Propagating houseplants is a fun and fascinating activity that everyone can do, and Chinese money plant propagation is among the easiest. There are three simple ways you can make more of these unique plants for free. All you need is a mother plant and a few tools. This article outlines all three methods and offers tips for success.
What is a Chinese money plant?
The Chinese money plant (Pilea peperomioides) is also known commonly as the friendship plant, pancake plant, UFO plant, or missionary plant. Its perfectly round, coin-like leaves sit at the ends of long, straight petioles that extend from the plant’s main stem. They are fairly compact when compared to other common houseplants and are perfect for east- or west-facing windows that receive moderate amounts of light. Here is a detailed article on our site that offers even more details about how to care for Chinese money plants. Read on to learn more about its propagation.
When is the best time for Chinese money plant propagation
If you already have a happy and healthy Chinese money plant in your houseplant collection, the best time to propagate is in the early spring. But you can also propagate at other times. New pileas are easy to start pretty much anytime in the spring, summer, or even the early fall. If you have the proper lighting conditions and are willing to care for the new baby plants correctly, it’s an easy process that can take place almost anytime.
Depending on the type of Chinese money plant propagation you plan to do, you’ll need a few essential tools. The first is a clean, sharp knife. Before doing any cutting, wash it well and dip the blade in rubbing alcohol or another disinfectant. Some types of propagation require a pair of shears or a needle-nosed pruners, too.
If you plan to propagate your Chinese money plant in water, you’ll need a small jar, vase, or other vessel and enough water to fill it. You do not need to use distilled water. Tap water will do just fine. Make sure the vessel is clean.
Chinese money plant propagation that takes place in soil requires a small plastic pot with drainage holes filled with new, sterile, well-draining soil mix. I like to use a peat- or coir-based mixture formulated specifically for houseplants, but you can also root new plants in perlite or vermiculite.
Three ways to propagate Chinese money plants
There are three ways to make more Chinese money plants and all are easy and straightforward, if you follow the instructions below. Propagating is an activity with great rewards. What could be better than free plants? Each new plant you make when participating in Chinese money plant propagation can be shared with a friend or used to expand your own houseplant collection.
Here are the three tried-and-true propagation methods I rely on.
Method 1: Chinese money plant propagation using division
The first—and simplest—method is division. Pilea plants naturally form small baby plants at the base of the main plant. These little plantlets are called pups. They are connected to the mother plant by underground rhizomes. Each offset can be dug up and cut from the mother plant when its leaves are about the size of a dime and then rooted on its own. Here’s how.
Step 1: Locate a healthy pup at the base of the plant. Use your fingers to dig around in the soil to uncover the connective rhizome.
Step 2: Use a knife or needle-nosed pruner to sever the rhizome as close to the mother plant as possible. Leaving the rhizome piece that’s attached to the stem plantlets as long as possible gives them more surface area to form new roots.
Step 3: Pot the Chinese money plant pup into a small pot filled with sterile potting soil. There is no need to dip it in rooting hormone first since the plant already has some semblance of a root system because it is attached to the mother rhizome.
Alternatively, you can stick the division into a small vase of water. Allow the roots to develop further before potting the division into a pot of soil. The water level in the vase should reach only to the top of the rhizome. The leaves should not be beneath the water.
Whether you pot the division up immediately or allow it to root in water before planting it, the rooted offshoots grow quickly and without fuss. Keep them watered and place them in an east- or west-facing window.
Method 2: Taking stem cuttings of the Chinese money plant
Taking a stem cutting is a standard propagation method for hundreds of different plants, from geraniums to coleus. It also works for Chinese money plants. However, if your money plant only has a single central stem, if you use this method, you’ll be removing its only central shoot. I recommend using this technique only when your plant has a single tall lanky stem that is too top heavy or if your plant has multiple stems because you let the offshoot plantlets grow too large. Here’s how to take a stem cutting.
Step 1: Use a pair of needle-nose pruning shears to remove a 2- to 3-inch piece of the terminal stem. Remove all but the topmost three leaves so most of the stem is bare.
Step 2: Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone and insert the cut end into a small pot of fresh soil, being sure to use a sterile potting mix (perlite or vermiculite work, too).
Step 3: Water the cutting well, then place the entire thing, pot and all, into a sealed clear plastic baggie. The high humidity inside the bag keeps the cutting from losing too much moisture through its leaves before it forms new roots. Place it in an east-facing window where it receives morning sun, but not in direct sunlight.
Within a few weeks, your Chinese money plant stem cutting has developed roots, and the baggie can be removed. If the cutting rots before that time, it may have succumbed to root rot which is not uncommon.
Method 3: Leaf cutting propagation for Chinese money plants
One of the most fascinating ways to propagate a Chinese money plant is through leaf cuttings. While some houseplants, such as ZZ plants, most succulents, and African violets, can be propagated simply by putting the base of a leaf stem (called the petiole) into a glass of water or a pot of soil, Chinese money plant is a bit different. If you take only a leaf and petiole of this plant and stick it directly into water or soil, it will not form roots or a baby plant. Instead, it will rot. To successfully take a leaf cutting of Chinese money plant, you also need to include a piece of the mother plant’s main stem. Here’s how.
Step 1: Find a healthy single leaf and follow its petiole down to where it meets the main stem. Give it a very light tug. If the leaf petiole stays attached to the main stem, it’s a good candidate for this type of propagation.
Step 2: Using a very sharp and very clean knife, cut into the mother plant’s stem/trunk about ¼ inch above where the petiole connects to it. Make a shallow downward cut. Then make a shallow upward cut starting about ¼ inch below where the petiole connects. Continue to slice the main stem until a small sliver of it is removed, along with the leaf petiole and the leaf.
Step 3: Chinese money plant leaf cuttings must have some of the main stem attached to them or they will not root. Take the base of each cutting and insert it into a small vase of water. It will develop its own root system within a few weeks.
Step 4: Soon after the cutting develops roots from the bottom of the stem piece, it will also start growing a tiny baby plant on the top of the piece of the parent plant stem. This new growth is a sign that the cutting is ready to pot up. Fill a small pot with clean potting soil.Very shallowly bury the new roots beneath the soil surface while keeping the tiny baby plant above ground. Eventually the leaf from the parent plant will die and drop off, leaving behind the new baby plant.
What to do with your new plant
No matter what Chinese money plant propagation technique you use, be sure to care for your propagated plants correctly. Indirect light is best as direct sunlight can cause the leaves to “wash out” and be pale in color. Yellow leaves from time to time are nothing to worry about, especially at the base of the plant. But if the new leaves turn yellow, it can be a sign of under- or overwatering. Adjust accordingly. Pilea plants benefit from an application of liquid fertilizer in the early spring, just before their period of active growth. For more on Chinese money plant care, please check out this detailed article.
I hope you enjoyed this look at how to propagate pilea plants. Don’t be afraid to experiment with these techniques. Your friends and neighbors will undoubtedly appreciate the benefits of any extra plants you’re able to cultivate.
For more info on propagation, please visit the following articles: