If the domestic plant arrangement lacks lush abundance or decorative splashes of color, then the cannon flower comes into play. The tropical ornamental leaf plant impresses with a rich play of colors in exciting contrasts. With its velvety softness, the foliage proves to be a true hand flatterer. The hobby gardener will look in vain for painful stinging hairs, as is usually the case with stinging nettle plants. Of course, gentleness does not determine the plant character alone, because once a year Pilea hurl their pollen out with force, as if they came out of small cannons. The uncomplicated care instructions make it clear why this is the only dramatic aspect in the otherwise unexcited cultivation.


  • Plant family of the stinging nettle family (Urticaceae).
  • Genus Pilea.
  • Native to the tropical regions of the world.
  • Growth height 10 cm to 30 cm.
  • Inconspicuous flowers at different times of the year.
  • Velvety leaves of contrasting colors or deep green.
  • Main use as ornamental foliage plant.
  • Evergreen and not hardy.
  • Common names: centrifugal flower, artillery plant.

Among the more than 250 species within this genus, tautly upright-growing tub flowers are lined with creeping specimens that are excellent for cultivation in shallow bowls or hanging baskets.


In view of its tropical origin, the cannon flower is essentially suitable for indoor culture in the local climate. Only in the mild wine-growing regions of Germany can hobby gardeners try to cultivate the nettle plant in beds as well.

  • A place in the light semi-shade with mild evening or morning sun is ideal.
  • The optimum temperature is 18° to 20°, some species even higher.
  • An air-flushed location not below 14° Celsius promotes the vitality of the plant.

During the summer, the Pilea should therefore not be placed directly at the window, but rather oriented towards the middle of the room. In bedding culture, leisure gardeners therefore like to opt for settlement as underplanting in the protection of tall deciduous trees, shrubs or ornamental grasses.

Tip: On warm summer days, centrifugal flowers feel extremely comfortable in pots on the balcony and terrace.

substrate and soil composition

The artillery plant does not make high demands on the composition of the potting soil. She is already satisfied with commercially available potting soil mixed with some sand. Home gardeners who have a compost heap mix equal parts peat and compost. Since the use of peat as a substrate additive is becoming increasingly taboo, environmentally conscious hobby gardeners advocate the following self-mix:

  • Nutrient-rich green compost (30-40%)
  • Wood or coconut fibers as a peat substitute (30-40%)
  • Sand or quartz chips (10-20%)
  • Expanded clay, perlite or styrofoam beads (10-20%)

In the bed, the artillery plant thrives in normal garden soil if compost and a handful of fillers are also added.


Constant soil moisture suits cannon flowers very well. Soaked soil, on the other hand, often leads to root rot. As a result, it is not necessary to visit the ornamental plants with the watering can every day, but dose the watering as needed.

  • Water moderately with lime-free rainwater or soft tap water.
  • Only water when the substrate surface feels dry (thumb test).
  • Home gardeners with a penchant for watering prefer hydroponics.

Various species gain growth benefits from higher humidity. A gardener accommodates this wish by placing the pot on a saucer filled with water and pebbles. Without pebbles as a buffer, the coaster is emptied after 20 minutes at the latest to prevent waterlogging. Humidifiers in close proximity will do the job equally well. Of course, you should refrain from spraying the delicate leaves, because this care measure tends to be counterproductive. Accordingly, care should be taken when watering that the leaves do not get wet.


The nutrient requirement moves in normal parameters. If the Pilea receives a dose of liquid fertilizer every 3 weeks from spring to late summer, it will be perfectly happy with it. However, the preparation must not be applied to the dried potting soil, as this leads to burns. It is recommended to water lightly beforehand and then fertilize. Fertilizer sticks are a bit less complicated. Pressed into the substrate twice per growing season, they reliably supply the stinging nettle plant. If the centrifugal flower was recently purchased or repotted, there is no need for an additional nutrient supply for this year. Bedding plants are given a complete fertilizer at the start of the season and an additional dose during the summer or a shovel of garden compost on a regular basis.

To cut

The fact that it is easy to cut makes it easy for the hobby gardener to keep his cannon flower in good shape. At the same time, it prevents them from becoming bald from below, which various species explicitly tend to do.

  • In early spring, shorten shoots that are too long by a maximum of 2/3 of their length.
  • Thin out stunted or wilted stems at the base.
  • Repeated pinching promotes a bushy habit.

Since Pilea are cultivated in the bed as an annual, this aspect of care is limited to clipping off the shoot ends and thinning out a little if necessary.


As much as cannoneer flowers love life in the fresh air, it is time to move indoors at the latest when temperatures drop towards 15° Celsius. During the winter they can stay in the room right by the window because the sun can’t harm them. The amount of water is reduced to such an extent that the root ball does not dry up. The leisure gardener pays more attention to the humidity, because the active heating always causes a dry room climate. A bowl filled with water placed directly on the radiator works wonders, which incidentally also benefits human health.


After two years, the centrifugal flower gradually loses its beauty. Experience has shown that repotting them is not worth the effort, especially since the ornamental leaf plant develops a small root system anyway. Knowledgeable hobby botanists therefore tackle propagation in good time.


Anyone who takes a look at the cannon flower will immediately recognize that it is the ideal candidate for propagation by means of cuttings.

  • Cut off 7 cm to 8 cm long shoot tips in spring.
  • Start the cut just below a leaf knot.
  • Defoliate the cuttings except for the upper pair of leaves.

Prepared in this way, each offshoot is now planted in a small pot filled with potting soil. Placing the cuttings in individual pots may take up a little more space; Subsequently, however, this procedure saves a laborious untangling of the delicate roots. A plastic bag is put over each vessel, the task of which is to create a warm, humid microclimate. In the bright, warm place, the plant lover keeps his young plants constantly moist while they eagerly form new roots. The plastic bag should be aired for a few minutes every day to prevent mold from forming. If a fresh shoot appears, the cover is removed. A fully rooted grower signals that the Pilea is ready to be transplanted into regular substrate.

Tip: The root system forms much more quickly if a thin layer of compost is poured into the bottom of the pot.

diseases and pests

In terms of their natural constitution, Pilea are not necessarily among the robust ornamental plants. As part of the care, the prevention of diseases and pests is therefore always important. As a rule, it is omissions in cultivation that pave the way for fungal spores, viruses and pests. If an infestation occurs, the informed hobby gardener knows how to use household remedies, because the chemical club is not wanted in the room.

Spider mites
They are among the most common pests on garden and indoor plants. The warmer and drier the climate, the more extensively they spread. A sticky coating appears on the leaves. White webs can be seen on the shoots and in the armpits.

  • Increase the humidity with additional measures.
  • Pack affected plants in a plastic bag for a few days.
  • Release natural enemies such as predatory mites.

Gray mold
The fungal disease is revealed by a furry gray coating on the leaves. In the long run, it weakens the gunner’s flower so immensely that it begins to rot. Cultivation conditions that are too moist and over-fertilization often trigger the infection. The amount of water should be reduced as much as possible and the application of fertilizer should be suspended for some time. Affected plant parts are cut off with disinfected scissors and go into the household waste. As the disease progresses, the entire plant is discarded.

Popular styles

It is wide-ranging, the Pilea biodiversity. Some enchant with the delicate, beautifully colored leaves, while others score with rich green, elegantly shiny foliage.

Pilea elegans
Lanceolate, deep green leaves.

  • Growth height up to 80 cm.
  • A hardy species that also tolerates short-term cold.

Pilea peperomioides – Ufopflanze, Bauchnabelpflanze

  • Round shaped, glossy green leaves.
  • Growth height up to 50 cm.
  • Develops a small trunk with age.

Chair pile – Aluminum pumps

  • Elongated, pointed leaves up to 10 cm long.
  • White to silvery shimmering spots on a green background.
  • Inconspicuous flowers all year round.

Pilea involucrata

  • Purple and green streaked, velvety leaves.
  • Tiny pink flowers in summer.
  • The creeping growth qualifies it as a pretty traffic light plant.

Pilea involucrata ‘Silver’ – Shrouded Gunner’s Flower

  • Silver colored variety with hairy foliage.
  • Shoots thrive up to 100 cm long.
  • Dense clusters of leaves on long stems.

Pilea microphylla – Kleinblättrige Kanonierblume

  • Throws the pollen up to 1 m away.
  • Serrated leaves with high ornamental value.
  • Small green-yellow flowers in summer.

Pilea nummulariiolia – Münzblättrige Kanonierblume

  • The ideal cannon flower for the hanging basket.
  • Filiform shoots with innumerable tiny leaves.
  • Shows rapid growth.

Anyone who regards the cannon flower solely as a gap filler on the windowsill or in the bed is doing the magnificent nettle plant an injustice. It definitely has what it takes to be an impressive solitaire, with elegantly coloured, contrasting or stylishly shiny leaves in different shapes. What does it matter that it keeps its beauty for a maximum of 2 to 3 years, given how easy it is to propagate? In general, Pilea only require a minimum of care, as long as the site conditions and the water and nutrient balance are right.

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