Pilea Peperomioides Curling Leaves

(Question)

Hi,

I have had a pilea peperomioides plant in my home for about 8 weeks now, purchased from a local nursery. In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed some of the leaves (old and newly grown ones) are curling around the edges. I’m not sure if this is a sign of too much/too little light? or too much/too little water? I have it placed with other plants near a west facing window with the blinds tilted so the sun isn’t too strong/direct in the late afternoon hours. It was doing well and looking quite happy in the first 4-5 weeks but in the last few weeks there are a couple of leaves that have curled quite a bit and I’m not sure what I may be doing wrong. Do you have any advice? Thanks!

 

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your question concerning your Pilea peperomioides, (Chinese money plant).

This popular plant is appreciated for its lovely pancake-shaped leaves and easy propagation. Pilea peperomioides appreciates a location with plenty of light but doesn’t do well in direct sunlight. This means it’s a good idea to avoid any locations that get a lot of direct afternoon sun.

Pilea prefers lightly moist soil but, like many other houseplants, absolutely does not appreciate wet feet. On hot summer days they might need a bit more water than on colder days. What’s important is to not keep the soil wet, but let it dry out a bit in between waterings, but also don’t let it dry out completely, either. If you’re not sure whether it’s time to water yet, sticking your finger or a chopstick into the soil can help figure out what to do;the soil should have dried out a little but not entirely. If it’s bone dry or soaking wet, adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

There are several possibilities regarding what could be causing your curling leaves. Curled leaves that are not accompanied by any necrosis or browning of the foliar edges may be attributable to nutrient excess, insect damage, water or other cultural issues.

Not enough water can cause this symptom, but if it does not correct itself after a good drink, this is not likely the issue. Conversely, the leaves of an oversaturated plant may curl or droop, but often this is followed by a yellow and or sick appearance of the plant too. Too much water along with poorly draining soil may also set the stage for root rot, which will cause the leaves and ultimately the entire plant to collapse.

Have you been fertilizing your plant? Too much nitrogen can cause the leaves to curl.

Your plant may also just be showing signs of stress due to cultural factors. Is the curling just on one side? This could be an environmental problem due to continual and proximal exposure to a fan.

If none of these seem to be the cause of the leaf curl that you are experiencing, the symptoms may be caused by a mite infestation. Check the lower surface of the leaf for mite infestation. Several different species of mites, including Broad mites, Cyclamen mites, and Russet mites may be feeding on your plant leaves and leave curled leaves in their wake as a result of a substance that they inject into the foliage while feeding. Generally, though, there will be other symptoms appearing shortly after you notice the curling such as a change of color (yellow to brown) or a speckled appearance to the leaves.

Have you noticed regular spaced bumps on the lower surface of the leaves?  This is the indication that your plant could be suffering from oedema. A previous post on this web site described the same problem and how to deal with it:

Oedema is a disorder affecting many succulents and semi-succulent plants caused by an imbalance in water when the roots take up more water than the leaves can transpire. This excess water ruptures the cells, particularly on the undersides, and leads to water-soaked patches which then become raised, warty or pimple-like swellings or growths. As they rupture, they can have a white, powdery appearance or may become rust-coloured and appear as scaly patches. Finally, corky spots or ridges may develop, particularly on woody plants.

Some of the causes of oedema are: excessively moist conditions in the soil or growing medium, in the atmosphere, or in combination, which give the plant cells an unusually high water content. Also, when foliage is reduced by the removal of leaves or shoots, plants have fewer transpiration surfaces to eliminate extra moisture.

I would suggest to check that the soil is free-draining. If plants are too wet, re-potting with fresh potting medium is advisable (some growers recommend to re-pot this plant every 2-3 years).  As new leaves develop, keep checking the soil and for more symptoms of stress but we think your plant will be ok. If however, conditions do not improve, please do not hesitate to contact us.

For your enjoyment, I have added an interesting article on the history of this beautiful plant:

www.wildchicken.com/nature/garden/ga008_a_chinese_puzzle.htm

Good Luck with your Pilea peperomioides.