Today’s post is a reader request that concerns pilea babies – specifically, what to do with them when they start popping up from your ‘main’ mother plant. If you are just getting into houseplants or it’s your first time having a pilea peperomioides then it can be quite alarming to see new growth appearing from the potting mix out of nowhere! For general care information have a read of my blostpost — Looking after your Pilea peperomioides. I have also answered some common pilea propagation questions later in this post.
…the main way to encourage plantlet growth is to keep the plant relatively pot-bound. This triggers the plant to start producing offsets as a survival mechanism. So don’t re-pot too often if you want to get growing your pilea collection! (excerpt from post)
For reference, here are some photos of mama pilea, from left to right – showing growth to plantlets + the propagation of one of these babies into the cutest little plant —
Sometimes, it’s easier (+ more helpful perhaps) to show a step-by-step in photos, so here is the process in more detail —
As you can see from the slide above, there are multiple new plants growing from the potting mix. Combined with some of the older foliage yellowing, this was also a sign that the plant was pot-bound + needed a slightly larger pot. As I said in my Pilea care post, I only go up one pot size at a time — especially with Pilea, as I find they grow more babies this way.
These are the most commonly asked questions I get about pilea propagation —
(I’ll answer under each question!)
- where do I cut? …
Refer to the photos in this post — you want to cut (use a sterile blade) close to the where the plantlet joins the main stem of the Pilea.
- Will I damage the main plant? …
No, not at all! If the plant has LOTS of babies in the post they will actually be taking some energy away from the main plant. So if anything, you might be doing it a favour… That being said, a healthy mother plant can sustain a number of plantlets with no major stress, so if you would prefer to keep everything growing in the pot together that’s totally fine! You can just loosen the roots + repot everything together as normal, without taking any cuttings. This is a good option if the base of your main plant has lost leaves + could look a little bare.
- How big do I need to let the plantlet grow before I cut it? …
I’ve experimented with separating a range of sizes — from tiny plantlets to more established pups with multiple leaves. I would say that the optimum size is arguably a plant that is around 2-3 inches tall above the soil level with a few leaves. As you’ll see from the photos below, smaller plants do propagate too, I just find the slightly larger babies are more robust when getting transferred to soil.
- What if there are no roots? …
A healthy baby plant will readily produce roots + most of the time roots aren’t present already. BUT, you might find your plantlet has started to grow roots if it has been there for quite a while.
- How long do I leave it in water for?
Generally, wait until the roots are around 1-2 inches long before potting on. The photos below show that my plantlet rooted in water in 10 days. Soil propagation is slightly slower.
- Any other tips?
I’d say pot size is important — pilea babies are happiest in smaller pots + it’s better to do a number of pot changes when they are young than to place somewhere too big to begin with. I find the growth + form to be more compact (basically better looking) if I do this… plus I always have small pots around the place — use something like a yogurt pot with holes in if you don’t have any pots suitable!
Here is my plantlet after potting today:
Hope this post helped Lauren, thanks for emailing me.
Stay safe + stay home —