How to grow and care for Piggyback Plant Indoors

Houseplant, Piggyback Plant

Botanical name: Tolmiea menziesii
Family: Saxifragaceae

Piggyback Plant is also known by the common names Youth on age, Pick-a-back-plant or Thousand mothers an easy to grow houseplant that relishes a cold, well-ventilated sunless environment. Piggyback is a compact mound of downy, bright green leaves about 9 in. high. The plant bears plantlets which form at the base of mature leaves and thereby forcing the leaf to bend under the weight and touch the ground hence the common name "Piggyback". The plantlets will develop roots on touching the ground and become seperate plants. It has hairy, five to seven-lobed leaves and a capsule fruit containing spiny seeds. Though it is unlikely to bear seeds when grown indoors. The long leaf stalks give the plant a trailing appearance which makes it suitable for a hanging basket. It is a perennial plant native to West Coast America, occurring in northern California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and southern Alaska.

How to Grow Piggyback Plant (Tolmiea menziesii)

Light

Piggyback Plant prefers bright light but will grow in shade. However, too little light will result in leggy plants. Keep it away from direct sunshine as it can lead to scorching of the leaves. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Water

Water Piggyback Plant liberally during the growing season and keep soil moist at all times. Rduce watering during the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead in root-rot. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Cool to average warmth with a minimum of 100C is ideal for Piggyback Plant. Protect the plant from cold draughts as the cause leaf drop. Learn more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Moderate (average) air humidity is ideal for Piggyback Plant. Mist leaves occasionally or set pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity where temperatures are high.

Feeding

Feed Piggyback Plant with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer every 4 weeks during the growing period. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time may lead to fertilizer burn. Learn more on feeding houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Piggyback Plant during the growing season only when the plant has become pot-bound. Use a rich, free-draining soil and a pot one size larger. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole(s) to prevent waterlogging which can lead to root-rot.

Pruning

Pruning Piggyback Plant involves regular removal of dead foliage to maintain the plant neat and tidy. To encourage a bushy, compact growth, regularly pinch of the growing tips. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Piggyback Plant (Tolmiea menziesii)

Piggyback Plant is propagated from plantlets. Peg down plantlets in the soil while still attached to the mother. Roots will develop at the point where plantlets touch the soil surface. Cut away the rooted plantlet and plant in its own pot. Use free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Use a wide pot that has a drainage hole(s).

Common Problems in Growing Piggyback Plant (Tolmiea menziesii)

  • Brown leaf tips and edges
  • Brown leaf tips and edges in Piggyback Plant are due to dry air. To raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray.

  • Brown spots on leaves
  • Brown spots on leaves in Pggyback Plant are due to sun scorch. Protect the plant from direct sunlight or move it to a shadier spot.

  • Dry and shrivelled leaves
  • Underwatering Piggyback Plant is the cause of dry and shrivelled leaves. Maintain the soil moist at all times and never allow the soil to dry out completely. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

  • Pale leaves and leggy stems
  • Leggy stems in Piggyback Plant are due to low light. Move the plant to a brighter spot.

  • Diseases
  • Piggyback Plant is prone to Root-rot disease which is brought about by waterlogging of the soil and Powdery Mildew.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Piggyback Plants are Aphids and Mealy Bugs.

Toxicity

Piggyback Plant (Tolmiea menziesii) is non-toxic to humans and pets. The plants are safe to grow indoors.

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