How To Keep Your Pilea From Getting Leggy

Pilea, also known as the Chinese Money plant, are stunning little house plants. However, they tend to struggle and grow leggier for several reasons. Luckily, there are plenty of steps you can choose from to prevent this unwanted growth in your plant.

You can keep your Pilea from getting leggy by giving it proper lighting, rotating it regularly, and giving it adequate water and nutrients. Insufficient sunlight is the primary reason plants become leggy. You can remove the leggy growth and your plant will grow normally after correcting the issues.

In the rest of this article, I will discuss the main reasons Pilea becomes leggy and some of the best ways to prevent this unwanted issue. So if you want to learn more about keeping your Pilea growing healthy and happy, read on. 

1. Understand What Causes Leggy Growth

First, it’s essential to understand what leggy growth refers to and what causes this kind of growth in the first place. 

A plant is considered leggy when its stems grow unnaturally long and thin with very few and undersized leaves. Unfortunately, leggy growth generally looks sparse and awkward, which is why most people want to avoid it. 

Leggy growth is a sign of your Pileas needs not being met. As discussed, the most likely culprit is a lighting issue. However, although leggy growth is often a plant’s attempt to reach a suitable light source quickly, there are other reasons your Pilea could be experiencing this problem.

Other reasons plants grow leggy include the following:

  • Too much/little water 
  • Lack of nutrients in the soil 
  • Becoming root-bound
  • Overfertilization
  • Growing in an unsuitable container 
  • Pest problems

Any form of plant stress can result in leggy plant growth. You will typically solve your Pileas problem by addressing the lighting. Sunlight is almost always the culprit, though other factors can work together to contribute to the problem. 

So it’s essential to act fast when you notice leggy growth. But, again, leggy growth isn’t reversible since it’s already been done. However, new shoots will generally grow normally if the problem has been addressed. 

2. Move the Pilea Somewhere With Better Lighting 

One of the first things you need to do when you notice your Pilea is experiencing leggy growth is to get the plant somewhere with better lighting

Sunlight is crucial for any plant to create food and undergo photosynthesis. Lack of sunlight for extended periods can be detrimental to houseplants like Pilea. It’s best to move the pot somewhere brighter to save the plant. 

Other signs of light deficiency include:

So you need to act fast if you begin to notice any of the signs. Locations with better lighting include south-facing windows and areas with regular sunlight throughout the day. Remember that a Pilea plant needs plenty of sunlight but will do best under bright but indirect light.

Additionally, Pilea plants need 12-16 hours of daily light to thrive. Direct sunlight isn’t tolerated well by the plant’s leaves and will result in burning. 

You can supplement the light requirements of Pilea plants on cloudy days by using artificial light sources. You can use plant-specific grow lights or a fluorescent lamp rich in blue light will also work.

Blue light is great for helping leggy plants recover after you remove the undesired growth. It can also encourage your Pilea plant to grow new and more compact stems and prevent it from getting leggy again.

So if natural light isn’t an option for your Pilea, artificial grow lights will help stimulate better plant growth. These lights are great to use in dimly lit homes or rooms with very little natural light. Of course, natural light is always best, but there are alternative lights that indeed work when you’re in a pinch.

3. Rotate the Plant Regularly

Another great way to keep your Pilea from getting leggy is to rotate the plant regularly. 

The foliage on the side of the plant facing the window will generally thrive, while the shaded part will crave sunlight. Sometimes the back half of the plant will begin to grow toward the light, appearing more sparse. 

You can combat this issue by rotating the plant regularly. That way, no side is deprived of sunlight. For the best results, you should rotate the plant by 180° once or twice weekly. This way, the leaves don’t have time to get upset before their turn in the sun again. 

That said, this step won’t matter so much if you have a brightly lit space. If you have properly positioned your grow lights, your plant won’t need to be rotated. 

Either way, rotating the plant on a schedule won’t harm the plant and will often do it some good. It can also ensure the foliage receives proper air circulation all throughout and prevent moisture-related issues like mold and pests.

4. Ensure the Plant Receives Adequate Water

Your Pilea plant might also grow leggy if its water requirements aren’t met. So, how much water does this plant need, and how often do you need to water it? 

Typically, Pilea plants need watering once per week. However, their water needs vary based on the environmental temperature, humidity level, and the amount or intensity of light they receive.

The best way to ensure your Pilea gets enough water is to check the soil before adding more. Check that the top 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) of soil are dry before adding more water to the plant’s container. 

Pilea enjoys moisture, but water sitting on their roots will result in illnesses, such as root rot, eventually killing the plant. You can prevent these issues by using watering methods like bottom watering. This method is excellent for plants that need to be watered well while preventing overwatering. 

Suppose you’ve never bottom watered before, I suggest watching Planterina’s video on the process. She does a great job of showcasing how to bottom water and the benefits of this method. 

Another thing that will help you to water your Pilea adequately is creating a watering schedule. It helps to put reminders on your phone to check your plant. Of course, never water the plant if the soil is still moist. Give your plant 1-2 more days until the soil is dry enough. Over time, you’ll get a schedule that works for you and the Pilea.  

5. Give the Plant Nutrient Rich Soil 

Another factor that often affects how Pileas grow is the soil. Plants require nutrients to grow, and poor nutrient content in the soil will result in leggy growth. In addition, any plant in a container will eventually deplete the nutrients found there, and growth will slow down when it does.

If your plant has been sitting in the same pot for a year but isn’t ready for repotting yet, you can amend the soil with nutrient-dense organic matter like compost. It can give your plant the nutrient boost it needs and also improve the soil quality.

What soil you use for your Pilea greatly matters, especially if you want to encourage healthy growth. Unfortunately, not all potting mixes are created equal, and some will have their nutrients depleted faster than others.

If you’re still in the planning stage of growing a Pilea plant, it helps to choose the best potting mix. You can also try using worm casting, as it’s a great natural source of nutrients and also a reliable pest deterrent.

6. Repot the Pilea When Needed 

Along with providing good quality soil for the Pilea, regular repotting will also help prevent leggy growth. All houseplants need to be repotted from time to time. Repotting allows the plant’s roots to grow again and prevents issues like the plant becoming root bound in its current container. 

When a plant becomes root-bound or pot-bound, it means the roots have taken up all possible space in the container. As a result, the roots are cramped and have nowhere else to go. The roots have also likely consumed all the available nutrients in the soil. 

The roots also typically extend in search of food. If left alone, a root-bound plant will eventually die. 

Typically, you should plan on replanting your Pilea every 2 years. Replanting is a chance to upgrade the plant to a larger space and refresh its soil. If you put the plant in a large enough pot, you can often push back the need for repotting. However, it also increases the risk of root rot due to moisture staying in the excess soil.

It’s important to note that repotting is stressful for houseplants and must be done carefully. Here are some tips you may find helpful:

  • Repot your Pilea plant in spring. Repotting it during the growing season will help it recover from transplant shock more quickly or avoid stress when done correctly. The roots will also better be able to adjust to the new environment when the plant is actively growing.
  • Choose a pot that’s only 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) wider and taller than the original pot. It also helps to choose one that has a wide mouth so it’ll be easier to slide out the plant the next time you repot it.
  • Use well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Pilea plants aren’t heavy feeders, but they need enough nutrients from the soil to reduce the stress of being transplanted.
  • Place your plant near bright but indirect sunlight. That way, the plant can grow normally and avoid leggy stems and sparse leaves.

7. Prune the Pilea Plant Regularly

Regular maintenance, including proper pruning practices, is another excellent way to keep leggy growth in Pilea plants under control. Luckily, these adorable plants require minimal trimming. Cutting away dead or damaged portions of the plant helps maintain good growth throughout the rest of the Pilea. 

It’s important to remember not to overdo the pruning as these plants rarely need it. Only cut away unwanted leaves or portions that appear dead or dying. 

Additionally, the time of year you perform this kind of maintenance matters. Pruning is best done once your plant goes dormant. You can prune your Pilea plant late in the winter to remove parts injured by the cold. 

On the other hand, early spring is the best time to take cuttings for propagation. These plants propagate pretty quickly, and it’s always nice to have a backup plant in case yours doesn’t make it.

However, if you notice your plant starting to grow leggy, you can prune the leggy parts anytime. Identify the underlying cause of the unwanted growth and improve the conditions around your plant to prevent reoccurrence.

Always use sterile shears when pruning your plants. It is crucial to avoid the potential risk of spreading diseases from one plant part to another. You also wouldn’t want your new plants to carry diseases from the last growing season.

In addition, cut at an angle of 45° to encourage your plant to heal more quickly and reduce the risk of infection and diseases.

8. Don’t Over-Fertilize Your Pilea Plant

Although it’s important to refresh your Pilea’s soil regularly, it’s also essential not to overdo it when it comes to fertilization. Too many nutrients can be just as detrimental as too little.

In addition, Pilea is extremely sensitive to fertilizer, and too much will easily result in root burn, which is why diluting fertilizer formulas are recommended. 

Additionally, using healthy, nutrient-rich soil will usually negate the need for regular fertilization. However, if you feel your Pilea will benefit from a bit of fertilizer, using a slow-release one will work best. 

Only add a little at a time since it’ll be easier to add more later when necessary. Removing excess fertilizer from the soil can be tricky and even dangerous for your plant.

If using a fertilizer, follow the instructions carefully, dilute the formula, and only reapply as necessary. Utilizing something like a soil test will help prevent improper nutrient buildup from occurring in the first place.

Fertilizer does help make any houseplant greener and healthier, but it’s not the only way. You can check out my article discussing ways to make housplants greener for more tips, tricks, and ideas: How to Make Any Houseplant Greener (Easy Methods)

9. Use a Pot With Good Drainage 

Another step that will help keep your Pilea from getting leggy is using an appropriately sized pot with good drainage. Root rot is a huge problem for most houseplants without good soil and a well-draining container. So if you’re experiencing leggy growth, the container your plant is growing in might be to blame. 

Signs of a good Pilea planting pot:

  • Has plenty of drainage holes
  • Spacious around the roots. 
  • Large enough for a good amount of soil. 

Choosing the correct container is tricky, especially if you don’t know what to look for. Luckily, Pilea is a relatively hardy plant and will thrive in most containers. However, selecting a great container with good drainage will only improve your plant’s chances of healthy growth.

You want to choose a pot that will give your plant time to grow before it needs to be repotted. If you move your plant around a lot, you might also want a container that is lightweight and not easily broken.

10. Check the Plant for Pests

Lastly, another possible reason your plant is experiencing leggy growth might be due to a pest problem. Bugs easily decimate a plant, often attacking its roots and leaves, preventing it from making adequate food. Performing regular checkups on your Pilea will help you catch pests quickly and prevent leggy growth from occurring due to stress. 

Utilizing mild pesticides like a diluted neem oil solution helps prevent pests and keep plants healthy. The most common pests you’ll need to watch out for are:

You can usually spot these pests in the soil, around the roots, or on/under the plant’s leaves. Small little dots on the plant might also signify eggs. So do your best to identify if unwanted bugs have moved into your plant’s pot. 


Providing adequate light is the best way to keep a Pilea from getting leggy because poor lighting is almost always the culprit for leggy plant growth. However, other factors can cause this stringy growth or at least add to the problem. A leggy plant lacks something important in terms of nutrients. So acting fast is essential.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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