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Publication #FPS478

Pilea cadierei Aluminum Plant1

Edward F. Gilman2

Introduction

The variegated foliage on aluminum plant is unlike any other, with shiny silver, irregularly shaped markings parallel to the lateral veins (Fig. 1). Leaves are held opposite each other on square, green stems, producing a thick ground cover about 12 inches tall in a shaded landscape. Small, white flowers are produced at the ends of the stems in the summer, but they are mostly overshadowed by the conspicuous foliage.

General Information

Scientific name: Pilea cadierei
Pronunciation: PYE-lee-uh kuh-DEER-ree-eye
Common name(s): aluminum plant
Family: Urticaceae
Plant type: ground cover
USDA hardiness zones: 10 through 11 (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Figure 1. 

Aluminum plant


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: hanging basket; suitable for growing indoors; ground cover; cascading down a wall
Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range

Description

Height: .5 to 1 feet
Spread: depends upon supporting structure
Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]
Plant habit: spreading
Plant density: moderate
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: serrate
Leaf shape: obovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: silver/gray; variegated
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Flower

Flower color: white
Flower characteristic: summer flowering

Fruit

Fruit shape: unknown
Fruit length: unknown
Fruit cover: unknown
Fruit color: unknown
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not applicable
Current year stem/twig color: green
Current year stem/twig thickness: medium

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in the shade
Soil tolerances: occasionally wet; acidic; slightly alkaline; sand; loam; clay
Drought tolerance:
Soil salt tolerances: poor
Plant spacing: 18 to 24 inches

Other

Roots: not applicable
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: aggressive, spreading plant
Pest resistance: very sensitive to one or more pests or diseases which can affect plant health or aesthetics

Use and Management

Aluminum plant forms a thick ground cover within 2 years after planting on 18-inch centers. Unrooted stems can be struck into the ground and will root if kept moist in a shaded location. You can propagate the plant quickly in this manner. Locate the plant in a fully shaded location since foliage on aluminum plant will discolor in the sun. Provide for irrigation in dry weather and fertilize regularly to keep the plant thick and looking nice.

Pests and Diseases

Mites can spoil the foliage in hot, dry weather. Locate in the full shade to prevent this.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FPS478, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date September 1999. Revised June 2007. Reviewed June 2011. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.