Soleirolia soleirolii is a Herbaceous perennial plant that goes by many names. Most commonly, it is known as Baby’s tears, but it is also called Angel’s tears, Bread and cheese, Corsican curse, Bits and pieces, Paddy’s wig, Pollyana vine, or Irish moss. The variety of folk names can be quite confusing. But, despite these funny nicknames, Soleirolia soleirolii is not moss or a vine, nor is it cursed in any way.
This perennial plant belongs to the Urticaceae group, commonly known as the nettle family. It is appreciated for its luscious green color and low-growing shape, which gives it a mossy, mat appearance. It looks great in terrariums, vivariums, bottle gardens, hanging pots, miniature gardens (such as fairy gardens), and other types of indoor multi-flower arrangements.
You can also grow it on less than ordinary mediums, such as driftwood. The plant features a myriad of stems with bright green, kidney-shaped leaves. Due to its versatile nature, Baby’s Tears is a very sought-after house plant. Creating a proper growing environment for it can be a bit tricky. But, if you satisfy its humidity and air circulation needs, this dense, creeping plant can be quite low maintenance.
About Baby’s Tears
- Soleirolia soleirolii is often referred to as Irish moss, but these are two different plants. Irish moss is similar in color and its low-growing shape, but it has thinner thread-like foliage. Baby’s tears, on the other hand, has nettle-like foliage with kidney-shaped leaves.
- The plant was named after Henri-Augustin Soleirol, a botanist who collected the plant in Corsica.
- The plant is not toxic at all. In fact, it has even been marked as safe for cats and dogs by the American Society of Cruelty to animals.
- It grows horizontally over flat surfaces. In pots, where it doesn’t have a lot of horizontal space, it grows like a dense head of hair, which makes it ideal for hanging pots.
- It blooms from May to June, featuring small, creamy white flowers with no petals. The flowers are usually insignificant for ornamental purposes, the plant’s main attraction being the low-growing foliage.
- Despite its mossy appearance, this plant has zero-tolerance to foot traffic. Outdoors, it is a good idea to grow it between paving stones and in rock gardens. You can also use it as an alternative to grass, but only in less circulated areas.
- Like most leafy plants, Baby’s Tears prefers bright, indirect light. It can also handle partly shady locations, but direct sunlight is out of the question as it will burn de the thin, delicate foliage.
- The only regions where it requires a more direct sunlight exposure is in northern regions where the sunlight is more intense. It also grows well under artificial light.
- In terms of temperature, anything between 52 to 70°F will do well for Soleirolia soleirolii, provided that the temperature is steady throughout the year.
- If the temperature changes suddenly, it will take a while for the plant to adapt to the transitional climate, but with proper care, it will survive the change.
- A humidity level of over 60% is ideal for this plant. Indoors, you can offer optimal growth conditions in terrariums, in the kitchen, or the bathroom.
- There are some tricks that you can use to achieve high humidity under different conditions. We will give you some tips in the following lines.
Baby’s Tears Features: An Overview
- Soleirolia soleirolii is native to the Western Mediterranean islands, being particularly popular in Sardinia and Corsica. It can also grow well in other areas, with a similar environment.
- It thrives in boggy and marshy environments. In its native habitat, Baby’s tears plants are sometimes treated as a common weed. However, in non-native environments, they are treasured for their exotic, mossy appearance, and bright green color.
- It has an average height of 0.25 to 0.50 feet and it usually spreads aggressively, a single plant being able to reach between 3 and 6 feet.
- The plant will maintain an evergreen appearance in areas with mild and humid winters. It is not resistant to frost so it will lose foliage in areas with harsh winters, but it grows back in the spring.
- Most gardeners use it for its low-ground, mat appearance, but also its bright green color. Nonetheless, it has several varieties, some of which feature gold, yellow or white leaves. The Variegata (Silver Queen) variety is also quite popular.
- This lovely dwarf plant has no serious pest or disease problems. Occasionally, you might deal with aphids. You can easily get rid of them by spraying the plant with a soapy solution 2-3 times a week.
Growing Baby’s Tears Plants
When it comes to growing any plant, we know that the soil is your main concern. But there is no need to worry as Baby’s Tears is unpretentious when it comes to soil. It will perform best in a rather loose soil which allows the water to drain well. Even though the plant loves humidity, drainage is important for healthy growth. For the best results, choose a slightly acidic soil (5-6 pH).
As we already mentioned terrariums and bathrooms are the ideal indoor environments for this plant. If these options do not work for you, consider keeping a humidifier near the plant or use damp pebbles underneath it. Regular misting is also a good solution, although it requires more effort on your part.
Fertilizing in autumn and spring will keep the plant in good shape and an all-purpose fertilizer will work just fine. Liquid fertilizers are the best choice, as they are easier to dilute. As it goes with most fertilizers, it is best if it does not touch the leaves, which can be tricky with a low-growing plant. You can always rinse the leaves after the fertilization.
It’s best to repot these plants once a year, or whenever you notice that the plant is outgrowing its pot. When grown in an environment that resembles its natural habitat, it will spread quickly and you may need to repot it more often.
As far as pruning goes, it depends on how you want the plant to look. You should always prune the dry leaves. For hanging pots and baskets, pruning is optional, but for arrangements that require a bushier look, regular pruning will be necessary. Simply use a pair of scissors and prune the plant according to your heart’s desire.
- Live Silver Baby Tears Pilea Plant
- Live Indoor Houseplant
- 4" Diameter, Approx 8" Tall
- Thrives in Bright Indirect Sunlight
- Water When Soil is 50% Dry
- PLANT DESCRIPTION: : The Nettle's baby tear have dense, green circular leaves along its trailing stems giving this a moss like appearance. Baby's tears are used as a mat-forming evergreen ground cover or filler plant for rock gardens. In colder zones, it
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Watering Baby’s Tears Plants
Depending on the size of the pot, watering frequency can differ. Nonetheless, in regular conditions, it will thrive if you water it twice a week. The plant prefers humid environments, which is why it thrives in terrariums.
As we already mentioned soggy soil is not good for it, so water it normally, but make sure that the water drains properly. If possible, use lukewarm water. Watering from below will yield the best results, as it will prevent overly soggy soil. Never let the soil dry out completely, as the plant will wilt and you will have a hard time saving it.
Propagating Baby’s Tears
As most mat-forming herbs, Baby’s Tears propagates easily, and once it catches roots, it spreads quite quickly and aggressively. The easiest method to propagate it is through division. Stem tip cuttings also work very well.
If you propagate it through stem tip cuttings, prepare your containers first and make sure that the medium is well dampened. Make the holes in the medium and start looking for the healthiest stems, with an average length of 5-6 cm. Remove all the base leaves and keep only the leaves at the top of the stem.
Dip the cuttings in some water and use a rooting hormone for the best results. Place the cuttings in the previously dug holes. To create a humid environment in which the cuttings can thrive, place your pots in a plastic bag. Make sure to create some holes in the bag, to allow a slight airflow. Remove the bag after 2 weeks. After 3-4 weeks, the stems should be well-rooted.
Propagation by division is easier, but you might risk damaging the main plant. The first step is to remove the main plant from the pot. Gently shake the soil off the main root ball and cut it into several individual pieces. Then, place the cuttings in individual pots.
Division propagation doesn’t require creating a humid chamber, but if you notice that the plant is starting to wilt, a plastic bag might help the divided roots adapt to the new pots more effectively.
Unless you live in a Mediterranean climate or a marshy area, we don’t recommend trying to grow Soleirolia soleirolii outdoors as it can be harder to recreate the plant’s natural habitat. Indoors, it can be easier to create the proper humidity and find the right lighting.
This mat-forming plant is versatile, and it requires medium gardening skills, depending on how much you need to adjust the environment to make it more similar to the plant’s natural habitat. Its appearance makes it suitable for any interior design. You can also combine different varieties if you want to play a little with the colors.