Plant Spotlight: Penny | Pancake Plant | Pilea Peperomioides

Plant Spotlight: Penny | Pancake Plant | Pilea Peperomioides

Our Pilea Peperomia, Penny is quite a delight here at Plantsome HQ. Pilea Peperomia’s are recognized for their bright-green colour and coin-shaped leaves that float so effortlessly. Penny is commonly referred to as a Chinese Money Tree, making for a great feng shui addition wherever she goes. 

Pilea Peperomia’s also go by other nicknames other than the Chinese Money Plant. They are often referred to as a pancake plant, UFO plant, missionary plant, friendship plant, coin plant and bender plant.

Meet our delightful Penny here. You can also peep Penny in our “Good Vibes” bundle along with green amigos, Beau (Ponytail Palm) and Amelia (Pothos Gold).

Small Pilea Peperomia sitting on a ledge


Penny originated from the southwestern Yunnan province of China at the foot of the Himalayas. The Pilea Peperomia is a species of flowering plant in the nettle family, Urticaceae. This nettle family is characterized by urticating (stinging) hairs that were often used in ancient medicine. 

The plant was introduced in Europe by George Forrest at the beginning of the 19th century. 

In 1946, the plant was rediscovered and brought to Norway by a Norwegian missionary Agnar Espegren where it was propagated and distributed amongst friends. Propagation through cuttings led to the plant’s spread throughout Europe. However, the botanists of the western region didn’t know the plant species and its classification until the 1980s. They were conflicted because the leaves were that of a peperomia (round, small, perennial) but had typical Pelia inflorescence (tiny white flowers). 

Then botanists from Kew, a famous botanical garden in London cleared the air and classified it as a Pilea Peperomioides.

The propagation spread of the Pilea Peperomioides is an example of a plant which had been spread among amateur gardeners via cuttings, without being well-known to western botanists. 

Now, it is the trendy Chinese Money Plant or Pancake houseplant we’ve come to know very well and love!

How to propagate Penny

As you know, the Pilea Peperomia was propagated and grown around the world through cuttings. It is one easy plant to propagate once its healthy and mature because it sprouts tiny babies, or “pups” that you can cut and share with your friends. These pups can grow from the bottom of the main stem or pop up randomly from underneath the soil.

So cut off that pup and give to your friend, because wealth is better shared, right?

Easy Peasy Pancake Plant

Generally, the Chinese Money Tree is an easy-going plant. However, with every plant comes a unique set of challenges. One of the most common challenges with Pilea Peperomias is the pest attacks from spider mites, mealy bugs, and fungus gnats. But don’t worry, they’re all treatable with a little TLC (Neem oil) and weekly wipe downs of its leaves. 

The Pilea Peperomia doesn’t love excess water. So if you notice yellow leaves or brown spots try and cut back on your watering. On the flip side, if those coin-shaped leaves start wilting or curling under, you may want to consider giving Penny a drink of water, she thirrrrssstyyyyy. 

Use our plant care app to help remind you when to water Penny. We suggest watering 1-2 week with low quantities of water, using pots with drainage holes and drain well between waterings. 

These plants enjoy medium to bright indirect light and will move towards the sun. Do not put Penny in direct sunlight because she can really suffer from a bad sunburn. If you see Penny loving on the sun a little too hard on one side, consider rotating her so all sides get a little sunshine. 

Full Pilea Peperomioides care guide here.

Penny plays nice with pets

Another reason why this plant is so popular is that it is non-toxic for furry friends. Cats and dogs can knock over and swipe at these plants and they should still be okay. Another fun fact is that cats actually hate the taste of the pilea peperomia. 

Fun Fact

The Chinese Money Tree is thought to bring great fortune and abundance to those that care for it. The houseplant grew in popularity and has become a staple for a housewarming, new job, or graduation gift. Cha-Chinnnnng.

Have a plant you want to be featured in our Plant Spotlight or have any questions about the Pilea Peperomia (Penny)? Let us know at or on Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest.

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