The Pilea depressa is a low-growing, creeping or climbing plant that has a distinct look because of the hundreds of little leaves on its stem. It can be grown both indoors or outdoors, and because of its high humidity requirements and small leaves, it is a great choice to use as part of a terrarium setup.
This plant’s natural habitats are the countries of Mexico and Brazil, and its optimal living conditions would be a simulation of the conditions in those places.
In this article, we will discuss proper cultural care of the Pilea depressa, and how to correctly propagate it. So, if you are considering adding this plant to your collection, then keep reading.
Pilea depressa care
1. Watering requirements
This plant likes its soil to be moist, but not waterlogged. Try not to let the soil dry out completely between waterings, as this will not be good for the plant. If you can water when the soil has almost dried out but is still just slightly damp, that is ideal. You can check this by feeling the top two inches of soil to make sure. The time between watering can be a few days or it can take as much as a week, depending on the local climate and the current weather conditions.
Although this plant appreciates soil that is consistently moist, refrain from ever overwatering it. If you overwater your plant, the roots will drown and die. Dead roots will begin to rot, and this will make them susceptible to opportunistic pathogens. The infection by either bacteria or fungi will cause the rot to move up to the crown root, stem and leaves much faster, and can even lead to the plant’s death.
Adjust the plant’s water intake according to the season. If you water it every four days during the spring and summer, you may just need to water once a week during the fall and winter, because the soil will not dry out as quickly in the cooler weather.
2. Light requirements
This plant can be grown outdoors, but try not to plant it in an area where it will be constantly bombarded with direct light. They prefer bright, indirect light, such as near windows or on the patio. If the only window in your house lets in too much light, the plant may get scorched. Diffuse the light by placing a sheer curtain over the window.
During the winter, when sunlight is limited, you may need to purchase a grow lamp to support the plant’s lighting needs.
3. Humidity requirements
Because this plant is native to areas with high humidity, you will need to provide similar conditions for your plant at home. You can mist the plant’s leaves every once in a while so they do not become dehydrated in the dry air. You can also place a pebble tray filled with water under the plant’s pot so that, as the water evaporates from the tray, it moistens the soil and the leaves of the plant.
If you do not want to worry about keeping up with these humidifying techniques, you can always just buy a humidifier to automatically regulate the humidity levels inside your home.
4. Soil requirements
You can just use indoor plant potting mix with added perlite, but if you have peat moss, mix two parts of that with one part perlite.
These components will help make the potting mix airy and porous to ensure that the soil is well-draining and to allow good air circulation.
The soil should never be dense or compact, because this can also contribute to overwatering and root rot.
5. Fertilizer requirements
Only fertilize the plant with a liquid fertilizer during the growing seasons, which are in spring and summer. Fertilize no more than once a month; too much fertilizer may cause toxicity.
The Pilea depressa does not like its roots to be crowded in the pot, so make sure to keep an eye on the condition of the roots in case they need repotting.
Take the plant out of the pot slowly and inspect the roots to see if any are rootbound. A rootbound plant’s growth will be stunted, and there will be noticeable roots growing out of the drainage holes from the bottom of the pot.
Place the plant in a new pot that is one size bigger than the previous one. Make sure there are sufficient drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Refrain from repotting during the fall or winter; only do so during the growing season in the spring and summer. This is because the plant can recover faster when it is actively growing.
Pilea depressa propagation
1. Propagation in soil
Choose a cutting that has several leaves and at least one node on it. The cutting must be several inches long. Cut it below the node using a pair of sterilized scissors. It is important to include the node because this is where the roots of the new plant will grow from. Remove any leaves that are close to the base of the cutting, because you do not want any leaves buried in the soil.
Prepare a small pot with well-draining soil mix and poke a hole in the middle of the soil. Place the cutting into the soil and make sure the node is covered with soil. Moisten the soil a little bit with water.
Place the pot in a spot where the cutting can get plenty of bright, indirect light for optimal growth. Try to keep the soil moist most of the time, but never soggy.
Increase the humidity around the plant by placing a plastic bag over it, but remove the bag every couple of days to let the plant breathe.
After four weeks, check the viability of the plant’s roots by giving the cutting a gentle tug. If there is resistance, the roots have grown in well and you can now care for the plant as you would a mature plant.
2. Propagation in water
Take a cutting a few inches long from the parent plant, using a sterilized pair of scissors.
Make sure the cutting has a few nodes and leaves on it, but remove any leaves that are near the base of the cutting.
Prepare a clear glass or plastic container with water and place the cutting in it, submerging the node in the water. This is key, because the node is where the roots will grow from.
Place the container in a spot where it can get lots of bright, indirect light. Refill the water if it starts to get low, and change it if it starts to look murky or grimy.
After three to four weeks, the roots will be several inches long. You can now transfer the cutting to a small pot with soil and care for it as you would a regular plant.
The Pilea depressa is a low-maintenance, vining plant that can be grown indoors, outdoors or even in terrariums. It has unique-looking, small, scallop-shaped leaves.
This plant likes bright, indirect light, well-draining soil that is light and airy, high humidity, once-monthly feeding during its growing phase, and repotting when the roots become crowded.
You can propagate the plant by planting a cutting directly in soil, or you can let the cutting take root in a jar of water for a few weeks before transferring it to a small pot with soil. When the cuttings have been transferred to their pots, you can care for them like regular plants.
Image: istockphoto.com / Nahhan