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From drab to fab: How to bring back a Pilea Peperomioides dropping leaves

From drab to fab: How to bring back a Pilea Peperomioides dropping leaves

BIg Pilea

Your once so beautiful and perfectly shaped Pilea Peperomioides is dropping leaves and you have no idea why.

Can it be saved?

The short answer is yes, and I’ll tell you all about this plant hack below.


It’s a sad day when you notice your Pilea Peperomioides has yellowing leaves or the bottom leaves are falling off, but thankfully you’re not the only one with this problem, and it doesn’t have to be the end.

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Why are leaves falling off Pilea Peperomioides?

Your Pilea is dropping leaves because something is off – which you’ve probably already figured out since you’re here. There’s not one single reason for leaves falling off, but there are a few likely ones.

What you’ll typically experience is the following:

  • The leaf will lose its strength and become soft
  • The leaf will start to turn yellow
  • The leaf will fall off

So why is this?

I’ve had dozens of Pileas over the past couple of years, and the main reason for leaves yellowing, falling off and in worst cases, the plant dying, is due to overwatering.

When I got my first Pilea Peperomioides I had read that it preferred moist soil, but I quickly learned that this isn’t the case.

Your plant will do best if you let it dry out slightly between watering, and the minute the leaves lose their strength you know it’s time to water.

If you’ve got the watering sorted but still have problems, you’ll want to consider the placement of the plant and how much light it gets.

A lack of light can result in leaves falling off, and if you have a big Pilea with lots of offshoots (also called ‘Pilea Babies’) from the soil, you’ll most likely notice the bottom leaves of the stem falls off simultaneously as the offshoots grow.

They simply steal space and light, and the plant puts its efforts into new growth.

Do also consider that it’s not uncommon for a plant to drop older leaves over time. It’s simply a way of focusing the efforts elsewhere (think of palm trees).

You can definitely take a few measurements to reduce the risk of leaves dropping, but in the end, you most likely won’t be able to fully prevent it.


Do Pilea leaves grow back?

Once a Pilea leaf has fallen off, a new one won’t regrow. In the same way, a leaf that has started to yellow won’t go back to green. You can get lucky that a Pilea offshoot will start to grow where a leaf has fallen off, but chances are slim.


Here’s what you can do: Cut your Pilea in two

So now you’re stuck with a leggy looking Pilea and that wasn’t the look you were going for. What to do? Well, there’s a very simple plant hack that, for some, can seem barbaric:

Cut your Pilea Peperomioides in two 

Sounds crazy? We know. As drastic as it may sound it actually works, and by doing this you can transform your Pilea Peperomioides from drab to fab, and get not just one but two gorgeous plants out of it.


Here’s what happens when you cut a Pilea Peperomioides in two

Cutting a Pilea Peperomioides in two
A tall and leggy Pilea cut in two

The beauty of the Pilea is that it’s a really sturdy plant. The worst thing you can do is to overwater it, but it can survive through a drought for quite some time, and even the tiniest pieces of the root can, with time and care, turn into a new plant.

When you cut your Pilea in two, the top part will continue its growth upwards, and the stem will start to shoot right below the cut – you’ll end up with quite a unique and fascinating tree trunk look.

Pilea Peperomioides stem with new growth

Sounds good? Then here’s how to do it

  • Get a clean and sharp scissor
  • Use the scissor to cut off your Pilea Peperomioides in the middle part of the trunk (or where you feel it starts to look leggy)

The top part of the plant keeps growing upwards

  • Take the cut off top part and decide on one of two options
    • Water propagation: Put the top part into a glass of water (make sure only the bottom part is in water, not the leaves – you can remove lower leaves if needed to create a bit more stem). Refresh water about once a week and when roots start to appear you can put it into a pot with soil
    • Soil propagation: Put the top part into a pot with soil. Keep the soil slightly moist until you see the plant starting to grow again, as the new roots are very sensitive to drought
  • Once the top part is in soil, consider adding a few sticks for support until the roots settle properly
  • Within a month you should start to see new growth, and now you have a non-leggy Pilea Peperomiodes that will grow as it did before. Horray!

The lower part of the plant grows from offshoots

  • The remaining trunk already has a fully developed root system, and if you do not need to repot or give fresh soil, simply keep the plant as you’ve done so far.
  • Within a month you should see new growth appearing on the stem


No matter which option you choose, the plant will look droopy the first week or so after you cut it – especially the top part, as it has no roots. But give it time and care, and you’ll end up having two beautiful Pilea Peperomioides instead of a single sad looking one.

Curious to see how the stem will look after regrowing leaves? Then here’s a solid example from

Growth on Pilea Peperomioides stem

Bushy Pilea
Got more advice for leggy Pileas? then feel free to leave a comment below. You might also be interested in reading the full plant care guide for Pilea Peperomioides here.
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  • Hi I have 5 pileas. The oldest I’ve had for 3 or so years and all the other are babies from the first. My problem is that starting October all of them started dropping their nice green leaves. Now they only have 3-6 leaves each left and i have no idea what to do. I live in Sweden so they don’t get that much light but it has never bothered them before. None of their leaves browned or yellowed before dropping.

    • Hi Saga,

      So sorry to hear that! It’s always such a puzzle when plants that were doing fine all of a sudden aren’t.
      It sounds strange that all of them have been affected the same way at the exact same time. Could you have watered them with fertilizer, perhaps too much?

      • This happened to my pileas this year as well. Mostly to my older one that’s about 3 years old. Just started dropping 2-4 healthy green leaves a week starting around November. I had adjusted watering according to light levels but still watered regularly and tried watering a bit more once the leaves started dropping but it didn’t help. Now it’s lost 75% of the leaves. I guess I will chop it off.

        • Mine is the same way. It became so leggy, and now it only has 4 leaves drooping from it. I recently moved the plant to another spot. Surprisingly, I can see a couple of new leaves sprouting from the top.

          Should I still cut it? It just seems way too leggy and even a little sickly. It used to be so luscious.

          • If it doesn’t look like you want it to, then I’d suggest cutting it. It’s a good sign that it’s starting to get new leaves, could indicate that the new spot is a better fit!

  • Hi,
    I got myself a PP 5 months back. My perfect PP so far, has been acting very strangely lately.
    I have been treating it with utmost care. Watering it once in 7-10 days (only after ensuring the top 2 inch of soil is dried off). Kept it in indirect sunlight. Fertilised it only once – with much diluted down 10-10-10 NPK.
    It was doing good – till summer set in.
    Almost every morning, I wake up to find one perfectly healthy green leaf has fallen off.
    I don’t have any pets/ babies at home & the PP stays untouched, undisturbed through the day. The temperature is hot & humid where I live – but the plant is not exposed to direct sunlight; there’s a ceiling fan on, almost all day, where it sits – so temperature is not higher than 30’ C ever in the room where it is kept (and that’s something I cannot control).
    The PP is left with only a few leaves now & I am absolutely distraught. A couple of new leaflets are growing at the bottom & I noticed a new pup growing today. So the plant is not dead, I am guessing. What am I doing wrong. Any idea?
    Is my PP too young to behead? It has about 3 inch of main stem.Should I chop it off to let the mother plant get more energy to grow new leaves?
    Please advice. Thanks.

    • Hi Sasha, I just replied to your other similar comment here (, but to summarize:

      I think your plant is acclimatizing to the change in the climate. This often happens through leaf loss, and it’s something I see on my plants as well when temperature and light change.

      It’s a great sign that it’s still growing! If you are worried about losing the plant entirely, I would take as many pups as possible and propagate them instead of cutting the top of it. That will at least give you a higher chance of having some plants that will survive. Have a look at my suggested methods for propagation here:

      Best of luck,

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