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


  1. Gary, you should join the Philly Plant Exchange group on facebook. Through it you can sometimes detect which plants are becoming more sought after and which are fading out. Right now peperomia prostrata, ceropegia woodii (especially the variegated variety), epiphyllum anguliger and monstera adansonii are extremely popular; members post sightings when they spot them in local markets. Additionally many people in the group are familiar with your blue tags.

  2. Thank you for your tips. I had missed seeing your comments until now. We grow Peperomia prostrata- a very good creeping trailer. String of heart (Ceropegia woodii) is always in demand and we are building stock. I found the variegated form and know we can sell every one we ever are able to grow.
    I am not familiar with Epiphyllum anguliger but see how it could draw interest with its odd leaf shape.
    It looks like anything trailing will be trendy--- like Rhipsalis). We are collecting all the Strings of Things and will have them in small(4.5") hanging baskets.
    Thanks for noticing my blue tags--- it has become a trade mark.