Ask a Question forum: What is going on with my Pilea peperomioides?

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Tussemarian
Aug 5, 2015 6:52 PM CST
Hey everybody,

I have a problem with my dear pilea plant. The leaves are starting to curl inwards, rather than having the concave form the normally have. I recently moved it from my window to my table, but it shouldn't be such a big change.

I give it fertilizer every now and then, and I keep it well watered. Has anybody got any ideas on what could cause this? Should I worry?

Thank you, all the way from Denmark.


Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Aug 6, 2015 7:16 AM CST
Hi Tussemarian, Welcome! to All Things Plants!

I don't grow Pilea but I wonder if the curling leaf issue could be from over-fertilization. Potted succulent type plants require less water and fertilizer than plants with softer, more pliable foliage.

Hopefully someone more knowledgeable about succulents will be able to offer more advice.
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Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Aug 6, 2015 8:01 AM CST
Hi & welcome! I suspect it's the lower light. In general, leaves can curl & bend in insufficient light, in attempt to expose more surface to the light. You might also want to inspect for thrips/spider mites with a magnifying glass. Look on the backs of the leaves and in the crotches where leaves split from the crown.

Also agree, keeping it moist could be suffocating/rotting the roots, depending on soil type. Roots need oxygen & moisture at the same time to function. Most potting soil has such tiny particles that the only way for roots to get some air is to let it dry significantly before watering again. Adding a significant amount of perlite to potting soil (the next time you repot this plant) can help combat that.
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Tussemarian
Aug 6, 2015 8:38 AM CST
Thank you all,

I have moved the plant back into the sun, and I'm gonna repot it, mixing a bit of sand into the pot.

It's not a succulent, however, but I think I am guilty of the watering-a-little-but-often thing instead of just waiting till it dries out and then watering it throughly. I'll also stop using fertilizer for the moment being.

Again, thank you both very much. I still welcome anybody who might know anything about the problems I am facing with my Pilea (chinese money plant).

Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Aug 6, 2015 9:36 AM CST
Most Pilea have soft, pliable stems and leaves and although Wikipedia refers to Pilea peperomioides https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilea_peperomioides as a succulent evergreen perennial, I don't think it's considered a succulent by most growers. That being said, it does have more succulent like leaves and stems than other varieties of Pilea and would probably prefer less water and fertilization.


~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
Bulbs Foliage Fan Tropicals Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents
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purpleinopp
Aug 6, 2015 11:03 AM CST
Happy to share info that's helped me. Perlite rather than sand would be a more helpful addition. The tiny particles of sand will filter into the little spaces where air could be, usually causing more suffocation of roots.

The term succulent means different things to different people, I wouldn't worry about calling it one or not, just keeping it happy. :+)
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Aug 6, 2015 11:51 AM CST
>> and I'm gonna repot it, mixing a bit of sand into the pot.

That sounds smart. But coarse Perlite or coarse grit seem more likely to open up a potting mix than sand. Even "very coarse sand" has particles at largest of 2 mm. That would be OK, but every bag of "extra coarse sand" that I've tried was more than half, often more than 3/4 or 7/8, medium or fine sand, like 1/8 mm to 1/2 mm. Not good for aerating a mix.

Maybe crushed stone would be good, that has been double screened so it is all grit and no dust. I got a yard of that once, and it was great! Mine was almost all grit (around 2mm), maybe a few % very fine gravel (2 - 4 mm).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Particle_size_(grain_size)

I'm a big fan of screened pine bark, but it will either be a very expensive double-screened product, or you would have to screen it yourself.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Aug 6, 2015 11:59 AM CST
One quick-fix for a slow-drianing or under-aerated mix is to set the pot on top of a wadded-up towel, or on some absorbent fabric like cotton flannel that you let drape down below the level of the pot.

It has to touch the soil through holes int he pot, and the pot can;t have a layer of gravel or broken pots in the bottom "to encourage drainage".

When the mix touches the absorbent pad, a capillary link is formed that assures the cloth under the pot is exactly was wet as the soil in the bottom of the pot.

If the folded towel can absorb all the extra water form each watering, that works. It will use capillary attraction PLUS gravity to remove all perched water and open up as many air channels as the capillary film around every soil void or channel permits.

Or, if you let the fabric drape DOWN, it will let excess water drip away, or evaporate. This is also a great way to "de-salinate" a pot that retains too much water to be flushed without drowning roots.

It's analogous to this:
http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/646/Bottom-Watering-S...

Al / Tapla feels that wicks like this aren't as good as a potting mix that just plains drains well enough! I have to agree. But "set the pot on top of a towel" is easier and faster than creating a different potting mix and then re-potting .

Tussemarian
Aug 11, 2015 5:14 AM CST
Thank you everybody for you responses - really helpful!

And yeah - doesn't matter with the whole succulent thing, I don't claim to be an expert at all, I just did not want to mix up or confuse the pilea with other plants. I guess you can categorize it as succulent in some ways!


Anyhoo: I did what you guys said, repotted it and everything. Instead of using sand (thank you for that) I smashed a couple of Leca balls (I don't know what you call these in the states?) to tiny bits and tried mixing it with soil creating a more "airy" atmosphere for the plant. Also, another guy on a Danish forum advised me to water it well, soaking it and checking for "bubbles" in the soil to make sure the ventilation is good. I now let it dry out and then water it throrougly instead of doing the "a little water but often"-thing I was up to before.

It seems to do better right now, but it might be to early to tell. Moving it back into a sunny west window also seems to help.

For now, thank you!
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
Bulbs Foliage Fan Tropicals Butterflies Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents
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purpleinopp
Aug 11, 2015 6:51 AM CST
So glad to hear this update! Happy to pass along info that's helped me stop killing plants. Hope it works as well for you too!
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☕👓 The only way to succeed is to try.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Aug 11, 2015 10:46 AM CST
L.E.C.A. (Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate)

Great choice for opening up your mix! I wish they made that "porous baked clay" in gritty sizes, like 2 to 3 mm.

Did it produce a lot of dust and tiny particles when you broke it up?

Brand names:
Geolite, Grorox, Hydroton,
Hydrock, Haydite, Norlite

This is the generic name I see most often around the USA: "Lightweight Expanded Shale, Clay and Slate (ESCS) soil conditioner".

The manufacturers' association is
http://www.escsi.org/Default.aspx

They seem to think that a rotary kiln is THE way to manufacture this stuff.

Tussemarian
Aug 11, 2015 2:30 PM CST
A lot of tiny particles, but I smashed them with a hammer inside a plastic bag so it wasn't to big of a mess. Hard getting a consistent result of only small particles though, but I guess it was good enough.

Good to know LECA will be LECA, even across the atlantic ocean!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Aug 11, 2015 2:54 PM CST
I have daydreams about fiddling with the machines that manufacture those "puffed pebbles" and producing some shapes like saddles, Cheerios, spirals, pretzels, irregularly-bent strips and I-beams. I think those would produce better aeration than simple spheres or pellets.

(Funny shapes would resist nesting together, prop each other up to resist settling, and support many large air spaces.)

Tussemarian
Aug 11, 2015 6:00 PM CST
Haha, man - those are sweet daydreams! I get what you're saying. Doesn't seem like the best shape at all.

Tussemarian
Aug 16, 2015 7:42 AM CST
OK, so once again, it seems like the plant is doing a lot better with the curling. However, now there's a couple of holes in the leaves. What the what is going on? Do any of you guys have an idea? Too much sun?

Poor pilea never catches a break.


Thumb of 2015-08-16/Tussemarian/4ac5cf

Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Aug 17, 2015 6:00 PM CST
The big tears made me think of slug damage,. but maybe not, indoors!

The small holes might be any kind of insect.

(I'm just guessing.)

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