Please help my Pilea Peperomioides!

Feb 28, 2019
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PLEASE. Help me. I've been struggling with my pilea for months now. I love him so much, and I've tried everything. I'd hate to lose him. Please, if you can help me, take a few minutes to read my whole spiel. I know it's detailed as heck, but I feel like you'll find the answer in my details, so I don't wanna leave anything out. I've included photos, including a series of him as he currently is.

Got my pilea in September and he was perfect. Put him in spot 1 (I've labeled the spots in the order he was in them in the photos), which is in front of an east facing window, and across from a north facing window. No wilting, but he did eventually develop blisters and scorch marks, and the nursery told me it looked like frostbite. Which I believe, because the window he was right next to is incredibly drafty, and his leaves would get super cold. So, I moved him to spot 2, as well as closed my east window blinds up until this point in time.

Spot 2 is RIGHT NEXT TO MY HEATER. Spot 2 was good for a while, off to the side of the north facing window, so not getting quite as much light, but that's when it looks like his leaves started to curl (you can see the photo with him still in his nursery pot, the leaves circled in red for reference). Though, SIDE QUESTION: are curled leaves normal when the leaves are babies? Anyway, his frostbitten leaves all eventually fell off, leaving me with an entirely new set of leaves, these leaves never fully forming. I transplanted him, using regular potting mix, because the nursery said it wouldn't matter (WRONG). I forget what his roots were like then, other than seeming normal. His leaves continued curling next to my heater after repotting him (or maybe started curling, and the initial curling just looked like curling because the leaves were babies?), and he started developing stress marks. I would water him whenever his soil got bone dry (or, so I thought), so, every week or so. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with him, but I then learned drafts are bad for plants - both cold and warm - so I moved him to spot 3, on my laundry hamper in the smack middle of the room.

I only kept him in spot 3 on my hamper for a few days. When I noticed his leaves only curled more, I removed him, because I've read so many conflicting testimonies online, and one said "too much sunlight is the cause for leaf curling." It was the most sun exposure he'd ever gotten, so perhaps it was too much (though I've also read they can fold if they don't feel they're getting enough sunlight. UGH).

I decided to change out his regular potting mix for cactus mix, because I read another reason could be that he was being overwatered/drowning. When I removed him from his soil, NO NEW ROOTS HAD FORMED!!!! And it had been a couple months since the transplant. The soil around him was bone dry, but his root ball was moist! The soil was jam packed in there. It never took up water properly on the surface. It was just really bad soil, and it seemed like maybe it had been suffocating/slightly drowning him? The root ball was moist, but pliable - not mushy or rotty, just lacked new root growth, yet he continued to grow the WHOLE TIME, so that can't be very sustainable. So, I firmly believe he didn't develop root rot. There's no evidence. The roots were all small and brown, but again, pliable. Not soggy or falling apart or anything like that. I let him sit on top of the cactus mix for a couple days, and he dried out. I then replanted him in the same pot, but with different cactus mix, and decided to put him in the kitchen, at spot 4.

Spot 4 - where he lives now - is in front of a small south facing window. I feel like he may be getting too little sun now, but there are no drafts there, so I wanted to give it a go. I'VE NOTICED his leaves will curl and uncurl slightly every day. It's so subtle, but his curling does shift, for some reason or another.

I transplanted him maybe just a little over a week ago, now. Haven't seen any improvement, yet his stems continue to noticeably grow longer.

His very most bottom leaf got very light/white-green, and then it fell off, just yesterday. I took a couple photos of it. Maybe that'll help the overall diagnosis? You can see how bad the leaf curling can get, with all of them, actually.

1. WHAT IS THE LEAF CURLING FROM??!? I've heard it can be overwatering (which was happening), or too much sun/not enough sun, a warm draft (did happen, other plant of mine didn't like the spot next to the heater either), or growing too fast with not enough root system to support him (and he does get bigger every day, but has yet to have his roots really take). It kind of seems like it may be multiple things, even????? HOW DO I FIX HIM?

2. I've watered him once since switching soil, and the cactus mix soil dried out, but the little root ball remains moist, because the roots remain in the original mix (it's like 2" x 1.5" of roots), as I didn't scrunch them or try to remove any excess dirt, because I didn't want to shock him. SHOULD I TRY REMOVING MORE SOIL? It's kind of tough when I'm watering a plant that has both cactus and regular potting soil, but again, don't wanna accidentally kill him. Or, now that his roots can breathe better, will they (hopefully) grow into the cactus mix, breaking up the original soil and making that issue basically void?

3. Kind of debating moving him back to my laundry hamper, because it's super bright there and I think he might like it (?), but it seems like his leaves especially curled when I moved him there for a couple days, though it could've been because he was drowning/lacked a solid root system. What are your thoughts?

This has been so hard. I've spent so much time and energy trying to make him better, done all the research. I feel like I've tried everything. Please and thank you for anything you may be able to help with. <3





Feb 16, 2019
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United States
Hey Klingmad, Great little plant. Seems like this little one likes southern sunlight but not direct. Rotate your plant to keep the leaves from all growing in one direction. When leaves start to droop give some water. Does your base hold water or do you allow to drain? I don't like the attached trays because they hold water you can't see. Make sure it isn't sitting in water. It looks like it is plenty dried out, stick ya finger in that soil and see how wet or dry. They don't grow as fast in the winter.......give some fertilizer....Miracle Grow. With each new plant it is always a game to get the conditions just right. But time will tell. Hope you get your Pilea back to health. GW

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