Growing & Caring for Pilea Depressa (Depressed Clearweed)

Pilea Depressa

The Pilea Depressa is a miniature vine that goes by many names, the most popular of which being depressed clearweed.

It is a small plant with tiny but prominent thick, green-colored scalloped leaves. While they also bloom white flowers during the spring, it is its quarter inch long round leaves that make it very attractive, especially when clumped up together.

When it matures, this evergreen climber can reach between 20 to 40 inches high and get as wide as 20 inches from side to side. This makes them low growing compared to many other similar plants.

Due to these features, it is versatile enough to be displayed in different ways.

Indoors, they’re often grown in containers and either placed on the ground or tabletops. High shelves and hanging baskets do just as well because of their trailing characteristics. Their size also makes them a popular terrarium plant.

Being natives of Brazil and Mexico, the pilea depressa is well-suited for indoor conditions. If you live somewhere where it is warm and humid all year round (USDA zones 10-12), you can grow it in your garden as well as groundcover.

Pilea Depressa Plant Care

Pilea Depressa Care Summary

 

Pilea Depressa Light

The pilea depressa thrives on bright, indirect light. You do want to give it at least 4 hours of sunlight daily under these circumstances.

More importantly, you want to keep the plant away from direct sunlight. Too much exposure to this will cause its leaves to get sunburn and turn brown in color.

As such, indoors, an east facing window is the ideal place for this plant. If you decide to go with a west or south facing window, make sure that you protect it by providing some kind of layer to block out the sun partially. You can use sheer curtains, drapes or other pieces of fabric.

Similarly, if you can’t find a suitable place where natural lighting is right, you can opt to go with artificial lighting. The pilea depressa will be quite happy under fluorescent grow lights.

Outdoors, or in your patio, make sure to keep it somewhere there is bright light but under shade.

 

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Pilea Depressa Temperature & Humidity

For optimum growth, keep your pilea depressa in temperatures ranging from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. For short periods of time you let it go above or below expanding the range to 55 to 80 degrees. But beyond that for prolonged periods of time, it will start to suffer or even die.

This latter is especially true in lower temperatures as the plant isn’t frost hardy. As such, you’ll want to move it to a more toasty spot come wintertime. This is especially true if you bring it outside during the summer and experience cool weather in your area come fall and winter.

In addition to moderately warm temperature, you’re the pilea depressa also likes medium to high humidity. Keep relative humidity to around 50% or higher is ideal for growth. Although, it won’t have a problem between 60% to 90% as well. However, going below 50% humidity isn’t suitable for this and many other pilea varieties.

Thus, it’s a good idea to check your home’s humidity if it is high enough. Most homes have this kind of humidity. But, not all do, especially during the winter when the air becomes very dry. Similarly, the draft blowing out of air conditioning or heaters also make the air drier.

Here are a few ways to increase humidity around the plant:

  • Place it in a terrarium. Pilea depressa are great terrarium plants because of their size and appearance. Placing them in a terrarium immediately increases humidity so you don’t have to worry about it.
  • Mist it a few times a week. Using a spray bottle with room temperature water helps keep the plant hydrated. Similarly, it adds moisture to the air surrounding the plant.
  • Place it in a pebble tray. By placing the plant on top of pebbles sitting on a water tray, you’re able to take advantage of the moisture that evaporates into the air. This increased humidity above and around the plant without affecting the rest of the room. The pebbles also keep the pot above the water so the soil doesn’t sit in moisture.
  • Use a humidifier. A humidifier is arguably the best solution because it allows you to precisely control humidity levels. Plus, many modern machines come with timers and sensors which turn it on and off depending on what the air humidity levels are. So, you don’t over do it. The downside is cost, maintenance and replacement of parts.

pilea depressa

source: wikimedia commons

 

Watering Pilea Depressa

The pilea depressa isn’t a thirsty plant. So, you won’t need to spend a lot of time watering it.

What’s more important with this plant when it comes to watering is that you know what to do in different times of the year.

  • During its growing season (spring and summer), the goal is to keep the soil moist. As such, you want to let the top layer be slightly moisty (but not soggy). This comes out to between once to thrice a week depending on factors like how hot the weather is, how much sun it gets and what kind of potting soil you’re using.
  • During its inactive phase (fall and winter), allow the plant to dry out before watering again. This time of the year is cooler. And, the water will take longer to evaporate. So, on average you’ll only need to water every week or two weeks. To gauge, stick your finger into the soil. You should allow the top half inch to dry out before watering again.

The worst thing for your pilea is overwatering. Doing so can kill your plant whereas underwatering won’t.

 

Soil

Pilea Depressa watering

The ideal potting mix for your pilea is one that is light and drains well. Again, the goal of this is to prevent the soil from retaining too much moisture that your plant sits in water for long periods of time. When this happens, it will be susceptible to root rot, something that will be difficult to fix, and likely kill your plant eventually.

As such, sandy soil or perlite combined with peat works well. The former components allow your potting media to easily let water drain, while the peat helps retain some moisture for your plant’s roots to absorb liquid and fertilizer.

 

Fertilizing

As with watering, fertilization varies during the spring and summer compared to the fall and winter.

  • During spring and summer when the plant is actively growing, you want to feed it once a month with a balanced houseplant fertilizer diluted to half or quarter strength.
  • During the fall and winter, stop feeding the plant until spring comes back around.

 

Pruning Pilea Depressa

Pilea depressa are fast growers. This is what makes them great as ground cover. But, for the gardener it also means more trimming and repotting, which we’ll cover below.

Because of this, part of caring for this plant means pruning it to keep it from getting out of control. In short, trimming is more for aesthetics rather than health because it isn’t susceptible to many problems.

Trimming back your pilea depressa will keep it from getting too dense, covering or invading other areas or just spreading out in directions you don’t want it to.

Similarly, you’ll want to cut off dead, discolored or old leaves so the vine looks neat. Doing so also helps it look fuller.

 

Pilea Depressa Propagation

Pilea Depressa propagation

Pilea depressa are easy to propagate through stem cutting. Depending on how thick or dense your want the new plant to be you can cut one or many stems and propagate them together.

The best time to do so is during the spring. This gives it a chance to quickly start to grow right after you plant the cuttings.

Here’s how to propagate pilea despressa via stem cutting.

  • Begin by choosing a healthy stem with at least a few leaves on it
  • Cut at least 4 to 6 inches of stem. You’ll want it to be long enough to be dipped into water and later planted into soil
  • Fill a glass or small jar with water and put the stem in it.
  • Once it begins to root, you can transfer the plant into a container with fresh potting soil.
  • Similarly, you can skip the step of starting it in water and just go straight to a container with potting mix. If you do, you can dip the stem end into rooting hormone to speed up its rooting process.
  • Plant the stem into the container and pack it lightly with soil
  • Cover the pot with a plastic bad leaving a little space for air to circulate. The bag will increase humidity which is essential for early growth.

 

Pilea Depressa Transplanting & Repotting

You will likely need to repot your pilea depressa every 12 months or so. This is one of its few disadvantages, in part brought about by its ability to grow and spread fairly quickly.

As such, routinely check your plant’s root density every spring, either early spring or right before spring. That’s because spring is the best time to repot if needed. The warmer weather and the beginning of its growing season allows the plant to quickly recover from the short of being transplanted.

Similarly, because you’re putting in fresh, new potting soil, it will be able to take advantage of this as it begins it growth spurt for the year.

Once the roots start to outgrow the pot or they become really dense, it’s a sign that you need to move it to a larger container.

Repotting is very important when it comes to pilea depressa since they will break out of your container when its roots need more space. As such, you don’t want to waste a perfectly good terra cotta or clay pot.

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