The Pilea microphylla (Artillery plant) Plant is a short-lived perennial or annual that typically grows from an 8-12 inch tall. It has light green, almost succulent, stems and tiny 1/8″ leaves which contribute to its other nickname, “Artillery Fern”, though it is not related to ferns. The small male flowers (which are usually white, pink or green in color) explosively discharge pollen into the air, hence the common name of Artillery Plant, and the fact that it will self-seed over a wide area. It is a fantastic choice for a smaller growing yet very colorful addition for terrariums, hanging baskets, green roofs, or ground cover. The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine.
Scientific Name: Pilea microphylla
Common Name: Rockweed, Artillery plant, Gunpowder plant or Brilhantina.
How to grow and maintain Pilea microphylla:
It favors bright but indirect sunlight. They can be kept in partial shade. Even if they are kept under bright light, the plants should be protected from the direct rays of the light.
The Artillery plant prefers rich organic soil which has well-drainage properties.
Artillery plants needn’t bother with much water. Water moderately during the growing season, sparingly in winter.
The Artillery plants should be fertilized monthly in spring and summer using a half-strength solution of liquid house-type fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 3:2:1.
Pilea microphylla plants require regular pruning as they are quite invasive in nature. Pruning involves pinching off the tips of new branches and removing the unnecessary branches.
Propagate by seed or stem cutting. Sow seed at 66-75°F (19-24°C) or take stem-tip cuttings in spring. Divide perennials in spring.
Pests and Diseases:
No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for spider mites and mealybugs. Pilea is also susceptible to stem rot and bacterial leaf spot.