Friendship Plant (Pilea Involucrata) Care

Pilea Involucrata

The Pilea involucrata is better known as the friendship plant. It gets its name because of how easy and fast it is to propagate. And, once you do, you’ll have more than enough little plants to gift to your friends.

Its compact size, good looks and fast growing ability also make it a popular houseplant. Thus, they’re readily available in most nurseries and garden centers.

The Pilea involucrata is a creeper that grows in clusters. It’s trailing feature also adds to its versatility in terms of displaying the plant.

You can grow it in a small pot, group it with other small pots, place it in a terrarium or grow it as groundcover in your garden. Additionally, its beautifully multicolored leaves also makes it stand out amongst the mostly green foliage plants.

Just so you know, the Pilea involucrata is only one of a few hundred pilea varieties, all of which look different from one another.

As far as stature is concerned, the friendship plant is fairly tiny. You can expect it to grow to between 6 to 12 inches tall. Although, it rarely reaches to top end of that range. Similarly, it maxes out at a foot in width as well.

While it does bloom, its oval-shaped foliage are its main attraction. The colors varying from purple to green and yellow.

Since they’re native to Central and South America, these plants are tropical in nature. And, as you’ll see below, they prefer conditions that similar to this.

Pilea Involucrata Plant Care

Pilea Involucrata Light

Pilea involucrata grow well in moderate to bright light. They also don’t have a problem with low light conditions as long as they get at least a few hours of sunlight each day. Similarly, if you don’t have a good spot indoors that gets natural light exposure, you can use fluorescent grow lights as well. Friendship plants don’t fuss about artificial lighting and will do well with them.

The one place you don’t want to put them is under direct sunlight. These plants like partial or semi-shaded areas. And, placing them in the direct path of the sun’s rays for hours or during its most intense times will result in scorching of your pilea’s leaves.

As such, an east facing or north facing window are the best spots for your pilea involucrata. Conversely, if you decide on a south or west facing window, make sure your plant is protected or sitting away from the window itself. For the former you can use curtains, drapes or shades to filter the sunlight coming through the window.

 

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Pilea Involucrata Temperature & Humidity

Your Pilea involucrata is tropical in nature. Thus, it enjoys warm, humid conditions. This is one of the features that make it a good indoor plant (as most homes have similar conditions). That said, the friendship plant does best when the temperature hovers between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you go out of this range, always remember that it will tolerate warmer better than cooler. As such, you can err on the side of higher temperatures. But, be careful about letting the mercury drop too far. At best, it will tolerate up to 55 degrees. But once you go under 50 degrees, you’ll start to see it experience some stress.

Thus, it is important to monitor your home thermostat during wintertime. And, avoid placing the plant is corners or area of your home are get colder. Similarly, keep it away from areas with drafts, be it cold or warm air. This includes heaters, air conditioners, windows and doors leading outside the home.

If you life in USDA zones 11 and 12, you’ll be able to grow this tiny plant outdoors as well. This lets you put them in containers along with other plants in a mini garden. They’re likewise amazing ground cover plants.

Besides temperature, the other environmental conditions you need to give your Pilea involucrata is humidity. It likes moist air. Ideally, you want to keep it somewhere with relative humidity of 50% or higher.

And if this isn’t available at home you can either mist it regularly, place it on a pebble tray or use a humidifier to remedy the situation.

friendship plant pilea involucrata

source: wikimedia commons

 

Pilea Involucrata Watering

What makes the Pilea involucrata a low maintenance plant is that it easily grows without a lot of work on your part. And, much of the work has already been discussed above. That is.

  • Keep it away from direct sunlight
  • Give it at least a few hours of bright, indirect, filtered or dappled light
  • Moderately warm temperature
  • High humidity

From here on, the rest are fairly similar to what most houseplants will expect from you.

Water is one thing that your friendship plant isn’t too fussy about. As long as you don’t overwater it, it will be happy. Allowing it to sit in water for too long will result in root rot. So, err on the side of caution which is water less than more if you aren’t sure.

As with most other houseplants, your Pilea involucrata enjoys more frequent watering during its growing season. During this time, you’ll want to water again once the potting soil dries out a little bit. Depending on various factors including the weather, humidity, and the type of soil you use this will means watering between once to twice a week.

When you do water, make sure to water the pot thoroughly. Then, allow the water to drain from the holes at the bottom of the pot. This ensures moisture while eliminating the risk of root rot.

However, fall and winter come around, you can scale back on the water.

 

Soil

Soil is likewise straightforward. Here, you want to give your friendship plant moist, well-draining soil. A high quality potting mix works very well as it is rich in organic material and is well draining.

I highly recommend using either an African violet mix or one that is peat/peat moss based. Either of them will work very well.

 

Fertilizing

As with watering, you want to focus your efforts on spring and summer. This is when your pilea plant is actively growing. As such, you want to give it all the building blocks (water and plant food) to optimize growth.

During this time, feed it once a month using a balanced liquid fertilizer that’s diluted to half strength. Something with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10 will do very well.

Come wintertime, you can stop feeding and allow it to rest before starting again when spring arrives.

 

Pruning Pilea Involucrata

Pilea involucrata are easy growers. They are creepers that grow in clusters. As such, their shape can go out of control because they grow in different directions.

Thus, most of the pruning work will be for appearance and size control purposes.

  • If you plan on growing them in pots, this will mean keeping their form fairly compact.
  • In terrariums, you’ll trim them back in order that they don’t overwhelm the other plants or creep out of the container.
  • As ground cover, the goal will be to manage their density and keep them from invading the space of other plants around it.

In addition to aesthetics, pinching back your Pilea involucrata also encourages fresh new growth. As such, it helps make your plant look fuller and bushier.

 

Pilea Involucrata Propagation

These plants are very easy to propagate. The best way to do so is via stem cuttings. Thus, if you plan on growing more of them, don’t discard the trimmings you made while pruning your Pilea involucrata. You’ll be using them to propagate new friendship plants.

That said, you’ll want to be a little more specific them pruning. Ideally, you want to choose or cut:

  • Stems that are at least 4 inches long. You can grow a little longer if you want. The idea here is to make the stem long enough it can stand upright in the soil.
  • Stems that have at least 2-3 leaves. This ensures that the stem you pick isn’t a “dud”. By choosing stems with multiple leaves, you know it will be able to produce more leaves when planted on its own.

Once you’ve selected the stem, you can make the cutting. Then,

  • Dip the stem end into rooting hormone powder. This will speed up the rooting process.
  • Place the stem into a new pot with fresh potting mix.
  • Fill the rest of the pot and pat down to pack in the soil. The goal here is to allow the soil to fill the pot and provide stability for the stem. But, don’t over pack it. If the medium is too tightly packed, it will be difficult for air and water to penetrate the soil.
  • Water the soil
  • Place a plastic bag over the pot and plant. This will increase the humidity
  • Place the pot where it can get medium light
  • The roots will grow out in a few weeks to a month.
  • Get ready to share the some of the new friendship plants with others.

 

Pilea Involucrata Transplanting & Repotting

If you grow your friendship plant in a container, you’ll likely need to repot every few years. How often will depend on how fast they grow (if you do or don’t give them ideal conditions), and the size of the pot.

In the meantime, pinch back the excess growth to keep the plant looking neat and tidy.

 

Pests and Diseases

Following its easy to care for feature, the Pilea involucrata isn’t too susceptible to pests or disease. Thus, they’re less of an issue in this department compared to other houseplants.

But, on infrequent occasion, they can still experience pests like mealybugs ad spider mites. Additionally, leaf spot disease and stem rot can happen.

As such, it’s important to give them a thorough lookover every so often along with your other plants.

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