I really don't know what's wrong with my Pilea.

It was doing fine, and then I think I over-watered it one time. A lot of its small, lower leaves went brown and mushy really quickly, and a few of the bigger ones near the bottom fell off. This was a couple of weeks ago. Since then, one by one the leaves have been getting black edges like this, and dying over the course of a couple days. I've been very careful with the watering, checking the soil well before watering, but can't seem to stop it. The plant seems ok otherwise - its little top shoot went black so I plucked it off, and since it's been making a new shoot which seems fine. It also has those little baby plants growing on the stem which seem fine.

Do I need to repot it? I was worried about the shock of re-potting whilst it was suffering. I do want to check the roots for any rot, but again I'm worried about stressing the plant out too much.

It's not in direct sunlight, or anywhere near a radiator.

Any advice would be most welcome. Thank you!

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  • It looks like damage from excess nitrogen, but if you haven't been fertilizing, that wouldn't be the case.
    – J. Musser
    Feb 21, 2017 at 16:48
  • My first thought as well, J. Where did he say he wasn't fertilizing? It could also be fertilizer added in the soil...@Mon, this is potting soil from a bag yes? Did you put rock beneath the soil? I see you've lifted the bottom of your pot off the surface...excellent! Sure looks to me like over fertilization. Over watering would take longer and you'd get yellowing. I'd repot right now in fresh, sterile potting soil, no rocks beneath, no fertilizer either in the soil or otherwise. Let us know asap!
    – stormy
    Feb 21, 2017 at 20:26
  • Hey Musser and @stormy - I didn't fertilise as far as I'm aware, this is the potting soil and pot the plant came in from the shop. So unless they added rocks or fertiliser in before shipping I don't know.. It seems to have stabilised now, no more lost leaves and it's growing new ones. I'm really worried about repotting in case it gets upset again. I flushed its soil out so maybe there had been a build up of fertiliser/minerals that is now gone?
    – Mon
    Mar 13, 2017 at 19:33
  • Way cool that you flushed the soil! I would not worry about stressing your plant, transplanting really is not that stressful unless you use the rootball for practicing soccer, grins! You should at any time feel free to turn your plant upside down to pop it out of its pot. How else will you know the conditions of the roots and what a store has done? Have these leaves been touching hot window glass or a radiator...someone else mentioned this as well...By deduction then, you've over watered perhaps and flushing didn't help. I would transplant in new soil. Or the store over fertilized...
    – stormy
    Mar 13, 2017 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


The brown spots are almost certainly the result of overwatering. Although you've been careful about watering too much, it's entirely possible that the lower part of the pot never dried out. This is especially true because the plant doesn't receive strong sunlight.

The best way to check for overwatering is to take the plant out of pot and see if the soil near the bottom is still moist.

If the problem is overwatering and you have a root-rot problem on your hands, you'll need to repot immediately (in a clay pot if you can help it) in soil that drains better, give the plant some sunlight and hope for the best.

For the record, these plants do seem to lose lower leaves as they grow upward, so don't be alarmed if a branch falls off occasionally. Best of luck.

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