Pilea peperomioides, often referred to as the pancake plant, Chinese money plant, coin plant, or UFO plant, is a popular houseplant thanks to its attractive coin-shaped foliage and ease of care. This flowering perennial in the nettle family (Urticaceae) is native to southern China, growing naturally along the base of the Himalayan mountains.
It is grown primarily for its unique foliage. Although it can produce small, white flowers throughout the spring months, Pilea peperomioides does not often flower when grown indoors. Learn how to grow this attractive houseplant.
|Common Name||Pancake plant, Chinese money plant, coin plant, UFO plant, friendship plant|
|Botanical Name||Pilea peperomioides|
|Mature Size||12 in tall, 8 to 12 in. wide|
|Soil pH||Acidic, neutral|
Pilea Peperomioides Care
Although this popular houseplant may be difficult to get your hands on, once you have one it is surprisingly easy to care for. Provide your Pilea peperomioides with bright light, semi-regular watering, and some light feeding in the spring and summer months and it will thrive. Plus, Chinese money plants are easy to propagate, and a healthy plant will produce plenty of offshoots which you can separate to create more plants—one of the reasons it is called the friendship plant. Share them with friends, or keep them for yourself. Once you have a pancake plant, you will never need to buy another one!
The Pilea peperomioides thrives in medium to bright indirect light. Rotate your plant regularly to keep it looking symmetrical. Avoid locations that receive harsh, direct light as it will burn the delicate leaves.
While this plant can adapt to lower light conditions; it will become leggy, grow fewer offshoots, and the coin-shaped leaves may become smaller. Overall, this plant is the healthiest and most attractive when grown in bright light conditions.
Plant your Pilea peperomioides in rich, well-draining soil. A high-quality organic potting mix that is peat-based or coir-based is best. Amend the soil with perlite to increase drainage and ensure the soil does not become waterlogged. A soil pH between 6.0-7.0 is best for this plant.
This evergreen perennial is considered to have medium water needs. Allow the plant to nearly dry out between waterings and then water well. The leaves of Pilea peperomioides will begin to droop when it dries out, which is a good indication that it’s time for watering.
Temperature and Humidity
The average household temperature and humidity are fine for the Pilea peperomioides. Where possible, avoid overly dry conditions, which usually means keeping the plant away from heating vents or baseboards.
The Chinese money plant is hardy to freezing temperatures, but when kept indoors avoid exposing it to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). However, a short period of cold exposure in the winter months may help to encourage blooming.
Pilea peperomioides benefits from monthly fertilization in the spring and summer months. Use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer for best results. For the amount to use, follow product label instructions. Avoid fertilizing during the fall and winter months when the plant has gone into dormancy.
Types of Money Plant
There are no named cultivars of Pilea peperomioide (pancake plant or money plant) commonly sold. However, you may run across several other species that are also known by the same common name money plant. Some other species known as money plant include:
- Epipremnum aureum, also known as golden pothos, is another popular houseplant.
- Hydrocotyle vulgaris, also known as marsh pennywort, is an aquatic perennial native to North Africa and Europe. It has round coin-like leaves.
- Crassula ovata, known more commonly as jade plant, also goes by the name money tree. It is a perennial succulent native to South Africa.
Potting and Repotting Pilea Peperomioides
When properly cared for, Pilea peperomioides is fast-growing and can quickly fill its pot with roots and offshoots. Yearly repotting in the early spring or summer months to refresh the soil, removing offshoots (if you wish), and upgrading the pot size is recommended.
When choosing a pot for your Chinese money plant the most important thing to take into consideration is proper drainage. In short, ensure that the pot has a drainage hole!
The plant adapts well to plastic, ceramic, and terracotta pots, although, if you choose a terracotta pot, be aware that you may need to water your Pilea more frequently as terracotta absorbs water from the soil.
Propagating Pilea Peperomioides
Fondly nicknamed the “sharing plant,” a healthy Pilea peperomioides is very easy to propagate as it readily grows offshoots. These offshoots grow up from the root system, but can also grow from the nodes along the stem of the mother plant, usually in places where old leaves have fallen off.
Once the offshoots are a couple of inches tall, it is safe to separate them from the mother plant if you wish. If you want a plant with a fuller, bushier look you can also leave these offshoots on the mother plant. Here's how to propagate from offshoots:
- To separate an offshoot from the roots of the mother plant, gently dig around in the soil to expose the roots of the offshoot, using a clean knife or pruning shears.
- Cut the main root an inch or two below the soil.
- Immediately move the cutting into some moist soil in a separate container.
- Keep the soil moist (but not waterlogged) until the new plant has established a root system in the new pot, and then resume a regular watering and fertilization schedule.
Pilea peperomioides is not prone to any particular pests or diseases, but when grown indoors it is susceptible to a variety of common houseplant pests. Keep an eye out for mealybugs, scale, fungus gnats, and spider mites, and treat accordingly if you notice an infestation.
How to Get Chinese Money Plant to Bloom
Mature Chinese money plants do sometimes flower with very tiny flowers on stalks that emerge from the base of the plant. They are not very attractive, however, and many growers simply cut them off to ensure the plant's energy goes toward leaf growth. Encouraging flowering is normally done only by growers who want to experiment with propagating by seed—which is no easy exercise.
Should you want your Chinese money plant to bloom, try moving it to a colder room for the winter months. This slight shock to the system sometimes causes a plant to send forth flowers as a means of propagating itself. It rarely happens with a plant that is happily growing in ideal conditions. And flowering usually only occurs with mature plants.
Common Problems With Chinese Money Plant
Chinese money plant is typically a fast-growing, easy-to-grow plant that is ideal for growers who don't have the time or interest in babying temperamental houseplants. Cultural problems with this plant usually can be traced to deficits in light exposure or an irregular watering routine. These problems usually manifest as leaf problems.
When the leaves of a pancake plant curl up along the edges, it can be because the plant is not getting enough bright indirect light, because room temperatures are too high, or because the room humidity is too dry. Watering too much or too little can also cause this problem.
It's quite common for the leaves on a pancake plant to signal their displeasure over environmental problems by showing discoloration.
- Yellow or brown edges on leaves are often a sign that the room humidity is too low. Leaves may also fall off.
- Browned leaves may result if your plant is getting too much direct sunlight. Remember that this plant likes bright indirect light.
- Yellowed leaves that eventually fall off indicate the plant is getting too much water.
Is Chinese money plant, aka Pilea peperomioides, easy to care for?
Pilea peperomioides (pancake plant or Chinese money plant) is easy to take care of. They need indirect light and water and, if healthy, will sprout offshoots so you can enjoy more of these plants or share them with family and friends.
What kind of light does a pancake plant need?
These plants do well in medium to bright indirect light. The leaves can burn if placed in direct sunlight.
How often should the Chinese money plant be watered?
Water a pancake plant once a week at the most. Watch for the soil to become dry and leaves to start drooping as good indications that it's time to water it.
Houseplants and Indoor Lighting. Illinois Extension