How to Propagate Chinese Money Plants From Cuttings or Offsets
Are you trying to increase the number of Chinese money plants you have by propagating them? This can actually be done from either stem, or leaf cuttings. In this article, gardening expert and houseplant enthusiast Madison Moulton walks through how to propagate the Pilea from stem or leaf cuttings in a few simple steps.
Chinese Money Plants are the social media darlings of the houseplant world. Their fascinating leaves and alien-like looks have earned them a top spot on collectors’ lists. They are also not difficult plants to care for, making them suitable for beginners with a bit of gardening know-how.
Luckily, if you want to grow masses of these houseplant favorites, the process is not difficult. Chinese Money Plants are easy to propagate and generally root incredibly quickly, growing into full plants in the blink of an eye (in gardening time, that is).
So, if you are looking to expand your pilea garden, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll show you the two best ways to propagate your Pilea with just a few tools and minimal effort.
Check out the following video for a step by step walkthrough demonstration for Chinese Money Plant propagation. Our very own houseplant enthusiast Madison Moulton will walk through each step for propagating your plant either via offsets or stem and leaf cuttings.
About Chinese Money Plants
The Chinese Money Plant, scientifically known as Pilea peperomioides, has many interesting common names. One of those is the Pancake Plant, named after the flat and rounded shape of the leaves. UFO Plant is another popular one for the same reason.
You will rarely find Pilea peperomioides labeled the Missionary Plant, giving a clue to its history. In 1945, Norwegian missionary Agnar Espegren was in the Cang Mountain range in Southwest China when he came across the plant while fleeing a neighboring region. Traveling through India and back to Norway, the plant spread throughout Scandinavia and to the rest of Europe.
It took a while for this plant to gain popularity in the houseplant world. But, thanks to social media, it is now one of the most beloved indoor plants on the market. It is an easy houseplant to grow and care for. It can last more than 10 years if in the proper conditions, giving you plenty of time to snap photos of your favorite plant.
The specific epithet peperomioides explains the similarities of this plant to another houseplant favorite, the Peperomia. However, Pilea comes from a different family altogether – Urticaceae – more closely related to nettles than to Radiator Plants.
These plants come with a long list of benefits. Whether you want them for their Feng Shui benefits or the mental health boost, there are many reasons to add these plants to your houseplant collection. Luckily, they are also very easy plants to propagate, allowing you to grow as many as you’d like at no cost.
Why You Should Propagate
Chinese Money Plants are cute and compact, fitting into any space in your home with ease. They don’t require much attention either – or no more than any other plants in your home. They also have a fascinating look that doesn’t quite compare to other houseplants.
So, what happens when you want to fill your home with these beauties, but don’t quite have the budget? Propagation.
The magic of propagation allows you to grow brand new Pilea plants at absolutely no cost. As long as you have a pot and some soil or even just a glass of water, you can grow as many as your heart desires (or as many as the parent plant allows).
They also develop relatively quickly, giving you a full plant sooner than you might expect. Especially when planting from offsets, you will have a healthy and established plant in just a couple of months. No need to wait months on end for roots or new growth to appear.
There is also more than one way to propagate these plants. If yours has developed offsets, you can replant those, or you can grow a brand-new plant from just a single leaf. For even more plants, there’s no harm in trying both.
Two Different Ways To Propagate
You have two options when propagating – offsets or single leaves. Which one you choose will largely depend on the performance of the parent plant. Follow these easy steps to have a brand new Pilea in no time.
Propagating From Offsets
If you can see offsets popping up from the soil, that is the quickest and most reliable method of propagation. It requires only a few tools, some soil, and a little bit of patience.
Gather Your Tools
To ensure you are well prepared, always start by gathering your tools and everything you will need to get started. Luckily, when propagating from offsets, you really don’t need much.
The only requirement is a sharp pair of pruning shears or even a sharp craft knife. The sharper it is, the cleaner the cut will be and the quicker the plant can heal.
You should also clean your tools beforehand to prevent the transfer of any harmful bacteria. Wash with soap and water or wipe down with a 5% bleach solution to disinfect the tools and limit the risk of disease.
If you’d prefer to repot while propagating, you may not even need these basic tools. Below the soil level, offsets can often be gently snapped off the main plant without any cutting required. However, shears are likely to give you a cleaner cut and don’t require any pulling from the pot, so the choice is yours.
Locate the Offset
Next, identify the offset you want to remove. These will pop up through the soil next to the parent plant and look like tiny versions of a mature pilea.
To successfully grow on their own, your offsets should be at least 2 inches tall with a couple of moderately sized leaves.
If the leaves are too small, or the offset has not grown enough, it won’t have the facilities to survive on its own. Wait a few more weeks for it to grow before removing it from the main plant.
Remove at the Base
Once you’ve found the right offset, you can remove it from the plant. Here, you have two options.
If you want to keep the plant in the pot, you can simply remove the offset from above the soil. Remove some of the soil near the meeting point with your fingers to better see where the roots are. Then, trim off the offset, digging your shears into the soil. A small craft knife may allow for better precision here, depending on the size of your plant.
If your Chinese Money Plant needs repotting, you can remove the plant from its existing pot and pull off some of the old soil.
This makes the offsets far easier to identify. Then, trim them off where the offset meets the main plant, taking as many roots with the cutting as you can. Your pilea can then be moved to a brand-new pot with plenty of space to expand and produce new offsets.
No matter which method you choose, your offset should have enough roots to survive on its own. If you cut in the wrong place and leave those roots behind, your plant will struggle to establish.
Plant in Soil
With the offset separated, all that’s left to do is plant. Start by preparing your soil mix. If you want to help your offset grow and establish quickly, a lightweight and well-draining propagating mix is your best option.
To create a propagating mix, simply combine equal parts coconut coir (or peat moss) and perlite. This mixture drains incredibly well and provides the least resistance to new root growth.
However, if you go the propagating mix route, you will need to transplant again once the offset has grown larger. For those who prefer to skip that step, you can go straight to planting in a houseplant soil mix. Although it may take them longer to adapt to these denser soils, they can stay there long-term, preventing you from having to disturb the roots later on.
Houseplant potting mixes are widely available online and in stores. However, if you want to mix your own, combine two parts of high-quality potting soil with one part coconut coir and one part perlite to improve drainage and increase the spaces between particles.
Fill a small to medium-sized pot with your chosen soil mix. Make a small hole in the center and plant your offset. Only the base should be buried, as any petioles below the soil may rot and cause the new and vulnerable leaves to die off.
Move the pot to a warm spot with bright indirect light. In the right conditions, it should grow quickly into a mature and established plant.
Propagating From Cuttings
If you find that your plant doesn’t have any offsets, you can propagate from and single leaf – as long as it is damage and disease-free. The steps are simple to follow, but take a little more effort than propagating with offsets.
Gather Your Tools
The process to propagate from leaf cuttings is quite similar, beginning with the same step – preparation.
For this method, you will need a very sharp craft knife or a pair of small and precise shears. The cutting process can be quite technical, so the sharper your tools, the easier the removal will be and the greater your chances of root development.
These tools should also be cleaned prior to use, even if you have not used them in the garden. You will essentially be creating a wound in the parent plant, making it far more vulnerable to bacterial damage and disease. Clean and sharp tools limit that risk and allow the parent plant to heal as quickly as possible.
Regular soap and water are suitable if you haven’t used the tools before. However, if you’ve recently used them in the garden, especially to prune diseased plants, disinfect with a 5% bleach solution before use.
Choose a Leaf
Take a look at your plant and identify the perfect leaf (or leaves) for propagation. They should be relatively large – smaller leaves are far less likely to develop roots. But, most importantly, they need to be free of any damage or disease.
You want to give your plant the best start at new growth, and damage is just one way to limit your chances of root growth. Any diseases will not only hamper new growth but will simply transfer to the new plant, creating even more of a problem for you to solve later on.
Avoid very old leaves that appear to be at the end of their lifecycle, as well as brand new leaves that are still developing. A middle ground is the perfect option and allows you to pick a few leaves at once.
While choosing a leaf, also consider the overall shape of the plant. These plants are beloved for their rounded and soft appearance.
Avoid any large leaves that are integral to that shape, as their removal will make the plant appear unbalanced and lopsided. Alternatively, take a few leaves from different sides of the plant to rebalance the growth and retain the plant’s shape.
Trim the Leaf
Next, you need to remove this chosen leaf from the plant. But, a simple trim is not enough to promote root growth.
In order to develop roots, you need to cut off some of the central trunk with the leaf. The petiole alone does not have the right tissues to facilitate root growth and produce a pup. This small piece of main stem tissue attached to the end of the leaf is what will ultimately develop roots and produce the baby plant at the base of the cutting.
So, once you’ve chosen your leaf, don’t rush to snip it off at any point. Grab your craft knife and slice the leaf off the trunk, removing a small piece of that tissue at the same time.
On the other hand, make sure you don’t cut too far into the trunk to avoid damaging or worse, snapping it. If it does snap off, you can root it and plant again, but it’s far better to be on the safe side and only remove a small part at one time.
A good leaf cutting should have a small piece of the brown trunk at the end of it, rather than the green growth of the petiole.
Root in Water
Your single leaf, or leaves, are now ready to root. The easiest way to root these cuttings is in water, allowing you to keep a close eye on root development. Alternatively, you can root straight into the soil if you’d prefer.
A glass propagating station is best suited for this process. These thin glasses are designed to hold the leaves up and out of the water, keeping only the very end of the cutting submerged.
If you don’t have one, you can also use a regular glass and some clear plastic wrap. Simply fill the glass with water and cover it with plastic wrap. Make a small hole in the plastic to hold the cutting up, keeping the leaves out of the glass completely.
It’s best to use filtered water or even rainwater to propagate, especially if your tap water quality isn’t great. Top up the water as soon as you notice it’s close to dipping below the base of the cutting and change the water completely around once per week, cleaning the glass at the same time.
Clean glasses will limit the chances of bacterial growth, stopping you from changing the water too often.
Keep the glass in a warm, bright spot away from direct sunlight. You should notice root growth starting to develop from the base of the cutting in a few weeks.
Once the roots are an inch or two long and you notice small pups beginning to grow at the base of the cutting, you’re ready to transplant into soil.
Follow the same process as above for planting offsets, making sure not to bury the cutting too deep. Keep the soil moist until new growth pops up from below the soil.
Once it has grown several inches tall, you can remove the original leaf and keep it in the same pot or transplant it into a larger pot for long-term growth.
When your Chinese Money Plant has been potted into its final home, you can treat it as you would any other houseplant. You’ll want to ensure your pilea has all the proper care it needs to live a long and healthy life.
Start off by keeping the soil evenly moist to encourage new root growth, but don’t overdo it to prevent rotting at the base. After a few weeks, limit your watering to when the top two inches of soil have dried out, or less if your cutting is in a much smaller pot.
Keep the plant in bright indirect light for the strongest chances of new growth. They should be protected from any harsh direct sunlight to prevent scorching.
Hold off on fertilizing until your plant is established. As long as you’ve used a high-quality soil mix, the cuttings should have plenty of nutrients to continue growth.
Fertilizing too early can damage these new and vulnerable roots, having the opposite impact. After a few months, you can fertilize with a half-strength fertilizer if growth appears stagnant.
Chinese Money Plants are ideal plants for your first propagating efforts, allowing you to see results incredibly quickly or essentially instantly. Their low-maintenance and forgiving nature make them a great first plant to attempt propagation. With the right technique and a bit of patience, you can watch your little pups grow into brand new plants for free.