10 Questions You Have About Pilea Answered
Updated: Jun 29
Here at Pilea.com we get lots of messages every day, and we do our best to provide answers to Pilea lovers from all around the world. For this reason, we have listed some of the most common questions we have received from our readers. Whether you are a beginner or just looking to up your Pilea game, these answers will have you covered!
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1. Why isn't my Pilea producing babies?
First thing first, make sure your plant is in good shape by checking the root system, since damaged roots can cause new growth to be wilting or dying.
Healthy roots usually look white, numerous, hardy, and long enough to hold the soil in the shape of the pot. They should not be brown, mushy, or crumbly. Every once in a while, remove the plant from its planter and cut away any circled or tangled root.
If the roots look healthy, make sure your plant is receiving the right care. Are you giving Pilea the right amount of water? Is your plant receiving indirect light only? What's the temperature in the room where you placed the plant? Is there enough humidity around your Pilea?
Remember that regularly feeding your Pilea is crucial to enhance growth; it will also give more color to the plant. You can feed the soil with a liquid fertilizer once a month to help promote strong root development and healthy foliage. Use only all-purpose liquid fertilizer (20-20-20) diluted to half strength.
If you want, you can consider chopping off the top of your plant. Your Pilea will find fresh energy to grow in a new direction – up, down, out, or with new pups. Watch this clip to find out more!
Also, be sure not to cover the soil with any rocks or decorative pebbles, so the plantlets can comfortably pop up through the soil.
It's also important to pinch your plant regularly – removing brown or yellow leaves will encourage new growth.
Don't forget that the best period for babies to grow is in spring. That's when the plant grows the fastest and makes most of the babies. On the other hand, your Pilea might get a little bit lazier during the fall and the winter, and slow down on its growth. Be patient, and wait until next spring!
2. How can I increase humidity levels around my plant?
Since Pilea prefers 40-60% humidity higher than most of our homes, it's essential to find ways to increase the moisture levels around your plant, especially during the fall and winter.
Besides misting your plant regularly, you can also place your Pilea together with your other plants, and put a dish of water in the center (or a small watering can full of water).
Another method is creating a humidity tray. Place a layer of pebbles in a tray, add water until the pebbles are quite covered and set the plants on top. As the water in the tray evaporates, it increases the moisture around the plant.
Placing your Pilea in areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms is also a great idea: they all tend to have more humidity.
However, the best choice is to get a humidifier: good for the plants but also good for humans, and it will add the extra humidity your plant needs.
3. What's the right way to water Pilea?
It's important to avoid splashing the leaves when you water your plant. Make sure the spout of your watering can is below the leaves and aimed only at the soil. If you prefer, you can try bottom watering and see how your Pilea reacts. Place the plant in a drip tray about 2cm (3⁄4in) deep and fill it up. Leave the plant there for 20 minutes – eventually, the water will be drawn up into the dry root ball. Do it until no more water is drawn up, then remove and drain.
To keep your plant full and lush, water evenly all the way around the pot. Water thoroughly until water drips out the bottom of the pot.
Pilea doesn't like its roots to be kept wet. After watering thoroughly, wait a few minutes to allow the water to drain into the saucer, then discard any excess water to avoid soggy soil.
Keep in mind that and tap water may be too alkaline. You can fill an open container and let the water sit for about a day – it will allow the chemicals to evaporate. Even better, you can consider placing a container outside to catch rainwater, (don't choose this option if you live somewhere that has acid rain). Melted snow is also a good option.
In any case, you should always use lukewarm water.
Mornings are the best time to water your plants! Watering at night can cause your plant to develop diseases since it won't have time to dry out before the temperature cools.
4. Should I water every week?
Well, maybe. You might find yourself watering your Pilea every week, but it shouldn't be just because your schedule told you so.
Although it may be easiest to water on a set routine, it's your plant that will tell you when it's the best time for some water!
Use the "once a week schedule" as a reminder to check on your plant. Look at the soil, touch it. If it's still moist, don't water it.
5. What's the best spot for my Pilea?
Pilea likes to receive a lot of bright, cheerful, indirect light from North-facing or East-facing windows. Use sheers or blinds if facing South or West windows.
Make sure to leave enough space between your Pilea and the light source.
Avoid placing your plant in corners or under stairwells, where it will get little or no natural light. Pilea is not a low-light plant and needs consistent light to perform photosynthesis and get the energy it needs to thrive.
You can bring your Pilea outside to the patio in the summer, but keep it in a shaded area!
6. Can I grow my Pilea with a lamp?
Yes! If your home gets too dark, you can consider adding some artificial lighting.
Pilea will need to stay about 8-12 hours under the lights every day.
LED and CFL bulbs work great; choose one that has a minimum 1000 Lumens of output, and make sure to place the lamp about 1-3 feet away from the plant!
7. Why isn't my Pilea growing bigger?
Firstly, make sure you are pinching off brown or yellow leaves regularly: it will encourage a bushy plant.
Also, be sure your Pilea is receiving proper care by checking the amount of water, light, and humidity the plant gets, and by keeping a consistent feeding schedule.
Keep in mind that placing your plant into a big pot won't necessarily make your plant grow bigger. Indoor plants do best when their container is balanced in size with the size of the plant and its roots. If your pot is too large for the plant, there is too much soil surrounding the roots. When you water your plant, it will stay wet too long and become more susceptible to root rot.
8. My Pilea leaves are drooping. Should I water?
How tempting it is to water your plant when it looks sad! Well, that's not always a good idea, especially with Pilea.
While it is true that most plants show signs of wilting when they get thirsty, Pilea often shows drooping or curling leaves due to overwatering.
Before risking to drown your plant, do a quick inspection. Does the plant receive enough light? Are there any visible bugs? Is the soil still wet? Did you feed the plant during the last 30 days? What's the temperature around the plant? Also, inspect the roots and make sure they are healthy.
Always touch the soil before watering: stick your finger in the first top inch of the soil. If it's dry, then your Pilea probably needs water!
If you prefer, you can use a soil moisture gauge, a great tool for those who tend to overwater. It's inexpensive (it costs less than $20) and extremely easy to use. You just insert it directly into the soil, and the display will tell you whether it's dry, moist, or wet.
9. How do I prune Pilea correctly?
Start by locating all yellowing or brown leaves. Then, just by using your hands, pinch the leaves at the base – near the stem or at the soil. Never tug the leaves, as this could damage the plant.
Don't forget to remove any fallen leaves from the soil, as they can attract pests and create an environment for mold to thrive.
Be sure not to remove more than 20% of the entire plant. If you need to trim more, consider pruning in stages.
We recommend to remove dead or dying leaves from your plant regularly: it will promote healthy growth and prevent mold and pests!
10. Pests have invaded my Pilea!
Should I repot and change the soil?
Don't! Gnats usually hide underneath the leaves, and then they invade the soil. If you repot, you will end up carrying the gnats into the new soil.
Apply either Neem Oil or Silicon Dioxide (also known as Diatomaceous Earth - a type of powder) for seven days; both products are organic insecticides that can be found in most garden centers and are perfectly safe.
Spray the oil or sprinkle the powder on your plant, so that there is a light layer on the leaves and the soil. The bugs will walk through it and die shortly after contact.
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