Botanical Name: Pilea involucrata 'Moon Valley'
Friendship Plant has quilted leaves of apple green with deep bronze veins that make it a joy to grow indoors.
This is a bushy, fast-growing plant with ovate leaves that grow in opposite pairs. Pinch off growing tips, if you want, to keep the plant compact. Those cuttings will root easily, so don't toss them out. Share them with friends or pot them up for more plants.
'Moon Valley' has a more upright habit than the species, which is a trailing plant. Its toothed, deeply textured leaves feature dark-red undersides. Clusters of tiny, pink-green flowers may appear in spring, but they are insignificant compared to the showy foliage.
Place Friendship Plant near a window, but away from direct sunlight, which can scorch its leaves. Also keep it away from heat vents or drafty windows.
Humidity tip: High humidity is a must. It's a good idea to use a pebble tray or room humidifier for Friendship Plant. It makes an excellent terrarium plant.
Dropped leaves can be caused by either dry or soggy soil. However, you can expect the lower leaves to fall off as plants get older, making them look leggy and unattractive. That's another good reason to propagate stem cuttings for more plants -- you may want to replace your plant after a few years.
Origin: Central and South America
Height: Up to 12 in (30 cm)
Light: Moderate to bright light; no direct sunlight
Water: Keep soil evenly moist spring through fall; slightly drier in winter.
Humidity: High humidity. If relative humidity drops below 50%, place pot on a tray of wet pebbles or use a room humidifier.
Temperature: Average to warm room temperatures (65-80°F/18-27°C) suit this tropical plant.
Soil: Peat moss-based mix or African violet potting mix.
Fertilizer: Feed monthly in spring and summer with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half.
Propagation: Take stem tip cuttings in spring. Put the stem in moist potting mix, then firm the mix around the stem so that it stands up. Enclose the whole pot in a plastic bag to hold in humidity. Cuttings root easily.
Pilea likes moist soil, warm temperatures and high humidity.
Give this tropical plant what it wants and it'll reward you with beautiful foliage. Be sure to root those cuttings and you'll enjoy Friendship Plant for a long time.
One of the most popular cultivars is 'Moon Valley', shown here. It's sometimes sold as Pilea mollis.
'Norfolk' is a variety with smoother foliage and silver markings.
Pilea is a genus of 100s of species, including such unlikely relatives as the metallic-leaved aluminum plant and the invasive creeping charlie.