Chinese money plants or Pilea Peperomioides are evergreen perennial plants. They’re difficult to find in nurseries because they grow too slowly to be commercially useful. If you want to buy one, your best bet is to get a clipping from a friend (or visit Leaves House!)
Friendship plant, UFO plant, missionary plant, pancake plant: Pileas have a lot of nicknames.
One of the most famous names is “friendship plant”.
Pileas aren’t just nice centerpieces to your living room. They also come with a story.
How did they Earn the Nickname “Friendship Plant”?
Pilea Peperomioides are native to the Southwestern Yunnan province of China.
The story goes that Agnar Espegren, a Norwegian missionary, found this peculiar looking plant (most likely on one of the local markets.) He continued his journey to India and then back to Norway in 1946. As he traveled, he gave cuttings to each of his friends.
The plant is now found throughout the west, especially after catching the attention of botanists.
The Royal Botanic Gardens in England even made an inquiry as to the origin of the plant. The story of where Chinese money plants came from had to be traced first through Sweden and then to Norway and then eventually back to its Chinese roots.
The search for the plant’s origin led to botanists using a television commercial in the 1980s to find out who had the plant because they were stumped.
Caring for your Chinese Money Plants
To this day, much that is written about the care of the Pilea plant remains in the hands of amateur gardeners who keep them as houseplants.
Water them once a week but be sure to give them a chance to dry a bit. These plants prefer well-drained potting soil (a pot with drainage holes is highly recommended).
During the summer, you may need to water your plant more frequently.
Chinese Money plants require plenty of indirect sunlight in order to flourish. Keep in mind that too much direct sunlight will lead to scorched leaves. If you place your plant in a darker area it will grow broader and darker green leaves.
Similar to sunflowers, these plants grow in the direction of the sun, so rotating them once a week will keep them symmetrical.