Is Pilea a Good Plant for a Beginner?
There was a time when Pilea had the unfortunate reputation of being a fussy plant. It might have been a victim of its own popularity. The plant was (and still is) so trendy on social media, that its popularity skyrocketed overnight, and so did its price (if you were lucky enough to find one for sale.)
Something so expensive has to be high maintenance, right? Fortunately, that’s not the case with Pilea plants. And even though it came down in price, mostly due to the laws of supply and demand, there’s still this misconception floating around that Pilea plants are not the most newbie-friendly plant.
We’re here to disprove this myth and talk about four different reasons why Pilea is the perfect plant for a beginner.
1. Pilea plants don’t need a lot of light.
The three main factors that influence a plant’s wellbeing are soil, water and light. If something goes wrong with the first two, it’s easier to fix. You can always adjust your watering schedule and amend the soil. However, light is the one factor that’s hard to tweak. After all, you can’t easily change the orientation of your house according to where the sun shines, or the placement of your windows.
Luckily for novice plant parents, your Pilea doesn’t require too much light. That’s not to say it will thrive in a dark corner. But compared to sun-soakers such as succulents, cacti, oxalis and marantas, Pilea plants are low-maintenance flatmates. They prefer bright indirect light, which is found in front of west-facing and east-facing windows, and a couple of feet back from south-facing windows.
An easy way to check the light in your home is by putting your hand 2-3 inches away from the wall near the light source. If your palm casts a soft shadow, then you’ve got bright indirect sunlight. If the shadow cast by your hand is dark and has a well-defined contour, then you have bright direct sunlight, which is too intense for your Pilea. Avoid placing this plant in a south-facing window, which usually gets the strongest and most direct light. In the Northern hemisphere summer, in particular, this will be too much for almost all plants except for the toughest succulents and cacti. You can find more information about the best light for your Pilea in this guide.
2. Pilea plants don’t need frequent watering.
When it comes to watering schedules, Pilea is a forgiving houseplant. This makes it a perfect choice for beginners, especially if you lean on the forgetful side of the plant-parenting spectrum.
There is no one-size-fits-all advice for watering, so the best thing you can do is observe your Pilea and your environment for clues of what works best. As a general rule, your plant will need water when the soil around the roots is dry. To tell if it’s time to water it, you can poke your finger or a chopstick into soil about two inches deep. If the soil feels dry to the touch, then your Pilea is letting you know it’s thirsty.
It’s better to err on the side of underwatering your Pilea, rather than overwatering, as too much moisture retention at root level can lead to leaf loss and root rot. We promise it’s not a hard plant to adjust to. Have a look at our in-depth guide to watering your Pilea.
3. Pilea plants are easy to propagate.
Pilea is a generous plant and very easy to propagate, even for a newbie. Ask anyone who’s ever started with one plant, only to end up with an entire Pilea family over the course of a year. Pilea does not like to be an only child, that’s for sure.
Once your Pilea reaches maturity, it will start producing babies in the form of small plantlets that pop up on the surface of the soil. You can easily remove these Pilea pups. Using your fingers, follow the new pup into the soil, and try to grab as much of the stem as possible. Then cut it off using a sharp knife or a pair of scissors. Try to also get as much of its stem as you can grab. Gently rinse the newly removed Pilea baby and place it in water. You can keep it in water forever, or transplant it into soil once it has a more robust root structure.
4. You only need to repot your Pilea once a year.
There are a few popular houseplants that require frequent repotting due to how fast they grow, with monstera deliciosa and fiddle-leaf figs as the most common examples.
On the other hand, Pilea only requires one repotting a year. This is because Pilea stays relatively compact throughout its growth and doesn’t develop a thick root structure. You won’t see a Pilea bursting out of its pot or overspilling onto your shelves in a matter of months. As we’ve mentioned in our previous point, if your Pilea is happy, it will grow baby plants that you can easily remove, which also reduces the need for frequent repotting.
Because repotting promotes plant growth and your Pilea will sprout new Pilea pups once it’s in fresh soil, we recommend you repot in spring or early summer. This is not something that the plant should waste energy on before it slows down in the fall.
However, if you notice that your Pilea has become root bound, is drying out too quickly, or has visibly outgrown its current pot, you can still also repot it in early fall. You can move your Pilea to a slightly larger container (about 1-2 inches larger in diameter).
If you’re new at this keeping houseplants business, and you’re thinking of getting a Pilea plant, we think you’ll do just fine. You have what it takes to care for a Pilea, and if you have any questions, get on our mailing list and we’ll send you tips and guides on how to make your plant baby happy.