How to Get Bugs, Pests, and Diseases Off Pilea peperomioides Plants

The name Pilea peperomioides may be a little on the long side, but it’s essential to be specific when dealing with this popular, symbolic, and beneficial houseplant. It’s commonly called a Chinese Money plant, a name it shares with nearly a dozen different species that all have their own care requirements. Knowing you’re dealing with a Pilea peperomioides plant, in particular, also known as a UFO plant, will help you spot signs of pests and diseases early on so you can address them with the right treatments.


Dealing With Common Pilea peperomioides Pests & Diseases – The Essentials

The trick to keeping Pilea peperomioides pest-free is checking the large, rounded leaves regularly for signs of damage. If you notice mealybugs, scale, or other insects, try treating the plant with insecticidal soap or rubbing alcohol.


The Most Common Pilea peperomioides Pests and Diseases (& How to Identify Them)

A number of pests can affect the Pilea peperomioides plant, but most of them cause similar types of damage and can be easily mistaken for each other. It’s essential to learn what the actual pests look like so it’s possible to determine precisely what you’re dealing with.

1) Mealybugs

Mealybugs

Mealybugs are some of the most common pests to attack house plants, including Pilea peperomioides plants. They’re named after the waxy residues they leave behind on the leaves. The individual mealybugs are pretty small, but their bright white color and fuzzy or fluffy appearance make them easier to spot than other tiny pests. 

If the leaves of your Pilea peperomioides plant feel sticky or develop a black sooty substance on them, you definitely have mealybugs because they’re leaving behind a residue known as honeydew. 

Mealybugs can attack even the healthiest Pilea peperomioides plants, but they’ll need to hitch a ride inside the house on the plant itself or another houseplant you add to your collection.

2) Spider Mites

Spider Mites

One of the biggest pests to cause damage to greenhouse crops around the world is the spider mite

Unfortunately, it can also affect your Pilea peperomioides plants if the pests manage to make it inside your home. They can’t fly or crawl in on their own, but practically any house plant or freshly harvested cut flowers can bring them inside. 

Spider mites are so small they only look like tiny moving dots to the naked eye. Using a magnifying glass on the dots, you may see a spider-like mite with eight legs. When the infestation becomes severe, you’ll see copious amounts of webbing on the stems of the plants and bases of the leaves, but early warning signs are harder to spot. 

Check the underside of leaves regularly for moving dots, especially if you see any discoloration, dark spots, or wilting of just a few leaves.

3) Fungus Gnats

Fungus Gnats

In most cases, fungus gnats are more of an annoyance than an actual threat to your plants. However, the larvae of the gnats can damage the roots of smaller plants if there is a severe infestation. Also, most people find the gnats highly irritating when they’re buzzing around the home. 

Fungus gnats can only thrive in soil that stays damp, but they can move into the house thanks to being able to fly. They’re relatively easy to deal with just by adjusting how you water your plants.

4) Scale

Scale

Scale is an unusual insect pest that appears like a raised, dark dot or circle on the leaf. They’re tightly attached to the leaf surface so they can pierce it and suck the juices out. You may not think it’s a pest at all but rather assume it’s a damaged leaf section. 

Scale is hard to peel off the leaf, but they will come off in one piece if you manage to do it. Other signs that you’re dealing with this pest include puncture marks on the leaf, yellowing, dropping leaves, and general loss of growth.

5) Thrips

Thrips

Thrips are tiny and hard to spot, but the stippled damage they cause to leaves is much more noticeable. They’ll jump or fall off when you disturb them on the plant’s leaves. You can place a white sheet of paper under your Pilea peperomioides plant and tap it to see if you’re dealing with this pest. Some have wings and some don’t, but most thrips have to be carried inside by infested plant material, including crops from a farm. You won’t generally see thrips infesting your house plants to a noticeable level unless they’re already struggling due to care issues.

6) Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is one of the few diseases that commonly affect Pilea peperomioides. It’s more common in the humid environment of the greenhouse than in the home. You’ll notice wilting leaves first, but the leaves will be covered with a white powdery substance that looks like common mildew. Only trimming off the affected leaves and watering less will often help the plant recover from this disease.

7) Root Rot

Root Rot

Root rot can affect any house plant, and Pilea peperomioides is prone to it if watered too often or potted in a thick soil mix. Like most house plants, this popular plant prefers a well-drained soil mix that doesn’t hold water for too long. Root rot occurs because the roots of the plant must exchange oxygen and not just absorb water. 

When water sits around the roots for too long, they die off and rot. You may notice the entire plant wilting despite routine watering and yellowing or browning of older leaves.

8) Leaf Spot

Leaf Spot

It’s uncommon, but Pilea peperomioides can sometimes become infected with a leaf spot disease. As the name suggests, these diseases cause dark and flattened spots to form on the leaf’s surface. It’s easy to mistake these spots for scale insects, but scale will be slightly raised. Leaf spots are sunken instead and may appear wet. This disease can’t be treated at home, but you can avoid it by giving your Pilea peperomioides plant the best possible care.

Where Do Pests Come From?

Most pests have to be carried into the home on some kind of plant material. Aside from fungus gnats, most of the pests that affect the Pilea peperomioides plant can only attack it once you’ve brought them inside yourself. When bringing new house plants in, try keeping them away from your other plants for a few weeks to watch for signs of diseases and pests.

Pesticide and Insecticide Options/Solutions

Pesticide and Insecticide Options/Solutions

There are several options for treating the pests that damage the Pilea peperomioides plants, and some of them can be made at home. Commercial treatments include:

  • Insecticidal soap, which breaks down the shell of even hard insects like scale
  • Pesticide sprays, which need to be targeted to the pests you’re actually dealing with
  • Sticky traps, which catch hopping and crawling pests like mealybugs and thrips
  • Fungus gnat traps, which help attract adult gnats so they can’t reproduce.

Homemade options can work just as well, especially on small-scale infestations that you catch early enough.

  • Canola oil, which smothers most pests despite hard or soft exoskeletons
  • Dish soap, which replaces insecticidal soap at a lower cost
  • Rubbing alcohol, which removes both the insects themselves and residues like honeydew
  • Homemade gnat traps, which can be just as effective but less expensive than commercial traps.

How to Use Pesticides & Insecticides for Pilea peperomioides Plants

Pilea peperomioides is sensitive to most pesticide sprays, so look for organic products that are targeted to a specific pest rather than a generalized product. Don’t overuse soaps or oils since they can coat the leaves and make it hard for the plant to absorb enough light. 

The best treatment for any pest on this plant is removing the bugs you find by hand. If you’re dealing with a large-scale infestation, try treating the plant in a box or other contained environment so the pests don’t spread to the rest of your plant collection.

Managing Pests & Diseases

Managing Pests & Diseases

The key to keeping pests and diseases from hurting your Pilea peperomioides plant is keeping it healthy.

Only giving the plant the right conditions will help it fight off both insects and diseases. These plants prefer indirect light, with a medium level of indirect light. Placing your Pilea peperomioides about two to three feet away from a window is the best option. 

It needs a well-draining soil mix that is low in peat moss and other ingredients that hold too much moisture around the roots. Only water the plant when the first inch of soil is completely dry and fertilize it once a month when it’s actively growing. You’ll also want to repot your Pilea peperomioides every 18 months or so.

Many plants that succumb to pests or diseases are lacking in fertilizer or over-watered first.


Wrapping Up

Keep your Pilea peperomioides healthy and happy no matter what kind of pests are affecting your house plant collection. Give it the care it prefers and regularly check for pests you can remove by hand to avoid the need for pesticides and extensive treatments. It should thrive for years to come with indirect light and average humidity.


Full Bio | + posts

Linsay is an American copywriter based in the Pacific Northwest with a background in academic writing and research. Linsay holds Master's degree in both Anthropology and Library and Information Sciences and has written for numerous national and international publications including USA Today, SFGATE, Hunker, and The Bump across an array of topics in the gardening, green living, and travel sectors. When she's not writing, you'll usually find Linsay reading, kayaking, sailing, snowboarding, or working in her garden.

Author

Linsay is an American copywriter based in the Pacific Northwest with a background in academic writing and research. Linsay holds Master's degree in both Anthropology and Library and Information Sciences and has written for numerous national and international publications including USA Today, SFGATE, Hunker, and The Bump across an array of topics in the gardening, green living, and travel sectors. When she's not writing, you'll usually find Linsay reading, kayaking, sailing, snowboarding, or working in her garden.

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