Aluminum Plant Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Pilea Cadierei”

Read our guide to Aluminum Plant plants for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Pilea Cadierei”
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The aluminum plant is a lush houseplant that is a distant relative of the nettle plant. It is an evergreen perennial that is well known for its vibrant silver and green leaves. Sometimes it can be difficult about where it wants to grow, but in general, it is a rather low maintenance plant. It is a great houseplant for those living in high humidity climates and warm climates.

The aluminum plant has become a popular plant for homes across the country thanks to is bright silver-colored leaves that make a stunning contrast to the deep green that surrounds the edges. It is a fast-growing evergreen which also makes it a great choice for households who have small kids or who are looking for a quick way to redecorate on a budget.

In its native tropical habitat, it spreads like wildfire as a part of the natural groundcover. In the summer, it is common for the plan to sprout small attractive flowers. Not all plants will sprout flowers, and they are not an essential part of the plant so don’t worry about their lack of bloom.

Taking care of the Pilea cadierei is relatively simple. All you need to do is make sure it is planted in well-drained soil and watered on a regular basis. We will go a bit more into watering the Aluminum plant later in the post.

About Aluminum Plant

  • Aluminum Plant is native to China and Vietnam, both of which are humid regions.
  • Though both regions do get snow, the plan won’t grow in areas where frost occurs.
  • Aluminum Plants are evergreen perennials and grow outdoors in their native humid environments, though domesticated ones are raised indoors.
  • The aluminum plant is also referred to as Watermelon Pilea and was named due to the intricate silver veins of color on its foliage.
  • They also come in a dwarf variety of houseplant that won’t grow larger than 6 inches in height. It is called the Minimia Aluminum plant and is perfect for apartments or condos.
  • Though Aluminum plants may bloom in the summer, indoor plants seldom bloom due to the lack of direct sunlight or proper humidity.
  • The plant spreads easily with a moderate rate of growth in both indoor and outdoor conditions.
  • With the right amount of water, light, and humidity, the Aluminum plant has relatively low maintenance requirements when compared to other houseplants.
  • It is important to keep your children or pets from eating plants, however, the Aluminum plant is non-toxic to animals and humans.
  • Indoor plants have an average lifespan of two to three years. Most owners will cut a stem from the mother towards the end of the year to start on a new plant.
Aluminum Plant
Aluminum Plant

Aluminum Plant Overview

  • The leaves of the aluminum plant are oval toothed with raised silvery streaks along the surface.
  • These plants are part of the Urticaceae line of plants which also happens to be a part of the nettle family.
  • The plant can survive outside in temperatures as low as 59°F, and lower, and they must be housed inside or risk failure.
  • Without fail, each leaf will feature four textured veins of silver and will range between two and four inches long.
  • Aluminum plants will often erupt in tiny white blooms in the middle of summer. The flowers are greenish-white in color and appear at the tips of stems.
  • The scientific name of the Aluminum plant is Pilea cadierei but it is also known as watermelon pilea.
  • It comes from the Urticaceae family which also produces nettle.
  • The average height of Pilea cadierei is a foot tall with a moderate spread, the dwarf versions grow to half the size.
  • It is important to give Pilea cadierei plenty of indirect sun and moderate humidity.
  • They are typically sturdy plants, but they can fall victim to Mealybugs & spider mites.
  • The leaves look like the stripes on a watermelon and is a true tropical plant often found in China, but are also native to the jungles of Vietnam.
  • Pilea cadierei tend to grow in clusters when outside and can produce flowers and seeded fruit that are not edible.
Pilea cadierei
Pilea cadierei

Growing Aluminum Plant

Growing the aluminum plant indoors is easier than you might think. The plan is a bit picky about the temperature and light it needs, but with a little attention to detail, you will have a healthy plant.

The aluminum plant is a tropical plant and needs warm conditions both indoors and outdoors to thrive. If you live in a place like Florida, then you can line your exterior with the aluminum plant and watch them grow. For other climates, indoor care is best. As long as your interior is at least 60 degrees, you can nurture an aluminum plant with no issues.

Maintaining a steady temperature in your home is pretty easy, but lighting is a different story. Bright and generous lighting is essential for this plant, however, it must be indirect. Leaving the Watermelon pilea in the sung can make the leaves lose their color and the whole plant may even become sunburned. If there is not enough light, the plant will grow leaning towards the nearest source, which can result in an aesthetically unappealing lopsided plant.

Hirt’s Aluminum Plant, From Amazon

Consider placing your plant in a window that faces north. This will ensure that it gets the right amount of light without suffering sunburn. Rotate the pot often to ensure even growth. Speaking of growth, you will need to use a potting mix that is soil-based. Peaty or loamy soil that is easy drain is the best to prevent root rot.

At the same time, this type of soil will ensure proper moisture without getting muddy. The plant will thrive in a neutral pH soil but can also tolerate acidic or alkaline based soils. Consider adding leaf mulch or water-soluble fertilizer one a month to ensure proper nutrient balances. Fertilizing should be avoided in the winter while the plant’s growth cycle is dormant.

Watering Aluminum Plant

Aluminum plants required moist soil and moist temperatures. Moist is not dripping wet, so keep that in mind when watering. In the spring and summertime, make sure that your plant is watered only when the first ½ inch of the soil is dry. Each time you water your plant, make sure that the water drips down through the drain holes at the bottom of the pot.

Like many tropical plants, the Aluminum plant turns dormant during the winter or even as early as mid-fall. Growth will slow and water consumption will also slow down. When the winter rolls around, reduce the frequency of watering and always check the soil before adding more water.

Never use cold water, always allow your water to reach room temperature before pouring it in the pot. Let your plaint drain water for about five minutes after watering and then remove the excess from the collection tray.

Leaves of the Aluminum Plant
Leaves of the Aluminum Plant

Propagating Aluminum Plant

The average lifespan of an aluminum plant is three years with proper care. It makes sense to propagate on a regular basis to keep an even rotation of fresh plants in your home. The easiest way propagate is by using cuttings from a healthy plant, or if you happen to have a plant that bears fruit, their seeds.

We suggest that you take a modest cutting in the early days of spring or summer. Choose the healthiest stem on your plan and cut the tip. New growth is preferable. To grow a new plant, simply remove the lower leaves from the stem and place it in fresh, moist soil. Cover your new cutting in a plastic bag to maintain humidity levels during this critical phase. The temperature around your new plant should also remain at 70 degrees in order for a healthy root system to develop.

In Conclusion

These houseplants will generally grow well inside of the home, but if they start to get yellow or droopy leaves, they are probably dealing with sunburn. Make sure that they get the right amount of indirect light and get plenty of water. Too much water can lead to root rot and not enough water can cause dehydration.

The Aluminum plant is a tropical plant, so it should be kept out of the direct path of air conditioners and fans to prevent dehydration. If you live in an especially dry climate, it is a good idea to use a humidifier in the room or a mister to maintain proper humidity levels.

Pruning is also simple. The aluminum plant grows at a moderate pace, but proper pruning will ensure that it grows in an attractive, aesthetically pleasing shape. Gently trimming leaves will prevent overgrowth while ensuring proper health.

Make a point of checking your plants for bugs. Little critters love new growth and if left unchecked, can cause mold or rot on your leaves. Overall, the aluminum plant is a great option for those looking for a unique way to brighten the look of their home with minimal maintenance.


Hollie is a life-long gardener, having started helping her Dad work on their yard when she was just 5. Since then she has gone on to develop a passion for growing vegetables & fruit in her garden. She has an affinity with nature and loves to share her knowledge gained over a lifetime with readers online. Hollie has written for a number of publications and is now the resident garden blogger here at GardenBeast. Contact her at or follow on twitter

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