Pilea Party: A Guide to Pilea
While a party with Peperomia is great, a party with Pilea just for funsies is great too. I’m not just talking about Pilea peperomioides, the Regina George of the Pilea genus, but all those other Pilea varieties often overlooked.
So, let’s a party.
Pileas are yet another amazing pet-friendly plant family. What’s funny about Pilea is most varieties look very, very different from each other. When I began to look beyond Pilea peperomioides, I realized there are many Pilea everywhere, you just don’t think of them as Pilea. They just don’t look like their other family members. If anything, some Pilea looks like Peperomia and that’s just silly.
These little plants come in many varieties and, to me, that’s the fun part about collecting Pilea. Some are metallic, some have super weird leaves, and some look like boring houseplants.
Chinese Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides)
Pilea Aquamarine (Pilea glauca aquamarine)
Baby Tears Pilea (Pilea glauca)
Aluminum Plant (Pilea cadierei)
Pilea ‘Dark Mystery’
Moon Valley Pilea (Pilea involucrata)
Norfolk Friendship Plant (Pilea spruceana)
Silver Tree (Pilea spruceana ‘Silver Tree’)
On a scale of Sansevieria (1) to Maidenhair Fern (10, also the worst), I give all Pilea a 5. Pretty hands-off plants, their care is similar across the genus, but you need to know a few things so they don’t get sad.
I don’t like to generalize, but all Pilea varieties do like similar light levels. The key is bright, indirect light. What does this mean exactly? A few feet from a bright window works best. Placing in the harsh, hot sun will basically melt them and they don’t grow at all in low light (read: dark corner) conditions.
These bushy plants like their homes to be kept moist. Personally, I veer from using terracotta when replanting (it dries them out) and keep soil ever-so-slightly moist at all times. When I water, I do a thorough watering, making sure the soil is saturated and is running out of the bottom of the planter. Never let these sit in standing water, they’ll rot.
Speaking of soil, I like to use a well-draining mix of perlite and a good indoor potting mix, about 1/2 of each.
Pilea does fancy some humidity. Decent humidity will keep their leaves plush and not crispy. Running a humidifier during winter and dry heat spells will do the trick. Pilea glauca is the only Pilea that would benefit from higher humidity (they like terrariums) but is fine with normal humidity.
Pilea should be relatively bushy, especially Pilea spruceana. They stay pretty petite despite pumping out leaves like a boss when they’re happy. The only exception is Pilea peperomioides, who do grow vertically and tree-like as they mature.
As I mention above, Pilea varieties are non-toxic to cats and dogs, but still, be mindful and keep an eye on your pets. If any leaves do get damaged, pillaged, or eaten, it’s best to trim them off.
Pilea glauca may be the only enticing Pilea to cats – I may or may not know from experience that, because it trails and is stringy, it’s therefore very enticing. Cats are the worst.