The Chinese money plant, known scientifically as Pilea peperomioides, is a beautiful, evergreen perennial rumored to bless its growers with wealth and financial success. Whether or not that’s true, there’s no doubt this plant can grow to extraordinary heights from a small sapling. What can you do to make your Chinese money plant grow faster and to its highest potential?
You can make your Chinese money plant grow faster in the following ways:
- Give your Chinese money plant optimal sunlight exposure.
- Fertilize for optimal nutrition.
- Establish a proper watering routine.
- Provide your money plant adequate space.
- Eliminate growth impediments.
Let’s look at each of these steps in more detail and discuss how to apply them in a practical but nuanced manner. I’ll also provide some pro tips and best practices along the way, so buckle up.
1. Give Your Chinese Money Plant Optimal Sunlight Exposure
We all know that plants need sunlight to grow. However, some plants require more sunlight than others. Where does the Chinese money plant fall into the spectrum?
The Chinese money plant thrives under 4 hours of bright, indirect sunlight. It doesn’t do too well in the shade, but it’s also at risk of incurring sun damage if exposed to intense sunlight.
Let’s put this into perspective.
The ideal location for a Chinese money plant, if grown indoors, would be near an eastern window or a balcony. Areas that receive partial shade during the day are optimal if growing outdoors.
The thing is, the Chinese money plant is very susceptible to sunburns, so you do want to be careful leaving it exposed entirely, especially during the summers. Sun damage is very much a commonly seen reality when it comes to the Chinese money plant.
Too little sun, on the other hand, will slow down—or even halt—growth. You probably won’t have to worry about too little sun as long as you haven’t enclosed your Chinese money plant in a dark, damp room.
What’s the key takeaway? If you want your Chinese money plant to grow faster, place it so that it gets plenty of indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight, as that will cause damage.
And, of course, if you’re going to be a little more generous in the amount of sun you let your money plant receive, you do need to be on the lookout for signs of sun damage.
The symptoms of damage due to overexposure to the sun are:
- Wilting leaves
- Brown or burnt patches
- Yellowing of the leaves
- Dry soil and dehydration
Here’s a pro tip you can use to improve the growth rate by another tiny bit. If you’re an avid money plant grower, you may have been advised to rotate your money plant every week for a fuller, more symmetrical, and straighter money plant.
Pileas, or Chinese money plants, grow leaves in all directions. Therefore, it’s crucial to rotate your plant regularly to prevent the plant from forming leaves on only one side—the side that receives sunlight.
You may also want to avoid using artificial light on your plant if you want it to grow faster because too much blue light will encourage your plant to become more compact.
2. Fertilize for Optimal Nutrition
The next thing you can do to improve the rate of growth is to use fertilizers. Chinese money plants don’t need excessive fertilization (in fact, you could probably get by just fine without fertilizing them at all). But it does make a marked difference in how fast they grow and how healthy they grow up to be.
Use a standard, all-purpose 20-20-20 or 10-10-10 fertilizer for the best results. Experts recommend diluting the fertilizer to half strength because full-strength fertilizer is often too much for the undemanding Chinese money plant.
It’s important not to go overboard with the fertilizer. Excess concentrations of nutrients in the soil won’t help your Chinese money plant grow any faster. Instead, they may damage the roots.
Apply a diluted liquid fertilizer once per month during the growing season, which lasts through most of spring and summer. It’s not advisable to fertilize during the autumn and winter months since your money plant will remain dormant during that time.
3. Establish a Proper Watering Routine
The next thing to do to optimize growth is to establish a tailored watering routine for your money plant. The good news is that it’s not complicated at all.
The historical standard has been to water once a week during the summers and bimonthly during the winters. This benchmark is quite reliable, but you can make slight adjustments.
Things like temperature, humidity, rainfall, sunlight, and soil type all make a big difference, so the frequency with which you need to water your Chinese money plant is largely specific to you.
The best thing to do would be to start with the above-mentioned routine and gradually improve based on how thirsty your water plant gets.
You will also need to pay attention to the size and age of your plant. Young pileas have thin, fibrous roots that can easily become dehydrated when they don’t receive adequate moisture from the fast-draining soil.
Therefore, you must check the upper third of the soil two days before your next watering session. If you feel significant moisture, it’s probably best to hold off on watering for another day or two. If the soil feels dry, go ahead and water deeply until the excess comes out of the drainage holes.
Mature plants with established roots are more tolerant of underwatering. A day or two of dry soil won’t hurt your Chinese money plant since they’re very resilient. However, you don’t want to let the soil get bone dry, especially if you want your plant to grow faster.
Don’t Go Overboard!
Most beginner gardeners worry too much about not watering their plants enough, so they overcorrect and end up watering too much. Unfortunately, overwatering is where the real danger lies.
Underwatering will hurt your money plant slowly and gradually, but only when your plant is constantly underwatered. Overwatering, on the other hand, can lay waste to an otherwise healthy money plant in a matter of days.
The reason it’s so much of an issue is that the presence of too much water directly damages the delicate root system of the plant by limiting oxygen access and making the roots susceptible to fungal attack.
As the roots starve for oxygen, they die, decay, and start rotting off. A plant without functioning roots cannot supply itself with the nutrients it needs to live, so it will eventually wither and die.
Be careful not to overwater your money plant. Use well-draining soil, so you have room for error. Using a pot with a drainage hole is necessary if you’re growing indoors.
Symptoms of overwatering:
- Curly leaves
- Yellowing leaves
- Root rot—black, soggy, decaying roots
Root rot is the telltale sign of overwatering.
4. Provide Your Money Plant Adequate Space
Chinese money plants are fast growers. They grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall, on average, but can grow much taller under ideal conditions. But I’m not talking exclusively about upward growth.
Money plants develop an extensive, fibrous root system as they mature to support all their immense growth over the soil. As the plant grows, so do the roots. Unfortunately, small indoor pots don’t have the most room to allow unrestricted growth, resulting in the roots cramping and bundling up.
Of course, this limits the number of nutrients the plant has access to, so you need to transplant them into a larger pot once they outgrow their current one.
You can expect this to happen one to two years into their growth. You’d have to dig out the plant and soil from the potting mix to know for sure whether or not the roots have outgrown their pot.
Another thing you can do to promote growth is to propagate the plant. Simply cut off the offshoots from the base of the stem and replant them an inch or two (2.5-5 cm) deep into other pots. They’ll grow up to be beautiful money plants of their own.
For a more in-depth explanation of replanting Chinese money plant babies, check out this complete guide: How to Replant Chinese Money Plant Babies
5. Eliminating Growth Impediments
We’ve talked extensively about the steps you can take to promote the rate of growth.
Now, let’s briefly cover the factors that commonly slow down the rate of growth and how you can control or eliminate them:
Extreme Temperature and Humidity
Chinese Money plants are hardy overall but don’t do too well in lower temperatures. You shouldn’t let them sit in temperatures lower than 50 °F (10 °C) for a prolonged period of time. Ideally, they should be kept between 59 and 86 °F (15 and 30 °C).
Leaving them exposed to and unprotected against winter frosts is not an option. Sudden temperature dips in the fall can also damage your plant, so it’s best to keep it exclusively indoors under controlled temperatures.
These plants also prefer high humidity when grown indoors (above 50%). However, highly humid conditions are unfavorable for both humans and plants, especially when combined with dark environments, as that increases the risk of fungal growth.
Unfavorable Soil pH
The ideal pH range for the Chinese money plant is 6.0 to 7.0. Outside of this range, the plant isn’t able to acquire nutrients from the soil as effectively. As a result, your plant will have stunted growth.
Although Chinese money plants don’t need too much fertilizer, they need to maximize nutrient absorption for optimum growth, especially if you want them to grow faster.
Slightly acidic conditions are most favorable to nutrient acquisition from the soil. However, you should be fine as long as you don’t stray outside of the aforementioned range.
Pests and Diseases
Fortunately, the Chinese money plant isn’t particularly vulnerable to any pests or illnesses, although you will still run into them occasionally.
Fungus gnats are commonly found around your plant if it is constantly overwatered. Repotting your plant in a fresh, sterile potting mix with excellent drainage should address the issue of overwatering and eliminate the fungus gnats.
Aphids and mealybugs rarely attack Chinese money plants specifically. However, if you have other indoor plants infested with these pests, your money plant will likely also get affected.
If you spot damage caused by pests, take steps to treat the infestation immediately. A pest infestation, if left unchecked, can spiral out of control and result in irreversible damage. In worse cases, they can even stunt plant growth.
Thankfully, organic pesticides and insecticides are readily available in both online and offline markets. You can also use safe and homemade pesticides like neem oil.
You can incorporate neem oil in your plant care routine by wiping the leaves with a diluted solution every time you dust the leaves. Be sure to do this at night to protect the leaves from sunburn.
The Chinese money plant is a hardy little plant that can grow to incredible heights. It’s a household favorite among gardeners because of its easy upkeep and low maintenance. If you want to help it grow faster, though, there are several steps you can take.
You want to ensure the plant receives ample sunlight (but not too much!), is adequately watered, is fertilized once a month, and has room for its roots to grow.
Also, eliminate anything that could be hurting your money plant and impeding growth, such as pests.