Whether you’ve bought your first Pilea Peperomioides or are debating if it’s the right type of plant for you, this Chinese money care guide will be useful. You don’t want to be that person who buys into the hype, invests in what should be a gorgeous little succulent, only to find it dead within the month.
The Pilea Peperomioides, better known as the Chinese money plant has caught the attention of many a plant lover, persuading them that this prized plant is terrific as an affordable, yet gorgeous piece of furnishing to brighten up any indoor space. Thousands of people across the US are interested in growing Pilea Peperomioides indoors.
A few years back, these were difficult to buy, but as the Chinese money plant has gone somewhat mainstream, more nurseries are propagating these, so you don’t need to scout social media begging for some cuttings to start growing your own Pilea Peperomioides plant.
The term Chinese money plant resonates with this plant species not because it’s like a mythical money tree, but because the leaves on the plant are described as coin-like. They’re not exactly round but from a distance, they do look like coins. The shape of the leaves is actually closer to a shield-shape.
Still though, Chinese money plant is the name that caught on, along with it being coined as the friendship plant and that’s in relation to the simplicity of propagation.
As the Chinese money plant is a succulent, it will sprout pups and those can easily be broken off the plant, shared with friends and family who can then go on and grow new plants of their own.
There is a few more names the plant goes by and it’s rarely it’s true name, until you go to buy one, in which case you’re looking to buy a Pilea Peperomioides plant.
Now, these plants can grow to look gorgeous, but they take a little know-how to get the plants to grow into the shape, texture and color you want. Not one with paler green colors, white polka dots, straggly stems and hung to one-side.
If you already have your plant, or are considering buying a Pilea Peperomioides plant, definitely read through this Chinese money plant care guide because it’s brimmed with useful tips explaining everything you need to know to grow a healthy Chinese money plant indoors with minimal effort and the lowest possible chance of your new Pilea Peperomioides plant dying on you.
Care for Chinese Money Plants Begins by Potting it Up Correctly
Drainage holes are crucial for any succulent plant as they do best with a good soaking once a week, rather than a little watering every few days. A well-draining soil is required, but for the water to drain, you need drainage holes in your plant pot.
Mix a Quality Potting Soil Suited to the Chinese Money Plant
You can buy cacti soil mix pre-made but like most things, making your own often results in a better quality and that’s the case with succulents. The potting soil you use needs to be well-draining, but you’re also going to need a cacti soil.
A popular soil recipe that yields good results with Chinese money plants is to make a mixture of 45% premium cacti/cactus potting soil, 50% potting mix and add in 5% of perlite.
When adding your potting mix, don’t pack your pot too tightly as that will prevent oxygenation. Loosely pack the soil into the pot.
Know the Importance of Placement
As is the case with every plant species, optimum light requirements are essential. The Chinese money plant prefers bright light for most of the day, but it cannot stand direct sunlight. For that reason, the only area of your home not to place this is on a southern facing windowsill.
For those new to indoor gardening, you may be questioning what difference it makes what direction your window faces. Different plants have different light requirements and the window placement will have a direct impact on the plant’s health.
The reason for this is the strength of the rays from sunlight and the temperature. An easy way to gauge which direction to place your plants is to remember that the sun always sets in the east, so east facing windows will get the first rays of sunlight, and those are the weakest. Temperatures and rays increase as the day goes on.
A west facing window gets about the same of light as an east facing window, but later in the day, it will be hotter. The ideal temperatures for the Chinese money plant is 70oF (27oC), so in summer months, given the sun in the west is a lot hotter by mid-afternoon, it’s likely you’ll need to move the plant to prevent leaf burn, or use a window covering to filter the sunlight.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to place these on a window ledge. As long as they get light and aren’t placed in a shaded corner, they do just fine.
Southern facing windows give the harshest sunlight and are only suitable for sun-loving plants, such as tropical plants that thrive in high temperatures. The Chinese money plant is not one of those.
For all the reason’s listed above, an east-facing window makes the ideal placement to give Pilea Peperomioides the right amount of light and maintain room temperatures indoors.
Regular Rotation is How to Make Sure Your Chinese Money Plant Grows Symmetrical
When growing any plant on a windowsill, or nearby a window to provide partial sun, plants will stretch to reach the light and that’s because the sunlight is being directed at the plant at an angle. Without rotating your plant, it won’t grow symmetrical.
If you were to be using artificial grow lights, you’d be able to encourage straight growth but with directional lighting from window placements, you don’t have that luxury.
As plants strive to get sunlight to all of their leaves and stems, they will grow towards light. The process is called phototropism.
If you don’t rotate your plants on occasion, this can cause it to grow lopsided as the light-deprived side of the plant will grow towards the window or sunlight, instead of growing directly upwards.
The other thing you’ll notice if you don’t rotate a Chinese money plant is the side getting sunlight will look healthy and with a rich green color, but the light-deprived side that’s facing inside… the color will won’t be bright green, but instead can be more yellow and it certainly won’t look vibrant.
For optimum growth and health, a Chinese money plant is best rotated either a quarter or a third every day or every other day. This makes sure there’s a balanced amount of sunlight reaching the entire plant, encouraging photosynthesis across the entire plant, rather than just one side.
The When and How of Watering a Chinese Money Plant
Chinese money plants don’t require a lot of water. You could get away with watering these just once weekly most of the year, with a little more watering needed during the hotter weather.
That being said, over watering is the leading cause of killing these types of plants. By overwatering, that means keeping the soil too moist for too long, and not in the case that you can overwater it in one go.
When watering a Chinese money plant, it’s best to give it a really good soaking. Continually pour water into the soil until you see the water drain through the drainage holes at the bottom the plant pot.
To make sure your soil never becomes too moist that it poses of a risk of drowning the plant, only water your plant when the soil is dry. Poke your finger into the soil to a depth of a couple of inches and if it’s dry, add water. If it’s still moist, leave it until it’s dry.
The type of water you use matters too. Tap water has a variety of chemicals in it, and the most dangerous of those for plants is chlorine.
If you’re using tap water, leave it in a glass or watering can for at least 24-hours to allow it to de-chlorinate. The safer alternative is to use filtered water, or distilled water.
Fertilizer Requirements for the Chinese Money Plant
One of the neat things about caring for a Pilea Peperomioides is they don’t actually need fertilizer.
You can give it a little nutritional boost if you like, but for those who find they don’t quite get the measurements right, or have in the past burned plants by feeding it too rich a fertilizer, you can skip right past the additional nutrients and the plant will do just fine.
Where fertilizers help the Chinese money plant come into its own by giving it additional nutrients it can use to produce bigger leaves. With a good soil mix and fertilizer only applied a couple of times per year, it’s possible for the plant to produce coin or shield-like shapes of up to 6” in diameter. If you really want to give your plant a unique look, definitely consider applying fertilizer.
Where it helps most is when you’re using the same pot in the plant’s second year. By that stage, your plant may require a helping hand with some additional nutrients. A 10-10-10 fertilizer applied just once a month (and diluted to half-strength) during the growing season (April to fall) is sufficient for these plants.
Chinese money plants go dormant in the winter, so don’t try to force feed them expecting them to grow after fall. They only grow during the Spring and Summer.
How to Prune or Propagate Pilea Peperomioides
Chinese money plants produce tiny pups that can be propagated to grow new plants. If you don’t want to grow new ones, you’ll need to prune the pups off to prevent the plant from becoming overcrowded.
Unless you plan on repotting your Chinese money plant into a bigger container, it’s likely there won’t be enough soil to provide the right nutrients to both the mother plant and the baby plants they produce.
Where the pups are on Chinese money plants, you want to make a cut about an inch below the leaf using a pair of sharp scissors.
To propagate any type of succulent, it’s best to use water propagation as it prevents possible pathogens and fungi from infecting young roots. The healthiest roots are propagated in water.
You can use small containers with water to propagate young pups, however, you can also use them as early display plants too by using a propagation station.
Ideally, freshly cut pups should be left in water to for a few weeks to give the roots time to mature before potting them up in the same potting mix you’re using for the mother plant.
Potting and Repotting Chinese Money Plants
Once your plant gets larger, it will be necessary to repot it. The pot your plant comes with is only going to last the first year to two years at most. The plant will outgrow it.
When repotting your plant, it’s best to gradually increase the pot size by only 2-inches at a time to prevent transplant shock. When you repot your plant, it’s crucial to keep all the growing conditions the same including the potting mix and the environment the plant is used to.
The 3 Most Prevalent Problems with the Chinese Money Plant
As with every plant, there can be problems that occur that affect the plant’s color, texture, health and growth. Fortunately, the Chinese money plant has few problems, is easy to care for and the most common problems are easy to spot.
Those common problems are curling and drooping leaves, the bottom leaves on your plant turning yellow, and the leaves forming dents.
Here’s what’s happening…
Curling and Drooping Leaves
This will happen if you over water a Chinese money plant. The simple fix is to stop watering it until the soil is dry.
As mentioned above about watering, these should only be watered when the soil is dry. Without letting the soil dry out between watering, the leaves are more likely to become droopy and curl inward.
Bottom Leaves Turning Yellow
This is related to fertilizing and while you don’t need to use fertilizer with a Chinese money plant, you may need to when the plant gets larger. The bottom leaves on this plant are the oldest so any problems with it will always show on the bottom leaves first.
When you notice the bottom leaves turning yellow, it’s an early sign of a nitrogen deficiency. If it’s not corrected, yellow leaves curling inward toward the stem, will turn brown, which is a sign they’re dying, and once they die, they fall off.
Add in fertilizer with a higher nitrogen content, or, replace the soil with a fresh potting mix that’s suitable for Pilea Peperomioides.
Dents in the Leaves
The leaves on Chinese money plants should be flat. If you’re noticing the leaves bevel inward, there’s a good chance it’s been exposed to too high a temperature.
Above 80 F will do this. You’re likely to have this problem with a south facing window as the sunlight will be too hot for the plant.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.