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Why is my Pilea Losing Leaves (Chinese Money Plant Dropping Leaves)

Last Updated on March 22, 2021 by Sophie

Pilea peperomioides is a gorgeous plant known for its flat, pancake like leaves that look a little like UFOs. The plant is also known as the Chinese Money Plant or Missionary plant and is a family of the Urticaceae family (surprisingly the nettle family)! Unfortunately, many new owners of this plant experience leaf loss. And so if you’re here as a result of your Chinese Money Plant dropping leaves, this article is here to answer the question ‘why is my Pilea losing leaves?’

Why is my Pilea Losing Leaves (Chinese Money Plant Dropping Leaves)

The plant originates from the Sichuan and Yunnan provinces and is now a popular houseplant throughout the world thanks to its unique foliage, which, given the right conditions, can reach up to 15 cm in diameter. The plant is also incredibly easy to propagate, owing to the fact that the parent plant will often offshoot new plantlets from underground roots which are known as rhizomes.

Why is my Pilea losing its leaves?

The short answer as to why your Pilea is losing its leaves is due to unsatisfactory growing conditions, but I’m sure you already knew that! Though easy to care for once you get the hang of it, the plants can be a little fussy when it comes to their ideal climate, environment, and growing conditions.

As there are a number of reasons your Pilea could be losing its leaves (stress, light conditions, too little or too much watering, etc) I’ll run through a list of possible explanations and you can (hopefully) diagnose what is making your plant unhappy. Please also note that a change of environment can cause Pilea peperomioides to drop its leaves, and so it’s pretty normal for the Pilea to drop a number of leaves when you first bring it home.

Pilea peperomioides

Not enough sunlight

Though even many varieties of Calathea will easily thrive without the advertised amount of sunlight, the Pilea peperomioides is not one of these house plants. the Pilea requires at least several hours of bright, indirect sunlight on a daily basis.

Too much sunlight, and the leaves will burn and the plant will not thrive. Too little sunlight and the plant will start dropping leaves (particularly the bottom leaves) so as to conserve energy. If you notice that your plant is dropping too many leaves (a particular problem during the winter months when light levels are lower), consider moving your plant closer to the window.

Too much water!

Overwatering is the most common cause of house plant death and, for the majority of plants (due to the water causing root rot), it’s better to over water than under water the plant. Pilea peperomioides is no exception and so you should strictly follow the following watering guide.

I personally wait until my Pilea is completely dried out before doing the dunk, soak, and wait method. With this technique (much like when watering succulent plants), I allow my plant to be entirely dry before watering it again. Once the plant is entirely dry, you’ll want to soak it through (though do not leave your plant sitting in water) before repeating the process again.

Pilea peperomioides close up

The air around the plant is too dry

Yet another particularly common cause for the Pilea losing leaves is that the air in your space is too dry. This is yet another problem which is particularly pesky during the winter months as using heating in your home is a surefire air to sap humidity from the air and leave your home atmosphere dry. 

A relatively easy way to increase the humidity of the air around your plants is to group them together. With this being said, if any of the plants have pests, grouping them together will rapidly spread the pest problem.

Before introducing new plants to a crowded area of your collection, be sure to keep them in isolation for around a month. Another easy way to keep the air around your green plant humid is to mist the plant every few days with a spray bottle. Alternatively, you could place pebbles filled with water underneath your plant (though ensure that the base of the pot holding the plant itself is not touching the water).

pilea plant

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About Author

Sophie Nadeau is a travel, pizza, and history lover who is currently based in Paris, France. A keen indoor gardener, she spends her time at home reading books, looking at too many dog photos, and growing an indoor jungle in her tiny flat!