Pilea pups not doing well – House Plant Journal

Pilea pups not doing well

Plant: Pilea peperomioides

How long have you had the plant? 6 months to 1 year


I was wondering if you could help me with these 3 pilea pups. I propagated them from their mother in May, into those small terracotta pots. I potted them in a mixture of perlite, orchid bark, and peat moss. When I potted them, they had very minimal roots.

Since potting them 6 months ago, they have not grown taller (though new leaves have appeared). The past few weeks, the older leaves that they had while attached to the mother started falling off, with the appearance in the pictures.

I keep these plants on the window sill in a lot of indirect sunlight:

I watered the plants ~2x a week (I saturate the soil with distilled water. I always check to make sure soil is completely dry with a chopstick; they dry fast because of their small pot size and terracotta I believe).

I fertilized the plant once over the summer. Is this natural for the pups, or am I doing something wrong?


Thanks for the daytime photo and your care details.

Based on what you’ve described, here’s where I think the issues are:

1) Water loss is too fast – although they look cute, terracotta dries out too quickly for my tastes (and for most of my types of plants – tropical foliage). Combine that with the pots being small (can’t hold as much water), and your soil mix sounds far too chunky (can’t hold as much water). Lastly, Pilea peperomioides is particularly thirsty compared to other tropical foliage plants so even when potted in a plastic nursery pot with a more water-retaining mix (such as peat moss + small percentage of perlite, maybe in a 4:1 ratio), you’ll find that the soil will become dry in about a week or so.

2) Nutrient deficiency – because you needed to water so frequently to keep up with the water loss (and because the pots are so small), the available nutrients were quickly depleted, which is why there is yellowing even though the plant is relatively young. Nutrients are depleted even faster when watering with distilled water.

– Pot – use a small plastic nursery pot; you can use terracotta later when the plants are ready for a 10-12″ pot
– Soil – use a peat moss/perlite mix with an approximately 4:1 peat/perlite ratio (most pre-made “potting soil” already has this ratio)
– Nutrients – use a slow release fertilizer mixed into the soil (like Osmocote – pink bottle); a small amount of nutrients will be released into the soil every time you water, which is fine given good light

Your light situation looks great so if you made the above changes, I think the newer leaves will be bigger and the overall plant will grow more vigorously. Good luck!

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