
While there is no way to propagate pilea peperomioides on demand, once your pilea is happy, it will start to grow offsets from its stem and its roots.
It’s best to remove and propagate both types of offsets during the growing season rather than in winter, when growth tends to be slower. Offsets should be ready to remove two to three weeks after they appear.
How to Propagate Pilea Peperomioides via Stem Offsets
Step 1: Remove stem offsets by cutting as close to the mother plant as possible with a clean, sharp blade. Take care to avoid damaging its central stem.
Step 2: Since stem offsets do not yet have a root system, they must be rooted in water before they can be planted. Place your cutting in a small glass, vase, or jar with the stem submerged below the surface of the water. The clear glass lets you monitor root growth, which is helpful in determining when the offset is ready to pot up.
Step 3: When your offset has grown new leaves in addition to new roots, it’s ready to plant. Pot the baby plant in an appropriately sized container with well-drained potting mix. Place it in a spot with bright, indirect light and care for it as usual.
How to Propagate Pilea Peperomioides via Root Offsets
Step 1: Wait until your pilea’s offsets have developed several leaves before removing them. For root offsets, simply make a cut below the soil with a clean, sharp blade to separate the baby’s root system from the mother’s.
Step 2: Since root offsets have their own root system already, the do not need to be rooted in water. Plant root or stem offsets in an appropriately sized container with well-draining potting soil.
Step 3: Water the new plants, put them in a spot with bright, indirect light, and care for them as usual.