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Why Is My Pilea Losing Its Leaves?

Updated: Jun 29

While some leaf loss is normal, there may be many reasons for your Pilea to lose leaves, and not all of these are good. If you suddenly see a lot of leaves falling at once, and you start losing healthy green leaves, then you might have one of the following problems. 



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You Are Overwatering

When you see leaves drooping and then falling off, your first thought might be that your plant is thirsty and needs more water. On the contrary, drooping leaves are usually a sign of overwatering, and giving the plant even more water will only make it worse.


Remember that Pilea doesn't like to be watered until the top inch of the soil feels dry. If you understand you have given your plant too much water, move the plant to a shady spot, take a look at the roots and remove any damaged ones, and repot the plant if necessary.


Also, make sure to use lukewarm water when watering. Cold water can chill the soil and injure Pilea roots, leading to root rots, leaves dropping, and even death.



You Moved The Plant To A Different Spot

If your Pilea has been recently moved to a new location, you might see some leaf loss.


Any fluctuations in temperature, light, and moisture can have hurt your Pilea, especially when the plant is transitioning from one environment to another.


For example, if you moved your Pilea outside for the summer and then brought it inside for the winter, you might see it losing some leaves. The opposite is also true: a Pilea brought outdoor for the summer may experience leaf loss.

If you decide to transition your plant outdoor, do it gradually. Same when bringing the plant indoors for the winter – start with placing the plant indoors only for a few hours a day, so that it will get slowly accustomed to the change.


Remember that generally, you want to move your Pilea the less possible. Plants become accustomed to their spot in your home and don't like to be moved around too much.

Typically, once you have found a good place for your Pilea, you'll want to keep it there.


In any case, don't worry: this kind of leaf drop is usually temporary and non-life threatening. Be patient – once your Pilea has adapted to its new site (it might take a while), you'll see new leaves growing.



Your Pilea Is Stressed Or Shocked

Transplanting, repotting or propagating might be reasons of stress for your Pilea, and consequent leaf loss. Remember that repotting can be stressful, and shouldn't be done too often.


Shock can also be a response to dramatic changes in temperature, humidity, light levels, or watering habits. 


For example, if you've just bought your Pilea from a nursery, it might get stressed once it gets home, as it's transitioning from the perfect conditions of a greenhouse to less-than-ideal household conditions.


In most cases, this kind of shock is a temporary condition; as the plant adjusts to its new conditions, its health will return.



Humidity Is Too Low

Pilea is a tropical plant, and loves humidity! When grown in the dry indoor conditions found in most home environments, it might react by losing leaves.


This happens because the plant is trying to keep its moisture by reducing the number of leaves.


A good method is placing your Pilea on a tray of pebbles kept constantly wet. You can also mist the leaves twice a week to prevent the plant from drying out, or buy a humidifier.



Your Pilea Is Hungry

Lack of nutrients can lead to leaf drop. In this case, you will notice leaves become lighter in color first, and you will have a chance to help the plant before the leaves totally turn yellow and drop.


Make sure you're using a liquid fertilizer once a month to give the plant more color, help promote strong root development and healthy foliage growth. Choose an all-purpose liquid fertilizer (20-20-20), and dilute it to half strength.



The Temperature Is Too High Or Too Low

Tropical plants like Pilea are sensitive to low temperatures and, generally, to any drafts of air.

When Pilea is exposed to drafts, it will begin to drop healthy leaves, so make sure to keep your plant away from extremes of heat and cold.


Remember to monitor the temperature not just in the room, but also around the plant, and to maintain constant ventilation.


If you placed your Pilea on a windowsill, be sure it's not exposed to chilling temperatures or extreme heat. Also, remember that, if your Pilea is exposed to the heat of a radiator or heat duct, leaf loss may occur.



Your Pilea Needs More Light

Especially during the winter, Pilea might experience some leaf-drop due to low humidity levels combined with the lack of sunlight.

Remember that sunlight is milder and mainly indirect in the winter months, even if your Pilea is sitting directly in front of a window.

If your Pilea starts to drop leaves, look for a sunnier spot, or provide artificial light.



Your Pilea Needs A Bigger Pot

If you have planted your Pilea in a pot that is too small for its size, the plant may start dropping leaves.

This happens because, probably there isn't enough room for the roots to support all the leaves the plant is trying to form, so the oldest leaves drop off. Also, since the space for the roots is inadequate, the plant may not be able to absorb enough water and nutrients.

It is recommended to repot Pilea every two years with new soil. It can be repotted a bit earlier using the same soil as well.



Bugs Have Infested Your Pilea

Insects can cause leaf drop. To exclude the possibility of infestations, take a closer look at the soil and underneath the leaves of the plant.


If you find bugs, remove manually as many insects as you can, and then apply an organic natural insecticide such as Diatomaceous earth or Neem oil for at least one week.



Remember

Don't over-worry: some leaf drop on your Pilea is normal. Older Pileas will likely drop a leaf or two occasionally. Usually, as lower old leaves fall, new leaves will form on the top. 




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