Friendship Plant Care Guide

Table of Contents

The friendship plant is a beautiful tropical plant you can add to your houseplant collection. One thing is for sure: it will be an eye-pleaser. The deeply textured foliage with contrasting bronze and shimmering silver colors give it an expensive look. It is not a demanding planttoday, you can learn about friendship plant care with us.

Plant Name: Pilea involucrata

Other Name: Friendship plant

Plant Type: Perennial 

Native Areas: South America, Central America

Light Requirements: Partial sun

Watering: Moderate

Fertilizer: Worm casting or organic matter

Growth: 6-12 in. tall, 6-12 in. wide

Propagation: Stem cuttings

Soil Type: Well-drained acidic to neutral soil

Temperature: Warm

Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans and pets

USDA Hardiness Zones: 11-12

More About The Friendship Plant Pilea Involucrata

The friendship plant we will discuss today is the Pilea involucrata, with fuzzy hairs and superb color display. The Pilea genus has over 600 species that grow upright, bushy, or trailing plants.

But the Pilea involucrata is a versatile Urticaceae (Nettle) family species. It can grow as a trailing plant or upright to form a bush. Another thing is that you can easily overlook the tiny flowers.

Still, the plant outdoors is captivating with the corrugated multicolored oval leaves with serrated edges and dark veins. Hence, the leaf color can vary from bronze to burgundy with green outer margins with red to purple undersides.

You find the plant native to Central and South America but is not frost tolerant and does not enjoy wet feet.

Friendship Plant Care Tips

pilea involucrata

Friendship plants are not fussy and easy to grow and propagate to gift friends. Hence, it is called a friendship plant. Whether you grow them in a terrarium, outdoors, or in a container, it will be a fabulous display with other tropical plants.

Potting Soil Friendship Plant Pilea involucrata

For the best substrate to use with your friendship plant, look at Mother Nature. Where the friendship plant comes from it grows in the rainforest. The soil can resist compaction, draining well while remaining moist. So, the best you can do is to mimic the same habitat for your friendship plant.

We recommend coco coir as your base with a mix of orchid bark, perlite, or charcoal as the additive. You can even add some worm castings to provide a natural fertilizer. It is important to provide well-drained soil, and for the container to grow, ensure it has drainage holes for the excess water to drain freely.

Lighting Needs

 Pilea involucrata under bright, indirect light

The Pilea plant loves bright indirect light the most. As it grows on forest floors, it receives dappled light from the tree canopies.

When placed at a window or in the garden, please keep it away from too much direct sun as it can damage the leaves.

An hour or two of direct sunlight with more shade is best. So the rule is not direct sunlight and more indirect sunlight.


Depending on where you grow your friendship plant, it helps to provide this beauty with a drainage tray to remove the excess water from the roots. The Pilea involucrata loves moisture and enjoys drying out between watering.

An excellent trick is to test the soil moisture with your finger. Then, water it when the top inch is dry with moist soil beneath the surface. Nevertheless, even if your plant is thirsty, it can still develop root rot, and drainage remains essential.

We recommend providing your plant with a drainage layer of pebbles or gravel for growing in a terrarium. Another consideration is that you may need to water more in warmer temperatures and refrain from watering in winter.

Also, never leave the soil bone dry between watering, as your plant can die. In addition, many people prefer using distilled water instead of tap water. But if you do not have a choice, we recommend leaving the water standing for 24 hours to allow the chemicals to evaporate.

So, remember, never let the roots sit in standing water.

Temperature and Humidity

Friendship plant temperature and humidity requirements

These plants require heat and high humidity to thrive. The home temperatures are acceptable unless it feels like a refrigerator, which will be a concern. Temperatures between 60°F and 80°F are ideal for your plant.

Remember that this plant comes from South and Central America, where the humidity range is high. So, a high humidity level is a must and is happy around a 60% humidity level.

If you cannot provide the moisture, it helps to group them with other plants, place them on a pebble tray, or use a humidifier.

Another helpful friendship plant care tip is to clean the leaves with a damp cloth and remember to keep your plant out of direct light.


If you have not added some worm casting to the soil, you can feed your friendship plant with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer for tropical plants. You can feed your plant monthly during the growing season in spring and summer. From late fall to winter, you can stop feeding.

Pruning and Training

Keeping the plant indoors tends to become leggy with age as it does not receive enough light. Thus, you can prune your friendship plant by pinching off the stems. By pinching back, the branches keep your plant compact.

You can also remove the damaged foliage from stems to help eliminate infections and infestations. Still, you will see new growth fast when given the proper care with bright indirect light and ample humidity.

Repotting Plant Pilea

repotting friendship plant

The fantastic news is that when you receive your new plant, it will not need repotting often. Still, we recommend providing them with the soil preference as the soil it comes in is best removed and freshened up with new soil.

The best time to do this is in spring during the growing season. Alternatively, you can transplant your friendship plant into a bigger container when you notice the delicate roots extending from the drainage hole.

Propagating the Friendship Plants

With the Pilea involucrata or a Pilea mollis, you will always want more plants to gift to family and friends. The easiest way to do this is through stem cuttings. Another way is to plant the baby offsets growing on the mother plant. Still, if the parent plant does not produce pups, then stem cutting will do.

  1. The best time is spring to take stem cuttings which should be about three inches long with up to three leaves.

  2. Then prepare peat-based potting soil or alternatives and moisten it. You can dip the cut ends into some rooting hormone but not needed.

  3. Place the cut end in the moist soil and tamp it around the main stem.

  4. You can then cover your pot with a plastic bag to create higher humidity levels and place it in a warm spot with indirect sunlight.

  5. Still, keep the soil moist and open the plant regularly to provide air circulation around your new plants. The rule is to provide moist but not soggy soil.

  6. It normally takes about a month for the stem to sprout roots, and once it sprouts, you can transplant your plants into suitable soil in containers.

Friendship Plant Varieties

Friendship plants can be found in different varieties to grow at home, as seen here:

Pilea mollis

Pilea mollis

The plant is known as the Moon Valley, with bright green, bronze center, and heavily quilted leaves.

Pilea peperomioides

Pilea peperomioides

The plant goes by many names, from the missionary plant, pancake plant, and UFO plant, to the Chinese money plant. Many people also refer to it as the friendship plant, as they belong to the same family.

Pilea cadierei

Pilea cadierei

The aluminum plant is another gorgeous option with deep forest green shimmery silver pointed leaves.

Pilea Involucrata Diseases and Pests

While the friendship plant is not fussy, it does get bothered by pests. The primary stress comes from overwatering with poor light and extreme temperatures leading to plant stress and root rot.

Other concerns are spider mites, thrips, mealybugs, scale, and whiteflies found on most houseplants. To help treat these infestations, read our plant pests and pathogen glossary on how to spot and treat these infestations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Overwatering and excessively moist soil can cause these pests in Friendship plants. Keep the plant moderately wet, and consider using yellow sticky traps to control these pests.

Brown leaf tips on Friendship plants are often caused by dry air or inconsistent watering. Try increasing humidity and maintaining even moisture levels to prevent this issue.

Yellow drooping leaves on a Friendship plant can be due to overwatering, underwatering, or root rot. Check the moisture and ensure it’s not too soggy or dry. Adjust your watering accordingly.

You can keep your Friendship plant in the bathroom if it receives dappled light and isn’t exposed to temperature extremes. Bathrooms often have higher humidity levels, which can benefit this plant. Just ensure it doesn’t get too much sunlight, which can harm it.

Friendship plants (Pilea involucrata) generally prefer to be in pots that allow for some room for their roots to grow. While they don’t need a huge pot, choosing a pot slightly larger than the plant’s current root system is a good idea. This allows for healthy growth and prevents the plant from becoming root-bound. A pot that’s 1-2 inches larger in diameter than the current one should be suitable when repotting.

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