How to Grow and Care for an Aluminum Plant, a Low-Maintenance Houseplant With Metallic Leaves

Follow these techniques to help this stunning, aptly-named plant flourish in your home.

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Aluminum plant in a red pot
Photo: Bilal photos / GETTY IMAGES

Almost all of us want a low-maintenance houseplant collection with varieties that (mostly) care for themselves. An aluminum plant fits that bill. This houseplant, formally called Pilea cadierei, is known for its minimal upkeep: Just place the plant in a sunny area of your home, make sure its soil is evenly watered, mist its leaves (the tropical variety loves humid environments), and watch it grow. It's visually pleasing, too—aptly named, the aluminum plant boasts leaves that look like they've been stenciled in metallic paint.

Want to add this plant to your indoor garden? We'll teach you all about the easy care techniques and conditions this plant needs to stay healthy and strong.

How to Plant an Aluminum Plant

The aluminum plant is typically grown as a houseplant (and purchased in a young or mature state), but if you want to start from seed, begin in the spring, says Keegan Nesvacil, co-founder of Woodland Tools. Ensure your container's soil is 1/3 sand and 2/3 soil or peat mix, as this acts as a plant food that encourages the variety's growth and health. Regular gardening soil can be too heavy and can cause water-logging issues, says Puneet Sabharwal, CEO and co-founder of Horti, a plant subscription service, and author of Happy Plant: A Beginner's Guide to Cultivating Healthy Plant Care Habits.

Plant the seeds an inch deep into the soil mix, water well, and wait for growth.

How to Grow and Care for an Aluminum Plant

If you're bringing home a more mature aluminum plant (or want to help your seedlings thrive), consider its native climate as you determine how to care for it. This plant loves humid environments and "in its native habitat, is often seen as a ground cover or as a trailing plant on larger trees," says Sabharwal. "Remember that as you try to create an environment for it to thrive."


Aluminum plants like bright, indirect light, says Justine Kandra, a horticulturist at Missouri Botanical Garden's Kemper Center for Home Gardening. "They can tolerate some direct sun, but too much will cause the leaves to turn pale and scorch," she says. "Plants not getting enough light will have leggy, stretched-out stems." Three hours of light a day is ideal. However, if you are growing this houseplant in a darker room, lean towards five hours of indirect sunlight, says Nesvacil.


Watering cadence is largely dependent on the moisture levels of the soil and the season. "For example, in spring and summer, you will want to look at the top 1/4 inch of soil and make sure it is moist to the touch," says Nesvacil. "However, in fall and winter, these plants require less maintenance, and you can allow the soil to dry out a bit more than you would in warmer seasons." Just make sure to water evenly whenever the soil feels dry.


An all-purpose fertilizer or peat soil will give an aluminum plant all the nutrients it needs to grow healthy and strong. "Fertilizing should be done during the growing season from spring through summer, and then stopped in the fall before resuming again the following spring," says Kandra.


Since this houseplant thrives in tropical, humid environments, try to recreate this climate in your home. "These plants prefer temperatures between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, although they can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures down to 55 degrees Fahrenheit," says Nesvacil. "However, keep in mind that aluminum plants are particularly sensitive to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so avoid temperatures that are too cool or too warm." To increase your room's moisture levels, routinely mist the plant's leaves or keep a humidifier nearby, he says.

aluminum plant with silver and green leaves
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How to Repot an Aluminum Plant

Since this plant can grow quickly, you should consider repotting it every growing season (each spring). "Look at the drainage hole of the pot, and if it is densely covered in roots, the plant needs to be repotted," says Kandra.

Follow Kandra's best practices to repot this plant:

  1. Choose a new pot that has a drainage hole and is around 1 to 2 inches wider in diameter than the current pot.
  2. Carefully remove the aluminum plant from its container and place it in the new pot, backfilling around the roots with fresh, well-draining potting soil.
  3. Water the plant thoroughly.

How to Propagate an Aluminum Plant

The best way to propagate an aluminum plant is with stem cuttings rooted in water, says Kandra. While you can propagate any time of year, it's best to do so in the spring or summer, when the roots grow more quickly.

Follow Kandra's steps to propagate an aluminum plant:

  1. Using sharp, clean pruners or scissors, cut a few stems off of the parent plant.
  2. Remove some of the bottom leaves from the cutting and place the stems in water.
  3. Once roots form, they can be transferred to a pot with well-draining soil mix.

Common Problems When Growing an Aluminum Plant

Take note of the common problems that arise when growing this houseplant. "Aluminum plants are relatively low-maintenance plants that are great for both new growers and gardening enthusiasts alike, but there are definitely some issues to keep an eye out for," says Nesvacil.


Pests like spider mites can infest this houseplant, and even poke holes in the plant's leaves, the experts say. This issue can be remedied by wiping the plant's leaves with a natural soap, says Sabharwal.

Yellowing and Browning Leaves

If you notice yellowing and browning leaves, the plant may be experiencing blight or plant disease, says Nesvacil. "You will want to prune off the yellowing or browning leaves to limit the disease's spread," he says.


Also keep an eye out for flowering. "While it may be unlikely for aluminum plants to flower, if that does occur, you will want to pinch the flowers off or use a snipping tool," says Nesvacil. "Although they may look great, the reason for flower removal is due to the flowers leaching energy from the rest of the plant, causing damage over time."

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