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Pilea spp. (pi-LEE-a)
Aluminum plant, Watermelon Pilea, Friendship plant, Panamiga,
Creeping Charlie, Artillery plant
Pileas are grown as outdoor groundcover in tropical climates,
and they make hardy houseplants prized for their beautiful
foliage. The plants are available in bushy or trailing
varieties, and their leaves range from compact round leaves to
larger leaves with depressed veins that give the illusion of
quilting. Leaf coloration ranges from silvery green to a deep
bronze or copper tinge.
With proper care, these plants can live indoors for years (see
Pileas are available year-round.
IN-STORE AND CONSUMER CARE
LIGHT Average indoor light
is appropriate. Keep the plants out of direct sun.
WATER In spring through
fall, water thoroughly and allow the soil to dry slightly
between waterings. Water less frequently in winter.
TEMPERATURE Average warm
indoor temperatures are appropriate; Pileas like a night
temperature between 65 F and 70 F and a day temperature between
75 F and 85
F. Avoid temperatures below 50 F.
HUMIDITY Mist the leaves
FERTILIZER Feed established
plants with a balanced houseplant fertilizer, diluted by half,
every two months. Wait three or four months before feeding newly
purchased or newly potted plants.
PROPOGATION Pileas can be
propagated easily through stem cuttings in spring or early
REPOTTING It is recommended
to take stem cuttings and start new plants each spring to
replace Pileas that have grown leggy with age rather than
repotting older plants. The plants generally grow best in 3- to
PESTS AND PROBLEMS Daily
misting helps prevent red spider mites, which can be treated
with insecticide if they appear.
LEAF DROP Even healthy
plants can shed a few leaves in winter, but cold air and too-wet
SOIL can be the cause of
more serious shedding.
WILTING LEAVES Overwatering,
especially in winter, can cause leaves to droop.
BROWN-TIPPED LEAVES This can
be a sign of light levels that are too low. If moving the plant
to a sunnier spot doesn’t help, a sudden drop in temperature may
be to blame.
WHAT'S IN A NAME The genus
name comes from the Greek “pilos,” which means “cap” and refers
to the shape of the seeds. The common name “artillery plant”
comes from the habit of some of the plants’ seed pods, which
forcibly eject the seeds once they are ripe. The common name
“friendship plant” comes from their ease of propagating.
Pileas are members of the Urticaceae (nettle) family.
HOME SWEET HOME The plants
are native to Vietnam, Central and South America, Mexico and the
DISPLAY OPTIONS Pileas work
well in hanging baskets and in terrariums.
Some information provided by:
Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
The Chain of Life Network®,
The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual, by Barbara Pleasant
Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses, Inc.,
The House Plant Expert, by Dr. D.G. Hessayon
Photos courtesy of Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses, Inc.
You may reach Foliage Plant of the Month writer Amy Bauer by
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (800)
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