Remember those sad-looking, flattened-out holiday inflatables you saw in December? In the plant world, your Pilea has the same relationship with water as that inflatable has to air.
Plants naturally soak in water from their roots, traveling up their stems, out to their leaves. Not enough water pressure? Things start to go limp. On the opposite side of things, the dangers of overwatering are serious: root rot, leading to certain death! So what are some Pilea Watering hacks to help you successfully navigate your plant-parent journey?
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Mini Pilea Watering Hack #1: Watering Isn’t Just About Water
This might sound like a contradiction, but it isn’t. There are so many factors that go into how much water your Pilea needs. Here is a quick run-down of some fundamental care requirements:
Soil is important because it continues to provide your plant with moisture long after you’ve put down your watering can.
Traditional potting mix is not the right choice for a Pilea because they hold too much moisture. What’s the hack? Modify your potting mix by adding extra perlite, which will increase its drainage and improve soil aeration.
The Right Pot
There is no right-or-wrong container decision for the Pilea. Just remember, the kind of pot you choose factors into how frequently you need to water your plant.
Types of Containers:
Moisture-retaining: Ceramic and concrete pots hold moisture, which translates into less frequent watering. But that isn’t always a good thing! A moisture-retaining container coupled with moisture-retaining soil will spell absolute disaster for your poor mini Pilea.
Moisture-wicking: A terra-cotta pot pulls moisture out of the soil, which means the dirt dries out more often and evenly. This type of container can help compensate if you choose to plant your Pilea in improper soil.
What’s the perfect choice? Plant your Pilea in a water-retaining pot with well-draining soil.
Light eliminates moisture in two ways: (1) by evaporating it and by (2) encouraging the plant to use it to fuel photosynthesis. So, the brighter the location, the more frequently you will need to water your plant.
Pileas are adaptable little fellas. In an ideal setting, they receive bright indirect light. However, they can adjust to suit slightly brighter or darker areas of your home. That means you need to change your watering habits to fit their needs.
These are humidity-loving plants, so it is important to remember that if you are running a humidifier or misting often, your soil will dry out less frequently.
Pileas grow in the Spring-Summer and are dormant in the Fall-Winter. While Pileas should always be allowed to dry out slightly in-between waterings, you should allow them to dry out even further during dormancy. Remember, plants can quickly recover from the occasional underwatering. It’s always best to err on the side of caution and wait a day or two if you are unsure.
Mini Pilea Watering Hack #2: Listen to the Leaves
Many Pilea-parents successfully care for their plant by watering when the first 2 inches of soil is dry. However, there can be challenges with this method.
For instance, the plant’s size factors into how frequently your Pilea will need water. Since you are caring for a mini plant, allowing your Pilea to dry out 2-inches down will result in chronic underwatering.
That’s where this Pilea watering hack comes in! Monitor your plant’s moisture by checking the soil and the leaves. When your Pilea is freshly watered, the leaves will be firm. When it requires water, the leaves will become easily bendable.
Of course, be gentle when checking the firmness of your plant’s leaves. You don’t want to damage it! When the soil is dry on top, and the leaves are flimsy, it’s time to water.
Mini Pilea Watering Hack #3: Switch Up the Method
All of us are used to overhead watering our plants, while bottom watering is new on the scene. (Or at least it feels like it!) There are benefits to both methods, so you can choose whichever you prefer or mix-it-up occasionally. Nothing says you have water the same way every time! What are the perks?
Your Mini Pilea comes from the damp, rocky regions surrounding the Himalayas. In its natural habitat, it can’t help but experience overhead watering when it rains.
This watering method cleans off leaves and washes out excess minerals (& fertilizer) from the soil. Too much salt in your soil will burn your Pilea’s roots, making over-head watering a good idea, at least once each month or two.
Tip: Water your plant thoroughly until water pours out the drainage holes for 2 minutes. This will ensure that the soil is saturated, providing the roots with their needed moisture.
This method of watering is a low-release method of getting moisture to your Pilea’s roots. Place your pot (with drainage holes!) in a bowl or saucer ¾ filled with water. Remove your plant in 20-30 minutes. It’s that easy!
The advantage of bottom watering is that it can rehydrate soil and is especially useful if you have allowed your soil to completely out. (Not ideal, but it happens sometimes.)
It can also help reduce those brown, water-spots on your Pilea. These result from water droplets setting on your plant’s leaf for too long.
Mini Pilea Watering Hack #4: Use Distilled Water
If you are a first-time plant owner, this probably sounds pretty “booshie.” Keep in mind, not every Pilea needs such exceptional care. How can you tell if your plantie needs this extra layer of TLC?
Holding your Pilea up to a brightly lit window reveals that plants have pores too! And they’re similar to those on our faces. When we have a clogged pore, what happens? You got it: it’s not a fatal condition, but it sure isn’t pretty! Your Pilea’s pores can get clogged from excess chemicals and minerals often found in tap water.
If your plant has clogged pores, you will notice white patches surrounding each pore on the leaf’s back. Ironically enough, these patches will look like hard-water stains you’d find on your shower door! The solution?
Either fill your watering can the night before, letting some of the chemicals evaporate overnight, or use distilled water. The good news: Your Pilea’s leaves will quickly clear up!
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