We independently select everything we recommend. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.


Pilea: Low-Maintenance, Popular Houseplants

Pileas are popular, easy-to-care-for indoor plants. With more than 600 species to choose from, you can find a Pilea to brighten any space in your home or office.

Other names for this plant...

Pancake Plant Chinese Money Plant UFO Plant Missionary Plant Coin Plant Coin Tree Money Tree

About Pilea

A unique and trendy plant genus that is rising in popularity for many reasons, Pilea houseplants have many benefits. Known for their air purification abilities and reputed to bring good luck to the household, they are also straightforward to propagate and share with others.

Botanical Name

Pilea is the genus that encompasses more than 600 species of plants.

Plant Type

There are more than 600 species of Pilea. Most of them are either succulents or herbaceous plants that are part of the nettle family, Urticaceae


The most popular Pilea plant, Pilea peperomioides (Chinese money plant) originated in the Yunnan province of China. A Norwegian missionary named Agnar Espegren found the plant and brought it to his home country in the 1940s.


The succulent varieties of Pilea tend to have round flat leaves. Some grow upright, like the Chinese money plant, while others are vining, like baby tears and aquamarine varieties.

Other Pilea plants have more nettle-like characterisitcs, with saw-tooth edges, variegated coloring, and textured leaves, like the friendship plant.

Pilea peperomioides and some other varieites may also produce small white flowers.

This video has a fantastic overview with pictures of some of the most popular Pilea varieties.

Pilea peperomioides or Chinese Money Plant has round, coin-like leaves.

Types Of Pilea Plants

There are hundreds of species of Pileas, but some of the most common houseplant varieties include:

  • Chinese Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides)

  • Aluminum Plant (Pilea cadierei minima)

  • Artillery Fern (Pilea microphylla)

  • Friendship Plant (Pilea involucrata ‘Friendship’)

  • Gray Baby Tears (Pilea libanensis)

Friendship Plant (Pilea involucrata ‘Friendship’) has soft spikey leaves.

Pilea Styling 

Pilea plants can be potted in a standard pot, such as terra-cotta. Vining varieites are beautiful in a hanging planter, and since they’re succulents, they’ll do well in a bright bathroom or kitchen window with indirect light.

The creeping ground cover types, like gray baby tears do well in a terrarium as they like humidity.

Vining Pilea works well in hanging pots or terrariums where it can trail.


Most Pilea plants prefer bright, indirect light, and some can tolerade shady, low-light spots. Researach the type of Pilea you have for specific lighting conditions.


You will need to research the variety of Pilea you have to determine water requirements. For example, Chinese money plants likes weekly watering and for its top payer of soil to dry completly, whereas friendship plants (Pilea involucrata) need more regular watering and prefer their soil to stay semi-moist.


Room temperature for a Pilea is best between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.


Most Pilea varieties prefer a humid environment. Your humidity should range between 50-75% to achieve optimal growth.


Pileas like well-draining soil, even the water-loving varieties. If you purchase basic potting soil, consider adding some perlite to aid in better drainage.


Pruning will depend on the variety of Pilea you have. For example, the Chinese money plant doesn’t really need to be pruned. However, if it starts getting a little leggy, you can cut it back to give it a fresh start. If you want a fuller plant, the trick is actually more in the growing conditions, not pruning. You can achieve a bushier plant by rotating it 90 degrees at each watering.

For vining and creeping varieties, prune the stems to the desired length.

Brown, yellow, or diseased leaves should be pruned anytime to keep your plant healthy.


Pilea plants prefer a 10-10-10 fertilizer and should be fed monthly during their growing season in the spring and summer.

Height & Growth

At full maturity, Pilea peperomioides are about 12 inches tall and can grow about equal in width. Some can get larger depending on growing conditions.

Other Pileas grown as houseplants tend to be around the same size, though some vining and creeping varities may grow longer if not pruned.


Pilea is non-toxic and safe in homes with pets and small children.


Pilea is not toxic to animals.

Common Problems 

  • Over-watering: Giving your Pilea too much water can lead to root rot which happens when the root system gets too wet. Other signs include discolored leaves that may droop.

  • Poor Drainage: Many assume that over-watering only occurs when adding too much water. However, if you do not have adequate drainage holes or have not used the correct potting mix, your plant’s roots may stay too wet.

  • Nutritional Deficiency: Plant care includes proper feeding. Signs of nutritional deficiency include soft, yellow leaves and curving inward.

  • Pests: Many pests can cause difficulties for your plant, such as aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs. Depending on the type of pest, some treatments range from spraying neem oil on the leaves to using a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. You may need to use a pesticide for serious infestations.

How To Propagate A Pilea Plant

Propagation of Pilea depends on the species. Pilea peperomia (Chinese money plant) can be propagated by cutting the offsets, called ‘pups’ from the mother plant and rooting them in water.

Pilea involucrata (friendship plant) and Pilea depressa (creeping Charlie) can both be easily propagated through stem cuttings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Pilea plant a succulent?

Certain varieites of Pileas are succulents, such as Chinese money plant. Others in the Pilea genus are herbaceous plants with nettle-like characteristics.

Are Pilea plants easy to care for?

Most Pilea plants are considered to low-maintenance. Because there are so many varieties, it’s easy to find one that will grow well in your space.

Where should I place my Pilea plant?

Pileas like bright, indirect light and some tolerate shade. Follow the care instructions for your variety. Chinese money plants do well in a window or on a desk that receives plenty of light, but not direct sunlight. Rotating it every week will encourage even growth and a fuller appearance.

Articles about this plant