The aluminum plant (Pilea Cadierei) is a lush houseplant, known for its quilted leaves with striking silver patterns. The leaves’ beauty is that they branch out in an umbrella fashion; therefore, they are generally grown in hanging baskets or cascading over a wall when grown outdoors. The inspiration for the names comes from the similarity of the silver patterns to aluminum paint.
Pilea plants belong to the family of Urticaceae and are native to Vietnam. These plants best thrive in tropical climates; however, they can also be cultivated as house plants in non-tropical areas. They are fast-growing perennial plants that measure up to 12 inches long and 8 inches wide.
Aluminum plants are effortless and straightforward to grow. Let’s talk about the conditions required for the plant to thrive!
This plant can grow both indoors and outdoors in tropical areas. However, in non-tropical areas, they are grown indoors only. The plant requires indirect and bright sunlight for around 4 hours a day. If exposed to the sun directly, the green leaves might turn brown.
Pilea Cadierei can survive year-round in the range of 60-75 Degree Fahrenheit. If the temperature falls out of this range, the plant can tolerate it for a short period, but prolonged exposure can also kill the plant.
The plant can tolerate normal air humidity, but the preference is high humidity. Although in winters, when the house is dry, spraying the plant with plain water every day is suggested.
The best mixture of soil to grow this plant is one-part sand (perlite) with two parts peat. This soil-based mixture provides the required nutrients to the plant and maintains a decent amount of moisture without going muddy. To keep the soil moist at all times, water the plant when the sand appears dry.
On average, the plant should be watered two to three times a week but make sure to remove excess water from the saucer. In summers, the top inch of the soil should be kept moist. Whereas, in winters, let the top inch of the soil dry out before watering again.
An aluminum plant needs fertilizing every five to six weeks during its development phase. The prime choice of fertilizers is liquid and soluble. However, a stronger-water soluble fertilizer should be diluted with water for lower potency. The best time for fertilizer application is when the soil is damp; application during dry soil may damage roots. Once winter approaches, skip fertilizing since the plant is somewhat dormant during this season.
The cuttings are the easiest method for plant propagation. They can be taken in early spring or summer, allowing them to rest in a water source. Once the roots are formed, transplant them to their container.
Aluminum plants have a spreading habitat with an extensive root system that can even break the container. Hence, grow the plant in large containers or check annually to re-pot before the breakage.
Pruning is a necessary process for aluminum plants to have increased growth. Therefore, leggy growth should be pinched back for a bushy and healthy growing plant. Also, trimming the stems back every spring ensures the plant to produce leaves at a healthy rate.
The Aluminium plant does not have any serious pests; however, mealybug and spider mites are possible. Mealybugs can be removed by using cotton swabs dipped in alcohol as well as with Neem Oil. For spider mites, organic pyrethrin spray and Neem Oil can be used to eliminate them.
Silver patches on your leaves turning brown and leaves drying indicate they have been affected with Xanthomonas leaf spot. This bacterial infection spreads rapidly; however, the best possible solution is to dispose of the infected plants quickly. At times, this treatment is rarely successful, but it never hurts to try!
Another disease that can affect the plant is; Anthracnose, which causes leave spots due to fungal infection. They are easier to treat using Neem oil, Liquid copper fungicides, and bio fungicides.
Aluminum plants grown under the right conditions can give a stunning plant and attractive garden. These plants are not very demanding either which might keep growing for four years before it dies or wilt to alert if it has dried for too long.