Aluminum Plant is a strange name if you’ve never seen a Pilea cadierei, but once you lay your eyes on this beauty, it will all make sense. This easy-care houseplant has a vintage vibe and first became popular in the U.S. in the 1970s. While this dainty stunner has slipped in popularity lately, it still holds a spot in the hearts of many plant fanatics. Learn everything you need to know about Aluminum Plant care.
The Aluminum Plant is native to Vietnam and parts of China. Leaves emerge from horizontal stems that grow along the thin, upright main stem. Mature plants only reach up to one foot tall, making this an excellent plant for a desk or tabletop.
The oval leaves have slightly serrated edges and come to a point or can be rounded. The leaves are green along the margins and midrib, with the rest being a silvery hue that looks like it will touched up with aluminum paint. The silver portions of the foliage are raised, adding extra dimension. The striking variegation also inspires the name watermelon pilea.
If you want an even more adorable version of the Aluminum Plant, check out the Pilea cadierei ‘Minima,’ a dwarf cultivar. The minima stands about four inches tall and has the same care requirements as the full-size plant.
Aluminum Plant Light Needs
About 4 hours of bright, indirect sunlight is best for the Aluminum Plant. Not enough sunlight and the foliage will appear small and muted, and growth will be leggy. Too much sunlight and the leaves may burn. An east-facing window is a good spot because the plant can soak up the early morning sunlight and get its fill. A few feet away from a south- or west-facing window can also suffice. Give the pot a quarter turn every other week so each side receives consistent sunlight.
How Often to Water Aluminum Plant
The watermelon Pilea naturally grows in damp conditions. Water the Aluminum Plant when the top ¼ to ½ inch of potting soil is dry. Despite this plant’s increased water needs, too much water is damaging and will cause root rot. Remove water that collects in the cover pot or saucer and only water when the topmost layer of soil is dry. Wait until the top one inch of the potting mix is dry before watering the Aluminum Plant during the winter.
Best Soil for Pilea
This Pilea is not picky when it comes to soil. A rich, moist, well-drained potting mix is ideal. Soil pH is not a concern. Most ready-made potting mixes work well, and as long as the soil drains, the plant will be fine.
Temperature for Aluminum Plant
The Aluminum Plant can comfortably live in most homes in temperatures between 60° to 75° F. Keep the plant clear of vents if you have forced air heating or cooling. This easy-care plant can spend the summer on a covered porch or patio in areas with moderate weather but keep it inside if you experience hot summer weather.
Aluminum Plant Humidity Needs
High humidity is a must-have when it comes to Aluminum Plant care. This leafy plant likes very high levels of humidity. Place the watermelon Pilea in a naturally humid area, like a kitchen or bathroom; use a pebble tray with water or a humidifier to keep the leaves lush. The foliage will turn brown and wither when the air is too dry.
Aluminum Plant Fertilizer
Fertilization is a key part of Aluminum Plant care and keeps this stunner growing and healthy. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every four weeks during the growing season. Do not fertilize dormant plants.
Does Aluminum Plant Bloom?
The Pilea cadierei does bloom and features tiny white flowers. The blooms are not very showy, especially compared to the foliage, so many plant owners pinch back the buds. Getting a Pilea to bloom is an accomplishment, and it means you’re providing excellent Aluminum Plant care, but this beauty is all about the foliage. If you’re interested, you can leave the flowers in place just to see what they look like, but removing the blooms directs more energy into the foliage.
Pilea Pruning Tips
Prune leggy growth and remove dead or damaged growth as needed. The Aluminum Plant doesn’t require much pruning but cut back growth to where new leaves emerge to create a full plant.
When to Repot Aluminum Plant
The watermelon Pilea is a fast grower, so be ready to repot each spring. You’ll know the plant needs a new container when roots are visible through or begin to emerge from the drainage holes in the pot. Give the plant a new pot that measures one to two inches larger.
Propagate watermelon Pilea through stem cuttings. Cuttings can be taken at any time of year, but cuttings taken during the spring or summer are likely to set roots more quickly. Take a cutting several inches long, remove the lower leaves, and place it in a potting mix, sphagnum moss, or water. Keep the potting medium damp but never soggy. Place the cutting in medium to bright, indirect sunlight and tent the container with plastic to increase the humidity.
Is Aluminum Plant Pet Safe?
Things get even better because the Pilea cadierei is pet-safe. Your dog or cat will be fine if they eat the stems or foliage. Eating too much of anything may cause an upset stomach, but that is the worst thing that would happen if your pet snacks on this Pilea.
Aluminum Plant Styling Tips
The upright growth habit and small stature make the watermelon Pilea an ideal tabletop plant. Adorn a desk, mantle, or dining table with this plant and enjoy the silvery foliage up close. Give this plant a gray or metallic pot for a monochrome look, or pair it with a bright neon color container to complement the bold foliage.
Aluminum Plant Care Tips
The Aluminum Plant is known for being low maintenance, and it is, as long as it has a good environment. Bright, indirect sunlight and increased humidity are vital, and as long as the plant has that, all you need to do is keep up with the watering. This lovely houseplant is not as popular as it once was but can still brighten up a home with its stunning foliage.