Pilea Peperomioides

Written by Kathryn Koehler
Published: January 11, 2023
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Pilea Peperomioides, commonly referred to as the Chinese money plant, is a popular houseplant with a fascinating history. Pilea Peperomioides, a relatively new kid on the block, is a hardy plant that is easy to grow and propagate. Whether you’re a complete novice or a green thumb grower with loads of experience, Chinese money plants are a splendid addition to your home or office. Ancient Chinese legends and modern urban myths suggest that the owner of a Chinese money plant will become prosperous and wealthy. You can learn more about the meaning of the Chinese money plant here. Keep reading to learn everything you need to do to keep your Pilea Peperomioides healthy.

Closeup of Pilea peperomioides houseplant in terracotta pot on white table at home. Sunlight. Chinese money plant with water drops on green leaves.

Chinese money plants are a splendid addition to your home or office.


ClassificationPilea peperomioides
Species / Scientific NamePilea peperomioides
NicknamesChinese money plant, missionary plant, friendship plant, pass-along plant, UFO plant, pancake plant, coin plant
AppearanceEvergreen perennial with round, green leaves of up to 4 inches in diameter. Each leaf is on the end of its stem. Offsets grow at the base of established plants.
Optimal Growing ConditionsUSDA Zones 10-12; Grown mostly as a houseplant in the U.S.; prefers bright indirect light; water thoroughly when the top 2 inches of soil are dry to the touch.

Pilea Peperomioides: History

Pilea Peperomioides is native to the Cangshan or Cang Mountains in the Yunnan province located in Southwest China. This area was first documented for its diversity of plant life in 1882 by Père Jean-Marie Delavay. Delevay (1834-1895) was a French missionary/botanist. Delavay introduced 100s of plant specimens from the area, but the Chinese money plant was not among them.

George Forrest

The Scottish botanist George Forrest (1873-1932), is credited with bringing Pilea Peperomioides to the Western world. George Forrest led a fascinating life. While fleeing almost certain death at the hands of groups of militant Chinese, foraging in the jungles of China to survive, this man continued to collect plant specimens. He was definitely a glass 1/2 full kinda guy. Forrest brought back specimens of Chinese money plants to Scotland in 1906 and 1910. However, his specimens were left all but forgotten and uncataloged until after his death. It wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century when Norwegian missionary Agnar Espegren brought Pilea Peperomioides back from China that it became widely known in the West.

Photograph of Gang mountains in Yunnan, China. A photograph of a mountain. In the upper frame is the sky which in the lift frame is cloudy in white, but in the right part of the frame is only partly cloudy with Carolina blue sky showing through. The mountain itself reaches a peak slightly left of center frame. The peak appears to be rocky possibly above the tree line however slightly to the right of center frame trees are visible near the summit. Rocky outcroppings are the majority of the upper part of the mountain although as you move toward the front of the frame there is a variety of plant life. In the back area of the frame the plant life appears to be a much darker green than it does in the front of the frame. This could be due to clouds and sun.
Pilea Peperomioides

is native to the Cangshan or Cang Mountains in the Yunnan province of Southwest China.

©Lao Ma/Shutterstock.com

Agnar Espegren 

Espegren and his family were forced to leave China, though with a bit less intrigue than George Forrest. As they were leaving the country, Espegren was either given or purchased a Chinese money plant. Soon after, the Espegren family, boarded a flight, landing safely in Calcutta (Kolkata again as of 2001), India. The family stayed in India for almost a year.

Upon his return to Norway in 1946, Agnar Espegren discovered the all-but-forgotten money plant in his luggage. Amazingly, the plant was still alive! Once he began to care for it, the plant rewarded him with dozens of offsets. Offsets are miniature clones of the original plant that appear around its base. Offsets, as Espergren discovered, are easily propagated. Plentiful as they are he shared them with friends, family, and colleagues throughout Norway and Sweden. And the rest, as they say, is history!

Chinese money plant transplants : nine whole and 6 partial round plastic containers filled with potting soil and containing cutting with between two and eight round green leaves/ Full frame/

Offsets are easily propagated.


The plant that Espegren brought home in 1946 produced offsets that eventually spread across Europe and to North America in the following years. Chinese money plants have only become widely available in the U.S. in the 21st century. Chinese money pants in the U.S. were traded among plant enthusiasts, often sold for exorbitant prices, until circa 2010. Luckily, Pilea Peperomioides is now widely available at locally owned nurseries as well as big box gardening centers. So, what are the best practices for keeping a Chinese money plant healthy?

Pilea Peperomioides: Soil

As long as the mercury doesn’t dip below 40 degrees F, Chinese money plants will grow outdoors in USDA Zones 10-12. However, the majority of Chinese money plants in the Continental U.S. grow as houseplants. Chinese money plants aren’t terribly particular about their soil. They are hardy plants, but they grow best in an organic potting mix that contains coconut coir, peat moss, and perlite. This mixture retains moisture and airiness in equal measure, which is just the way Pilea Peperomioides like it. Many commercially available mixes are suitable for your Pilea Peperomioides. To delve into what it takes to keep your indoor Chinese money plant thriving, read about it here.

Closeup of pilea peperomioides Chinese money friendship UFO plant potted houseplant propagated cuttings in green stoneware planter isolated on white background being held by a left , light-skinned human hand.

Chinese money plants grow best in an organic potting mix that contains coco coir, peat, and perlite.


Pilea Peperomioides: Light

The popularity of Pilea Peperomioides may stem from its undemanding nature. Much like its lack of discrimination concerning soil, Chinese money plants will grow in a variety of lighting situations. The amount of light your Chinese money plant receives depends on where the windows are located, as well as where the plant is placed, in a room. The only places these easygoing plants won’t grow are in rooms with only north-facing windows, or in rooms with no windows at all. However, thanks to modern technology, Chinese money plants can be grown in low-light environments using grow lights. For more information regarding light requirements for your Pilea Peperomioides, check out this article.

A Chinese money planting a round, grey ceramic pot is visible mid-to-lower right frame. The plant has approximately 40 round, glossy, green leaves. The plot is on a wooden table against a white wall. Sunlight is streaming through a window that is out of the frame to the right. The light is shining on the wall. The plant's shadow is on the wall. The wall is lighter where the sunlight is hitting it.

Chinese money plants will grow in a variety of lighting situations.

©Kulbir G/Shutterstock.com

Chinese Money Plant: Watering

Whereas Chinese money plants aren’t finicky about their soil or light requirements, they do require a modicum of care and thought as to watering. Do not overwater your Chinese money plant. Period. Chinese money plants get most of their energy from rhizomes that grow beneath the soil. Gossamer thin, threadlike roots anchor the rhizomes in place, and while they do take up a bit of water, it’s the rhizome that keeps the plant alive. Chinese money plant rhizomes do not like boggy soil. Soggy rhizomes will eventually succumb to root rot, which is lethal to your plant. Read up on best practices regarding watering your Chinese money plant here.

a light-skinned forearm and hand is visible in the upper right frame of the photograph watering a potted Pilea peperomioides houseplant on a wooden table with a natural top, but white edges. The pot that the plant is in is white. The plant is green with round leaves about the size of half dollars. there are a dozen or so leaves in the photo using white metal watering can.

Do not overwater your Chinese money plant. Period.


Propagating Pilea Peperomioides

Pilea Peperomioides are easily propagated. There are several different methods available, however, the easiest by far is propagation by offsets. Offsets are the little clones that grow around the base of the plant. Once separated from the established plant, they will grow into Chinese money plants when placed in soil. It is important to remove offsets before they become overcrowded, which adversely affects the host plant. To keep your plant healthy, it is imperative that you remove offsets from time to time. Therefore, you will need to propagate your plant, eventually. Get the skinny on Chinese money plant propagation from this how-to guide.

Leaf cuttings from a Chinese money plant. There are seven seaparate cutting each with between three and eight leaves. the leaves are round and green. Three of the cutting have soil at the base, the others are bear exposing a light colored base. on white isolate.

To keep your plant healthy, it is imparative that you remove offsets from time to time.


Pilea Peperomioides: Placement

Chinese money plants are the perfect addition to almost any room. Their large, round, glossy green leaves can add a pop of color to a sideboard. They are equally at home as a centerpiece on a kitchen table. Regardless of where you position your Pilea Peperomioides, it is sure to attract attention. To really showcase your Chinese money plant, you could hang it, using a wall-mounted bracket, or a ceiling hook. Tips and ideas for hanging a Chinese money plant can be found here. Against the correct backdrop, a Chinese money plant is quite dramatic.

Center frame against white isolate: Close up of macramé plant hanger consisting of a silver metal loop over which four strands of rope have been strung and then wrapped 8 times with natural colored 2 -ply cotton string

you can hang a Chinese money plant using a wall-mounted bracket or a ceiling hook.


Chinese Money plants are popular houseplants for a variety of reasons. Among them are its undemanding nature and its natural loveliness. With very little effort, while making certain not to overwater it, your Pilea Peperomioides will provide you with years of beauty, and dozens upon dozens of offshoots for propagating and passing along.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © DimaBerlin/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Kathryn Koehler is a writer at A-Z-Animals where her focus is on unusual animals, places, and events. Kat has over 20 years of experience as a professional writer and educator. She holds a master's degree from Vanderbilt University. When she is not writing for A-Z-Animals, Kat enjoys puttering in her garden, baking deliciously healthful treats for her family, and playing with her two rescue mutts, Popcorn and Scooter. She resides in Tennessee.

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