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What Is an Aluminum Plant?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2014
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The aluminum plant, or Pilea cadierei, is a tropical perennial plant indigenous to Vietnam. Its leaves are usually dark green with splashes of silver between the leaf veins. The plant produces green or greenish-white flowers. The aluminum plant typically grows to a height of 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) and prefers partial to full shade. These plants generally require moist soil and temperatures above 30 degrees F (1.1 degrees C).

These plants are considered popular houseplants for their striking green and silver foliage. On some plants, leaves may be bronze or grayish in color. The aluminum plant is an evergreen plant. While it does produce blooms, these blooms are usually tiny and grow in tight clusters.

Aluminum plants do not typically thrive in direct sunlight, as it can damage their leaves. Because they are tropical in origin, they typically require moist, sandy, well-drained soil and warm temperatures. While these plants are often hardy enough to survive temperatures as low as 30 degrees F (1.1 degrees C), they generally prefer temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees F (15.6 to 21.1 C). The aluminum plant generally prefers a high level of atmospheric humidity, and soil should never dry out.

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Propagation of the aluminum plant is most often done by taking cuttings. Leaf or stem cuttings should be taken in the spring. Plants may be fertilized during the warmer months. Fertilizer solution should generally be diluted to one-half of the normal recommended strength.

The aluminum plant is generally an upright-growing plant. It can become more vine-like if not properly groomed. Pruning off buds can keep these plants bushy and aesthetically appealing.

Considered an easy plant to care for, the aluminum plant can make an attractive accent plant inside the home. The plant's foliage is generally considered its selling point, as its flowers are small and may seem drab to some. While attractive, the aluminum plant can be toxic if eaten. Those with small children or house pets may want to consider this before bringing aluminum plants into the home.

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