The Chinese money plant, botanical name Pilea peperomioides, is a member of the stinging nettle family and a native of Yunnan Province, China. This renowned air-purifying plant has round, flat, dark green leaves that resemble pancakes. Other names for the plant include pancake plant, UFO plant, lefse plant and missionary plant. Keep reading to learn exactly how, and why, you should repot your Chinese money plant.
How to repot a Chinese money plant
1. Choose the right container.
Before you repot your Chinese money plant, you need to select a new pot of the correct material and the appropriate size, and ensure that it has drainage holes. If not, you can drill some so that excess water can flow easily out of the soil.
Plastic, ceramic or terracotta pots are all fine, although terracotta helps to dry out the soil more quickly. If you are prone to overwatering your pilea plants, terracotta is the best option. Choose a pot size that is neither too small nor too big, but just the right size for your plant. Ideally, it should be just slightly bigger than the plant’s current pot.
2. Select the right potting soil.
Chinese money plants do not like to be overwatered, so the ideal potting soil for them is fast-draining. These plants cannot tolerate sitting in soggy soil for any length of time. The recommended soil is a mix of cactus soil and succulent soil that is available commercially. You can also use any potting soil you have, and add in some perlite or pumice to improve the drainage.
3. Remove the plant from its pot, taking care not to damage it.
Water your pilea a few days before repotting it. This keeps the soil together and helps to slide the plant easily out of the old container.
When you are ready to repot the plant, tip the pot over and slide the plant out while it is upside down. Do not pull at the plant. Use your free hand to support the central stem. If the plant will not budge, tap or squeeze the sides of the pot, or slide a knife around the inside edge of the pot before flipping and trying again.
4. Repot your pilea plant with extreme care.
Once you have prepared the correct container and potting soil and removed the plant, it is time to repot the plant. Put down some newspaper or cardboard, because this is a messy job, and ensure that you have to hand your new container and soil, and your pilea plant. To prepare the pot, place a coffee filter or burlap over the drainage hole at the bottom. This stops the soil from flowing out of the hole or blocking it.
Having gently removed the plant from its old pot, examine the roots. Healthy roots are white and crisp, while unhealthy ones are brown, gray or black, and mushy to the touch. If any roots are damaged, you need to prune them back before you proceed.
Run the plant’s roots under the tap to wash off as much soil as possible, and prune off damaged roots. Next, place some fast-draining potting soil in the bottom of the pot and place the plant on top of the new soil. Then scoop more soil, a cup at a time, around the plant until it has filled the container. Do not bury the central stem too much, because you want to ensure that the leaves will have access to sunlight.
Once the pot has been filled with the correct amount of soil, pat the soil down around the plant and water it until water flows out of the pot’s drainage holes.
Once you have repotted your plant, place it back in its usual spot where it can receive bright, indirect light. Resume your regular watering schedule. There is no need to fertilize for at least three months, since the new potting soil should already be enriched with all the nutrients that your plant needs.
Why should you repot your Chinese money plant?
You should repot your pilea plant to give it room to grow. As it becomes taller, the root system beneath also becomes fuller, and will need more space to grow into. Repotting it will also refresh the soil, because after a few months to a year, the soil’s nutrients become depleted.
Soil also becomes compacted over time, so to help the plant thrive you need to repot it periodically. The plant may also become top-heavy and tip over if it outgrows its pot. Repot the plant every year or so, in a container with a larger and heavier base to accommodate its growth.
Repotting also corrects the root-to-soil ratio within the container, because plants that have been in the same pot for a long time end up with more roots than soil beneath the surface. Plants that do not have enough soil will constantly dry out and have to be watered more often.
Chinese money plants are popular houseplants, also known as pancake plants and missionary plants, among other names. They are great air purifiers and add aesthetic value to any room. They will need periodic repotting, just like any plants, because their roots will outgrow the pot and the soil will become depleted of nutrients.
To repot your plants, you need to prepare a new container of the correct size and material; terracotta is ideal to avoid soggy soil. Your potting soil should be fast-draining, since these plants do not like to be overwatered. Gently transfer the plant to its new container, making sure to remove any unhealthy roots in the process.
Image: istockphoto.com / patnowa