Pilea cadierei

Common Name: aluminum plant 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Urticaceae
Native Range: Vietnam
Zone: 11 to 12
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers not showy
Bloom Description: Green
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zone 11-12. In St. Louis, grow indoors in a warm, humid environment in bright indirect light. Avoid full sun. Use a peaty soil-based potting mix. Plants like high humidity, and appreciate humidified rooms or placement on a bed of wet pebbles. Water moderately in the growing season, and reduce watering in fall to late winter. Pinch stem tips as needed to keep plant compact. Propagates easily by stem tip cuttings in spring or summer. Best foliage is on new plants. Some gardeners replace plants each year by taking cuttings for new plants in early spring.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pilea cadierei, commonly called aluminum plant, is native to Vietnam. The foliage looks like it has been splashed with aluminum paint, hence the common name. This is an upright, herbaceous perennial that is noted for its textured green and silver foliage. It typically grows in a shrubby clump to 12” tall. Elliptic to obovate, toothed, dark green leaves (to 3” long), with each leaf having four rows of upraised silver patches. Leaf appearance gives rise to an additional common name of watermelon pilea. Tiny green flowers may appear in cymes. Indoor plants rarely flower and fruit.

Genus name comes from the Latin word pileus meaning a cap from the shape of the female flowers.

‘Minima’ is a dwarf form growing to 6” tall.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for mealybugs and spider mites. Leaf spots and stem rot may occur.

Garden Uses

Easy maintenance indoor plant.