5 Things To Check Regularly If You Want A Healthy Pilea
Whether you’re a new plant parent or an experienced plant keeper, you have probably experienced losing a houseplant to either bugs, an erratic watering schedule, or an overall incompatible environment.
We understand that having a houseplant die is both frustrating and costly. Not to mention the fact that troubleshooting a sick houseplant is often time-consuming and not guaranteed results.
That’s why we are big believers in the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When it comes to houseplants, it’s better to be proactive and take a holistic approach to caring for them, rather than being in constant troubleshooting-mode.
So here’s our advice to you: do a quick ten-minute round every couple of weeks to check that you have a healthy Pilea.
Here are five things you should do regularly to make sure your Pilea is happy!
1. Check your Pilea’s foliage
Healthy Pilea leaves should be green and flat. If your Pilea’s leaves are yellow, that may be a symptom that you’re watering too much or not watering enough. Don’t worry if this is the case: it can be fixed.
Another issue that might cause yellowing leaves is insufficient sunlight. If you suspect this is the case, then move your plant to a place where it can get indirect light.
On the other hand, if the leaves are brown, your Pilea might be getting sunburnt. You should move it away from direct sun and pinch the leaves that are affected. One thing you should know is that once a leaf turns yellow or brown, it will not turn green again. So gently pinch it off the mother plant to redirect the plant’s energy back into new growth.
2. Check your Pilea for infestation
Plant parents might have that very unpleasant surprise of noticing a bug infestation that has seemingly appeared overnight. But that’s rarely the case.
Infestation is a gradual process and it may take days or even weeks before damage to the plant becomes visible. It just seems like it has happened overnight because we’re not in the habit of closely inspecting our houseplants.
Here are the most common pests that your Pilea may attract and a short note on how to identify them:
- Aphids (green, pear-shaped and juicy in appearance);
- Mealybugs (small, white and powdery-looking);
- Spider Mites (these look like minuscule spiders and you’ll notice webs under the leaves);
- Whiteflies (resembling powdery, white tiny moths).
When you check your Pilea for an infestation, make sure to look on the surface of leaves, underneath the leaves, along the stem, and where the stem meets the soil. If you want to be really thorough, you should do this in full daylight and use a magnifying glass.
What should you do if you find pests attacking your Pilea? Here’s a guide we put together to help you fight these pesky bugs.
Check the roots when you’re repotting
Healthy roots are the best indication of a healthy plant. First, check to see if your plant is root-bound. To do this, lift the plant and see if there are any roots growing out of the drainage holes. If your plant has roots bursting outside the bottom of the pot, it’s time to upgrade to a larger pot.
When you’re repotting, take some time to do a more thorough inspection. Remove any roots that feel soft and slimy. Check for root rot and remove any damaged root structures.
And while a visual inspection is better than nothing, now it’s the time to put your nose to the ground… Sometimes even literally. Smell the old potting soil carefully and from a safe distance. Does anything smell off? If the soil has become waterlogged, it will have a musty odor. This is a sign that you have been watering too much.
There's no need to worry. An overwatered Pilea can still be saved, so have a look at this guide on how to fix this issue.
4. Check for soil aeration
If you want a thriving and healthy Pilea, don’t forget to check if the soil is properly aerated. The roots of your Pilea need access to oxygen too, and a soil that has become compacted makes your plant more prone to root rot.
Does the soil feel hard to the touch? Then you need to aerate it before you water your plant. Simply insert a chopstick or another blunt instrument into the soil and gently dislodge any clumps of soil. Repeat every three inches until you’ve covered the entire surface of the pot. We explain soil-aeration in depth in this post!
5. Dust and rotate your Pilea
This may seem like a no-brainer to some people. You dust your furniture, after all, so clearly houseplant surfaces also need a bit of dusting every now and then. But We have met plant owners who confessed to never having dusted their plants. Don’t be that plant parent, ok?
When you do your weekly or monthly inspection, use a damp cloth to wipe down the individual leaves on your Pilea. Too much-accumulated dust will clog your plant’s pores, and if the layer gets too thick, it may even interfere with photosynthesis.
However, you should do this dusting step last, after you check all the other steps off your list. That’s because if you start with dusting, and one of your plants has undetected pests, you risk spreading these bugs to all your other plants.
Once your Pilea leaves are clean and shiny, it’s time to rotate your plant to ensure even growth. Pilea plants have a tendency to send all of their leaves in one direction - towards a natural source of light. So rotating your Pilea will help it grow more evenly and less leggy. However, make sure you rotate incrementally (10-15 degrees every time) and never shock your plant by having it face away from the light all of a sudden.
Taking ten minutes to do a quick check of your Pileas every couple of weeks will pay off in the long run. And who doesn’t love bragging about their healthy and thriving Pilea?