Pilea involucrata (Friendship Plant)

Friendship Plant, Panamiga

Pilea involucrata

One of the best parts about becoming a plant parent is becoming a plant grandparent. Through propagating, you can “create” more plants to surround yourself and unsuspecting friends with, and this is, arguably, easiest to do with the Pilea involucrata. Named the Friendship Plant for how easy they are to propagate and how incredibly well they root from cuttings, this Pilea is a bushy, trailing plant that loves high humidity and soaking up dappled light from underneath others in a closed terrarium space.

Originally from Central and South America, this plant is also called the Panamiga and is beloved for the interesting contrast of colors on its textured leaves. The underside, veining, and sometimes tops of these leaves grow a bronze, burgundy hue, opposed by light green stems and edges. Though the stems of the Pilea involucrata are terribly sensitive, a broken stem is just another opportunity to propagate and grow another plant baby and even start another terrarium!

At a Glance

 

Where to Buy Pilea involucrata

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Terrarium Plant Guide

Friendship Plant Care & Growth

Lighting

The Friendship Plant loves its fair share of moderate to bright indirect light. In its native habitat this plant grows on the forest floor, living its best life in the shade. So, do your best to limit the amount of direct light this plant receives by either placing it farther away from your light source or by planting something taller above it in your terrarium.

If possible, rotate the terrarium this Pilea is in by a quarter turn every few weeks to make sure all the leaves of this plant are getting enough light.

Watering

Just like the rest of its family, the Friendship Plant is a fan of moisture. These plants prefer moderate, even moisture and to dry out just slightly between waterings. They especially love being propagated in water and can create a huge network of roots when left in water throughout the growing season.

Newly rooted plant babies are wonderful as gifts, but if you have a friend doesn’t want a Friendship Plant as a gift, know that they are no friend at all. You can’t trust someone who doesn’t want more plants.

Substrate

This plant loves a slightly loose, well-draining soil, but isn’t too picky on the exact content; an African Violet potting mix will do the job, as will a perlite and bark mixture. A peat moss or coco coir supplement can also give your Friendship Plant’s root structure a chance breathe. Adding earthworm castings upon first planting will only help it acclimate to its new environment and new roommates quicker, too!

Temperature & Humidity

Pilea involucrata are native to Central and South America, a part of the world that sees its fair share of heat and humid days in the warm seasons. During this time however, the forest floor that the Panamiga like to crawl around on is typically very shady, so the cooler temperatures between 65-75°F (18-23°C) are best suited to it.

High humidity is an absolute must to help this plant thrive; while it can survive humidity levels around 50%, your Pilea involucrata will always be happier to soak up more.

Growth

Friendship Plants are crawlers, so they like grow by putting out new stems and leaves next to their mother plant, growing horizontally along the floor of a terrarium. Many cultivars of this plant have purplish-bronze leaves at first that eventually grow into their green top and purplish-bronze underside and veining.

If given enough space, Panamiga can even put out clusters of tiny green or pink blooms if given enough space and time to mature.

Propagation

The Pilea involucrata earned the nickname “The Friendship Plant” because of how easy it is to propagate and give to friends to grow their own mini Pilea. Stem cuttings can be placed either directly into a new pot with soil or into a clear container to water propagate; with the water method, you will be able to see how quickly the Friendship Plant begins to root.

Make sure to take stem cuttings in the warm growing season to give your new plant the best chance at growing without the mother.

Varieties & Similar Plants

Being of the Pilea genus, the Friendship Plant has a ton of super popular and well-known cousins. Though plants of this family are extremely diverse in their shapes, colors, and patterns, the Pilea cadierei (Aluminum Plant) and the Pilea repens (the Black Panamiga) are most similar, sharing the same leaf shape and burgundy coloring on the undersides.

Common Problems

While the Panamiga is not a plant that’s vulnerable to many issues, it can still develop root rot when overwatered; this can be seen in excessively droopy or dropping leaves. If not in a closed environment, this plant can attract spider mites and mealy bugs as much as the next plant, but they can be harder to get rid of because of the textured leaves that pests love to hide in.

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