Despite its saddening name, baby tears plant or Soleirolia soleirolii is a beautiful and vibrant green plant with tiny leaves and a vigorous growth that’s hard to reconcile with its delicate and docile features.
The plant is well-suited for outdoor cultivation as ground cover, but it’s just as suited to growing in terrariums and hanging baskets. If foliage plants are appealing to you, the baby tears plant will be right up your alley.
For healthy growth and troubleshooting baby tears plant problems, I recommend that you read the plant care tips below.
Baby Tears Plant Care Tips
With some attention and care, you can enjoy the dense foliage of this plant in its whole splendor. This is a beginner-friendly plant, but if you want to go the extra mile, you’ll need to create an ideal environment for it.
Baby tears plant grows close to the ground and spreads liberally if conditions are favorable. Although the plant barely ever reaches 4-6 inches in height, it can spread a couple of feet.
If cultivated in a hanging basket, you can marvel at its cascading foliage in your home instead of the garden, but you may need to prune the plant regularly to keep its growth under check.
Pruning will be necessary to keep growth under control, especially if you’re looking to control for size and shape.
Baby tears plant grows best in indirect, filtered light or semi-shady locations. Moderate light conditions seem to be best for this plant.
It’s not tolerant of long periods of full sun, and baby tears plants exposed to direct sun will have aged, scorched leaves.
Avoid keeping this plant in sunny windows, find a place where the plant can get indirect light instead. Avoid low light conditions indoors, the plant may not develop as vigorously if it gets too little light.
Constantly moist soil is what these plants need to thrive. If kept in pots, the top layer of the soil can dry out, but underneath, it should be evenly moist.
If the soil dries out too much, water your baby tears plant immediately to help it bounce back to good health.
As with many moisture-loving plants, too much water will have detrimental effects. Fungal problems will emerge, then rotting, then the plant will eventually die away.
Temperature & Humidity
Baby tears plants thrive in temperatures between 50 F and 70 F. Freezing temperatures are not tolerated, nor is extreme drought or excessively warm weather.
Because they need quite a bit of humidity, they’re very well suited for terrariums or bottle gardens, with the only caveat that they do require a bit more upkeep as well.
If humidity levels in your home are low, you should consider a humidifier to increase humidity around your houseplants.
Alternatively, you can keep this plant somewhere in your home that gets higher humidity levels. The kitchen or bathroom usually have higher humidity levels compared to other parts of the house.
Baby tears plant needs soil rich in nutrients and moisture. Other than this, it’s not a plant that’s finicky about soil, so regular potting mix will usually do.
Amending regular potting soil with humus or compost and adding a bit of perlite or vermiculite will meet this requirement while also increasing drainage.
It’s important to have good circulation within the pot, otherwise the soil will retain too much water causing the roots to rot.
While the plant has vigorous growth by its very nature, baby tears plants kept indoors will benefit from a little fertilizing, especially during spring and summer, when the plant is actively growing.
Use a balanced houseplant fertilizer diluted at half strength every two weeks during this time to support the plant’s growth and development.
Potting & Repotting
Baby tears plants are usually kept in 4 and 6 inch containers. Repotting isn’t necessary unless the plant overgrows its pot and it becomes too crowded. Don’t oversize the pot when transfering the plant, simply go one size up.
Refresh the potting medium with some fresh potting mix and consider amending it with humus or compost to enrich the soil.
Baby Tears Plant Propagation
When you’re repotting your baby tears plant, you can take advantage of the moment to divide the root ball and establish new plants.
This is the easiest and most straightforward way to multiply the plant. Keep watering the new plant and it will quickly continue to grow.
Another way you can propagate is by rooting leaf cuttings in water. Simply pinch off a cluster of stems and place the end of the stem in water to let it root.
Leaves that are kept in water too long will begin to rot, so make sure to pinch the leaves off the lower end of the stems.
Since it’s so easy to propagate this plant, you can spread the baby tears plant without problems.
Baby Tears Plant Varieties
The green-leaf version of the baby tears plants is the most widespread and dominant variety.
However, there are two other varieties — one that produces golden leaves, called the ‘Aurea’, and a variegated variety that produces leaves dotted with white markings, called the ‘Variegata’.
For both varieties, it’s recommended to prune any leaves that are simply green, so as to prevent the plant from reverting back to the dominant green variety.
The baby tears plant is sometimes mistaken for other plants, and vice versa. It shows the most resemblance to Irish moss but also to the pilea plant.
Baby Tears Plant Diseases & Pests
It’s easy to take care of this plant, but you also have to be mindful of pests and other diseases that can affect the health and longevity of your baby tears plant.
Some of the problems you may encounter with this plant can be traced back to environmental issues — bad light conditions, bad temperature range, soil that doesn’t drain, bad watering regimen, etc.
However, if you know how to spot the symptoms of a deficiency in care or the symptoms of a disease, you’ll be able to intervene in time and ward off potentially fatal consequences to the plant.
For example, a plant that is wilting, has yellowing or dry leaves is probably exposed to excess sunlight. If you recognize the symptoms of leaf burn caused by too much sun, you can move the plant to a location where it gets filtered light or semi-shade.
Similarly, a plant that has problems with growing, is possibly given too little light or there’s a problem with the soil in that it lacks nutrients to stimulate healthy development.
Overwatering and underwatering can also cause yellowing leaves, so make sure you revisit the basics of caring for baby tears plants, whenever your plant seems to be doing poorly.
As for pests, there are some troublemakers to watch out for including scales, aphids and white flies. Pest problems can be dealt with by using natural or chemical insecticidal sprays and solutions.
Keeping the leaves clean and free of debris is also a good way to prevent not only pest issues but fungal diseases too.
White powdery substance on the leaves or brown spots that are different from leaf scorching caused by sun issues are signs of a pest problem that you need to address.
Cleaning affected leaves with dish soap or rubbing alcohol, or spraying them with neem oil can not only help get rid of pest issues, but it can also prevent them from reappearing.
Baby Tears FAQs
The FAQ below will bring you new tips and information on how to best take care of these plants.
Is Baby Tears Plant Toxic to Pets?
The ASPCA website does not list the baby tears plant among plants that are poisonous to pets, so they’re safe to keep in a home with pets.
However, just because the plant is not toxic, it can still pose a choking hazard to small pets that may ingest the leaves.
Do Baby Tears Plants Bloom?
Yes, the baby tears plant is a blooming plant, but its blooms aren’t impressive. The flowers produced by baby tears plants emerge in late spring, they’re creamy white and very tiny.
Are the Baby Tears Plant and Irish Moss Plant the Same?
At first glance, the two plants do show a stark resemblance. They both have densely packed tiny green leaves, produce white flowers, grow as a ground cover, and enjoy moist soil.
But similarities stop here since there are some major differences too.
The Irish moss plant has thread-like leaves, it’s hardier than the baby tears plant and it’s more suited for outdoor growing.
The baby tears plant is ideal for beginner foliage plant enthusiasts. While it’s a groundcover plant by nature, it does well in containers and terrariums even.
If you’re going to grow it in a terrarium, you need to stay on top of pruning, otherwise the plant will easily overtake the entire terrarium.
Remember that this plant thrives in a humid environment, so indoor spaces that are ideal are a steamy kitchen or bathroom unless you can create enough humidity around the plant.