By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
There are many wonderful houseplants available to the interior gardener. Friendship houseplants are beloved for their fuzzy, quilted foliage and ease of care. Pilea involucrata is a tropical plant that needs warm temperatures and consistent humidity to thrive but other than that, this plant’s needs are basic. Read on to learn how to care for a friendship plant for an appealing textured foliage specimen that is sure to brighten up your home.
Pilea Friendship Plants
Friendship plant bears its name due to the rapid rooting of cuttings that can be established for new plants to give to friends and family. This cute little Pilea will get about 6 inches (15 cm.) high and rarely up to 12 inches (30.5 cm.). It is useful in low light situations, although it does need several hours a day of sunlight. With proper care, this little gem might even favor you with its pale pink flowers. Widely available at most nurseries and one-stop shopping centers, friendship houseplants just keep on giving year after year.
Pilea friendship plants have velvety leaves that are deeply crinkled and veined. Leaves are oval, paired, and have striking bronze accents. Most cultivars do well as trailing plants but can be pinched back for a more bushy habit. Save those cuttings, which will root easily to produce more of this charming foliage plant.
Small clusters of tiny blush pink flowers may appear in summer. This plant is native to Central and South America where it grows in abundance in open tropical forest edges.
How to Care for a Friendship Plant
Friendship plant care is listed as low maintenance. Provided you give the plant at least 6 to 8 hours a day of light (but not direct sunlight), ample humidity, and evenly moist soil, this small houseplant will thrive.
Temperatures must be between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-23 C.) and avoid placing the plant near heaters or drafty windows.
Keep the plant a little drier in winter and suspend fertilizing until spring. Use a liquid plant food diluted by half monthly from spring to summer.
Pilea friendship plant should be repotted every few years. Pinch back unwanted growth as necessary. These are easy to grow and have no notable disease problems and few, if any, insect pests.
Growing Friendship Plants from Cuttings
If you wish to try growing friendship plants from pinched stem tips, harvest them in spring.
Place stems in moistened potting mix and firm the soil around the stem so it stands upright. Place the whole pot in a plastic bag to hold humidity and the entire contraption in a medium light situation.
Check the soil occasionally and moisten it as necessary but avoid boggy soil, which could rot the stem fragment before it can send out roots. Remove the bag once per day so air can get in and circulate around the plant.
The cuttings root easily and should form in just a matter of weeks. You will then have plenty of these plants to share, gift, or hold onto for your own enjoyment.
This article was last updated on
Read more about Pilea Plants
Pilea Peperomioides Care | How to Grow Chinese Money Plant
Pilea peperomioides, commonly known as a Chinese money plant, is famous for its coin-shaped, round green leaves. Giving it as a gift to people is common in Chinese culture, and why shouldn’t it be, after all, it has the capability to transform any space completely! This cheerful plant is fast-growing and easy to maintain as long as you everything about the Pilea Peperomioides Care!
Botanical Name: Pilea peperomioides
Common Names: Pancake plant, UFO plant, Missionary plant, Chinese money plant
USDA Zones: 9b to 11b
Check out our article on Anthurium plant care here !
How to Care for a Friendship Plant
Friendship plants are green, leafy plants that are generally successful when cultivated indoors. These low-maintenance houseplants require little water and only partial sunshine, making them one of the simpler plants to keep alive. Friendship plants have meaty, gray-and-green-striped leaves that store water for later use. For this reason, they can survive droughts and extreme heat. However, they are very sensitive to cold temperatures and must be kept indoors and away from drafts in the winter months.
Plant rooted friendship plants in pots that have drainage holes in the bottom. This will keep the roots from becoming saturated with moisture.
- Friendship plants are green, leafy plants that are generally successful when cultivated indoors.
- Friendship plants have meaty, gray-and-green-striped leaves that store water for later use.
Water friendship plants once a week, soaking the dry soil until water runs out of the hole in the bottom of the pot. They store water in their wide leaves, and therefore do not require any more moisture than that.
Place friendship plants in areas that get partial sunshine, such as near a window. Make sure they aren't too close to the window during the winter months. Friendship plants are sensitive to the cold, and the chilled glass could damage their leaves.
Move friendship plants to a humid area, such as a kitchen or bathroom, during the coldest winter months. Because they are tropical plants native to Central and South America, friendship plants do require a certain degree of humidity to grow.
How to Grow Friendship Plant
In their native environment, friendship plants grow along the edges of the forest so they like partial shade. Keep your plant away from sunny windows. If you have a room with windows that face north, that should provide them with just the right amount of light.
Humidity is the key to keeping your plant happy and healthy. Our homes are too dry for them so you will have to provide humidity. The simplest way to do this is to house it in a terrarium. Terrariums are collections of plants that grow in sealed containers. The idea is that you water the plants and then seal the container. They then become a self-sustaining little world where the water is constantly recycled between the plants and the soil and the atmosphere inside making for a very humid environment, perfect for your friendship plant. Terrariums are usually planted with small plants and decorative items to make them look like miniature gardens.
Another alternative is to mist your plant every day. Misting every day covers the leaves with fine water droplets that provide humidity as they evaporate.
Or you can make a humidity tray to provide constant humidity similar to a terrarium. To make a humidity tray, take a shallow pan like a jelly roll pan and fill it with ornamental or aquarium gravel. Fill the tray with water and set your plant on top of the gravel. Don’t put it in the gravel. It has to remain on top of the gravel. The water in the pan will evaporate, creating humidity around your plant. Check the tray frequently and replenish the water when it is close to drying out.
Even though you are providing a humid environment, if your plant is not growing in a terrarium, you will need to water it. Water just enough to keep the soil moist but not soaking wet. Don’t let the soil dry out. Your plant could die because it needs both water and a humid environment.
If your plant is growing outside of a terrarium, you will need fertilize it to replace the nutrients that are being washed out of the soil every time you water. Fertilize it monthly using a balance 10-10-10 fertilizer diluted to half strength. Do this during the spring and summer when the plant is actively growing. Suspend fertilizing during the fall and the winter when the plant is resting.
What Are the Benefits of a Pilea Plant?
The first thing you’ll notice about the Pilea Plant is its one-of-a-kind appearance. The thin, springy stems with large, circular leaves at the end give it an exotic look that will boost any decor it’s in. This is the perfect plant to have in the living room to add some life or in an office to give the space some inspiration.
The Pilea Plant is the perfect office buddy! Not only do plants purify the air and keep you feeling refreshed and healthy, but having a colorful, living thing can make you feel closer to nature. This will make you feel inspired, creative, and focused. Maybe add a Pilea Plant near where you do yoga as well for extra inspiration.
The Pilea Plant became popular in China before it spread everywhere else. This is where it got its nicknames, the Coin Plant and the Chinese Money Plant. It’s believed that the Pilea Plant will give your household better luck with money! To inspire financial success, place a coin in the Pilea Plant’s pot on top of the soil.
We definitely can’t promise you any riches, but it’s worth a shot!
If you like unusual houseplants for terrariums or stand-alone plants that are conversation (and Instagram) worthy, then you need to take a closer look at the exotic members of the Pilea family.
Native to South and Central America, this diverse family of more than 700 species has one common characteristic: uniqueness. If you like metallic splashes of color, knubbly leaf texture, and interesting leaf/stem arrangement (like the spacy Pilea peppermoides), then take a deep dive into this remarkable plant group.
Heavy metal coloration
A number of pilea varieties display metal colors, such as bronze and silver. For example, Aluminum plant (Pilea cadierei minima) earns its common name because its green leaves feature stripes of silver variegation.‘Silver Tree’ pilea (Pilea spruceana 'Silver Tree') has lovely bronze-color leaves that are streaked with silver. Norfolk Friendship plant (Pilea spruceana ‘Norfolk’) produces lovely bronze-brown leaves that are striped in silver.
There are pilea varieties that draw attention because of their deeply textural leaves. ‘Moon Valley’ pilea has deep cratered green leaves (hence the name) that are flushed with reddish purple. And the leaves of ‘Dark Mystery’ pilea features distinctive saw-toothed edges.
Pileas offer lots of different leaf shapes. The quirky Pilea Sharing Plant™ (Pilea peperomioides) features perfectly round leaves that look like little lily pads. Artillery plant has tiny leaves. This plant’s Latin name is Pilea microphylla microphylla means “small leaves.” Other pilea varieties, such as Aluminum plant pilea feature flat almond-shape leaves.
Terrarium plants, dish gardens, hanging plants
Other pileas grow in a variety of plant forms which makes them adaptable for specialty projects such as terrariums or dish gardens. Artillery plant (Pilea microphylla) is small in stature with tiny green leaves.. Or try Glauca pilea (Pilea libanensis or Pilea glauca) which can be a groundcover or hanging plant it has small green leaves with a silvery-blue sheen.
Shopping for pilea
Look for plants with healthy firm leaves and stems. Avoid plants with yellow leaves which may have been over or under watered.
Although many of the different varieties of pilea look very different from one another, they are easy to grow. These plants are generally slow growing which makes them ideal for terrariums or other small-space uses. Here are some other elements of caring for pilea that you need to know:
Regardless of their leaf shape, texture, or color, peperomia do best in medium light. This means they like filtered light from west- or east-facing windows. You can try them in higher or lower lighting, and they may do fine.
Pileas like most houseplants, don’t like to be overwatered. Too much hydration can cause their roots to rot in wet soil. Do a soil moisture test with your finger wiggle a finger into the soil down about an inch. If it is dry, it’s time to water. Avoid watering the leaves instead, direct water at the base of the plant. For easy watering in a single pot, use a Wick & Grow ™ system which waters from the bottom of the plant, allowing the plant to wick up water as it needs it.
Pilea prefers temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees F. Keep plants away from cool drafts from doors and windows or hot blasts from heating vents or fireplaces.
To keep plants healthy, feed with houseplant food in the spring and summer. Follow application directions. Don’t over feed.
To take a look at all the pilea varieties, click here.