This genus includes about two hundred species of perennial herbaceous plants, originating from most of the globe; the species generally cultivated as decorative plants are about ten, they come from south-central America and are evergreen. The Pilea cadierei constitute dense tufts of roundish or heart-shaped leaves, more or less elongated, of dark green color, with gray-silver or blue, glossy and waxy zoning; due to their characteristics they are also known as the aluminum plant. The leaves are single, carried by long fleshy stems, quite fragile, and have a serrated edge; these plants produce apical inflorescences of white, yellow or greenish flowers, which are unlikely to bloom in apartment plants. Of easy cultivation, they are often grown in hanging baskets, especially climbing species.
To have a good development of the aluminum plant, it is good to place the Pilea cadierei in a semi-shaded place or in the complete shade; they are plants that fear the cold, so they should be kept indoors or in a temperate greenhouse. The ideal temperature for this variety should never fall below 10 ° C in winter, while the ideal climate in summer should have a temperature around 25 ° C.
To have a healthy and luxuriant aluminum plant, water regularly, every 4-5 days, letting the soil dry between one watering and another, as water stagnation is not tolerated and can lead to dangerous rot ; from March to October provide fertilizer for green plants every 15-20 days; in the winter months fertilize every 35-40 days.
These plants need a lot of humidity, it is therefore advisable to vaporize them often, with demineralized water. In the hot period, it is also possible to place the specimen in a saucer in which pebbles or expanded clay are placed, so as not to leave the pot in contact with water, but causing environmental humidity to be greater.
The Pilea cadierei prefers loose soils, very well drained, rich in organic matter; repot plants of this kind at least every 2-3 years, to ensure sufficient space for a harmonious development, paying close attention to the stems that break with a certain ease. It is also possible to proceed with an annual repotting if you notice that the plant grows a lot; the operation must be carried out in spring, using a rich and well-drained soil. To obtain a good drainage degree, it is possible to add sand to the compound.
The multiplication of these plants generally occurs by cutting, taking an entire leaf at the base of the stem that carries it; an entire plant develops rapidly from a single leaf in a few weeks. The cuttings should be placed in containers with peat and sand and placed in a sheltered and shaded place with a constant temperature.
Aluminum plant - Pilea cadierei: Pests and diseases
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Excessive brightness can cause leaf discoloration; these plants are sometimes affected by aphids. To eliminate them, it is good to use a specific pesticide product, or to prepare a natural garlic-based mixture to boil in water, then vaporize on the affected specimens. This variety can also be affected by the cochineal; in this case, you can use a cloth with alcohol to mechanically remove the problem. Another problem can be caused by an excess of water that leads to the onset of gray mold, a serious problem to be countered quickly, eliminating the diseased parts.