Pilea cadierei (Aluminum Plant, Watermelon Pilea)

This herbaceous (non-woody), dioecious perennial is native to Vietnam, where it commonly grows in part-shade or full shade. Although it prefers high humidity, these are fairly easy to grow indoors. The flowers are rather inconspicuous, but the foliage is remarkable with unique silver stripes along every leaf.

Pilea cadierei (Aluminum Plant, Watermelon Pilea)
Deciduous: no
Hardiness Zones: 11-12
Height: 20-26 centimeters (9-12 inches) tall, rarely up to 40 centimeters (18 inches) in optimal conditions
Diameter: 13-26 centimeters (6-12 inches) across
Growth Rate: moderate, roots aggressively if given the opportunity 
Age: perennial, reaches maximum height between 2-5 years of age
Root System: fibrous, somewhat small
Family: Urticaceae
Subspecies: ‘Minima’ (a dwarf, growing up to 6 inches tall)

Tolerates: shade
Problems (major): Mealybugs, if not detected early, will often kill these plants. Full sun will discolor the foliage and make these more susceptible to spider mites.
Problems (minor): leaf spots, stem rot
Poisonous: contains alkaloids in leaves, poisonous in large quantities by ingestion

Soil requirements: wet, acidic, slightly alkaline, clay, sand, loam soils (Potting mixes with peat also work well.)
Air requirements: requires warm, humid conditions
Watering requirement: medium
Sun requirement: requires part-shade, indirect light, to full shade

Leaf shape: ellpitical to ovate, dark green leaves with 4 of aluminum-colored stripes on lateral veins
Leaf size: 2-4 inches long, 1-2 inches wide
Flower structure: Small, white or green, inconspicuous flowers occur in cymes (a type of inflorescence). The fruits are tiny achenes.
Flowering frequency: These flower in summer months.
Bulb/tuber: neither
Monocot/Dicot: dicot
Annual/Biennial/Perennial: perennial

Notable characteristics:
Stem cuttings are highly successful means of vegetative propogation, especially in early spring. The patterns on the foliage are unique bands of silver/aluminum colored pigments.

Typically grown as a house plant.

Sources used:


Image Several Picea cadiere in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s greenhouse (grown by Greenhouse manager Richard Cole, photo taken by me on 25 April 2014)

Image Pilea cadierei, after a fatal attack by mealybugs (plant grown and photographed by me, originally owned by Eastern Illinois University’s Doctor Janice Coons)

ImageClose-up of a Picea cadiere in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s greenhouse (grown by Greenhouse manager Richard Cole, photo taken by me on 25 April 2014)

The images provided were taken by me, and they may be used for educational or informational purposes only, provided that either this article or this blog is appropriately cited/referenced. 


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