Pilea peperomioides chinese money plant

Scientific Name

Pilea peperomioides Diels

Common Names

Chinese Money Plant, Pancake Plant, UFO Plant, Lefse Plant, Missionary Plant, Mirror Grass


Podophyllum cavaleriei

Scientific Classification

Family: Urticaceae
Tribe: Elatostemateae
Genus: Pilea


Pilea peperomioides is an erect, perennial succulent, up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall, with round, dark green leaves, up to 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter, on a long petiole. The stem axis is greenish to dark brown, usually simple, often upright straight, slightly lignified at the base. In poor growing conditions, the plants lose their leaves in the lower part of the branch axis and thereby assume a very distinctive habit. The flowers are very small, whitish or pale green, sometimes tinged pink. They appear in spring on pinkish stems.

Photo via architecturaldigest.com


USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Chinese Money Plant likes bright indirect light. This plant is a relatively fast grower during the growing season from spring to fall. It should be rotated regularly to keep the main stem growing upright because the plant will turn all of its leaves towards the light.

Use well-draining potting soil and repot it when the roots are coming out of the bottom of the pot.

Water moderately during the warmer months and wait until the soil is mostly dry between waterings. If the lower leaves start to turn yellow and falling that’s a sign of overwatering.

Use half diluted all-purpose houseplant fertilizer once a month during the growing season.

This plant is very easy to propagate because it puts out baby plants through the soil. When it becomes a well-established plantlet, you can separate it from the mother plant with a clean, sharp knife and put it into moist soil (and keep the soil moist until it starts to grow new leaves) or into the water for root development.


Pilea peperomioides is native to Yunnan and Sichuan provinces in southern China.


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Pilea/Chinese Money Plant – Plant of the Month

Pilea Peperomioides (otherwise known as the Chinese Money Plant) has fast become one of the most popular house plants – and for good reason! It is easy to grow and care for with it’s beautiful dark green leaves flourishing from a single stem and eventually forming a thick canopy.

Pilea like a light and bright spot, but not to be sat in direct light as this can scorch the plants leaves. Away from any draught is also best. They like good drainage to make sure it’s roots aren’t sitting in water, a pot with holes is ideal but if you have a pot without, fill the bottom with gravel or crock. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, watering less in winter.

They’re not necessarily the easiest plant to get hold of but once you have, they’re very easily propagated by stem cuttings so you can multiply your collection. Sometimes they will grow their own miniatures which will have roots of their own already, making them easy to transplant. See below for our propagation methods!

We recently collaborated with The Botanical Workshop to create some Pilea tote bags, available at both our East Dulwich and Deptford shops. It has all the care for these lovely plants on there, so you can carry around a handy reminder!

To propagate from a stem cutting:

Propagation should take place in early Spring. Make sure to water your plant the day before you take the cuttings to ensure the stems aren’t too dry when cut.

Prepare a rooting container using a multipurpose compost that has a good rooting medium (shallow plastic or metal base with drainage holes but sealed at the top – you can improvise and use plastic bottles or buy these from a DIY store). Spray with water to dampen the soil slightly and place somewhere with bright but indirect light.

Take a cutting from your plant by choosing a mature stem and cutting at least 5cm away from the leaf. The stem can then be stuck into your rooting container, deep enough to support it’s weight but with enough room underneath for it to root. Water the cuttings and seal the container, misting only enough so the soil is moist but not soggy.

You can start checking your cuttings after about 3 weeks by gently tugging them to feel for resistance. If there is some, your plant will have formed roots and should be about 4cm long before transplanting into a new pot. Make sure to let your new plant acclimatise for a few days before exposing it to it’s new environment in your home!

To Propagate from a miniature:

As these have rooted already, you don’t need to bother with a rooting container.

Make sure the plant is big enough to grow on it’s own without the support of the main plant – the bigger the better.

Take a sharp knife or pair of scissors and follow the stem of your little plant about 1/2cm under the soil and make a sharp, clean cut. You can then place this cutting into a pre prepared pot with multipurpose compost that has been slightly dampened.

It will take a few weeks for the plant to get anchored into it’s new pot but then it should start to form new leaves of it’s own.

The Chinese Money Plant (Pilea Peperomioides) is fast becoming a popular house plant because of its low maintenance needs but the benefits it provides in air purification, easy propagation and symbolism. It is believed that placing a coin in the soil of the plant will boost the money luck for the household!

First brought to Europe from China in 1946 by a Swedish missionary, Agnar Espegren, it started to make its way to the United States. The plant was growing on the CanShang Mountains in Yunnan province and therefore, also known as the Chinese Missionary Plant.

Where to Place

The Chinese money plant loves access to bright light but not direct sunlight. Being in the sun burns its leaves, while light shade may encourage larger leaves to grow. While this may not happen here in Hawaii, a period of cool temperatures may also make money plants more likely to produce tiny white flowers on pink stems.

Care and Maintenance

The Chinese money plant is a relatively low-maintenance plant but here are some tips to keep them healthy:

  • a well-draining potting soil with drainage holes – similar to many other plants, it is critical for the soil to dry out between waterings so that the roots don’t rot
  • remember! more watering is required in warmer, sunnier weather, and since we are in Hawaii, it is almost ALL THE TIME. If the leaves start to look slightly droopy, that is a sign that the plant needs water
  • To ensure that the plant keeps a nice, balanced shape, rotate it at least once a week to prevent it from getting lopsided.
  • Since the large leaves tend to accumulate dust, regular showers or wiping down of leaves will benefit your money plant
  • Keep your plant happy with every month with an all-purpose plant fertilizer

How to Propagate

Start your collection of money plants with the first happy and healthy one!

Picture Credit: A Beautiful Mess (www.abeautifulmess.com)

  • Step 1: look for plantlets (“pups”) up through the soil, which you can separate from the mother plant
  • Step 2: when the pup is about 3″ tall (above the soil), cut the baby plant free with a clean, sharp knife
  • Step 3: here you have 2 options – place the plant in a) water or b) soil
    • a) Water (picture below)
    • b) Soil – keep the soil moist until the plant is well-anchored and begins to produce new leaves

Now, you are ready to spread the wealth!

Picture Credit: A Beautiful Mess (www.abeautifulmess.com)

Pilea peperomioides care: The best light, water, and food for a Chinese money plant

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Among the trendiest houseplants, the Chinese money plant (also known as the pancake plant or UFO plant) is adored for its unique appearance. The round, coin-sized leaves are thick and glossy. Each leaf is attached to the crown of the plant by a petiole (leaf stem) that connects directly to the leaf underside, giving it a very unique appearance. This houseplant’s tendency to create lots of small “daughter plants” that are easily separated from the parent plant means it’s a great houseplant for sharing with friends and family. To top it off, Pilea peperomioides care isn’t difficult, making this a terrific choice for houseplant lovers of all abilities.

Pilea peperomioides are easy-care houseplants, as long as you provide for a few needs.

Pilea peperomioides care requirements

Chinese money plant isn’t persnickety when it comes to its care. However there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

First, at maturity, the plant reaches about 12 inches tall with an equal width; be sure it has plenty of space to grow. If Pilea is happy, it may produce small white flowers on pink-tinged stems. You can consider your thumb very green if the plant comes into flower. That means you’ve done everything right!

Signs of a healthy plant also include leaves that are a rich green with a crisp texture. The petioles (leaf stems) of this plant are naturally long, but if the plant is receiving ample sunlight, they will not be elongated or pale in color. Another sign of a healthy Pilea peperomioides is no brown on the outer edges of the leaves. Below, I’ll share some information on what it means if the leaf margins turn yellow or brown.

If you’re wondering exactly what you need to do for Pilea peperomioides care, read on. I’ve included lots of tips for maximizing the growth and health of this popular houseplant.

The best potting soil for Chinese money plants

Chinese money plants prefer well-drained potting soil. Don’t use garden soil to plant this houseplant, and don’t buy the cheapest potting soil you can find. Instead, use a high-quality organic potting soil. One that’s based on peat moss or coir fiber is best. If you want to make your own potting soil for a Pilea peperomioides, here’s a great post that includes 6 DIY potting soil recipes, including one for houseplants that’s perfect for the job.

If you purchased your Chinese money plant from a greenhouse or nursery, chances are it’s already planted in a great potting soil, so there’s no need to repot the plant until it outgrows the pot (more on how to do this later).

Chinese money plants make a great houseplant choice for a desk, dresser, or bookshelf.

The best kind of pot for Pilea peperomioides plants

Most houseplants are purchased in plastic pots, but occasionally some nurseries sell Pileas in terra cotta pots, which can dry out very quickly. Terra cotta is very porous and should be used only for plants that prefer to be kept on the dry side. I suggest using a plastic or glazed ceramic pot for a Pilea peperomioides. If yours came in terra cotta, consider following the repotting instructions below to move it into a plastic or ceramic container.

If you like the look of a terra cotta pot but don’t want to have to water the plant all the time, do what I do. Either hide the plastic pot by displaying it inside of a decorative terra cotta pot (sneaky!) or paint the inside of the terra cotta pot with a spray sealant prior to planting your Pilea. That’s what I did and it worked great (see post photos).

No matter what your container is made of, be sure it has a drainage hole in the bottom. Pilea peperomioides do not like to have their roots sitting in water. Good drainage is key. And if there’s a saucer under the plant, make sure water doesn’t sit in it for longer than an hour or two. Otherwise root rot is the result. My watering tips later walk you through the best method of watering Pilea peperomioides plants.

Ideal light level for Pilea peperomioides

Another aspect of Pilea peperomioides care is the amount of light the plant receives. All houseplants have light level preferences based on their native growing conditions in the wild. Some houseplants prefer low light levels while others like bright, sunny locations. The Chinese money plant falls somewhere in the middle. The best light level for a Pilea peperomioides occurs in an east- or west-facing window.

Here’s how to tell if your window is an east- or west-facing window and if the light levels are prime for this particular houseplant.

  • If the sun shines directly into your window from early to mid morning, it’s east-facing (also called Eastern exposure). This exposure provides medium light and is perfect for Pilea peperomioides care.
  • If the sun shines directly in your window in the late afternoon and evening, up until sunset, it’s west-facing (western exposure). This is also moderate light, but since the sun can get quite hot in the late afternoon, it’s typically slightly brighter than east-facing. This is the second best light for Chinese money plants.
  • If the sun never shines directly into your window, it’s north-facing (northern exposure). This is very low light and is not suitable for growing this particular houseplant.
  • If the sun shines directly into your window throughout most of the day, from late-morning through mid-afternoon, it’s south-facing (southern exposure). This exposure is best for high light-loving plants (hello, succulents and cacti!).

Of course another factor is whether or not the light coming into the window is filtered. Few houseplants like sun shining directly on them, Pilea peperomioides included. Filtered light that passes through a sheer curtain or never shines directly on the plant is great. Sometimes light that’s too bright and direct can cause leaf burn on certain plants.

If you only have a window that’s north-facing and receives minimal light, consider getting a tabletop grow light to put over your Chinese money plant for supplemental light.

Pilea peperomioides do best in bright but not direct light.

How often to water Chinese money plants

How often to water a Pilea peperomioides depends on a few different factors, including the size and material of the pot, how dry your home is, and the quality of your potting soil. As mentioned before, terra cotta pots dry out quickly, so you’ll have to water more frequently. If your plant is near a forced air heat register or in a very warm room, the same will occur. Rather than watering your Chinese money plant on a schedule, feel how heavy the pot is just after you thoroughly water it. Then pick the pot up every two or three days to see how much lighter it gets. When the pot is very light (and ideally just before the plant wilts), it’s time to water.

How to water Pilea peperomioides

There’s no best way to water Pilea peperomioides, but there are certainly several wrong ways to do it. Do not leave the plant sitting in water, but don’t just sprinkle it lightly with water either. Ideally, you should take the pot to the sink and run water through the soil until at least 20% of the water that goes into the pot drains out the hole in the bottom. This helps flush out excess fertilizer salts and keeps the tips of the leaves from turning brown due to salt burn. I water my Pilea every 7 to 10 days, but your home’s conditions may mean the plant requires more or less frequent waterings. The weight of the pot is the best indicator (along with sticking your finger into the soil for a “feel test”).

The best water to use to water houseplants is de-chlorinated tap water. You don’t need to buy fancy de-chlorination tablets; simply let an open container of water sit on the counter for 24 hours for the chlorine to dissipate. You can use rainwater, too, if you have a rain barrel.

In addition to being regularly watered, Pilea peperomiodes plants also love high humidity. To increase the humidity level around the plant, especially in dry climates and homes, use a humidity tray such as this one beneath the plant’s pot.

When and how to fertilize Pilea peperomioides

When it comes to fertilizing Pilea peperomioides, don’t overdo it. Unfortunately, most houseplants are killed with kindness. You really only need to fertilize Chinese money plants once a month. And only feed the plant when it is in a state of active growth. This is typically from early spring through early fall (which is April through September, here in Pennsylvania).

Use a liquid organic houseplant fertilizer by diluting it to half of the recommended strength and then watering the plant with it. Do not fertilize a dry plant; instead water it first and then fertilize the next day.

If a white crust develops on the soil of your Pilea peperomioides, it’s a sign of fertilizer salt build up. If this occurs, hold off on your fertilization for a few months. In addition, make sure you’re flushing water through the pot each time you water. Evidence of salt buildup also shows up as a white crust on the outside of terra cotta pots.

If a white crust develops on the soil of a houseplant, it likely means a salt build up in the soil.

How to divide Pilea peperomioides

Another important aspect of Pilea peperomioides care is regular division to keep the plant from being crowded in its pot. Happy plants produce small daughter plants called offsets or pups. They grow from the root system a few centimeters away from the base of the mother plant. These offsets should be separated when they’re an inch or two tall.

To divide Pilea peperomioides offsets, dig down into the soil at the base of the offset to expose the roots. Then use a sharp pair of needle-nose snips to separate it from the parent plant. Each little offset doesn’t have to have many roots, but there should be at least a few there. When dividing Chinese money plants, you don’t have to uproot the entire plant, but you certainly can, if it makes the job easier.

Immediately pot up the offsets into new pots of fresh soil. If you accidentally break the roots off of one of them, put the base of the broken offset in a little cup of water. This generates new root growth. Once you see roots form, you can pot that one up, too. Or, you can sink the base of the broken offset into a pot of potting soil. Keep it moist. Eventually new roots will form below the soil as if it were a stem cutting, instead of an offset.

Thankfully Pilea peperomioides is very easy to divide in this manner, which is why it has yet another common name: the pass-along plant. People have been sharing offsets of this great little houseplant plant with friends, family, and neighbors for generations.

The small offset popping up out of the soil near this mother plant will need to be separated when it’s a few inches tall.

Potting up a Chinese money plant

The last task when caring for Pilea peperomioides is called potting up. When your plant gets crowded in its pot, it’s time to transplant it into a larger pot. You’ll know it’s time to move your plant up to the next size pot when it dries out quickly, when the roots circle around inside the pot, or when there are so many offsets that they’re filling the pot.

When potting up a Chinese money plant, choose a new pot that’s just one or two inches larger in diameter than the old pot. If your Pilea was in a 6-inch pot, pot it up to an 8-inch and so on.

Tip the plant out of its old pot and gently loosen the roots. This is especially important if the roots are circling around inside the pot. Prune off any rotten or damaged roots. Spread the roots out into the new pot and fill in around them with fresh houseplant potting soil. Do not bury the plant any more deeply in its new pot than it was in its old pot. Aim for the exact same level. And, do not fertilize newly transplanted houseplants for at least 3 months after the process to avoid burning developing tender new roots.

Dividing and propagating Chinese money plants is a fun job, and it gives you lots of new plants to share with friends.

For more information on Pilea

As you can see, Pilea peperomioides care isn’t overly challenging. Just remember to give the plant optimum light, water, and nutrition. With a bit of skill and a little luck, you’ll be passing baby Pileas along to friends soon enough!

If you’d like to learn more about growing Pilea peperomioides, here are some of our favorite houseplant-related books:

  • Houseplants and Grow in the Dark by Lisa Steinkopf, the Houseplant Guru
  • Plant Parenting by Leslie Halleck
  • The New Plant Parent by Darryl Cheng
  • How Not to Kill Your Houseplant by Veronica Peerless

And for more on growing houseplants, check out these articles right here on Savvy Gardening:

  • How to repot a Phalaenopsis orchid
  • Fertilizing houseplants 101
  • The best plants for apartments
  • Caring for air plants
  • Houseplant pests and how to get rid of them

Have you grown a Chinese money plant? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below.

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The Feng Shui Money Tree

The Feng Shui Money Tree or Money Plant is a symbolic tool that is used attract wealth, money, and prosperity into your life. The magic is in the symbolism, not the plant!

Anything you use as a reminder of your intention becomes a “symbol” – a representation of something greater than the object itself. Using symbolism in your environment helps to keep your energies focused on those things you wish you invest your life in.

Where to place your Feng Shui Money Tree

Place your Money Tree in any area in which you wish to increase abundance – kitchen (health), office (business), library (knowledge)….etc.

The best location otherwise is in the far left corner of the room from the door. This is the “wealth” area of the room, where the energies bringing prosperity into your life will pool and flow.

Trees and Plants and Statues … oh my…

There is some confusion about what a money tree is as there are three different items that are consistently called a “money tree”…

Pachira Aquatica ~ “Money Tree”

The plant most commonly referred to as a Money Tree is the Pachira Aquatica, a tropical plant that is popularly sold with the trunks braided and often decorated with red ribbons or coins.

The shape of the leaves – with five leaflets attached to one Leaf – represent the five elements of Chinese Feng Shui. See my article on Feng Shui Elements for more information.

By having several plants in one pot and braiding them, you can enhance the idea of holding onto the wealth. The most common way is to have 8 plants braided into a “cage” to “capture” the wealth.

These are tropical plants and prefer moisture, warmth and diffused light. They are easy to grow and while often kept small or even in bonsai size, they can grow to 15 feet with a 10 foot leaf span.

Cresol Ovate ~ Jade ~ “Money Plant”

The Jade plant, the Cresol Ovate, is also called a “Money Plant or Tree.” It is a succulent with small pink or white flowers and plump leaves.

The leaves are rounded, which look similar to and thus represent coins – which enhances their attracting money and wealth.

Jade plants are incredibly hearty plant able to withstand heat and sun and drought to some degree – all of which amplify the idea of your wealth surviving difficult conditions as well.

Coin & Jade Trees

Many people prefer the use of a metal, sculpture-like tree with ornamental characters around the base and coins or pieces of jade hanging in the branches as if they were leaves.

Jade is considered a lucky gemstone and used for this purpose. Sometime citrine is used as well as it energetically attracts wealth.

Coin Trees often have Chinese coins hanging in the branches and liberal use of red ribbons.

A Note on Feng Shui & Symbolism

Keep in mind that as a symbol of your intention to attract wealth, any lush and healthy plant can be called a “Money Tree.” The idea being that your wealth is well rooted and growing in a vibrant manner.

And for that manner, anything you designate as your “lucky” item is in itself not the bringer of luck, but a reminder of the fact that you are an infinite being living in an infinite universe and abundance is your true nature.

Any space, especially smaller spaces, can be made more enjoyable with the addition of a Chinese money plant. Chinese Money Plants, also known by their proper name Pilea Peperomioides, are stunningly beautiful little plants that are well known for their positive energy as well as their great looks. They are believed to be good luck by people in southeast Asia, especially in matters of finance or success. The perky little plant has small round leaves that are colored a rich vibrant green and resemble coins. The plant also goes by other names such as the UFO plant, and more commonly in North America, the Missionary Plant.

Just like every living thing, your plants have special needs that evolve over time. For this particular type of plant, the watering needs will vary greatly depending on where you place the plant, and how much sunlight it gets. Other factors that will have an effect on the amount of watering that this plant will need are the humidity, presence of air conditioning, and the amount of air flow around the plant.

When Should You Water Your Chinese Money Plant?

Most of the time watering your Chinese water plant once a week is sufficient, however, there may be times when you need to adjust that schedule to water a little more often (a couple of times a week) or a little less often (maybe once every ten days). You should be mindful to watch how the plant reacts to watering and use this as a guide to making your adjustments.

Here are some important care steps:

Watering Your Chinese Money Plant

Slowly pour water around the center of the plant and let it filter down the base. If the water flows down the outside of the root ball, the roots will still be dry. That may mean the plant was watered too quickly, or with too much water at once. Your goal when watering Chinese Money Plants is to get water into the roots. Sometimes, you can facilitate this by simply poking holes into the gravel or soil around the plant using a knife or pencil. Use your finger to check the moisture level of the soil, and add more water if it feels bone dry. You will get the hang of the right feeling soon!

Nourishing Your Chinese Money Plant

Use simple fertilizer to keep your Chinese Money Plant Nourished. It should be diluted and used during spring and early fall, which is this plant’s growing season. Apply it about once a month.

Trim off Dead or Dry Leaves

This is a normal part of the plant’s life cycle. It’s the right time to do so when you begin to see dead leaves in the bowl of the plant.

Everything You Need to Know About Chinese Money Plants

Many individuals have similar questions about the proper care, love, and maintenance of their Chinese Money Plants. We are experts in botanical art, and biophilic design, and are more than happy to help those plant owners learn how to properly take care of their botanical friends. Here at Plant the Future we love Chinese Money Plants and are ready to answer all of your questions. You can use our contact form to get in touch with us, and we will get back in touch with you as fast as possible.

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