Little was known about this quirky plant until it was first identified in 1978 at Kew herbarium. Though the leaves resemble some species of Peperomia in Piperaceae, tiny male flowers suggested it belonged to the stinging nettle family, Urticaceae. It was later confirmed when Kew botanist Wessel Marais found the plant had been named P.peperomioides, a Chinese species of Pilea, by German botanist Friedrich Diels in 1912.
No longer a mystery, Pilea peperomioides has become one of the most popular houseplants in recent years. Their thick peltate leaves can reach up to 4 inches in diameter on their long petioles. If happy, these will soon outgrow a windowsill!! The stem is woody & strong, growing towards the light, so if left in the same position it will contort, which, in my opinion gives them character as no two ever look the same. If you want your stem to remain as upright as possible you will need to turn your plant frequently. It's worth designating an area in your home exclusively for them as they grow & multiply over time & just like me, you may want to keep them all!!
These adorable plants require little attention. Mine thrive in a mixture of peat, sand, grit & slow release fertiliser. I water little & often as they prefer to be quite dry & the added grit & sand in the soil will help with drainage.
Despite P.peperomioides being considered a 'beginners' plant you might be struggling to keep them happy. Usually this comes down light. The term 'bright, indirect light' is frequently used in house plant care & its advised for these too, but there are some exceptions to this I want to share with you. The first being morning sun, this is much gentler, will encourage plenty of new growth & your petioles won't stretch out too much as long as the room remains bright in the afternoon. As for afternoon sun, this can be tolerated from a distance so a shaded position in the morning will suffice if the room brightens up later in the day. Then there's 'dappled sunlight'. Imagine a canopy in a rainforest where the sunlight shines through but the plant is not exposed to the direct sun for long enough to cause any damage.
So no matter where you live & with a little thought, you can successfully grow your own family!!