Pilea peperomioides, otherwise known as the Chinese money plant.
Pilea peperomioides, otherwise known as the Chinese money plant. patnowa

Indoor plant is now right on the money

Anyone who is interested in plants and uses social media will be aware of the indoor plant sensation that is the Chinese money plant (pilea peperomioides). This little plant has been the darling of the indoor plant kingdom for a couple of years now, which is great. What has not been great is that it has been almost impossible to buy, and in such short supply that it was ridiculously expensive.

But now, finally, you can get excellent, top quality specimens for less than half the price they were six months ago.

So, what's so great about the pilea? First, it is pretty darn cute, with perky round, bright green leaves that are held singly on stems that emerge from the main trunk. The shape of the leaf gives rise to some of the other common names for this baby, including pancake plant and UFO plant.

Second, it is easy to grow, so long as you follow two basic rules - water enough, but not too much, and put it in a position where it will receive bright indirect light but not direct sun.

Like many indoor plants, pilea will tend to lean towards a light source such as a window or glass door, and can start to look a bit unbalanced after a while. To prevent this, rotate the pot about 90 degrees every couple of weeks to keep it nice and straight.

Getting the watering right can be the hardest thing with indoor plants. We tend to overwater, or leave pots sitting in water for too long. This can cause the roots to rot, and it can also mean your potting mix will become infested with fungus gnats, a little flying critter that loves to live in decaying organic matter, and especially in too-wet potting mix.

So allow the potting mix to dry a little between waterings, and empty out any water that sits in a tray beneath the pot after watering. And remember that some plants like more water than others, so pay attention to each individual one and water accordingly.

Lots of online sites that talk about growing pilea say that it's a plant that grows quickly. Mine is still in the small pot that I purchased it in, and it hasn't grown a great deal in the three months or so that I've had it.

It has produced a few more leaves, but hasn't grown much taller. But for me, slow growing is good for an indoor plant, because it means that I don't have to keep re-potting. I'm sure if I put it in a larger pot with premium potting mix it would grow more quickly. Perhaps I'll have to get another now that they are so much more affordable, and start experimenting.

Got a gardening question? Email maree@edenatbyron.com.au