The Creeping Charlie (Pilea nummulariifolia) is a herbaceous perennial evergreen that is prized by houseplant enthusiasts for its oval shaped leaves with small scalloped edges. It is a member of the mint family and propagates via above-ground stems called runners. Whether you grow Creeping Charlie indoor or outdoor, the care requirements for these hardy houseplants are very similar.
The only difference with indoor plants is that it’s easier to control their growth. Outdoor plants may quickly overtake your garden if you’re not careful. There’s a reason why most homeowners consider them to be an ‘invasive weed’.
Brief Overview of Creeping Charlie
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Creeping Charlie, sometimes referred to as Swedish Ivy, Creeping Jenny, and Gill Over-The-Ground, belongs to the Pilea family of plants. It is found in most tropical regions of the world, including parts of the Caribbean. Its scalloped leaves have different shades of green and purple.
The creeping Charlie may bloom in early spring, producing stunning purple flowers with red speckles. But the chances of indoor Creeping Charlie plants blooming are relatively low.
Let’s take a look at the care requirements for growing Creeping Charlie indoors.
Soil for Indoor Creeping Charlie
Creeping Charlie isn’t finicky about the type of soil. It will grow well in just about every combination of potting mix or compost, with the exception of heavy clay soil. For best results, we recommend using soil that is free draining with plenty of drainage holes. The goal is to prevent oversaturation of the soil because it can choke the plant’s supply of oxygen.
You can prepare a potting mix with the help of vermiculite, peat moss, coarse sand, and perlite. It is crucial to maintain the ideal moisture levels year round to increase the plant’s growth rate. If your indoor Creeping Charlie isn’t growing at the desired speed, consider adding some fertile loam soil.
Although Creeping Charlie is a resilient plant, it doesn’t respond well to root rot. This is why you should never plant it deeper than its root ball.
Temperature Requirements for Creeping Charlie
Indoor Creeping Charlie is best grown in a temperature range of about 70ºF to 80ºF. Most tropical rainforests of South America have a similar temperature. Most households should have no trouble regulating the temperature within this range.
Like any other tropical plant, Creeping Charlie does not do well with cold. An overnight frost could be devastating to your houseplant and result in stunted growth. Always keep the plant isolated from drafty windows and doors. If you anticipate frost at night, it’s best to close all windows and doors. Creeping Charlie may be resilient, but it is certainly not frost hardy.
High temperatures can also kill the plant. Keep all heat generators and vents away from the plant to protect it from extreme temperatures and conditions.
Watering Requirements for Indoor Creeping Charlie
You will have to be careful when watering Creeping Charlie to prevent drought-related stress. These houseplants don’t do well in dry conditions and may wilt if you don’t intervene early enough. The soil should be moist but not wet. This should be your litmus test for deciding if it’s time to water your Creeping Charlie.
For most people, they may only have to water their house plants once or twice every week. The exact watering schedule may be different for you depending on a number of conditions. Reduce the watering session in the winter months when Creeping Charlie becomes dormant.
If you forgot to water your Creeping Charlie, don’t panic and compensate by overwatering the plant. Some cases of overwatering can increase your plant’s risk of root rot – which is extremely hard to get rid of.
To prevent oversaturation of the soil, allow any excess water to flow through the drain holes at the bottom of the container. This usually indicates that you have watered your plant sufficiently.
You can also use the trusty finger test method to test if your indoor Creeping Charlie needs some water. Simply insert your finger two inches into the topsoil and get a ‘feel’ for the soil. If the soil is dry, it’s time to water the plant. If it feels moist, do not water the plant.
Caution: Never allow the water to touch the leaves and stem of the plant because it could lead to fungal and bacterial attacks.
pH Value of the Soil
The Creeping Charlie houseplant thrives in a soil that has a pH value in the range of 6.5 to 7.3. Going outside this range will increase the plant’s stress levels and make it difficult for the leaves to absorb nutrition. Higher acidity or alkalinity may even kill the plant if you don’t intervene soon.
It is easy to confuse a pH imbalance with a nutrition deficiency because of their similar symptoms. Most gardeners may try to fertilize their plant in a bid to provide it with more nutrition, not knowing that the pH imbalance won’t allow the leaves to absorb any minerals.
Before adding more fertilizer to your Creeping Charlie houseplant, make sure that the soil’s temperature and pH values are on point.
A pH imbalance will usually turn the leaves into a shade of yellow. We recommend investing in a pH meter for an accurate diagnosis. You can also scoop out a small amount of soil and check its acidity using a pH test kit. The problem with this approach is that you will receive a large range of pH values as opposed to an accurate diagnosis.
Knowing the exact pH value is important if you want to fix the pH imbalance.
Humidity Levels for Indoor Creeping Charlie
Creeping Charlie prefers relatively high humidity levels of about 50% to 60%. You can mist the plant regularly to increase its humidity. A better, albeit more expensive, alternative is to use a humidifier. This device will automatically regulate the surrounding humidity levels to desired levels.
High humidity levels are particularly important if you are aiming for bright green foliage. Failing to provide adequate humidity levels could kill the plant. Your indoor plant’s leaves will change their color to indicate low moisture levels.
Although low humidity is definitely bad for Creeping Charlie houseplant, excessively high humidity can also elevate the plant’s stress levels. Too much humidity will lead to condensation around the leaves and make it susceptible to mold. The risk is much higher if you mist the leaves.
Consider investing in a hygrometer to evaluate the humidity levels of the room. You can buy a hygrometer from various online stores.
Food for Indoor Creeping Charlie Houseplant
Remember that Creeping Charlie is a fast grower in outdoor conditions when most homeowners are actively trying to get rid of it. This means you can grow Creeping Charlie houseplant indoors without fertilizing it. But if you want to increase its growth rate, then it’s best to fertilize the plant.
Apply a few teaspoons of 3-1-2 water soluble fertilizer to the Creeping Charlie once every month. Make sure to water it well.
The best time to add fertilizer to Creeping Charlie is the growing season, usually in the months of March through October.
Don’t have time to plan the process of fertilization for Creeping Charlie? You can use some slow release fertilizer to keep the plant well fed while you’re away. Just make sure to properly dilute it properly by consulting the instruction manual to prevent fertilizer burn.
Light for Indoor Creeping Charlie
Creeping Charlie thrives in bright, indirect sunlight. Exposure to direct sunlight will result in stunted plant growth. This is why you should choose a spot with filtered sunlight to make the plant grow at a fast-enough pace. For best results, you should provide Creeping Charlie with about six hours of indirect sunlight every day.
If you want to be precise, try to provide indoor Creeping Charlie with light intensity of about 3000 to 10000 lux. Most homes should easily meet these requirements without having to invest in lamps.
It is a good idea to place indoor Creeping Charlie in a north or east window for it to receive sufficient daily light. This will protect the houseplant from exposure to the harsh sun rays.
If you must place your Creeping Charlie in a west or south facing room, make sure it is kept several feet away from the windows to minimize sunburn.
Repotting Creeping Charlie Indoors
Creeping Charlie is a very fast grower and its roots will quickly overtake the pot. The plant does not like root bound conditions. This is why you should repot Creeping Charlie in a bigger container.
You can tell that your Creeping Charlie needs a new pot if:
● The roots start to emerge out of the drainage holes
● Circling roots because the container is too big for the plant
You can also inspect the plant’s roots by lifting it out of the pot. If they appear to be circling around with little soil between them, you’ve got a root bound houseplant. Time to get a new pot. Make sure to only go one size up to make it easier for the plant to acclimate to its new home.
Fill the new pot with fresh potting soil and create a hole that has the same depth as Creeping Charlie’s root ball. Now place the plant in the hole. Fill the hole with soil and water the plant immediately. Now try to provide the plant with the best care possible to minimize the stress of transplant.
Pruning Indoor Creeping Charlie
Pruning is an important aspect of houseplant grooming that keeps your Creeping Charlie neat and tidy. If your houseplant is covered in several layers of old or diseased leaves, it doesn’t look very presentable. The good news is that pruning Creeping Charlie is relatively easy. You can do this by pinching off the stem tips just before a leaf set to maintain the desired plant shape or size.
Pruning is useful if your indoor garden doesn’t have much space or if you want to keep the sprawling fleshy stems away from pets and small children.
In some cases, you may have to trim a large portion of the plant if its growth becomes unattractive. Prune the entire plant so that the stem measures about 3 inches long. This will allow Creeping Charlie to grow back with a more aesthetic appearance. You will have to be patient, though.
Always use a pair of sterilized shears to prevent the spread of bacterial infections and diseases.
Propagation of Indoor Creeping Charlie
You can propagate Indoor Creeping Charlie by stem cutting (as described earlier) and by dividing the root ball. This section will discuss the process of root ball division for Creeping Charlie.
● Find a pot that is twice as deep as the root ball cutting and fill it with some gravel and small stones (to improve drainage).
● Now fill the pot with potting soil and compost, making sure to leave some room for your root ball cutting.
● Plant your Creeping Charlie at the same depth as it was growing earlier.
Pests and Diseases
Although Creeping Charlie is relatively resilient against pests and diseases, it isn’t entirely immune. The plant will become weak if you allow the soil conditions to deteriorate and don’t stay on top of maintenance.
The most common pests that affect Creeping Charlie plants are spider mites, mealy bugs, and scale. It is hard to notice smaller pests like spider mites and scale. We recommend inspecting the leaves regularly to catch an infestation at an earlier stage.
Shower your Creeping Charlie with some tepid water, whether in the sink or in an actual shower. This should help clear off the dust and throw pests from their position. For more advanced cases, you may want to spray your Creeping Charlie with some neem oil. This essential oil is great at not only slowing down a pest infestation but also killing their eggs.
Neem oil is particularly effective against spider mites.
Finally, the most common diseases to watch out for are bacterial leaf spot and root rot. Both conditions are caused by overwatering. If your plant’s leaves have turned yellow with moist spots, it may have bacterial leaf spots.
Can My Indoor Creeping Charlie Bloom?
Creeping Charlie is known for blooming in early Spring from April to May. Their small, violet flowers look very similar to lavender with shades of white and green. Many houseplant enthusiasts hope to see this rare occurrence, especially because the flowers have a memorable fragrance that is extremely unique.
The best way to get your Creeping Charlie to bloom is to grow it outdoors. An indoor Creeping Charlie houseplant is less likely to bloom because of the restrictive space of the pot or container.
If you got your Creeping Charlie to bloom, make sure to trim the flowers when they start fading because they compete with the leaf for resources and slow its growth.
Wrapping Up – Creeping Charlie Houseplant Care
So there you have it, an in-depth guide for Creeping Charlie houseplant care. As long as you can keep the plant at the ideal temperature range, pH value, and humidity levels, you should see gorgeous foliage in no time.