Do Pilea Plants Bloom?
Have you ever seen a Pilea plant in bloom? It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s a thing of beauty.
Here’s why blooming happens and how you can increase the chances of your Pilea producing tiny delicate flowers.
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Why do Pilea plants bloom?
If you were paying attention in biology class, you’ll know the answer to this question. When a plant is putting out flowers that means it’s ready for reproduction. The pollen from the male plants lands on the pistil of the female plants and fertilizes them. A pollinated plant will produce seeds that contain the genetic information necessary for creating offspring.
Plants can be monoecious (from Greek, meaning “one household” - which means that the same plant contains male and female flowers and the plant is capable of self-pollination) or diecious (“two household” - which means that the male and female flowers grow on separate plants).
So which one is Pilea? This Harvard study of plants belonging to the Urticaceae family states that Pilea Peperomioides is “often diecious, sometimes monoecious.“ So the jury is still out on whether Pilea plants can self-pollinate.
Either way, there’s no need to rely on your Pilea blooming if you want to get more Pilea babies. The best way to propagate a Pilea plant is by collecting and rooting its offshoots.
Can I force my Pilea to bloom?
You can try, but there are no guarantees.
In the cold dark months, move your plant to a colder room. We often tend to keep our homes too warm in the winter, and some of our plants (with the exception of the tropical ones) need to go through a period of dormancy when it’s cold outside. This is the plant’s internal clock that prompts it to store energy when temperatures drop and to attempt to reproduce itself when the temperatures rise again.
However, do not put your Pilea in a drafty place or somewhere where it might freeze. A cold room simply means a room that isn’t heated as much as your regular living space. About 50F should be cold enough.
Also, don’t deprive the plant of bright indirect light.
Should I remove the blooms?
Pileas are such coveted plants that most plant parents get super excited when they see one in bloom. However, you should remember from your botany class that towards the end of the blooming period, the male flowers will release pollen to settle on the female flowers for fertilization.
Because Pilea plants originate in a cold mountainous region in China, they have adapted to disseminate the pollen through a small puffing-like explosion. So the male plants burst open and spread the pollen in the surrounding environment (here’s a well-timed video of how this process looks like). If you think this amount of pollen might cause an allergic reaction to your or someone else in your household, then it’s better if you snip the flowers before they open.
What do Pilea blooms look like?
Pilea buds are bright green when they first start coming out from the tip of the stem. As the blooms grow and open, they can turn white or pale pink. You’ll see several blooms attached to a single purple stem. A Pilea plant may grow one or more flower stems.
Blooms don’t smell because they don’t need to attract bees or other pollinators to carry the pollen around. Pilea are quite self-sufficient plants and take care of that task all by themselves. That’s also the reason why the flowers haven’t evolved into a more flashy color.
What happens when the blooms are spent?
That depends on whether pollination took place. Yes, we’re going back to that biology class. If there was pollination, you’ll get seeds. Should you be so lucky, you can collect the seeds (they’re very small, so use a pair of tweezers, if needed) and place them on a paper towel in a cool dry place to dry. You’ll know that the seeds are dry if they can be easily removed from the paper towel and the towel remains dry.
Once the seeds are dry, you can store them in a small paper envelope or a small resealable plastic bag. Always write down what the seeds are and the date of collection.
Can I grow a new Pilea plant from the seeds I collected?
Yes, if you have viable seeds, you might be able to grow some Pilea. However, keep in mind the natural life cycle of the plant. To give yourself the best chances of success, sow the seeds indoors towards the end of the cold season and the beginning of spring. Pilea seeds prefer a temperature of 50-65F, and will often take a full 30 to 40 days to germinate.
You can reverse the seed-collection steps and place Pilea seeds on a moist paper towel to help the germination process. Not all seeds may be viable for germination, so overplant if you’re really keen on trying to get a new Pilea from seed.
But if you’re determined to get as many Pilea plants as possible, we still recommend the foolproof way of propagating this plant: through offshoots (Pilea pups) that shoot up under the soil from the mother plant.