The emerald gem plant or Homalomena is a green foliage plant that’s low maintenance and features thick spade-shaped leaves.
Because the plant is relatively compact and does not grow tall, you can easily find a good spot for it even in homes with space constraints.
In the plant care tips below, I gathered all the essentials of caring for emerald gem plants.
Emerald Gem Plant Care Tips
The tips below are helpful to any beginner gardener but also to experienced ones who want to offer the best care to their emerald gem plant.
Emerald gem plants grow to be around 18-30 inches tall and spread to about the same size in width.
This size is easy to accommodate both in terms of your living space and in terms of potting.
Tall and leggy growths can be pinched back, but if light conditions are optimal, you probably won’t have to administer any pruning at all.
When you do prune your emerald gem plant, use sterile blades, don’t tear the stems.
Old leaves should be allowed to dry before removing them.
The light requirements of the emerald gem plant can be characterized as moderate.
Bright, indirect light is ideal, but the plant can adapt to lower light conditions as well.
Direct sun exposure will scorch the leaves, so it’s best to avoid it.
If the plant doesn’t get enough sun exposure or if parts of the plant don’t get enough light, the plant can grow elongated stems that try to reach for the light.
To overcome this problem, you need to ensure the plant is exposed on all sides to enough light, otherwise you may end up with a stretchy, leggy plant that won’t be as appealing.
The only potentially tricky part about caring for a homalomena plant is watering. That’s because the plant doesn’t like to be overwatered, nor underwatered.
Water the plant thoroughly and allow the top 50% of soil to dry out before you water it next. This will ensure a higher success rate in avoiding overwatering and underwatering related issues.
Use room temperature water and reduce watering in cooler temperatures.
Temperature & Humidity
As a tropical plant, the emerald gem enjoys warm temperatures, therefore the inside of our homes provides them with appropriate conditions.
Expressed in numbers, the ideal temperature range for the emerald gem plant is between 65-85 °F.
Temperatures below 65 F will cause damage to the plant, so if you’re keeping this plant outside during summer, for example, you need to move it back inside once the weather starts to turn cold.
While homalomenas will appreciate moderate to high humidity, they adapt to normal indoor humidity levels as well.
Misting the plant or using a humidifier will certainly be appreciated and rewarded by your emerald gem plant.
Keeping the plant in the same room with the AC on or near a heating vent will deprive it of humidity.
A semi-porous, well-draining soil rich in humus mixed with a bit of sand and peat will prevent root rot issues and help with the aeration of the roots.
A potting mix that ensures breathability to the roots will prevent rotting and fungal diseases at the roots and base of the plant.
Potting & Repotting
Emerald gem plants are usually found in 6-10 inch containers. Being slightly root-bound is actually what the homalomena prefers, so repotting is not needed frequently.
When you notice roots coiling at the bottom of the nursery pot, you can take it as an indication that it’s time to switch to a bigger pot.
If you want to refresh the potting soil of your emerald gem plant, do so in early spring when the plant starts a new growth season following a winter’s rest.
When moving the plant to a bigger pot, don’t increase the size drastically.
Going a 1-2 inches up in size is going to be enough.
Feeding the emerald gem plant during spring and summer is needed monthly.
Using a general houseplant fertilizer diluted at half-strength will keep your homalomena healthy.
You need to make sure you correctly dilute the fertilizer to avoid overfeeding.
Root burn because of fertilizing can happen if you fertilize the plant when the soil is too dry. Moisten the soil before adding fertilizer.
Emerald Gem Plant Propagation
The emerald gem plant can be propagated by division. Best to do this in spring when repotting the plants.
To divide, remove a section of rhizome that has 2-3 leaves, then plant in a 2-3 inch pot that has peat moss and sand mixture in equal parts. Make sure the potting soil is moistened.
Cover with a plastic bag, keep in a warm place with medium light until roots develop.
Different Types of Homalomena Plant
The Homalomena is available in a few varieties, one of which is the Emerald Gem plant.
Some varieties have a better stress resistance, others need more care. But the care instructions I’ve written about in this article will apply equally to most varieties.
Other than the Emerald gem, other notable Homalomena varieties include:
– Lemon Glow
This variety has oval-shaped leaves with vibrant green-yellow color. It can also be found under the name Homalomena Lemon Lime. It’s a rare variety with a good tolerance to stress and low light conditions.
– Purple Sword
This Homalomena variety features green leaves spotted with silver. The underside of the leaves is a deep burgundy.
– Pewter Dream
This variety has green leaves with a silvery sheen. It’s not as common as other varieties but you may be able to source it from serious collectors.
This variety features spotted leaves that are light green and edges are defined with a darker green.
This homalomena type is enjoyed by collectors because of its compact growth, disease resistance and tolerance of low light conditions.
This type of Homalomena is native to Southern Asia and enjoys a humid, damp environment. Its leaves are a vibrant green that contrast well with the purple color of its stems.
There are a few other homalomena hybrids that you may come across in gardening centers or online.
Make sure to ask for any special care instructions beyond what you’ve read in this article to offer your plant the best care.
Emerald Gem Plant FAQs
If your homalomena is showing symptoms of a disease or you’re worried about toxicity issues, read the FAQ below to get more information on these issues:
Is the Emerald Gem Plant Toxic?
Unfortunately, the emerald plant is poisonous if ingested to both humans and pets.
Therefore, keeping this plant in your home if you have pets and small children comes with risks.
If you’re going to keep this plant in your home, make sure small children and pets won’t be able to reach it.
Why does my Emerald Gem Plant have Long, Stretchy Stems and Small Leaves?
If the emerald gem plant is deprived of light it will stretch towards light sources, which will result in spindly, leggy stems. This is called etiolation.
To prevent etiolation and a plant that spreads towards the light, offer it plenty of indirect light and make sure you rotate the plant periodically, so it evenly gets enough light.
Why does my Emerald Gem Plant have Brown or Browning Leaves?
Brown leaves on your emerald gem plant could be down to a number of reasons, depending on which part of the leaves are affected.
Here’s a breakdown of potential causes based on where the browning is present:
- Soft brown spots and patches on leaves indicate an overwatering problem.
- Browning leaf tips or crying leaves can also be a sign of overwatering.
- Brown leaf edges can indicate that the plant is exposed to excess dry air either because of a heating vent or other heat source. Bruising of the plant or inconsistent watering can also trigger similar reactions.
Because a number of reasons can cause browning leaves, it’s best to revisit the emerald care guide basics to see if there may be something you’ve missed.
What Pests Attack Emerald Gem Plants?
Warm, dry conditions can trigger mealy bug and red spider mite infestations. Keeping high humidity levels can help prevent these pests but so do cleaning the plant under running water.
If an infestation is already present, washing the pest infested leaves with soapy water or neem oil can get rid of the problem.
Why Are the Leaves of my Emerald Gem Plant Turning Yellow?
If only a few leaves turn yellow and drop, it’s probably just the plant shedding its old leaves to make way to new growth.
If multiple leaves suddenly turn yellow, the cause may be overwatering. Cold drafts or sudden changes in temperature can also be blamed for yellowing leaves.
Emerald gem plants are easy-care houseplants that require moderate light conditions and easy-draining soil.
A good watering regimen and feeding will ensure that your plant will thrive.
If you aren’t fond of the simplicity of the emerald green, there are other, more courageous homalomena color variations.