Moon Valley Friendship Plant, or Moon Valley Pilea, is a unique name for a truly unique houseplant. Also known as Pilea mollis or artillery plant, this stunning ornamental houseplant comes from tropical rainforests in Central and South America. Increased humidity is a must, but this plant is otherwise straightforward to maintain. The dimpled, crater-like foliage inspires the nickname Moon Valley and here is what you need to know about caring for this houseplant.
This easy-care plant has some serious texture, and the leaves almost look quilted. The veining is sunken and provides a stark contrast against the raised portions of the foliage. A bronzy-copper hue radiates from the center of the leaf and stands out against the bold lime-green coloring. The bronze accents can engulf the leaf when the plant is in bright sunlight or almost appears handpainted along the midrib and veining when the plant receives less light.
Ovate leaves come to a point and feature toothed edges. The underside of the foliage is a purplish-red hue. Tiny hair-like structures cover the stems and foliage, giving this plant even more of a tactile feel and an otherworldly look.
Similar But Different
The Pilea mollis goes by the common name Moon Valley, and this stunner is often confused with the Pilea involucrata. The Pilea mollis is a cultivar of the Pilea involucrata, meaning it was created and developed from the involucrata.
It’s completely understandable and easy to confuse these two plants because the foliage looks similar. The Moon Valley has a bushy, upright growth habit. Mature Pilea mollis plants stand 8 to 12 inches tall. The Pilea involucrata has a creeping growth habit and only reaches six to eight inches tall.
There’s also a variety known as the Pilea involucrata ‘Silver.’ This chromatic stunner is easy to distinguish from the other Pilea plants because it has shades of burgundy and silver.
Both plants go by the common name friendship plant, which is used to loosely describe all Pilea, although some plant people will argue that the nickname friendship plant refers specifically to the Pilea involucrata. It’s completely normal and even expected to see these plants mislabeled as the other or for a plant to be labeled as both a mollis and an involucrata. It’s tricky and confusing, but fortunately, both plants require similar care.
Moon Valley Friendship Plant Light Needs
In nature, this beauty would receive dappled light that filters through the tree canopy. Give this Pilea bright, indirect light to help it grow and maintain its lovely variegation. Medium-light is alright, but the leaves may lose some of their chocolatey hues in favor of increased green, and growth will slow. Direct sunlight is damaging and will burn the foliage. Set back from a south-facing window or in a west-facing window will give the Moon Valley Pilea the light it needs to thrive.
How Often to Water Moon Valley Pilea
The Moon Valley Friendship Plant needs water when the soil just starts to dry out, so water when the top inch of the potting mix is dry. The Pilea mollis has increased water needs compared to other Pilea varieties, and it prefers consistently damp, but never soggy, soil. Watering this plant weekly or twice weekly is normal, depending on the available sunlight and humidity. Scale back and water less during the winter when the plant is dormant.
Maintaining plants with increased water needs is challenging because overwatering is a very real possibility. Signs of overwatering include yellow and dying foliage starting at the tips and progressing back to the stem. Tiny gnats circling the plant are another sign the potting mix is too damp. Fungus gnats are often followed up with black, mushy stems.
The best way to prevent overwatering is to feel the soil and learn what the plant needs. Eventually, you’ll get a handle on when to water, but it may take some trial and error.
Best Soil for Pilea Mollis
Rich, loamy soil that promotes drainage is vital for this Pilea. This plant likes damp conditions but doesn’t want to be stuck in standing water, so soil that allows excess moisture to drain is necessary.
Temperature for Moon Valley Friendship Plant
The Moon Valley Friendship Plant likes to be warm, and most homes are a comfortable temperature. Keep this plant in temperatures between 65° to 75° F. Avoid drafty windows and doors and even spots near vents prone to temperature swings. This plant will likely appreciate a place on a covered patio during the summer, but wait until the temperature is above 60° F before moving it outdoors.
Moon Valley Pilea Humidity Needs
High humidity reminds the Moon Valley Pilea of its tropical rainforest home and keeps the foliage lush. A naturally damp area, like a kitchen or steamy bathroom, is a good location, but you can always help this plant thrive by giving it a pebble tray with water or a humidifier. The ideal humidity will be at least 60%.
Moon Valley Friendship Plant Fertilizer
The Moon Valley Friendship Plant is not a heavy feeder, but it still benefits from routine doses of plant food. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted based on the instructions on the packaging. Feed once monthly during the growing season and stop fertilizing when the plant is dormant. Water the plant before feeding to prevent fertilizer burn.
Pilea Pruning Info
Cut back dead growth as needed to keep this Pilea looking good. Prune leggy stems to encourage new growth and a full, dense appearance. The Moon Valley Pilea is a fast-growing plant, but never remove more than one-third of a plant during pruning. Increase the amount of sunlight the plant gets to prevent new growth from becoming straggly or leggy.
Does Moon Valley Friendship Plant Bloom?
Yes, the Pilea mollis or Moon Valley Friendship Plant blooms. Tiny clusters of pink flowers open in the spring. The flowers are adorable but not very showy, especially when compared to the foliage. Getting a houseplant to bloom is an accomplishment, and it means you’re providing excellent care, so it may seem counterintuitive to remove the flowers. However, some plant owners prune the flowers to direct more energy into new foliage.
When to Repot Moon Valley Pilea
Plan to repot the Moon Valley Pilea annually. Look for the usual signs, like roots coming through the drainage holes or slow growth, to know when it’s time to repot. Normally when you repot houseplants, you give the plant a larger pot. Mature Moon Valley Pilea plants will still need fresh potting mix but can stay in the same container once they reach full size. It typically takes about five years for a Moon Valley Pilea to reach maturity.
Moon Valley Friendship Plant Propagation
Propagate Moon Valley Pilea plants via stem cuttings. Trim a section of stem and remove the lower leaves, but keep at least two upper leaves. Place the cutting in water or soil. Soil propagation works best in a high-humidity environment.
Is Moon Valley Friendship Plant Pet Safe?
The Moon Valley Friendship Plant is non-toxic and safe to have around cats and dogs. While this plant is visually stunning, it is not likely to entice curious pets with its upright, bushy growth habit, but you never know. Take steps to protect the plant if you have a cat or dog with a history of nibbling on foliage, but know your pet is safe if they do eat this houseplant.
Moon Valley Friendship Plant Styling Tips
Mature plants stand about one foot tall, so the Moon Valley Friendship Plant is a perpetual tabletop plant. The upright growth habit puts the eye-catching foliage on full display. Style this houseplant with a subdued planter to make the leaves the focal point, or create a statement with an equally dazzling planter. This plant craves humidity, so a sunny bathroom window or the corner of a double vanity are good locations.
Moon Valley Friendship Plant Care Tips
The Moon Valley Pilea is a beautiful plant with mesmerizing foliage. This beauty likes damp soil and increased humidity, so it is more hands-on than other houseplants, but it’s still easy to grow. Remember to occasionally rinse the leaves to remove dust and ensure this charmer can thrive.