How to Look After a Chinese Money Plant

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A chinese money plant on a mantlepiece next to a brass watering can

I have just bought myself a Chinese Money Plant for my office. I love surrounding myself with houseplants because they really help to boost the mood in a room. But did I need another plant? No! Did I want another plant? ALWAYS.

I try to resist buying too many plants as I’m still not great at keeping them alive. I had to dispose of the body of a cactus a few weeks ago, which made me feel very guilty. But that did mean that I now had a spot for a new plant.

A chinese money plant next to the Briiv air purifier in an office

I consulted the experts at Gardener’s Dream and together we decided that a Chinese Money Plant could be a perfect new addition to my coworking space in Totnes. They also shared some care tips with me to give my new plant the best possible start.

I’d had my eye on the Chinese Money Plant for a while, mostly because I like how they look, I don’t have any other plants that look similar and they are apparently easy to care for. Fingers crossed! I also like the name and it makes me feel like I might come into money if I look after it well. (Fingers still crossed!)

The scientific name for the Chinese Money Plant is Pilea Peperomioides. But they are also referred to as a UFO Plant, Missionary Plant, Pancake Plant, Lefse Plant, Pass It On Plant and Friendship Plant. That last one is my favourite.

About the Chinese Money Plant

A close-up of chinese money plant on a mantlepiece next to a brass watering can

These charming little plants are native to the Yunnan province in Southern China and were brought to Europe in the early 20th Century. First by a Scottish botanist in 1906, and later by a Norwegian missionary in 1946.

It is an evergreen plant with circular leaves (hence the names Pancake Plant and UFO Plant) of up to 10cm in diameter and an attractive rich green hue. The leaves often overlap and give the impression of coins piled on top of one another. Mature plants can flower in summer, producing tiny creamy-green blooms on pink stems.

Why Grow a Chinese Money Plant?

Chinese Money Plants have (quite literally) grown in popularity over the past few years and are now a frequent sight in homes around the country.

They are undemanding plants that require little attention to thrive. They forgive a bit of neglect when it comes to light and water, but a little attention will be rewarded with bright foliage and fast growth. This makes them the perfect plant for beginners as well as experienced plant owners.

Chinese Money Plants are said to bring luck and good fortune, which makes them ideal for housewarming and engagement presents. I’m hoping it will bring me lots of luck and good fortune at work!

On top of being an easy plant to care for, this is simply a gorgeous plant that suits any room. A Pilea plant will catch the eye and makes a great addition to any shelf or tabletop. In fact, one of the reasons for its recent surge in popularity is the fact it is so Instagrammable!

Chinese Money Plant Care

Plants on an office desk in front of a window

As already mentioned, Chinese Money Plants are simple to care for. But, like every other plant, they need just a little TLC to keep them happy and healthy.

Light Levels

Your Pilea peperomioides will be happiest in a warm spot with plenty of natural light. However, you should keep it away from windowsills where the direct sun may scorch its leaves. Bright indirect sunlight is ideal.

Wipe the leaves occasionally to get rid of any dust that may have built up and allow bright light to penetrate the foliage. Money Plants tend to start leaning towards the sun, so rotate the pot every few days to promote even growth.

Watering Schedule

As a general guide, water your Pancake Plant weekly during the growing season in spring/summer and fortnightly over autumn/winter. Give the plant a drink whenever the top few centimetres of soil feel dry.

Chinese Money Plants love humidity. Unless your plant is in the bathroom or kitchen, where humidity levels are usually quite high, it will need regular misting. Alternatively, you can place a tray of pebbles in water underneath the pot to help raise humidity levels.


A Chinese Money Plant shouldn’t need to be re-potted more than once every two years. Signs your plant may need to be re-potted sooner include:

  • The plant is root bound, with roots growing down through the pot’s drainage holes or up above the soil.
  • Water flows right through the soil with no resistance.
  • The plant has stopped growing.

The best time of year to re-pot your Pass It On Plant is in spring or summer. Use well-draining potting soil in a pot with plenty of drainage holes to clear out excess water and help prevent root rot.

A close up of new shoots on a chinese money plant


One of the main attractions of the Chinese Money Plant is that it is so easy to propagate. In fact, the names Friendship Plant and Pass It On Plant were derived from how simple it is to create new plants and share them with friends and family.

When mature, happy, and healthy, UFO plants will produce offsets, also known as ‘pups’ or ‘babies’, at the base of the plant. You can remove these delicately from the soil – being careful not to disturb the mother plant’s roots – and place them in water. It won’t be long before you notice the baby plant starting to develop a root system. After about two weeks, the little plant will be ready to move into its new pot.

It is also really simple to create new plants from stem cuttings. Use secateurs or a sharp knife to cut the stem from the main plant and place it in water, ensuring none of the leaves are submerged. Like with pups, stem cuttings take a couple of weeks to grow roots before the baby plants can be moved into a pot.

Just give your new houseplant a thorough watering and watch it quickly grow. Look after them well, and baby plants will, in turn, become mother plants, having pups of their own.

Potential Problems with a Chinese Money Plant

Wall shelves in a pink office with lots of plants on them

Even the most well-tended plants can sometimes throw up the odd challenge. If you notice something isn’t quite right with your Chinese Money Plant it is probably easily fixed. Here are some symptoms to look out for:

White Spots

White spots on plants are often a symptom of powdery mildew, which can be tricky to get rid of. However, with Pilea Peperomioides, white spots appearing on the undersides of leaves are much less worrying. They are common wherever minerals are present in the water or soil. As long as the plant appears otherwise healthy, you don’t need to do anything to get rid of these white dots. If you’d rather remove them, try using rainwater or tap water that has been left out overnight, and they should disappear.

Curling Leaves

Downward curling leaves are a symptom of overwatering. Though this doesn’t automatically mean you’ve been watering your plant too often. It can also be a sign that the pot’s drainage holes are blocked or that the soil needs to be loosened or replaced to assist drainage. Give the plant time to dry out, and only water again when the top 2-3cm of soil feels dry. Ensure excess water drains clearly away before placing the plastic pot back inside the decorative pot.

Leaves curling inward suggest the plant is sensitive to heat and/or light. Move it away from heat sources such as radiators and out of direct sunlight.

Yellowing Leaves

If leaves start yellowing towards the bottom of the plant, don’t worry. It’s perfectly normal for older leaves to wilt away as fresh new growth appears on the top of the plant. They will usually drop off by themselves, but you can just remove the yellow foliage, and the problem will go away.

On the other hand, if leaves begin to turn yellow all over the plant, this is a sign you may be under or over-watering it. Check the soil and if it’s wet or soggy, leave the plant for a while before watering again. If the soil is dry and crumbly, give the plant a good drink.

Alternatively, the yellowing leaves may be a symptom of poor lighting. Move the plant to a spot with plenty of bright indirect light.

Chinese Money Plants will soon tell you if there is a problem and they’re feeling stressed or unhappy, and most issues can be remedied quite easily. So whether you’re looking for a single plant to fill a gap, like I was, or plan to create an indoor jungle using pups and stem cuttings, the Chinese Money Plant is a great way to start.

Have you got a Chinese Money Plant? If you have, let me know if you find it easy to care for. I sincerely hope I will be able to keep this one alive.

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