The past year has seen an increase in people getting hooked on planting and gardening. The different quarantine protocols happening everywhere have led people to discover hobbies and one of the top contending ones is planting. If you are one of the new plant enthusiasts, you may want to add baby tears to your collection.
Even if you are a beginner plant lover, baby tears can be a good plant to start on because they are so easy to maintain. You can grow them indoors as houseplants and you can also plant them outdoors as an alternative to grass. Without further ado, read on to know more about this amazing plant and learn how you can grow them yourself.
What is a baby tears plant?
Baby tears have a moss-like appearance with vigorous little leaves that can be green or yellowish in color. It can have little white flowers too that are perfect for indoor decoration or a grass replacement to level up your garden’s aesthetic. The baby tears plant is from the Urticaceae family and is known scientifically as soleirolia soleirolii.
Uses of baby tears plant
Because of its appearance and its ability to grow in low light conditions, the baby tears plant is often used as decoration indoors and for terrariums. Outdoors, this quickly spreading plant is used as mat-forming in gardens or as filler plants for rock gardens.
Varieties of baby tears plant
There are three known varieties of the baby tears plant. The most common of which is the green variety and it is also the most dominant of the three. In fact, if you have any of the two other varieties, you should always check for green stems and you have to prune them away. Leaving them can be overpowering and can cause your plant to revert to being a pure green lush.
Like the green variety, aurea has small and delicate-looking leaves. The striking difference is the golden tone or the bright yellow leaves that grow on slimmer stems compared to the green ones. Aurea is a top choice for decorating terrariums and indoor plants. They grow best in moist soil and require watering regularly.
The variegata is also known as the silver queen and is also a popular variety of baby tears. It can be identified by the white stripplings present in its tiny leaves. While it is advisable to place them somewhere bright, the variegata should not be placed in direct sunlight as it is more likely to wilt and burn from sun exposure than the green variety.
How to grow baby tears plant
While the baby tears plant may appear delicate, growing and caring for the plant is very easy. Your first concern is the soil. Get a type of soil that is slightly acidic with a 5-6 pH. Any variety of the baby tears plant will grow healthy in moist and loose soil. Regular misting is a great treat for this plant but if that is too much work for you, you can place it near a humidifier or use damp pebbles in your pot.
To keep your plant healthy, you can give it fertilizer in autumn and spring. The best type to use is the liquid ones as they are easier to dilute. Like most plants, the fertilizer should not be used on the leaves. Since this is a short-stemmed plant and it can be tricky to avoid the leaves when fertilizing, you can always rinse the leaves after.
As mentioned earlier, the baby tears plant spreads and grows really quickly. That being said, you may need to repot the plant often. It is common for this plant to easily outgrow its original pots especially if you are able to replicate the conditions of its natural habitat.
Like any plants, you may need to occasionally prune baby tears especially if there are any browning leaves. Pruning may also be required if you desire the plant to be in a specific shape and thickness for aesthetic purposes.
How to propagate baby tears plant
Growing and multiplying your baby tears plants is fairly easy. In fact, this plant can propagate even with very little help from you. Most times, as long as their stems are met with healthy soil, they can easily regrow roots. If you want to multiply your pots, simply separate the stems with roots with a little shovel. Do not fret if you damage the plant a little as they easily heal and regenerate too.
Common issues with baby tears
Underwatering and dehydration
Ample moisture is very critical in keeping this plant happy and healthy. Frequent misting can do wonders to its growth and vivid color. Placing it in an area that gets direct sunlight can speed up dehydration and cause your plant to wilt and burn. You should also make sure that the plant is not placed near a heat source like a fireplace or a radiator.
Lack in humidity can also cause your baby tears to turn yellowish so try to increase the moisture in the area as much as you can. You can use a humidifier near it or place moist pebbles in its pot.
If your plant is dehydrated, you may still be able to save it by pruning out the dried leaves and keeping the plant inside a transparent bag with little holes. This helps to keep in the moisture and helps your plant to recover. This is very effective for established plants but may not work for plantlets.
Pests and diseases
Healthy baby tears plants may have no issues with pests. However, if your plant is weak or its soil overly moist, it may make it prone to aphids or fungus gnats. The most common diseases seen in baby tears are botrytis, root rot, powdery mildew, rust, and southern blight.
Is baby tears the plant for you?
Baby tears require low maintenance especially if you live in a marshy area or somewhere with a mediterranean climate. However, if that’s not the case, you may need to do more in order to replicate the plant’s natural habitat and give it enough humidity and moisture. That can make it a bit more challenging to grow outdoors.
You may still grow them indoors which will make it easier for you to control the surrounding temperature and humidity.
FAQs on baby tears
Is the baby tears plant toxic?
The baby tears plant is non-toxic and poses no danger to kids and pets even when ingested.
Do the baby tears plants produce flowers?
Yes. Baby tears have tiny white flowers that come out in late spring. The flowers are star-shaped but do not have petals and are not very decorative in appearance.
What can I do if the plant overgrows?
As the plant propagates easily and very quickly, you may need to prune the stems regularly to keep them on your desired thickness and growth.
Can it be used for terrariums?
Baby tears are perfect for terrariums as they do not tend to grow very tall and they spread horizontally. Just make sure that they do not overpower your other plants and take over the entire terrarium.
Can they be grown outdoors?
Yes. Baby tears are often used as an alternative to grass and are perfect plant fillers for rock gardens or walls.
Baby tears can make a good plant to start with if you are just a beginner plant enthusiast. Its aesthetic appearance makes it complementary to any interior design and even for outdoor landscape. You can even mix and combine the different varieties to make it even more appealing.