Aluminium Plant Care Guide: How to Keep Your Pilea Cadierei Healthy

Last Updated: October 23, 2023

Introduction to Aluminium Plant Care

The Aluminium Plant, also known as Pilea cadierei, is a charming houseplant known for its stunning foliage. Each leaf carries a unique pattern of silvery markings, a characteristic that inspired its metallic moniker.

When properly cared for, the Aluminium Plant can reach a height of 12 inches, making it an excellent choice for a tabletop or a hanging basket.

Aluminium Plant Origin

The Aluminium Plant is a species native to Vietnam and China. Known for its stunning leaves that feature a silver, metallic sheen, this plant gets its common name – Aluminium Plant – from its unique leaf coloration. Each leaf is dark green and often appears glossed over with patches of silver to aluminium. These metallic patches reflect light, giving the plant its distinct aluminium sheen.

Care Difficulty

When it comes to the care difficulty of the Aluminium Plant, it’s relatively easy to manage, making it a popular choice among houseplant enthusiasts (both beginners and veterans alike). However, like every plant, it does require a specific set of conditions to thrive which we will cover in this article.

Aluminium Plant Characteristics

Primarily, the Aluminium plant is recognized for its stunning leaves. The foliage is a deep, rich green, variegated with silvery patches that resemble squares of aluminium, hence the name. These silver patterns contrast beautifully against the darker green of the leaves, creating a striking visual effect that stands out in any indoor garden setting.

  • Size: Aluminium plants typically reach a height of 12 inches (30 cm) with a similar spread, although they can grow larger with proper care. They present a compact, bushy shape, making them ideal for tabletop displays or as part of a container garden.
  • Leaves: The leaves grow oppositely on the stem, and are oval in shape, measuring approximately 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) in length. The top surface of the leaf is dark green with patches of metallic silver, while the underside is a lighter shade of green.
  • Flowers: While it’s not common for Aluminium plants to flower indoors, they can produce small, inconspicuous white or pink flowers under optimum conditions.
  • Growth rate: Interestingly, the Aluminium plant has a fast growth rate compared to other houseplants but will still be dormant during the colder darker months of the year.

Ideal Growing Conditions for an Aluminium Plant

The Aluminium Plant (Pilea cadierei), thrives under certain growing conditions. A thorough understanding of these conditions will ensure your plant’s healthy growth and longevity. Let’s delve into the various aspects you should take into consideration.

Light Conditions

Aluminium Plants prefer a well-lit environment and they thrive best in bright, indirect sunlight. Direct exposure to harsh sun rays can cause the leaves to scorch and lose their characteristic silver markings. However, a lack of sufficient light can lead to a reduction in the plant’s vibrant color and slowed growth. Thus, striking a balance is essential.

Temperature and Humidity

Aluminium Plants are tropical in nature, and hence, they favor warm temperatures. Ideal temperature conditions range between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. These plants don’t do well in cold drafts, so avoid placing them near open windows during winter.

Regarding humidity, they are quite adaptable. However, they prefer higher humidity levels, typical of a rainforest habitat. Regular misting or placing the plant on a tray with pebbles and water can help maintain the desired humidity.

Soil and Watering Conditions

The Aluminium Plant prefers well-draining soil. The use of additional perlite or sand is often recommended to enhance drainage. Overly wet soil can lead to root rot, a common issue with these plants so watch out for that.

As for watering, these plants have a moderate need. They prefer the soil to be kept consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Water the plant thoroughly and allow the top inch of the soil to dry out before the next watering. Overwatering can lead to leaf drop and root rot, while underwatering can cause wilting.

The Correct Way to Fertilize Your Aluminium Plant

When considering fertilization for your Aluminium Plant, bear in mind that this plant is not overly demanding. However, in order to ensure optimal growth and health, a balanced supply of nutrients is necessary. Fertilizing your Aluminium Plant not only promotes vibrant growth but also enhances the plant’s resistance to pests and diseases.

Here are some guidelines to properly fertilize your Aluminium Plant:

  1. Choose the Right Fertilizer: Use a balanced houseplant fertilizer which contains equal proportions of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (N-P-K). These are the primary nutrients that every plant needs in ample quantities.
  2. Fertilizer Concentration: Too much fertilizer can be detrimental to your plant’s health. Always dilute the fertilizer to half of the recommended strength on the product’s instructions unless otherwise stated.
  3. Regular Feeding: Feed your Aluminium plant every two to three weeks during the growing season, which is usually from spring through late summer. During the dormant season (fall and winter) cut back all feeding.
  4. Monitor Plant’s Reaction: Always observe your plant’s reaction to the fertilizer. If the plant shows signs of distress, such as yellowing leaves or slowed growth, it could be a sign of over-fertilization.

What If I Over-Fertilize My Aluminium Plant?

Over-fertilization can lead to ‘fertilizer burn’, a common issue which can cause your Aluminium Plant’s leaf tips to turn brown. If you suspect that you’ve over-fertilized your plant, take immediate action to minimize damage.

  • Firstly, stop any further fertilization.
  • Secondly, flush the soil with plenty of water. This will help to wash out the excess fertilizer salts.
  • Finally, prune away any severely damaged foliage to promote new growth.

Pruning and Trimming Aluminium Plants: A Step-by-Step Guide

Pruning and trimming are essential tasks for maintaining the health and appearance of your Aluminium Plant. These activities promote bushier growth, prevent legginess, and allow the plant to conserve energy for developing healthy foliage and roots. Let’s look into the step-by-step guide on how to prune and trim your Aluminium Plant effectively.

When to Prune Your Aluminium Plant

Typically, the Aluminium Plant should be pruned in the early spring or summer, when the plant is in its active growing phase. During this period, the plant can quickly heal and produce new growth. However, if your plant has become too leggy or overgrown, a trim at any time of year can be beneficial.

Tools You’ll Need

  • Sharp, clean pruning shears or scissors: Using clean, sharp tools helps prevent the spread of disease and ensures a clean cut, reducing stress on the plant.
  • Gloves: While not necessary, gloves can protect your hands from the plant’s sap.

Steps to Prune Your Aluminium Plant

  1. Prepare your tools: Always start by cleaning your pruning shears or scissors. You could wipe them with rubbing alcohol to ensure they’re sterile.
  2. Identify the cutting points: Look for older leaves that are slightly discolored or leggy stems that are stretching out of the plant’s general shape.
  3. Make the cut: Cut just above a leaf node (the point where a leaf or branch connects with the stem). This promotes new growth at that point.
  4. Clean up: Remove the cuttings from the plant’s vicinity to keep it tidy and prevent the spread of any potential diseases.
  5. Monitor your plant: In the weeks following pruning, keep a close eye on your plant to ensure it’s responding well. If you notice any signs of stress or disease, take appropriate actions immediately.

Choosing the Right Pot for Your Aluminium Plant


Aluminium plants are not particularly choosy when it comes to the material of the pot. However, it’s important to select a pot that is durable and allows for proper drainage. Materials such as ceramic and terracotta are popular choices as they let som excess water evaporate out of the sides which helps avoid issues such as root rot. On the other hand, plastic pots can also be used as they are less breakable, cheap and lightweight.


As for the size, it’s essential to choose a pot that provides ample space for the plant’s roots to grow and spread. Aluminium Plants generally grow up to 12 inches tall with a similar width, so a pot that is around 6 to 8 inches in diameter would be a good fit. Remember, a pot that is too small can restrict growth, and a pot that is too large can lead to root rot and stability issues.


Perhaps the most critical factor when choosing a pot for your Aluminium Plant is ensuring it has proper drainage. These plants prefer moist but well-drained soil, which means the pot must have at least one drainage hole at the bottom. Without sufficient drainage, your plant can suffer from waterlogged roots, potentially leading to its untimely demise.


Last but not least, consider the aesthetic appeal of your pot. After all, the pot you choose will be the home to your Aluminium Plant and contribute to the overall look of your indoor or outdoor garden. Choose a design and color that complements the silver-patterned foliage of the Aluminium Plant, enhancing its unique charm and beauty.

Aluminium Plant Toxicity

The Aluminium Plant is generally considered non-toxic; however, it’s always important to exercise caution when introducing any plant into a home with pets or small children.

For those with sensitive skin, it’s worth noting that the plant’s sap can potentially cause irritation. Nonetheless, the Aluminium Plant’s toxicity is relatively low compared to other houseplants.

When it comes to pets, different animals may react differently:

  • Cats: While the Aluminium Plant is not listed as toxic to cats by the ASPCA, some cats may suffer from mild gastrointestinal upset if they consume a large amount of the plant.
  • Dogs: Dogs are not specifically listed as being sensitive to Aluminium Plants. However, any consumption of plant material could potentially cause mild upset stomach.

Children may also experience minor stomach discomfort if they ingest parts of the plant. It is always advisable to keep plants out of reach of small children, and to teach older children about the potential risks associated with eating plant materials.

While the Aluminium Plant does not appear on any major toxic plant lists, any plant can potentially cause a reaction in certain individuals or pets. Always monitor for any signs of a reaction, and contact a healthcare provider or veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Flowers on an Aluminium Plant

The plant’s small, inconspicuous flowers are often overlooked due to the stunning silvery patches on the green leaves, which earns the plant its name.

However, it’s worth noting that the Aluminium Plant does produce flowers under specific conditions. The flowers are typically white or pale green, and they’re quite small. They tend to appear in clusters, usually during the summer months when the plant is in its active growth phase.

Common Pests and Diseases: Prevention and Treatment for Aluminium Plants

One of the most important aspects of Aluminium Plant care is prevention and treatment of common pests and diseases. These plants are generally hardy but can occasionally fall victim to certain pests and diseases. Armed with the right knowledge, you can ensure your Aluminium Plant remains healthy and vibrant.

Common Pests

The most frequently encountered pests on Aluminium Plants include mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids. These tiny creatures can cause significant damage if left untreated.

  • Mealybugs: These are small, white insects that may look like small pieces of cotton. They suck the sap out of the plant, weakening it and causing yellowing leaves.
  • Spider Mites: Tiny and often hard to see, spider mites cause damage by sucking the plant’s juices. You might notice web-like substances on the plant or a speckling effect on the leaves.
  • Aphids: These small, soft-bodied insects are usually green or yellow and can cause leaf curling or distortion.

Common Diseases

Aside from pests, certain diseases can also affect Aluminium Plants. These primarily include root rot and leaf spot.

  • Root Rot: Overwatering is often the cause of root rot. Signs include yellowing leaves and a plant that appears generally unhealthy. Check the root system to confirm this issue as they will be black and soft if rotting.
  • Leaf Spot: This is usually caused by a fungus or bacteria and results in dark spots or patches on the leaves.

Prevention and Treatment

Preventing these issues is always better than having to treat them as treatment may not always be successful if the issue has become severe. Regular care and maintenance can help deter pests and disease.

  1. Regular Inspection: Regularly check your plant for signs of pests or disease. Early detection can make treatment easier and more successful.
  2. Proper Watering: Overwatering contributes to root rot. Give your plant the right amount of water, taking care not to leave it sitting in water.
  3. Pruning: Remove any diseased or dead leaves to prevent the spread of disease.
  4. Proper Spacing: Good air circulation can help prevent fungal diseases. Ensure your plants are not crowded together.

Aluminium Plant FAQs

Can an Aluminium Plant tolerate direct sunlight?

Bright but indirect sunlight is best for the Aluminium Plant as too much direct light can scorch and burn the leaves. In terms of lower light, whilst it can adapt to these environments, it will often lead to stunted and smaller growth.

How often do I need to water my Aluminium Plant?

Aluminium Plants thrive when their soil is evenly moist which means the little but often approach is best when watering them. They don’t like to go from soggy to dry extremes so it’s about finding the right balance.

Are Aluminium Plants toxic?

Unfortunately, Aluminium Plants are toxic which means you want to keep them away from any pets or children that might be tempted to nibble at the leaves.

Are Aluminium Plants low maintenance?

The most difficult thing about caring for Aluminium Plants is that they outgrow their pots at a rapid pace. Their strong root systems can even break through planters as they are quite invasive plants so regularly pruning or repotting is a must.

Why is my Aluminium Plant dying?

If you notice issues cropping up with your Aluminium Plant, then the first thing to look at is the soil. Watering issues are the biggest killer of Aluminium Plants so check if the soil is bone dry or waterlogged. Then monitor environmental factors such as sunlight, temperature and humidity levels to see what needs to be adjusted.


Common Problems with your Aluminium Plant

Why does my Aluminium Plant have brown leaves?

Brown leaves on Aluminium Plants are caused by quite a few different factors so we recommend going through them one by one to figure out which is the cause. The main factors are: not enough sunlight, watering issues or too much direct light.

Why is my Aluminium Plant wilting?

If you see that your Aluminium Plant is starting to wilt, then it suggests that your plant isn’t getting enough water. Check the soil to confirm that the potting mix is dry before slowly reintroducing watering.

Why are my Aluminium Plant’s leaves fading?

Too much intense direct sunlight can cause the leaves on your Aluminium Plant to fade. Move your plant to a slightly shadier spot in your home.

What is causing my Aluminium Plant to have yellow leaves?

If the leaves throughout your Aluminium Plant are turning yellow and looked quite scorched then it may be caused by too much sunlight.

However, if the occasional bottom leaf on your Aluminium Plant turns yellow then this is most probably caused by natural ageing.

Why is my Aluminium Plant drooping?

There are two more common causes of drooping Aluminium Plant leaves. Firstly, if your Aluminium Plant is receiving too much sunlight this can cause the leaves to become quite scorched and droop down. If this is happening to your plant then move it to a slightly shadier location during the sunniest months of the year and this should stop your Aluminium Plant from dropping down so much.

Drooping leaves on an Aluminium Plant can also be caused by a lack of moisture. We recommend checking the moisture levels in the soil immediately before adjusting your watering schedule. Watering either more frequently, or giving your Aluminium Plant a bit more water each time should help to prevent your plant from drooping.

Why is my Aluminium Plant curling?

There are a few different factors that might lead the leaves on your Aluminium Plant to curl. This can be caused by either underwatering, a lack of humidity or temperature stress.

The best thing to do to figure out why your Aluminium Plant has curling leaves is to inspect the soil to see if the potting mix is dry and if the roots are crispy. If so, then this suggests a lack of water is causing your Aluminium Plant to curl.

You can also use a humidity monitor or digital thermometer to see if there is an issue with any of these factors which is causing your Aluminium Plant to curl.

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