Music For Plants #4


Chinese money plant (Pilea peperomioides) 

If any plant encapsulates the rise and rise of the people’s modern houseplant movement it is Pilea peperomioides. Taken from China as a cutting to Norway in the 1940s it slowly spread throughout the networks of amateur gardeners, avoiding becoming well known to western botanists or commercial nurseries. Its popularity explosion came in around 2017 when it became the superstar houseplant of Instagram – #Pileapeperomioides has around 160k tags and counting, while the Instagram account pilea.lovers has 28.2k followers.

It is easy to see why. Its simple yet intricate form makes it look like a plant found in a Dr Seuss book, a cosmic carousel of cheery green satellites and floating UFOs. It immediately captured the hearts and minds of generations X, Y and Z!

From a single textured stem come numerous smooth and delicate stems that arch downwards, each supporting a simple round green leaf suspended with a lighter spot where the stem meets the leaf. And from the mothership come babies – so many babies! This plant is so easy to propagate that it is also known as the “friendship plant” or the “pass it along plant”.

Pilea is a member of the nettle family that can be found high up in the mountains of China’s Yunnan province, growing around shady, damp rocks in forests. To keep it happy try to replicate its homelands. Place it in indirect light (full sun will scorch the leaves), keep it well drained, mist it regularly and it will reward you with generations of new babies to share.

Cool Maritime – Forest Bathing

If there was a poster boy for this column it would be Sean Hellfritsch aka Cool Maritime, a mixed-media visual artist and modern modular electronic composer who lives in northeast Los Angeles. Sharing Waves, his second album, released on Matthewdavid’s untouchable Leaving Records, is music for plants made among them.

Hellfritsch took his "lunchbox" studio (a modular synthesiser in a suitcase) into the forests close to his home to craft some of his beautiful New Age/ambient compositions. ‘Forest Bathing’ is a highlight and the perfect accompaniment for Pilea peperomioides, the joyful opening flourishes of those glassy droplets of sound echoing the perfect circles of the plant’s leaves. The lush and rippling Kosmische soundscapes create a reflective, peaceful mood, transporting you to the shady, moss-laden forest environment in which Pilea thrives.

If Pileas could talk, they would join the chorus extolling the music of Cool Maritime. They definitely grow faster when we’re playing Sharing Waves. Pass it along!

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