Pilea depressa. Copyright: Eden Collection.
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Pilea depressa will thrive in bright, indirect settings away from intense sunlight or operating heat sources. Specimens located in darker settings must be watered far less than those grown in brighter areas due to the longer amount of time it takes for the soil to dry out. If you're worried about its location being too dark, if a newspaper can be read while having your back towards the light source, you're good to go!
The most challenging part of Pilea depressa cultivation is providing near-continuous moist soil with the avoidance of persistent droughts; hydrate the plant once every few days to ensure thorough moisture throughout the year. It's highly recommended to irrigate using the bottom-up method, as excess moisture that settles in the plant's centre could cause the central leaves to rot, leaving you with a naked base. Under-watering symptoms include a gradual decline in foliage size, crispy leaves and stunted growth, which are usually due to forgetfulness or too much heat/sunlight. Over-watering symptoms include a rotten root ball, lower leaves turning yellow and plant death. Never allow the plant to sit in water for long periods, primarily if it's situated in a shady spot. Prolonged saturation will enable mould to develop on the soil, along with the heightened chance of root rot. Click on the link to find out more about addressing these issues.
Create a humidity tray to provide a moist and stable environment for your plant. If the surrounding saturation is too low or the heat too high, the new growth may start to brown over and curl, especially in direct sunlight. Gently hose the foliage down from time to time to hydrate the leaves and keep the dust levels down. This will also slow the rates of drying soil and dehydration.
Supplement fortnightly during the Spring & Summer months, and monthly for the rest of the year using a houseplant-labelled fertiliser. Never apply a 'ready to use' product into the soil without a pre-water first, as it may cause root-burn and yellowed leaves.
Under-watering is the biggest issue that indoor gardeners will face. Typical signs include wilting, sunken or yellowed leaves and stunted growth. If the specimen receives even a hint of direct light - relocate it. The increased temperatures and sun exposure will significantly speed the process of dehydration, which in turn will result in inevitable death. Pilea depressa cannot survive in drought-like conditions, so providing a bright, indirect setting with an abundance of moisture is paramount for quality growth. Those situated in direct sunlight or within three metres of a radiator are most likely to suffer from dehydration.
When a specimen is severely dehydrated, most of its leaves will crisp-up and fall off - leaving you with a naked plant. Although it may spell the end of juvenile plantlets, there may still be light at the end of the tunnel for more established specimens. If its stem is still plump without any signs of retraction, prune-away the severely affected areas and contain the plant (with its pot) in a transparent bag that has small holes. Keep the soil continually moist, providing a good level of indirect light and temperatures above 15°C (59°F). After a few weeks, new life will form in the nodal junctions on the stems, signalling the start of its recovery process. Maintain a sealed environment for the following month until you feel it's necessary to release it back into the open air. For the prevention of environmental shock, be sure to introduce a humidity tray for higher levels of atmospheric moisture around the plant in its new setting. Not only will this ease the specimen back into healthy functioning life, but it'll also reduce the rate of transpiration (water-loss in the leaves), and therefore downplay the risk of dehydration and further decline.
Never situate it within four metres of an operating heat source, for instance a radiator or fireplace. Due to the heightened temperature and dry air, the plant will soak up far more moisture than those situated in cooler locations, increasing the chance of dehydration and browning leaf-tips.
As mentioned before, botrytis (grey mould) & southern blight are major threats among heavy foliage plants when excess moisture is allowed to sit on compacted foliage. Remove the affected areas and improve the growing conditions by situating the plant in a brighter location and keeping the leaves dry.
Excessive yellowing older leaves (closest to soil) are a clear sign of over-watering, usually caused by too little light. Although they can do well in darker locations, the frequency of irrigations must be reduced to counteract the chance of root rot. People don't realise that a plant's root system needs access to oxygen too; when soil is watered, the air will travel upwards and out of the potting mix. A lack of accessible oxygen for the roots will cause them to subsequently breakdown over the oncoming days. Click on this link to learn more about root rot and how to address it, and always feel the pot's weight for confirmation (heaviness = good soil moisture, & vice versa).
Curled leaves and brown leaf-edges are the result of too little water and over-exposure to the sun. Pilea depressa are best located in bright, indirect settings, and those that haven't acclimatised to the harsh rays will show signs of sun-scorch and environmental shock. A splash of winter sunlight is acceptable as long as the soil moisture is regularly observed, with complete avoidance once summer comes along.
Pilea depressa is a creeping perennial the originates from the Caribbean, but has recently been introduced to some regions of El Salvador and Puerto Rico. The species was named by Carl Ludwig Blume in the early 19th-century, using the Latin word, depressa, in reference to its 'flattened leaves'.
12° - 26°C (54° - 80°F)
H1b (Hardiness Zone 12) - Can be grown outdoors during the summer in a sheltered location with temperatures above 12℃ (54℉), but is fine to remain indoors, too. If you decide to bring this plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure any direct sunlight as it may result in sun-scorch and dehydration. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing it back indoors.
Up to 0.1m (4 inches) in height and 0.7m (27 inches) in width once they reach maturity; the ultimate height will take between 4 - 8 years to achieve with over 10cm of new growth per season!
Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.
Via Seed, Division & Stem Cuttings.
Division (Easy) - In spring, split the root ball into several sections that house a good amount of foliage and roots. Dividing too-small segments of the rootball could lead to transplant shock or unsuccessful propagation. Sections that are at least 5cm (2 inches) in diameter serve the best chance of propagation due to the stored energy in the roots and stems. Place the sections into houseplant compost and water regularly, avoiding prolonged sunlight or persistent droughts.
Stem Cuttings (Very Easy)
Small clusters of white flowers will appear midway down the stem and can last up to several days. This process usually gets underway in late spring, but some specimens can flower before, or after this time bracket. Although Pilea will bloom each year, the show is almost uninspiring and is often removed by horticulturalists so that the plant focuses its energy onto the foliage.
Repot every three years in spring using a 'Houseplant' labelled compost and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. As Pilea depressa are ground creepers, they tend to grow quicker in a wide, shallow pot; visit your local garden centre and search for 'Terracotta Bulb Bowls' which should be on sale all year round. Hydrate the plant 24hrs before tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. For those that are situated in a darker location, add a thin layer of small grit in the pot's base to improve drainage and downplay over-watering. Click here for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.
Although pests aren't usually an issue when cultivating Pilea depressa, fungus gnats or aphids may attack weakened specimens with overly moist soil. Common diseases are root rot, botrytis, rust, powdery mildew and southern blight - click here to learn more about these issues.
Not known to be poisonous by the consumption of pets and humans. If high quantities are eaten, it may result in vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite.
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