Plantlet cuttings – Little pups (plant babies) grow from the main stem and pop out of the soil around the mama plant. Wait until they are 2-3 inches tall, then use sterilized scissors to cut the stem away from the mother. Plant baby in soil or let root in water. It may take a month to establish fully.
Bright, indirect (filtered) light.
When the top two inches of soil are dry.
Slow to medium
60% and above
Known as the Chinese money plant, pancake plant, UFO plant, friendship plant, and missionary plant, Pilea peperomioides foliage inspires the imagination. It features dark-green, glossy, round leaves that look like pancakes, large coins, or UFOs. The stems attach near the center of the leaf, an uncommon development among houseplants.
The stem is dark brown, upright, and unbranched. The leaves grow alternately up the stem to create a broad, outstretched appearance. Each leaf stem is spindly thin, with one round leaf at the end of each one. Chinese money plants average 8-12 inches tall and wide. The rounded leaves grow up to 4” in diameter.
This houseplant is one of the easiest to care for as it grows with minimal care or fuss. All it needs is adequately bright, indirect light and regular watering, and it will explode outwards. It does need to be rotated regularly to keep the growth even. Pilea peperomioides circular leaves are like little satellites – make sure they're receiving enough light, and the plant will thrive.
Chinese Money Plant Maintenance
Besides light and water, this houseplant benefits from being repotted every year or two. It will expand to fit its space, so if you want it to get bigger, move it up to a size larger container. Young plants start with thinner foliage, so you have to be a little patient in the beginning.
During the cold or winter months, the money plant growth slows down. This is normal. It more than makes up for it by often doubling or tripling in size once the weather warms up.
If you notice the leaves are curling, it is a sign the plant is stressed out. This is most often caused by a watering issue. Leaves that are curled down are getting too much water and are attempting to expand to accommodate the excess. Leaves curled upwards are a result of underwatering. The plant is trying to reduce its leaf surface to prevent water loss.
Overwatering is a common issue because the foliage holds quite a bit of water, and it is easy to overdo it without realizing it. Only water when the top 2-3 inches of soil are dry.
Pilea peperomioides leaves have little white spots on them called stomata. These spots are actually pores and completely normal. They play an essential part in photosynthesis.
The Pass It On Plant
Pancake plants were known as pass-it-on-plants long before social media brought them into the spotlight. They earned this name from being extremely easy to propagate. Little pup plantlets pop up around the mother plant regularly and with little effort from the grower, creating a constant supply of plant babies. Amateurs and hobbyists shared their plantlets, and the little Pilea found its way worldwide through houseplant enthusiasts. However, even though it was popular, it wasn't widespread.
This Pilea was first collected in southern China in 1906 by a German botanist. These specimens were described, cataloged, and then forgotten. Then, in 1945, a Norwegian missionary brought a cutting back from China – a journey that took him a year and in which the little Pilea cutting survived. From there, he grew it and gave the plant babies to friends across Europe.
They weren't commercially cultivated until the late 2010s, yet so many people already had a plant thanks to friends. Avid collectors and plant enthusiasts knew about them, but the general public hadn't quite discovered them until recently.
A fascinating part of this story is that for quite a while, no one knew what exactly this houseplant was or where it originated. Due to its roundabout appearance on the houseplant scene so many years after its first "discovery," the species' name didn't get passed on with the plantlets. It wasn't until the late 1970s that a Kew botanist figured out the houseplant with funny round leaves was the same plant the German botanist described many years ago.
Plants dropping their lower leaves and only growing foliage at the top aren't receiving enough light. You can leave plantlets around the main plant to create a fuller appearance.