And I shouldn’t admit this having a garden blog and all….
Yet when some of my indoor plants bite the dust it doesn’t bother me. Inwardly, I think to myself, “at least I don’t have to water that one anymore!”
Not so with my Chinese money plants, the pampered ones.
Thanks to Cheri, a very special reader, I am the proud owner of 7 Chinese money plants. Even more now as I have learned to propagate them.
Excellent because they are expensive to buy but easy to propagate.
I’m talking $20-$30 for a tiny 2-4 inch plant! Yikes. And I hope you are not eating right now because you will gag when you see the shipping rates.
So find a friend who has some! Or shoot me an email come spring when they multiply again.
Minimalist and modern, the Chinese money plant is truly mobile home decor! Here’s the scoop….
The many alter egos of the Pilea plant – Chinese money plant
The same is true of the Chinese money plant which boasts a gizzilion different names.
If you want to get all scientific, it’s a Pilea Peperomioides.
More affectionately, it has several other nicknames (don’t we all!)
- Pancake plant
- Lefse plant
- Missionary plant
- UFO plant
- Plain Pilia plant
- Chinese money plant
- Saucer plant
So forgive me when I alternate between calling this splendid plant a pilea/Chinese money plant in this post. Habits are hard to break!
How your Pilea plant is like your middle child
Have you guessed my birth order already?
It’s easy to water, easy to propagate and will be happy just about anywhere in your home where there is some light.
You could fertilize every 2-3 weeks during the summer growing season, but if you choose not to, the pilea still thrives.
Since the pilea is relatively small, it’s great for apartment dwellers who have less space but crave plants with big personality.
Better still, the pilea is oh so portable. Feel free to move it around your house or apartment, wherever you need green plant bling.
I also have a pilea dark mystery plant in the terrarium which is also quite content.
The small stature and slow growth of your pilea also makes it conducive to terrariums.
In the 8 months I’ve owned Chinese money plants, they have had zero issues, no pests, no mildew/mold. I love plants without problems!
Some of the leaves do become brown/spotted over time and yellowish in color. I just pluck the old leggy foliage off.
In fact, the biggest issue I’ve had is with dust! Those big leaves are massive dust collectors.
If looks could kill…how to “spot” a Chinese money plant..
And those glossy, leathery, dark green saucer leaves balance on tiny green stems. The green stems wind themselves around a thick, woody stem.
As the plant matures those woody stems start to bend and twist.
Even more extraordinary is the small white dot located in the upper middle of the pancake leaves that radiate out resembling a star.
Or maybe a spider since they’re eight “legs” that emerge from that dot.
It certainly makes the plant even interesting having numerous leaves ranging from 1 to 4 inches in size!
The biggest Chinese money plant I own is 13 inches tall (33 cm) and it quite the thriller.
The smallest Chinese money plant that I just propagated is just 2 inches (about 5 cm).
I have yet to experience firsthand the infamous small, white flowers that emerge from those stems.
Supposedly, they are more likely to flower if given cooler conditions (about 50 degrees F.) in winter.
We shall see! And light shade is said to encourage larger leaves. Again, we shall see!
So why is a pilia also known as a missionary plant?
The plant was growing on the CanShang Mountains in the Yunnan province.
The generous Agnar shared the plant cuttings with his friends.
To this very day, it’s easiest to find the Chinese money plant in Scandinavia where it’s popular in home decor.
As legend would have it…
As you can see, I’m already cashing in on the folklore and it’s making me rich. Or not.
So I guess it’s safe to say that here at Raise Your Garden we are simply not “buying” into that one!
Let there be light!
Learned the hard way, direct sun scorched the leaves of my pilea when it took a one day vacay outdoors this past summer. Note bene.
After the leaves got burned, my Chinese money plants spent the rest of the summer on my shaded front porch shelf. They received plenty of bright, indirect sun all day.
But at heart, the Chinese money plant is a houseplant. In fact, my coddled plants came inside by the end of September even though I’ve read they are hardy down to USDA zone 10.
They sorely dislike temperatures dipping below 50 degrees F. and all of a sudden temperature swings.
My plants are happy in several places in my house including my kitchen windowsill, the back of my piano and dining room table where they receive a plethora of bright, but indirect light.
The pitfall to avoid is placing this plant anywhere too far from a window where it receives no light. Big mistake!
Through trial and error, you’ll determine where to place your Chinese money plants. Remember that a growing plant that looks healthy and sharp is a happy plant.
And if you do choose to grow outdoors, a few hours of morning sun will do no harm. Full-sun on a hot patio? No way.
Not so watered down truth about watering the Chinese money plant…
I’ve learned to water them about every three days when the pot is dried out but not bone dry. Lightly moist soil is ideal.
Waiting to water until the surface of the soil is almost completely dry is ideal before watering again.
And even if you do wait till it’s bone dry to water this non-fussy and forgiving plant will “let it go.”
Just don’t wait so long that the leaves start to get droopy as that stresses the plant out!
We have a woodburning stove in our house which means are house is both warm and dry, it also means plants get very dry quicker. Ditto if your plants are placed near a heater or radiator.
How much light your Chinese money plants are getting also impact their watering needs.
More light equals more frequent waterings. Less light and you could probably get away with watering just once a week.
Overwatering is the biggest mistake you could make. These plants do hate to be wet too long. Once, I overwatered one of my plants and it rebelled on me. Never again.
I bet you didn’t know this….
Doubting my sanity, I vowed to get my vision re-tested! Something I need to do before ordering new glasses anyhow.
Then I finally acknowledged it was the stone faced truth! The plant was reaching for the light in the window causing it to grow unevenly.
So you will want to rotate this striking plant 180 degrees or it will start to grow all out of proportion. In fact, I’d rotate your Chinese money plant once a week.
When the plant is allowed to grow properly, it becomes dense from all angles. Those round leaves form an attractive mounding shape.
When it grows out of proportion, it looks a little silly!
Propagating the Chinese money plant ~ propagating from root plantlets
Although I started to have my doubts, after seven months of pampering my Chinese money plant, I noticed something exciting!
Baby plants were emerging up from the soil! Thrilling! Called offsets, the plant was propagating on its own.
These baby plants can easily be removed and placed into their own pot once they are about 2-3 inches in height and have 3-4 leaves.
How cute is that? Baby plants growing in the soil next to the mother. Awwwww!
To make this process easy, I took my Chinese money plant out of the pot and separated the babies.
But if you can separate the babies from the mother without taking the hole plant out of the pot~ even better!
The move to their own pot might slightly shock the babies, but because they already have their own root system usually bounce back quickly.
So patience is key. Once I waited for the plants to recover from their trek halfway across the USA, and gave them some time to mature, they were able to propagate.
Fast fact: Healthy pilea produce baby plants from both their roots and their stems!
Propagating the Chinese money plant – propagating from stem plantlets
A clean, sharp knife is necessary to remove the baby plant from the mother plant. And you’ll have to be patient as you wait for the stem cuttings to develop roots.
Because it doesn’t yet have its own root system give it enough length to increase the likelihood of it rooting in soil or water.
If you root in soil, you’ll know it rooted if and when you see new leaves popping up ~ a great indication that all is well!
Propagating the Chinese money plant – propagating through water
The little green stem won’t work and will rot if you try to propagate them. So make sure you are working with the much thicker, coarse, brown stem.
After about 4-6 weeks you’ll notice the brown stem gets long and spindly with larger leaves and extra babies if you’re lucky!
One advantage to rooting in water over soil is that as long as you use a clear vase, you’ll see whether or not your pilea babies are rooting as they should.
Make sure the water level submerges just the roots and not any of the plant. It’s guaranteed to rot then!
And to level with you, some will still rot using this method never actually producing a plant. It’ a risk you take!
The “hole” truth about potting the Chinese money plant
Plastic nursery pots or terracotta pots work just fine with the Chinese money plant. They’re cheap and as long as they have a drainage hole to allow excess water to flow, you’re golden.
Pilea also look lovely in small ceramic pots with drainage holes.
Emphasis on drainage holes. That’s a must!
And make sure your pot isn’t too large~ the Chinese money plant doesn’t need much space and I’ve learned it doesn’t like a pot that’s too big.
Why it’s hard to buy a Chinese money plant from the local garden center or nursery…
And this is why: Although easy to propagate, they are extremely slow growing plants in my experience. So most garden centers and nurseries don’t find them profitable. Boo-hoo.
Secret code: pie
You either have to find a good friend (thanks Cheri!) to share their cuttings with you or buy them online.
And that’s how hardy these plants are, Cheri shipped them halfway across the USA and they arrived in great condition! In the mail. Some in pots. Others in Ziploc bags. Every plant made it.
Even after a few days, when re-potted, they completely bounced back for me. Good as gold!