Pilea microphylla is a beautiful plant in the family of the Urticaceae. This plant is used by gardeners and plant lovers for its aesthetic characteristics and ability to cover any bare ground. It is easy to cultivate and propagate Pilea microphylla. Continue reading to learn how.
Pilea Microphylla: Important Details to Know About Artillery Plants
Other names for Pilea microphylla include Rockweed, Artillery plant, frescura plant, and Gunpowder plant. According to the variety and location, this green mat-like plant can live for a year (as an annual) or several years (as a short-lived perennial).
History of Pilea Microphylla
Some natural habitats of Pilea microphylla are Florida, Mexico, West Indies, Central and Southern America. The use of Pilea microphylla as an ornamental plant increased its popularity across the world and now, gardeners and hobbyists are using the plant far away from its natural habitat.
Identifying Pilea Microphylla
Here are listed some distinctive features of Artillery plants to help you recognize them quickly:
- Plant physiology: Pilea microphylla is a bushy evergreen plant. As it grows, it spreads like a thick mat covering the ground. It can grow up to 12 inches tall and a cutting can spread over 24 inches.
- Leaves: The most distinctive feature of Pilea microphylla is its tiny leaves. These small, green Pilea microphylla leaves help block the light from reaching the ground. The size of the leaves of Artillery plants inspired the botanical name “Pilea microphylla.”
- Flowers: Pilea microphylla has flowers that are not showy. This means that you may not recognize the flowers unless you examine them closely. Pilea microphylla has male and female flowers. Both flowers are green just like the leaves of the plant. Male flowers forcefully disperse pollen into the air. The nature of pollination in Pilea microphylla gives it the name “Artillery plant.”
- Fruits: The fruits of Pilea microphylla look like tiny berries. The fruits grow clustered and attached to the stem, around the node of leaves.
Everything about Pilea microphylla is tiny. Its fruits, leaves, and flowers are all tiny. What could you use such a plant for?
Uses of Pilea Microphylla
Some benefits of growing Pilea microphylla are:
- Ground cover: Artillery plants create a natural carpet. If there is a lot of weed in your garden, you have to prevent them by pulling them away, using herbicides, or mulching them. Just plant Artillery plants in the bare parts of your garden and they will prevent light from reaching the weeds, therefore stopping their growth.
- Medicine: In some parts of Asia and South America, Pilea microphylla is used as medicine for injuries and aches.
- Ornamental plant: The mat-like appearance of Pilea microphylla makes it a beautiful ornamental plant. Pilea microphylla can grow in rocky areas such as fences and walls, so you can cover some parts of your house with this beautiful plant. It can even be used as a houseplant.
Pilea microphylla is useful, so if you want a multipurpose plant, you should cultivate it. Need some tips? Continue reading.
Pilea Microphylla Care Tips: Make Sure that You Are Doing It Right
– Getting Your Artillery Plants
You can start your Pilea microphylla with seeds, seedlings, or cuttings. If you are growing Pilea microphylla for the first time, you should use seedlings as they are already developing and are easier to start with.
You can get your Pilea microphylla from nursery shops. You can get the seeds from gardening stores. For the cuttings, you can get them from other Pilea microphylla plants.
– Planting Your Artillery Plants
If you buy Pilea microphylla seedlings, you don’t have to prepare another pot or potting mix for now. Just place them in a suitable location, water them, then watch them grow. For starting with Pilea microphylla seeds, follow the tips below:
- Get a well-drained potting mix and fill over a third of a 10-inch-wide pot with it.
- Place the seeds of your Artillery plants on the potting mix. Note that Pilea microphylla seeds have a high germination rate, so you don’t have to plant many seeds in one pot.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of potting mix.
- Water regularly and carefully so that you do not displace the seeds.
- Watch the seeds as they grow into seedlings.
- If you have more seedlings than you need, you should remove some. This process is called thinning.
You should start your Pilea microphylla in march. For greenhouse plants, you can start whenever you want, as long as you provide your plants with the right temperature.
– Artillery Plants Temperature and Light Requirements
The best temperature to grow Pilea microphylla ranges from 65 °F to 75 °F (15 – 23 °C). Frost easily kills Pilea microphylla, so the lowest temperature to grow this plant is 50 °F (10 °C).
As for light, Artillery plants need a bright but filtered light. You should give your plant a full dose of the morning sun, but filter the afternoon light. Growing your Pilea microphylla in the eastern parts of your house or under a large object like a tree is best.
– Water Requirements
You should water your Artillery plants regularly in the growing season (spring and summer). Do not water in autumn when it’s raining or winter. Pilea microphylla loves an environment with high humidity, so you can mist your plant occasionally.
– Nutrient Requirements
Pilea microphylla does not need expensive fertilizers. A general liquid fertilizer for houseplants is all it needs. Fertilize your Pilea microphylla by spraying dilute fertilizer on the leaves. Fertilize the plant two times monthly in the growing season.
– Pruning Your Artillery Plants (Making it Bushy)
To make your Pilea microphylla foliage appear like a bushy mat, you should cut the tips of branches and stems regularly. When you prune a stem, two or more branches grow from that point and make it appear bushy.
Propagation of Pilea Microphylla: Successfully Breeding Your Artillery Plants
There are two methods of propagating Pilea microphylla. They are:
- Propagation by Seeds: To propagate by seeds, wait for the fruits of your plant to fall to the ground. Pick fruits from the ground and collect their seeds. You can store the seeds by drying them and keeping them in a dry place or you can plant them immediately.
- Propagation by Cutting: Prune a branch from an existing plant. This branch is called a cutting. Plant the cutting in a sterile potting mix.
The best method to use depends on what you want. The most effective method, however, is propagation by seeds.
Problems You Can Encounter When Growing Artillery Plants
Pilea microphylla is very easy to grow and propagate, but you may face some minor difficulties. Here are some potential problems you can face when growing Pilea microphylla and how to fix them:
– Spots on Leaves
As a lover of high humidity, Pilea microphylla likes a wet environment. However, this makes it susceptible to bacteria and other harmful microbes. If you find some spots on the leaves, your plant may be infected.
You should cut away the branch in which there are spots and fix your soil. If you are growing Pilea microphylla on a pot, you can bake the pot. For outdoor ground plants, you should fix the soil with bactericidal products from a gardening shop.
Another reason you may see spots in the leaves of your Pilea microphylla is a high dosage of organic fertilizer. If your Pilea microphylla is over-fertilized with an organic fertilizer such as animal manure, the leaves can appear burnt. In this case, you should flush the plant and soil with water.
– Stem and Root Rot
In soggy soil, your Pilea microphylla can be attacked by fungi. If this happens, the stem and roots of your plant will start rotting. If you notice weak brown leaves, your plant has a stem and root rot. You should remove the plant from that soil, prune out dead roots and branches, then plant it in well-drained soil. Pilea microphylla loves moisture but not soggy soil.
– Lopsided Plant (Lack of Symmetry)
Most hobbyists grow Pilea microphylla because of its mat-like appearance. Sometimes, your plant may grow in a particular direction and it won’t appear like a mat. To correct this, you should rotate the pot two or three times weekly.
Pilea microphylla grows towards the sun and if it is planted in a location where it does not receive enough sunlight, it will appear lopsided. You should also remember to prune the tips of your plant stem and branches so that they will appear bushy and wide.
– Yellow/Pale Plant Leaves
When the leaves of your Pilea microphylla appear yellow or pale, the plant needs more light. In the absence of light, the green leaves of your Artillery plant will become pale. You should change the location of the pot to a new place where it gets at least four hours of direct sunlight.
For indoor plants, you should place the Artillery plant pot close to the south-facing window in your home.
– White Spots on Plant Leaf
Carefully examine the white spots. If they appear like powdery clumps, you should check the water you use when watering your Pilea microphylla. Pilea microphylla needs dechlorinated water that is free from minerals.
If you use tap water to water your Pilea microphylla, you should keep the water in a container and wait for six hours at least, so that the chlorine and other minerals in the water settle to the bottom of the container. After six hours, water your Pilea microphylla with the surface of the water in the container.
Do not use the lowest layer of water in the container to water your Artillery plants. It is best practice to keep tap water in a container overnight before you water your Pilea microphylla with it.
– Cuttings Not Growing
Are you propagating your Pilea microphylla by cutting? You may notice that the cuttings are withering away and not growing. Pilea microphylla cuttings will not grow without their roots developing first.
You should stimulate the development of roots by buying a rooting hormone in any gardening shop. If you don’t feel comfortable using a rooting hormone, you should keep the cutting in a glass of water for seven to 10 days and wait until you see roots developing before you plant it in its pot.
Pilea microphylla is indeed a special plant. What have you learned so far? Here are some reminders:
- Pilea microphylla is also known as Rockweed, Artillery plant, and Gunpowder plant.
- To give your Artillery plant a bushy appearance, you should prune the tips of the branches and stems regularly.
- If your Pilea microphylla is growing lopsided, you should rotate the pot two or three weekly and prune it so that it appears bushy.
- Pilea microphylla needs well-drained soil. The soil must be moist and not soggy.
- You can either propagate your Artillery plant by seeds or by cutting.
When will you start cultivating your Pilea microphylla? Do so as soon as you can.
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