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Ground Cover

Baby Tears Plant: Caring for Soleirolia Soleirolii


11 min read

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 plant and take care of them properly.

Quick Care Guide

Baby tears plant
A gorgeous houseplant and ground cover, the versatile Irish moss. Source
Common NamesBaby’s Tears plant, Baby Tears, Corsican Carpet Plant, Irish Moss, Mind Your Own Business Plant
Scientific Name Soleirolia soleirolii
Family Urticaceae
Height3-6″
SoilBasic potting soil
LightPartial shade to bright indirect light; avoid direct sun
WaterKeep the soil evenly moist
FertilizerBalanced, water-soluble houseplant liquid every 2 weeks during the growing season
Pests and DiseasesAphids, whiteflies, scale, root rot, botrytis, southern blight, powdery mildew

All About Baby Tears Plants

Baby 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, baby tears is an excellent option, especially because this is an evergreen plant. This mat-forming creeping member of the nettle family is perfect for subtropical and temperate areas. Baby’s tears originates in the Mediterranean — specifically in coastal Italy. Today, baby’s tears plants are common in many other parts of the world.

The baby tears plant is similar to other members of the nettle family, and even shares a common name with Sagina subulata, called Irish moss. However, the baby’s tears plants has a completely different botanical structure and belongs to another family.

Baby’s Tear Plant Look-Alikes

If you are wondering how to care for Soleirolia soleirolii (baby’s tears) plants, it is important that you delve deeper into understanding the family of Urticaceae to which it belongs.

Pilea Depressa
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 plant. 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.

Baby Tears Aurea 'Golden'
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 plant. They are perennial plants used for groundcover. These baby’s tears plants have the ability to grow as high as two inches and as wide as 18 inches.

The growing conditions for these baby’s tears plants remain the same: they need well-draining soil with even moisture. It can grow in shady locations and places without direct light. Aurea baby tears has broad leaves and is golden in color.

Baby Tears Plant Care

Looking at the delicate, tiny leaves and trailing stems of a growing baby tears can trick you into thinking these are tough to care for! That couldn’t be further from the truth! Baby’s tears plants are easy to grow in your home and require little maintenance.

Light and Temperature

The baby’s tears plant is a houseplant. The best part about it is that it doesn’t require excessive, direct sun. The baby’s tears plant 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 the baby’s tears plant away from direct light as it may hinder their growth.

Ideal daytime temperatures for Soleirolia soleirolii are between 60°F and 65°F, and nighttime ideal temps are between 50°F and 55°F. Keep the baby’s tears plant out of frost, as they have no tolerance for it and will take on damage or die.

Water and Humidity

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

Usually watering every 5 to 7 days during the growing season is enough. Provide a daily misting with distilled water, or a plant humidifier to keep it at about 60%. A nearby pebble tray will suffice for your baby’s tears plant as well.

Soil

Dwarf baby’s tear plant 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 baby’s tears plant pot must have enough peat moss to encourage the healthy growth of the plant while maintaining good soil moisture. A basic commercial potting soil can take care of this.

However, too much and your baby tears soil won’t drain well, so add perlite to increase drainage. Ideal pH for growing baby’s tear is between 5.0 and 6.0.

Fertilizer

When you decide to plant baby tears plants seeds, it is important that you feed them with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once they start growing. Fertilize these and mature baby’s tear plant 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. Cut back on fertilizing in dormancy, during winter and fall.

Adequate baby tears 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 baby tears is quite easy. Once the baby’s tears plant starts to overgrow and crowd out the existing pot, up-pot by about 1″ and mix in some high-quality potting mix. Carefully remove the baby’s tears plant from its old pot, and gently separate the root mass. Then place it in the new pot that has a good sized drainage hole with some of your preferred potting soil.

Fill in the areas around the original baby’s tears plant root ball and lightly water. Then put the new pot somewhere it receives indirect light. You can try using mixed containers to see what works best for you too.

Propagation

You can propagate baby tears by division pretty easily. All you have to do is divide the root ball and foliage in small clusters, then gently compress their roots, and pot them into smaller pots or a flat. A shallow pot is totally acceptable. Water the baby’s tears plant in to its new pot, and affix either a plastic bag or lid over the top of the pot to increase humidity. You can do this when you repot your parent baby’s tears plant, and 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 the stems and leaves of the baby’s tears plant.

Troubleshooting

Although the baby’s tears plant is 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 you can combat them.

Growing Problems

If your baby’s tears plant is growing slowly or doesn’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. Yellowing lower leaves on your baby’s tears plant are a sign of overwatering, and curling, brown leaves are a sign that the baby’s tears plant is in too much sunlight or in an area that’s too warm.

To remedy these issues, remember to water your baby’s tears plant appropriately, keep the humidity up, and only expose your baby’s tear to bright, indirect light.

Pests

Whiteflies are small insects, covered with white powdery wax that resemble fungus gnats. They feed on baby’s tear plant sap and weaken the plant, causing the leaves to drop. They also lay eggs on the top of the leaves. What you can do to control this pest is to spray neem oil on the baby’s tears plant in a light mist.

Scale Insects are common on baby’s tear houseplants. They are small brown slimy looking bumps that feed on the leaves and stems of your baby’s tears plant. They consume the sap of the plant and create a sticky substance known as honeydew. Manually wipe off the bumps caused by the scale with rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs. You can follow up with applications of insecticide and neem oil as well.

Aphids are also known as plant lice. They are pear-shaped insects that form large colonies on plants. They can damage the baby’s tears plant by sucking their sap and ruining their leaves and flowers. To get rid of this pest, spray neem oil.

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 baby’s tears plant can experience root rot if they are overwatered. Keep the soil just moist enough to ensure proper watering, but not too moist to waterlog the roots.

Botrytis and southern blight are also common when baby’s tears plant growing conditions are off, and foliage sits in moisture for too long. If this is due to overwatering, cut back for a while and allow the soil to completely dry. Meanwhile, prune away foliage that has gray mold or lesions. This should remedy the issue but if it doesn’t, you may need to dispose of the baby’s tears plant.

Powdery mildew occurs in the same conditions that the previous two diseases occur in. Prune away damaged foliage on your baby’s tears plant, and cut back on watering. If you’d like to prevent the issue altogether, try a light mist of neem oil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do they produce flowers?

A: Baby’s tear plants do produce flowers that are tiny and creamy white. They bloom in late spring. They do not have petals.

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. In most areas, though, it’s best to keep your baby’s tears indoors as house plants, in hanging baskets or flats.

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

A: 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. They do have the tendency to overtake the entire terrarium, though.

Q: Does baby tears need sun?

A: While the plant does like bright light, it does not appreciate direct sunlight. This will burn its tender leaves.

Q: Are baby Tears plants toxic?

A: All species and cultivars are non-toxic to pets and humans.

Q: How often should I water baby tears?

A: Water them every 5 to 7 days in the growing season.

Q: Should I mist my baby tears?

A: If you don’t have some other way to keep the humidity up around the plant, misting daily with distilled water is recommended.

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