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The mystery of the Pilea Peperomioides flower [5 theories]

The mystery of the Pilea Peperomioides flower [5 theories]

Pilea Peperomioides Flower
Even though Pileas have been around for years, their flowering phase still seems to be somewhat of a mystery. Why is my Pilea Peperomioides flowering and how do you get it to flower? In this post, we’ll dive into the myths and the facts to get a little bit more knowledge about Pilea flowers.

 

When I first got a hold of a Pilea Peperomioides I was certain it was a green indoor plant, and nothing else. The last thing I was expecting was flowers. Not long after I got my first plant, I started seeing images online that indicated the opposite  – people had flowering Pileas! Most of the images were of such poor quality that it was hard to determine if it was indeed flowers, and if so, what they actually looked like.

In 2016 I finally managed to get a hold of a Pilea with flowers on it. I definitely wasn’t in need of more Pileas as I already had far too many, but a flowering one? obviously had to buy that.

Here’s what it looked like:

Pilea Peperomioides flowers
On this particular plant not only did the mother plant had flowers, but also the offshoots

But have you ever seen a Pilea Peperomioides flower close-up? I suspect not many people have, so I decided to get a bit closer.

Pilea Peperomioides flower close up

Once a single flower opens up, a puff of pollen bursts and it becomes star-shaped and is actually quite fascinating.

A close-up shot of a Pilea Peperomioides flower that has opened up
A close-up shot of a Pilea Peperomioides flower that has opened up

It’s well-known that Pilea Peperomioides is best propagated by offshoots, and therefore the thought of potentially being able to grow new plants by flower seeds was intriguing.

I’ve seen many people online claim to have grown Pilea Peperomioides from seeds, but the results look more like cress than anything else. To this day I have yet to see anyone document the whole process: from flower to seed, sprouts onto full-sized plants. I’ve even tried myself with the outcome of dried-up flowers – no luck!

Pilea seeds
The supposed ‘seeds’ from dried up Pilea Peperomioides flowers

Why does a Pilea Peperomioides flower?

There have been many discussions around why a Pilea Peperomioides flowers and when. It still seems to be somewhat of a mystery, and I have yet to find anyone offering a good scientific explanation.

Here are some of the claims I have come across:

  • It will flower once reaching a certain age
  • It can be both female and male, and only male plants produce flowers
  • Its flowers can be a sign that it’s not doing well
  • It will flower when exposed to lower temperatures

But is there any truth to any of these claims?

Let’s dive into each of them.

 

 

1) Pilea Peperomioides will flower once reaching a certain age

To me, it seems very unlikely that age is a key factor for whether or not a Pilea will flower. I have grown Pileas for +5 years and some of them have yet to display a single flower bud despite being more than 5 years old.

As for the flowering Pilea that I bought (see image further up), both the mother plant and offshoots were flowering. These are of course biologically connected and technically the same plant, but still.

With a Pilea, it is hard to estimate age purely based on size, as it depends on how much space the plant has had to grow in. A solid tree-trunk-like stem is however a good indicator that the plant has more than 1 year of life behind it.

Verdict: Unlikely to be true

 

2) Only male Pileas can produce flowers

Within plant biology, there are male and female plants. A person suggested to me on Instagram that this could be the explanation as to why some Pileas flowers and others don’t. A very interesting angle that I had not thought about myself.

I decided to investigate it a bit further, and did a whole post about it here. But here is an interesting quote from the post:

The botanists from Kew had originally only seen live Pilea specimens with male flowers, and it was therefore believed that the plant was unisexual or dioecious, meaning it has only male or female flowers. It was later discovered, by the same botanists, that Pilea Peperomioides is monoecious – meaning it has both male and female inflorescences on the same plant, but that the female flowers were rarer to see. In a Harvard Herbarious document on the flora of China, it quotes that “Pilea Peperomioides is often dioecious, sometimes monoecious”

Even amongst botanists, there seems to be some confusion about the Pilea – no surprise that we are struggling to understand it as well.

I have yet to find a trustworthy source that has investigated this further, but if you know of any, or you happen to know more about plant biology, don’t hesitate to leave a comment with your insights or drop me an email here.

See Also
Here's how to make Pilea Peperomioides grow faster

Verdict: Likely to be true

 

3) Pilea Peperomioides will flower when it’s not doing well

I have had many suffering Pileas over the years, some of which have left this world. None of them produced flowers. So even though I cannot guarantee that this isn’t the case, I simply have no evidence to back it up, and why would it be a biological reaction only occurring in some cases?

Verdict: Unlikely to be true

 

4) Pilea Peperomioides will flower when exposed to lower temperatures

When we read about Pileas in the wild, the climate could hold a key ingredient to whether or not a Pilea will flower. Here’s a quote from a post I did about their natural habitat:

The first samples of Pilea Peperomioides brought to Edinburgh were traced back to high altitude areas of the Chinese mountain ranges, growing in shady spots on boulders covered with humus.

A plant living in shaded high altitude areas will be very hardy, and this could be the reason why some people who have kept their Pileas outside or in a cool environment over the winter, have seen flowers in spring.

The first Pilea with a flower I got was the only one flowering amongst approx. 20 other plants and these would most likely all have come from the same grower.

With a professional greenhouse, you are able to control everything, to get similar conditions for a large number of plants. This means the same temperature, humidity, etc. So although it seems likely that temperature could be an important factor, it doesn’t explain how this single plant had flowers and the others didn’t (unless it was simply a matter of days before the others would follow suit which I had no idea of knowing).

Verdict: Likely to be true

Are Pilea flowers seasonal?

During my time researching Pilea Peperomioides flowers, I noticed that in the month of May the number of flowering Pileas seen on Instagram increased. I couldn’t help but wonder if flowers are tied to seasonal change, as many of our outdoor plants are.

In summary

Based on my research and experience, temperature and plant gender seems to be the most likely reasons as to why Pilea produces flowers. I generally have more assumptions than I do answers, and I would love to get an actual scientific explanation from a botanist or plant biology student. Do you have one or something that comes close to it? then drop a comment below.

 

FAQ on Pilea Peperomioides with flowers

Can pilea Peperomioides flower?

Yes they absolutely can, but there is no guarantee that they will.

Should I remove pilea flowers?

No need to, they will eventually die back and fall off by themselves.

How do you get pilea Peperomioides to flower?

So far all evidence points towards temperature as being they key factor in whether or not a Pilea Peperomioides will flower. Keep it cool over winter and it may just reward you with flowers in spring.

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