Sunday, May 27, 2018

How to create the next Pilea peperomioides?

Pilea peperomioides

           The Chinese Money Plant came out of nowhere.  It is the equivalent of a country song hitting the top ten.    Every song that is produced is expected to be a hit, but no one can predict if a new song will be the most popular.

            A few growers caught on to the wave of demand for Pilea peperomioides.  Were they lucky to grab the limited supply and put effort into keeping the ball rolling?  Well, you can make your own luck.

            The Pilea that looks like a Peperomia is a legitimate easy to grow houseplant.  After the boom, there won’t be a bust.  It will take its place in the assortment of standard houseplants.

            Can a grower create a purposeful viral demand for a new plant?  No.

            Seldom has there been this bottom-up demand for a plant that was not even being produced in the United States.

            So, let’s get serious about creating the next Pilea peperomioides.
           
            To me, the most logical unknown plant is Peperomia polybotrya, ‘Owl Eye’.  It’s mentioned in the Pilea discussion as similar and is often confused with each other.

            Guess what?  There is no supply.  At least no big numbers that are required to support a new viral demand.

            Peperomia polybotrya is a very attractive foliage houseplant.  It has large shiny oval leaves with a pronounced omphalodium (navel), with radiating lines.  Thus, the appearance of ‘Owl Eyes”.  (No, I never knew the word ‘omphalodium’ or what it means)

            Conventional vegetative propagation could supply local demand, if it exists.  There will be sales by association with the Chinese Money Plant.  There can not be run away sales because there will be no supply.

            Enter tissue culture.  If someone commits time, money and effort into a tissue culture project, then infinite supply is possible.  But if ‘Owl Eye’ never leaves the bottom of the hit charts, it will be folly.

      

Peperomia polybotrya



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