Pilea

Pilea
Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
white and green leaf pilea on mosaic table
Credit: Dean Schoeppner
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white and green leaf pilea on mosaic table

Pilea

A symphony of leaf shapes, colors, and textures gives this diverse group of houseplants tons of character. It’s challenging to choose a favorite, because each displays the intricate beauty of nature with colorful veining and texture-rich leaves that beckon you to reach out and touch them. Also called friendship plant, pilea is easy to grow in medium light, making it perfect for everywhere: desktops, nightstands, sunny tabletops, and more.

genus name
  • Pilea
plant type
height
  • Under 6 inches
  • 6 to 12 inches
width
  • 3 to 18 inches wide
foliage color
special features
propagation

Pilea Care Must-Knows

Pilea grows well in medium light but tolerates low light. This slow-growing plant will maintains its small stature for years. Don't hesitate to move your pilea around the house to see where you like it best.

Water pilea when the top inch or so of soil dries out. Like most houseplants, it's better to keep it a bit on the dry side rather than get it too wet. It grows well in humid conditions and thrives in a terrarium.

Sharing Pilea

Its common name, friendship plant, alludes to the ease of sharing pilea. You can multiply your own plants and share extras with friends. It's easy to propagate them from stem cuttings. Simply cut a young stem that has three or four leaves. Remove the leaf nearest the cut end of the stem and sink the cutting into potting mix so at least 1 inch of the stem is buried. Keep the potting mix moist and the cutting will produce roots within a couple weeks. You can also root your cutting in a cup of water first, then move it to potting mix when roots appear.

Another Favorite

In-the-know houseplant aficionados have fallen in love with Chinese money plant (Pilea peperomioides). Its almost-round, bright green leaves are held above the soil by central stems. This plant's minimalist appearance and easy-growing ways make it a favorite interior decor accent for modern homes. Chinese money plant is tough to find at nurseries. If your local nursery doesn't stock it, check online.

More Varieties of Pilea

Aluminum plant Pilea cadeirei
Credit: Marty Baldwin

Aluminum Plant

Pilea cadeirei is a well-known selection with elliptical green leaves washed with patches of silver. It is an upright grower, but you can keep it full and bushy by occasionally pinching back the new growth to promote branching.

Artillery plant Pilea microphylla
Credit: Marty Baldwin

Artillery Plant

Pilea microphylla has upright arching stems with small leaves, less than 1/8 inch in diameter. It gets its common name from the tiny flowers that "shoot" pollen.

Baby's tears Pilea depressa
Credit: Jason Donnelly

Baby's Tears

Pilea depressa is one of several plants with this same common name. It is a creeping groundcover that forms new roots where stems touch the soil. It is also called shiny creeping Charlie.

Creeping Charlie Pilea nummularifolia
Credit: Jason Donnelly

Creeping Charlie

Pilea nummularifolia is different from the lawn weed that goes by the same common name. They are similar in that they both have rounded, scalloped leaves and succulent trailing stems. However, this houseplant is not hardy in cold climates, and does not become an invasive yard pest.

Moon Valley friendship plant Pilea involucrata
Credit: Dean Schoeppner

Moon Valley Friendship Plant

Pilea involucrata has deeply cratered or corrugated foliage. Purplish maroon veins form the "valleys" with medium green "ridges" surrounding them.

Norfolk friendship plant Pilea spruceana
Credit: Dean Schoeppner

Norfolk Friendship Plant

Pilea spruceana 'Norfolk' is a low-growing plant with bronze leaves and silver markings similar to those of aluminum plant.

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