The UFO plant, also known as the cannon flower, owes its name to the fact that it shoots its pollen like a cannon. In addition, the leaves look like flat UFOs. The plants are easy to care for and quite decorative as long as they are young and not senile. Since they are easy to propagate, you can always breed new seedlings. You can read in the following text what needs to be considered during care. Inform yourself!


  • Also known as Lucky Dollar, Chinese Money Tree or Missionary Plant
  • Genus of cannon flowers
  • Nettle family
  • Originates from Southeast Asia
  • About 200 species of Pilea
  • Resembles ornamental pepper
  • Perennial herbaceous plant
  • Has a stable stem axis, usually simple and straight
  • Forms a trunk when old
  • Large, circular, glossy leaves up to 15 cm in diameter
  • Petioles 2 to 17 cm long
  • Inconspicuous flowers
  • Forms fast-growing runners

The care of the Ufo plant

Ufo plants are interesting foliage plants. They are rarely brought into bloom, although it is possible. However, the flowers are comparatively inconspicuous. Unfortunately, the plants are only very rarely available commercially, you have to search a bit before you find a supplier. Pilea peperomioides thrives particularly well in a terrarium. The constant heat and humidity are ideal.

Cats like to chew the leaves of plants. Since they do not contain any poison, this is not dangerous, just not good for the rather delicate plants.

Ufo plants need a bright but not too sunny location. They like to be outside in the summer, but prefer a bit of shade. The plant substrate must be permeable. Normal potting soil, which is made a little more permeable, usually does the trick. Planting or repotting takes place in spring. Older plants are no longer repotted. They bare from below and become unsightly. It is then better to grow new plants from cuttings and then pot them fresh. It has to be watered regularly, but rather moderately. Before watering again, the soil should be about half dry, but never completely dry. Standing wetness is absolutely harmful. Root rot occurs quickly. Fertilize from April to September.

You rarely have to cut the UFO plant, but it is quite possible. Hibernation can be warm or cooler at a good 10°C. Significantly less watering and no fertilizing at all. Propagation is by cuttings or offshoots, or root shoots. It succeeds easily. Illnesses are rare and mostly due to care errors. Pests can occur, but are not that common.


UFO plants need a lot of light, but don’t like bright sun. High humidity and no frequent extreme temperature changes are important. Plants like to spend the summer outdoors. They tolerate up to 0°C, but not for a long time. Temperatures above 10°C are better.

  •  Needs lots of light
  • Sunny to semi-shady
  • Morning and evening sun are favourable
  • A flower window facing east or west is best
  • Even winter sun is tolerated
  • If possible, no blazing sun
  • Turn the plant regularly, it grows towards the light!
  • Tolerates room temperature all year round
  • Can also be overwintered cooler
  • It is best to place them in a water-filled bowl on stones, which ensures good humidity. Alternatively, a place in a bright bathroom is very cheap.
  • Likes to spend the summer in the garden
  • Allow if temperatures are consistently around 5°C
  • Avoid drafts.

plant substrate

The Ufo plant is not particularly demanding when it comes to the substrate. The plants usually get by with normal potting or potting soil. This can be made a little more permeable. Hydroponics are also suitable.

  • potting soil
  • Mixture for pot or house plants
  • Palm soil can also be used
  • Experts recommend a mixture of equal parts compost and peat.
  • In any case, a permeable substrate


The UFO plant is a rather delicate plant. Therefore, one should handle it carefully, especially when planting. Because it only has a weak root system, the Pilea thrives best in shallow containers or even in bowls. It is best to have drainage at the bottom so that excess water can drain off easily.

  • Transplant in spring
  • Cut back long shoots
  • When the plants begin to age, repotting is hardly worth it. It is best to grow a new plant.

watering and fertilizing

Ufo plants do not need a lot of water or fertilizer, but should be supplied with both regularly. Some finesse is required. It is best to do a finger test before each watering. The soil should be superficially dry but not completely dry.

  • Water regularly, but not too much
  • finger test
  • Always let the soil dry first
  • Never let it dry out
  • No waterlogging – leads to root rot
  • If the soil is frequently dry, the leaves may fade. Do not fertilize for the first year. Liquid fertilizer from April to September, about every two to three weeks
  • If you use peat soil, you have to dose it more vigorously, because this soil contains hardly any nutrients
Note: Do not pour on the leaves, otherwise black spots may appear on them. It is also best to use rainwater for watering.

To cut

Cutting is not absolutely necessary. However, the plants tend to age, which is why pruning is recommended. The best time for this is spring.

  • Older plants often age
  • A cut can stimulate the plants to new growth
  • A radical pruning leads to a more compact growth
  • Shorten very long shoots so that the growth pattern of the plant is preserved
  • Cut off the tips of the shoots of young plants often. This stimulates branching.


There are two ways to hibernate the UFO plant, one warm and one much cooler.

  • Either room temperature or cool, at around 10 to 14°C
  • The cooler the location, the less water is needed
  • Do not let the substrate dry out completely
  • Cool temperatures are said to encourage the plant to bloom, but this has not been proven
  • Don’t fertilize


Propagation is by cuttings or offshoots and is easy. Root shoots can be easily separated.


  • Prune in April/May
  • Use shoot tips for this
  • Cut about 7 cm long cuttings with two to three pairs of leaves
  • Remove lower leaves
  • Plant the cutting in a mixture of equal parts peat and sand.
  • Put the plastic bag over the jar
  • Place bright, but not sunny
  • Water only lightly, the soil should only be slightly damp
  • Ventilate from time to time
  • It is best to pot in small groups, then the plant will have a better effect than individually
Tip: Cuttings will take root if you simply put them in water.


When the trunk of the cutting is about 4 cm long, it can be cut off and planted separately

diseases and pests

Actually, the UFO plant is not particularly susceptible to diseases. However, they can sometimes occur if they are not cared for properly. Leaf fall is usually a clear indication that something is wrong with the plant.

  • Common spider mite – recognizable by cobwebs on the leaf axils and indented leaf edges. In addition, the leaf color appears dull. They are best recognized by misting the plant with water, small droplets then stick to the nets. Here it helps to bag the plant moist. Spider mites cannot cope with high humidity. Otherwise, only chemistry helps and the little animals are already resistant to many agents.
  • Red spider – when the humidity is too low. They sit on the undersides of the leaves and can also be recognized by webs. It is best to give the plant a thorough shower first, especially under the leaves. Pesticides can also be used. The plant must not be showered too often, that does not get the leaves. Systemically acting agents are best suited. They are taken up by the UFO plant and the pests absorb the poison while sucking and die.
  • Slug feeding is possible outdoors. It helps to place the vessels in such a way that the slime can no longer get to them.
  • Gray mold – recognizable by brown spots and a mouse-grey coating on the underside of the leaves. Affected leaves must be removed.
  • Loss of leaves if the substrate is too dry or the location is too dark

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Ufo plant suitable for hydroponics?
Yes, that is possible. Since switching from soil to hydro is far too time-consuming, cuttings should be rooted in hydro right away, right in the final container. Coarse expanded clay is best suited. With fine expanded clay, the risk of waterlogging is too great. A low nutrient solution level is important. Water level not too high!

How can the UFO plant be stimulated to bloom?
Many UFO plants never bloom. This is usually due to the warm location in winter. In order to set flowers, the plants have to be cooler in winter, observing a kind of hibernation. That’s no guarantee they’ll bloom, but it’s a good start.

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