Baby tears plant care

The dense, lush and rich green leaves of the baby tears plant look incredible when falling from a hanging basket. However, the thought of maintaining these delicate-leaved plants can be intimidating! Do they look difficult to plant and care for to you as well?

Well, you don’t have to worry about planting or taking care of these charming baby’s tear plants. They are easy to maintain and can serve as an excellent houseplant.

Scientifically, they’re known as Soleirolia soleirolii or Helxine soleirolii, baby tears is delicate looking, featuring bright yellow leaves with tiny white flowers. Outdoors, you’ll usually find them as a ground cover or in ornamental gardens.

They’re native to southern Europe, mainly Italy, Sardinia, and Corsica. These moss-looking plants are often regarded as environmental weed in Western Europe and California. If you’re looking for a plant to enhance the appeal of your home’s interior décor, Soleirolia soleirolii is a great option to choose.

Read on to learn more about how to plant dwarf baby’s tears and take care of them properly.

Overview

A gorgeous houseplant and ground cover, the versatile Irish moss. Source

Common Names: Baby’s Tears, Corsican Carpet Plant, Irish Moss
Scientific Name: Soleirolia soleirolii
Family: Urticaceae
Origin: Western Mediterranean
Height: 3-6″
Light: Partial shade to bright indirect light
Water: Medium
Humidity: High
Temperature: Cool to room temperature
Bloom Time: May to June
Flower: Creamy white without petals
Leaf: Evergreen

Baby’s tears has small round leaves in lush green and yellow leaves on rather fleshy stems. They are low growing plants that give off a moss-like look. Belonging from the Urticaceae family, Soleirolia soleirolii grows vigorously and is likely to outgrow its container. It can be easily grown indoors near bright sunlight windows, patios or even in shady spots. If you are looking for an alternative to grass, it’s an excellent option.

Types of Baby’s Tear Plant

If you are wondering how to care for Soleirolia soleirolii, it is important that you delve deeper into understanding the family of Urticaceae to which it belongs.

Pilea

Commonly confused for baby tears, Pilea depressa is still a beautiful houseplant. Source

Pilea or Pilea depressa is a native of Mexico and Brazil. It belongs to the Urticaceae family and looks largely similar to the original baby’s tears. Though both types are not closely related, they can be confused with each other. Pilea has leaves smaller than a fingernail and are round in shape.

If you are looking to grow baby tear plant for terrariums or container gardens, Pilea ‘Baby’s Tear’ can be the best option. With their small and delicate structure, they look beautiful hanging from the containers or draped on the wall. However, you have to make sure that this type of Soleirolia soleirolii does not dry out.

Aurea

The golden Aurea variety is a wonderful pop of color. Source

Aurea is another variety of Soleirolia soleirolii. It is commonly known as Golden Baby’s Tears. They are perennial plants used for groundcover. They have the ability to grow as high as two inches and as wide as 18 inches.

The growing conditions for this variety remain the same: it needs well-draining soil with even moisture. It can grow in shady locations and places without direct light. Aurea baby’s tear has broad leaves and is golden in color.

Baby Tears Plant Care

Looking at the delicate, tiny leaves and trailing stems can trick you into thinking these are tough to care for! That couldn’t be further from the truth! They’re easy to grow in your home and require little maintenance.

To lern how to care for Soleirolia soleirolii, we’ve broken down the entire process into simple variables to make things easy for you.

Let’s have a look at them one by one.

Light

Babys tears is a houseplant. The best part about it is that it doesn’t require excessive, direct sunlight. It can grow well in shady areas with marginal light.

However, if you want optimal results, you can plant baby’s tear seeds in a place that has a moderate amount of daylight exposure. Keep them away from direct light as it may hinder their growth.

Water

For the optimal growth, it’s best to you keep your container or bed consistently moist. However, it should never be soggy. The first rule of baby’s tear plant care is to give it a moist environment but the level of water must not go overboard. Overly damp soil willcause the roots to rot.

Soil

Dwarf baby’s tear care requires checking your soil moisture regularly. Besides keeping the soil adequately moist, you have to ensure there is sufficient air circulation and the container is well-draining.

The soil you’re using in your pot must have enough peat moss to encourage healthy growth of the plant. However, too much and your soil won’t drain well, so add perlite or vermiculite to increase drainage.

Fertilizer

When you decide to plant Soleirolia soleirolii seeds, it is important that you feed them well once they start growing. Fertilize every two weeks in the spring and summer. This is the time when the baby’s tear plant is growing at the highest rate, and needs additional nutrients.

Adequate plant nourishment ensures that you have a healthy plant. You can use a balanced liquid house plant fertilizer that is diluted by about half.

Repotting

Repotting these plants is quite easy. Once they start to overgrow and crowd out their existing pot, up-pot by about 1″ and mix in some high-quality potting mix.

Propagation

Propagating baby tears by division.

You can propagate baby tears by division pretty easily. All you have to do is divide the root ball and foliage, then pot into two smaller pots. In fact, this may be more effective than repotting the same plant if you want to multiply your collection.

Pruning

Baby’s tear plants can be rather invasive, especially when grown outdoors. Prune frequently to ensure they’re not overgrowing their container, or spilling onto your pathways outside. Use a pair of sharp scissors and don’t be afraid to aggressively prune.

Problems

Although these plants are pretty darn easy to take care of, you can still run into some pests, diseases and growing problems. Let’s have a look at each of these issue and delve into ways which you can combat them.

Growing Problems

If your plants are growing slowly or don’t look healthy, revisit the care section of this guide. Chances are you are either overwatering, underwatering, or having an issue with the light requirements for baby tears.

Pests

There’s a slight pest possibility with Pilea plants, namely whiteflies, scale, and aphids.

Whiteflies: These small insects, covered with white powdery wax, resemble fungus gnats. They feed on baby’s tear plant sap and weaken the plant, causing the leaves to drop. They lay eggs on the top of the leaves. What you can do to control this pest is to spray green solution (a mixture of water, alcohol, biodegradable liquid soap, and mineral oil). Also consider neem oil.

Scale Insects If you have kept the baby’s tear plant inside your home, it is likely to get attacked by scale plant pests. They start to form small brown spots on the leaves. They feed on the sap of the plant and create a sticky substance known as honeydew. You have to manually wipe off the bumps caused by the scale with rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs.

Aphids: Also known as plant lice, aphids are pear-shaped insects that form large colonies on plants. They can damage the plant by sucking their sap and ruining their leaves and flowers. To get rid of this pest, you can spray a mixture of warm water with mineral oil and liquid dish soap.

Diseases

As mentioned, for the optimal growth of Soleirolia soleirolii plants, you have to be careful about the conditions in which they are grown. The roots can easily rot if they are overwatered. So, you have to keep the soil just moist enough to ensure proper watering, but not too moist to waterlog the roots..

FAQs

Q. Do they produce flowers?

A. Baby’s tear plants do produce flowers that are tiny in size and creamy white in color. You can find them blooming in late spring. They do not have petals and cannot be used for decoration purposes.

Q. Can I only grow them indoors?

A. You’re more than welcome to plant baby’s tear outdoors. They’re best suited for rock gardens or green walls. They can also be used as an alternative to grass.

Q. What do I do if my plant is getting overgrown and unruly?

A. You have to schedule regular pruning and trimming of the plant to make sure that stays in shape.

Q. Can baby’s tear be used for a terrarium?

A. Yes, they make great terrarium plant as they grow and spread well horizontally. But, you have to be careful, because they have the tendency to overtake the entire terrarium.

Add this awesome plant to your collection and take advantage of the of minute green leaves by artistically hanging them from a container or using them as a ground cover!

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Kevin Espiritu
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Baby Tears plant aka Soleirolia soleirolii , is a plant in the nettle family (Urticaceae).

It’s a creeping herb with bushy growth-producing many tiny white flowers (not to be confused with Sagina Irish moss or Pilea plants).

The easy to grow plant is native to the northern areas of the Mediterranean but has appeared in other parts of the world, including Ireland where it obtained several common names.

Some of the most commonly used names include Paddy’s wig and Irish moss – even though it’s not a moss.

There are a couple of true moss plants going by the common name Irish moss.

Other common names for Soleirolia soleirolii or Helxine soleirolii include:

  • Angel’s tears
  • Bread and cheese
  • Bits and pieces
  • Corsican creeper
  • Corsican curse
  • Friendship plant
  • Pollyanna vine
  • Mind-Your-Own-Business

Adding to the long list of names, most people call it baby’s tears.

No matter what you call it, use proper care to keep it alive for many years.

Baby Tears Care

Size and Growth

The Corsican creeper provides suitable ground cover in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11.

It rarely reaches more than 4” inches in height, but it can spread a couple of feet, providing a matted carpet of tiny green foliage.

In cooler climates, grow it in a container and bring it in for the winter.

While it appears fragile, the plant grows quickly and can overtake other plants.

When grown near a wall or structure, it may even start to climb.

Flowering and Fragrance

The plant produces a multitude of tiny white flowers and round leaves during the spring.

Unfortunately, it rarely flowers when cultivated.

It’s mostly grown for its foliage.

The green leaves of this little plant resemble a dense mat or carpet of tiny leaves.

Two color variants are available, ‘Aurea’ with golden foliage, and ‘Variegata’ with white stippling.

Light and Temperature

Baby’s tears grow best in locations with bright locations, but best in bright indirect light or partial shade and not direct sun.

The plant can’t tolerate frost.

If grown in a cold climate, bring it inside for the winter to avoid turning the plant into a pile of black mush.

During the summer, it can tolerate the extremely warm temperature.

As an outdoor plant, baby tears grow best in temperatures of 50° – 70° degrees Fahrenheit (10° C – 21° C).

NOTE: Baby’s tears require more water during periods of extremely hot temperatures as the heat dries out the plant and soil.

Watering and Feeding

Instead of watering the soil from above, pour water into the saucer and allow the roots to soak up the moisture.

Check the moist soil frequently to ensure it remains at optimal levels but do not let the potting mix get soggy.

The dainty baby’s tear requires medium to high humidity and good air circulation.

A commercial potting soil lightened with peat moss or perlite provides a healthy growing medium.

During the winter, the plant may not need as much water, but it still needs watering to avoid drying out.

Feed the plant using a diluted liquid fertilizer during the spring and summer.

Cut back the feeding in the fall and stop feeding in the winter.

Soil and Transplanting

Plant baby tears plant in rich soil with good drainage.

If the soil drains too fast, add organic material such as peat moss or compost to help the soil hold moisture.

The root system is thin, making transplanting difficult, instead of transplanting the plant, trim offshoots and propagate them.

Grooming

Baby’s tears plants don’t need grooming but prune new shoots to manage the growth and keeps it from overtaking the garden.

How to Propagate Angel’s Tear

Propagate using offshoots or small cuttings.

To propagate with cuttings, remove the shoots and plant them in small pots.

Keep the young plants moist and mist them daily.

Within several weeks, the new plants should take root.

The following spring, the plants may need transplanting.

When transplanting the young plants, select a permanent container to avoid needing to transplant the plants a second time.

Another option is to propagate with offshoots.

Place a saucer next to the mother plant and set a piece of cotton wool in the center of the saucer.

Moisten the wool and then drape shoots across the wool.

The shoots should eventually take root in the cotton.

After they take root, transplant them into individual pots.

Bread And Cheese Plant Main Pests or Disease Problems?

If the plant has leggy growth, it’s not getting enough sunlight.

Move the plant to a brighter spot.

If the plant doesn’t produce new growth, the roots need more water.

If the tips of the roots appear white, soak the entire pot in a larger container of water for a couple of hours.

If the foliage in the middle of the plant starts to wither, the center of the plant needs more sunlight.

Use cuttings to propagate the plant and allow the mother plant to die off.

While most regions don’t list the plant as invasive, it’s an aggressive grower.

The root system spreads quickly and may take over other plants in the garden.

Use caution if planting outdoors around other plants and manage the spread of the plant.

Suggested Uses For Friendship Plant

People often grow baby’s tear plant for ground cover, as they add a bright green carpet below the taller plants.

Just remember the plant may invade the rest of the garden if allowed to grow uncontrollably.

The bushy growth also makes a lovely house plant or terrarium plant.

Place it in on a shelf or table, as the short plant needs a pedestal to get sunlight.

They make great terrarium plants, look great in small hanging baskets, or in a fairy garden.

THE INDOOR GARDENER : How to Keep ‘Baby’s Tears’ Plant Healthy

QUESTION: I recently bought a plant that the nursery person told me was called “baby’s tears.” It was growing in a clump of tiny, round, green leaves it looked almost like a leafy moss–and had delicate little trailing vines all around the pot.

I followed the care instructions–bright light, lots of water, daily misting (it didn’t last long enough for the monthly fertilizing!), but the plant just dried up and died within a couple of weeks. Was it really a baby’s tears plant, and were the care instructions correct? If so, what do you think went wrong?

ANSWER: There are two types of “baby’s tears” commonly available in Southern California nurseries: Helxine soleiroli, which is most likely the type you bought, and Pilea depressa, a similar plant except it’s a brighter green color, its leaves are much larger and more succulent and it looks to me like it should be growing in a lawn.

H. soleiroli is very difficult to maintain indoors and unless you keep it in a terrarium where it will get maximum humidity, this baby’s tears will have you crying the blues. P. depressa, however, should thrive in your home with medium light, enough water to keep the soil just damp, and frequent mistings.

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Q: I have a very hot, sunny breakfast area where I’d love to hang a plant, but everything I’ve tried there has burned up and died. I’ve tried pothos, philodendron and Boston fern but one of them made it. Any suggestions?

A: There are numerous hanging cactus and succulent plants that would do very well in those circumstances–donkey’s tail (Sedum morganianum) comes to mind. But if you want to stay with a more graceful foliage plant, I’d suggest an asparagus fern (Asparagus sprengerii) . Not really a fern, and not actually an asparagus, this durable houseplant has long, thin, bright green, fern-like stems and feathery, needlelike foliage and thrives in hot, sunny conditions. It gets its name because when new fronds appear, they look exactly like little asparagus spears. Water when the soil dries out and don’t be too concerned about occasional falling needles.

What Is Bright Red Plant With Pink Veins?

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Q: I was at a friend’s house the other day and was very impressed by a bright red plant in her kitchen. It had small, heart-shaped, dark red leaves with pink veins and a pink midrib. I’ve never seen this plant before at any nursery, and my friend didn’t know what it’s called. Do you?

A: I’m quite sure you’re talking about a bloodleaf plant (Irisine herstii). It’s the only bright red foliage plant I can think of. Over the years I’ve had several, and despite frequent pinching back they’ve usually gotten straggly. But I’ve kept some going for months and months, so I’d suggest you get a stem cutting from your friend, root it in water, and then pot it up and get as much pleasure from it as you can.

Will Indoor Banana Tree Produce Fruit?

Q: Could I grow a banana tree indoors? And will it ever produce fruit?

A: Yes to your first question, probably not to your second. Actually, banana trees (Musa spp.) are quite easy to grow indoors, requiring only bright, filtered light, enough water to keep the soil moist, monthly feedings with a good liquid houseplant food, and most importantly, lots of humidity.

With its distinctive tropical look, a banana tree is most rewarding as a decorative addition to a lanai room or an atrium, and if you do manage to provide perfect circumstances, your banana tree will eventually bear fruit.

Rapp is a Los Angeles free-lance writer who, as “Mr. Mother Earth,” has written several best-selling books on indoor gardening.

Baby’s Tears

Grow baby’s tears in medium light for best results. It can take brighter light indoors, especially in Northern climates, but needs more frequent watering with additional light. Baby’s tears appreciates somewhat moist — but not soggy — potting mix, so water enough to keep the plant from drying out. If it does dry out too much, the plant may wilt dramatically, but usually recovers quickly once you water it again, so don’t be too alarmed.
Baby’s tears appreciates abundant relative humidity (but doesn’t require it). If you’d like to boost the moisture in the air for your baby’s tears, consider keeping your plant in a more humid room, such as a kitchen or bathroom; placing your baby’s tears on a saucer of pebbles and water (with the bottom of the pot resting atop the pebbles, above the water); grouping your baby’s tears with other houseplants (as all plants add moisture to the air through their breathing process); or putting a small humidifier near your plant.

Note: Baby’s tears is not intended for human or animal consumption.

Named because of its tiny leaves, Soleirolia soleirolii makes a beautiful hanging or terrarium plant in the home and a lush, emerald green outdoor carpet when planted in the garden. Some of its other names are less poignant. Mind-your-own-business is one, and the Corsican curse is another.

Soleirolia soleirolii is an evergreen that produces tiny, pedal-less, cream-colored flowers in late spring. It grows only 3 to 6 inches tall and has a spread of 3 to 6 feet. Baby’s tears evolved in the heat of the western Mediterranean and thrives in hardiness zones 9 to 11.

Watering

Soleirolia soleirolii needs medium watering but likes humidity and doesn’t tolerate long dry spells. As a houseplant, it needs to be misted every other day or so. The soil should never be soggy.

Light and Temperature Requirements

Despite the fact that baby’s tears is pretty much a tropical plant, it does not like direct sunlight, which scorches it. It also doesn’t do well when temperatures grow too high, so it’s best planted in the shade or in an area that gets bright but not direct sunlight. Ideal air temperatures shouldn’t get much hotter than 65 degrees Fahrenheit or much lower than 50 degrees F.

As baby’s tears don’t like great heat, it does not tolerate frost. However, if a light frost hits it, it’s apt to grow back in the spring. A woodland garden is probably the best place for it if its going to be planted outdoors, but the gardener will have so much more control over the growing conditions if the plant is grown inside.

Baby’s tears do best in soil that is loamy, rich, moist and well-drained. It needs regular potting soil amended with peat moss. The trick is to add just the right amount of peat moss, for too much will hold on to water and make the soil too wet. A bit of perlite added to the soil will help drainage. One rule of thumb is to water the plant when the soil an inch or so below the surface is beginning to dry out. Baby’s tears is also great for a terrarium, as the environment within the glass keeps the atmosphere constantly humid.

The houseplant should be fertilized every other week during its growing season. If it’s outdoors, it may not need feeding at all. The one complaint a gardener may have about Soleirolia soleirolii is that it’s invasive. Some don’t mind the beautiful green ground cover growing everywhere, but others mind it showing up in areas where they don’t want it. Though it’s easy to pull the plant up, it’s actually hard to get rid of it permanently as even tiny bits of the stem will regrow.

Propagating

Since baby’s tears love to naturalize outdoors anyway, propagating it is easy. Carefully pull the root ball in half, then plant one half in one pot and the other in another pot. Then, water well.

Other Tips

Some gardeners prune their Soleirolia soleirolii when it starts getting unruly. Gardeners shouldn’t be afraid to prune hard and frequently. It won’t hurt the plant.

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How to Plant Baby Tears as a Ground Cover

Best Growing Conditions

Baby tears will grow in any light situation, although it may be a little more leggy in deep shade than full sun. The plant does well in a variety of soils: it prefers a slightly acidic to neutral pH. It does require a constantly moist soil and will not do well in drought conditions. It will produce more of its tiny white flowers in full sun.

Where to Grow Baby Tears

A Mediterranean plant, baby tears can be grown as an outside ground cover in USDA Zones 9 and above. If frosted, it may blacken and die back to the roots, but will quickly recover once the weather warms. It cannot tolerate foot traffic. In warmer areas, it may do better in dappled shade than full sun.

Baby Tears Varieties

Current options for baby tears include:

  • Soleirolia soleirolii – standard variety, shiny lime green leaves.
  • Soleirolia soleirolii ‘Aurea’ – this plant grows a little lower than the species and does not spread as widely. The leaves are yellowish green. It does better in dappled shade.
  • Soleirolia soleirolii ‘Variegata’ – also known as Argentea or Silver Queen. The foliage is silver green to silver gray.

Propagating Baby Tears

This herbaceous perennial roots readily from pieces of stem. Although it may produce seeds, there are no commercial sources. In most cases, gardeners who want to plant baby tears buy a flat of starts from a nursery, divide some they have grown or obtain divisions from a friend or neighbor. In the right conditions, the plant will spread rapidly.

Consider Barriers

Since baby tears can be invasive, you should consider whether you need a way to keep it contained. If you are planting in something like a strip between the sidewalk and the street, it’s not likely to be a problem. However, baby tears grown as a ground cover next to a lawn can spread, unless the foot traffic is high enough to keep it down.

Planting Baby Tears

The small strands of baby tears may look delicate, but they root readily in moist soil. Tease out individual stems with some roots attached. Place the roots in the prepared hole and dribble a little soil over them. Press the soil down gently and water in well. Spacing depends on how fast you want to cover the ground; you can space as closely as four inches apart.

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