Life can make us really busy sometimes and we don’t blame you if ‘water Pilea’ just gets forgotten from the to-do list every now and again. And things like holidays and unexpected emergencies can sometimes leave our Pilea a little worse for wear. But don’t worry, there are several ways you can give your Pilea a little bit of TLC and revive your plant.
If you’ve been neglecting your Pilea and forgotten to water, then this will need to be first on your list when trying to revive it. But before you do anything, double-check that it actually needs watering because overwatering can be a sudden cause of Pilea death too, surprisingly too much love isn’t great for your plants either!! If your Pilea has developed dry, crispy, light brown leaves and the soil is light and dry, chances are your plant definitely needs more water. If you aren’t sure if your Pilea has too much or too little moisture in its soil, use a moisture meter first to check.
And before you give your dying Pilea a big bucket of water, hold off for a moment as a rapid change of environment can actually shock your plant and this won’t help anything. There is a two-step process to reviving an underwatered Pilea. Firstly, fill up a bucket with room temperature water and soak your Pilea for around half an hour. Then let it drip dry in the shower or sink before popping it back in its pot. Then continue to water your Pilea little and often over the course of a week or two before taking up a normal care routine once again. If you feel as though the root system is still pretty dry, you can soak your Pilea again a few times in the first week.
Soaking is super important when reviving a dying and neglected Pilea. It works better than just pouring a lot of water on it as it can either run straight out of the drainage holes or waterlog the soil and cause more stress to your Pilea.
It might also be that your Pilea is dying because of overwatering. If you find that the potting mix of your Pilea is waterlogged then you’ll need to replace it immediately. Don’t wait for it to naturally dry out as this risks more damage to the root system. Trim off any rotten roots as these won’t be helping your plant anymore and you’ll want to encourage more healthy roots to grow.
Now that the initial problem is sorted, it’s really important that you prevent any watering issues in future. Luckily there are a few methods you can use to help prevent waterlogged or dry soil. Firstly, investing in a self-watering pot means that you can be sure that your Pilea is only getting the water it needs. We recommend this self-watering pot from Amazon. A moisture meter is also a great way to know when the soil is ready to be watered and they are super affordable making them a must-have for every plant parent.
We also recommend only using terracotta pots instead of plastic ones as these let some of the water evaporate out of the sides, whereas plastic pots hold in every drop of moisture which can make overwatering affect your Pilea a lot more.
It’s also super important to not only focus on the roots when trying to revive your Pilea but also giving the incredible round leaves some needed love. To get rid of any dust and grime on the leaves, gently wipe them down with soapy warm water. This is really important to maximise the sunlight your Pilea can get which will allow it to photosynthesise properly again. This also allows you to give the leaves a thorough once over to check for any pests or signs of further problems. Make sure to check the undersides of the leaves as this is where the pests love to hangout most.
Sometimes brands will try to sell you leaf shine to get your Pilea leaves looking nice and shiny. However, this isn’t always the best idea as can be full of chemicals that clog the pores on the leaves and stops them from oxygenating. Instead, cleaning them with a cloth as we mentioned above should get them looking fresh and sparkly without the need for any harsh chemicals.
Increasing the Humidity
Alongside watering, increasing the humidity is also a great way to revive a dying Pilea plant and get it back to tip-top condition. Our homes can sometimes have quite dry air, especially in the winter months where we often have the central heating on. Dry air can cause the leaves to be a little limp and droop down as well as turn brown and crispy. Luckily there are several easy and often free ways to increase the humidity for your Pilea:
Misting your Pilea’s leaves
One of the simplest ways to increase the humidity for your Pilea (and the rest of your tropical or humidity-loving houseplants) is to mist them with a spray bottle a few times a week.
Make a Pebble tray
Place your houseplants over a tray of small stones with fresh water reaching about halfway up the tray. Over the day water from the tray will evaporate giving your Pilea above a little humidity boost. The number one thing is to not let the water level reach your plant pot as you don’t want the roots sitting in a puddle of water.
Give your Pilea a shower
A quick way to raise the humidity is to give them a quick shower. Simply pop them in the shower (or sink) and wash it down with lukewarm water, this will clean off the leaves of dust, give the soil a good soaking and raise the humidity which is great!
Get the right placement
If you happen to have great lighting in your bathroom or kitchen, we recommend moving your Pilea in there. The running water from your showers and steam from your cooking means these rooms have a naturally higher humidity level. We find using a humidity/ temperature meter can really help you decide where to put your Pilea.
Buy a humidifier
If you don’t want to worry about the humidity level dropping, then getting a humidifier is the best idea for you. They’re super affordable little devices that keep a consistent humidity level. You can find our current favourite humidifier on Amazon here.
Want to know more about raising the humidity level for your Pilea and other houseplants?
Check the Lighting Conditions
It can happen that too much direct sunshine can burn your plant so if your Pilea has been left near a window for long periods of time, this might be why your plant has started to die. If you notice scorched, burnt-like patches on the leaf then it may need to be moved further inside the room, away from the windows.
If your Pilea has been growing in darker areas of your home, then you probably need to adjust the light levels to revive it. Leggy or stunted growth is a classic sign of a lack of sunlight but be careful not to move it to direct sunlight as this will cause a whole range of other issues like we’ve mentioned above.
It’s important that you monitor the light levels and how they change throughout the day. Your Pilea might be getting the right amount of light in the morning, but much too much in the evening for example. To monitor the light level, and to be sure your Pilea is getting the right amount, use a light meter.
If you’ve established that increasing the light level is a great way to revive your Pilea, but there isn’t a better spot in your home, then it’s not all lost. We recommend purchasing a LED light to encourage new healthy growth. They are also great for your other houseplants if they don’t get as much light during winter so are a great investment. Our plants love this grow light from Amazon.
Check the Temperature
To help bring your Pilea back to full health, you need to make sure that there are no temperature extremes that might be killing your plant. Radiators, heating vents or air conditioning systems can be harmful to your Pilea as they create hotspots and drafts. Ideally, you want them to be in a spot with temperatures between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a digital thermometer to keep an eye on temperature fluctuations to prevent any further damage to your Pilea.
Check for Pests
One thing to look out for when trying to revive your Pilea is pests. It can happen that pests such as mealybugs, spider mites, scale insects and more can take hold of your Pilea and cause it to droop, have yellow leaves and lose leaves altogether. Give your plant a once over to spot any pests. If you do notice them or any signs of them (white powder, webbing on the leaves or holes in the leaves) then it’s not the end for your plant as luckily there are a few different ways to get rid of them.
Your first port of call to reviving your Pilea and getting rid of the pests is to remove the worst affected leaves. This will help to curb the infestation initially. Then you want to wipe down the leaves with warm water as well as washing them down in the sink. If the infestation continues, you might need to replace the potting mix as this is where some pests lay their eggs. Alongside these methods, you should also treat your Pilea with neem oil or another insecticide to fight the infestation.
Use a Support Stake for your Pilea
When Pilea plants start to struggle, they tend to get a little droopy and leggy. To help revive your plant, we recommend giving your Pilea a support to hold it up. You can get a variety of support stakes that you just dig in the soil and attach to your plant. Over time, it will start to become strong enough to hold itself up and you’ll be able to remove it if you choose. These supports are great and will help your Pilea look more alive!
Repot into Fresh Soil
Another method you can use to revive your Pilea and return it to full health is to repot it into fresh potting mix. When replacing the soil, make sure to use a high-quality potting mix that is specially designed for houseplants as this will give your Pilea the right balance of nutrients. We recommend Miracle Gro’s houseplant mix.
Gently rub all the old soil from the root system by running your fingers through it. It’s okay if a few roots break off, this is normal when handling your plant and they’ll grow back pretty quickly. Repotting the soil also gives you a good opportunity to inspect the root system and trim off any rotten or crispy roots.
Don’t Fertilise your Pilea
There is mixed advice on whether or not your should fertilise your Pilea when trying to revive your plant. We always recommend steering clear of it, to begin with. Fertiliser is great at encouraging new healthy growth but it can also shock your plant if used incorrectly. We recommend waiting about a month before even thinking about using fertiliser.
Once your Pilea is ready to be fertiliser, you need to choose between liquid fertiliser or spikes that you pop into the soil. Our Pilea really loves this liquid feed from Miracle Gro which is available on Amazon. When fertilising your Pilea always use less than the recommended strength. There is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to plant feed as size, maturity and environment will impact how much it needs. So using less than it says on the bottle is safer and avoids any risk of over-fertilising.
Reviving any of your houseplants can be a difficult, emotional process, especially if they have been neglected for months on end. If you find yourself always forgetting to take care of your houseplants, try adding watering to your calendar every week or asking a family member or housemate to help you out. Alternatively, it’s also worth looking into low-care houseplants as some really don’t need much care or attention to thrive. In fact, several plants prefer it if you forget about them!
Don’t give up on your Pilea too quickly, they can look pretty dead but will actually start to grow new leaves and stems with the right care. So be patient, treat them well and they may reward you with new healthy growth!