Soleirolia Soleirolii - Baby Tears
Top Tips & Info
- Care Difficulty - Easy (When Constantly Hydrated)
- Offer a bright, indirect setting away from any operating heat sources or direct sunlight.
- Keep the soil evenly moist using the bottom-up method of submersion. Allowing excess moisture to sit in the cubbyholes of the foliage may result in rot or southern blight.
- Provide a humid location by introducing a humidity/pebble tray.
- Fertilise using a 'Houseplant' labelled feed every four waters in the spring and summer, reducing this to every six in the colder months.
- Pests aren't as much of an issue with Baby Tears, however, have a quick scan for Aphids that'll attack the juvenile growths in the spring.
- Repot every three years using a 'Houseplant' potting mix - this is a perfect time to propagate.
- Baby Tears tend to grow more efficiently when situated in shallow, wide pots. Have a search at your nearest garden centre for terracotta bulb bowls that'll be located in the outdoor pot department. Alternatively, 'tot' specimens in a 5cm pot (available at Blue Diamond stores in the U.K.) are perfect for tropical-themed terrariums or displays due to the slow growth habits!
Location & Light
Baby Tears will thrive in bright, indirect settings away from intense sunlight or operating heat sources. Specimens located in darker settings must be watered far less than those grown in brighter areas due to the longer amount of time it takes for the soil to dry out. If you're worried about its location being too dark, if a newspaper can be read while having your back towards the light source, you're good to go!
The most challenging part of Baby Tears cultivation is providing near-continuous moist soil with the avoidance of persistent droughts; hydrate the plant once every few days to ensure thorough moisture throughout the year. It's highly recommended to irrigate using the bottom-up method, as excess moisture that settles in the plant's centre could cause the central leaves to rot, leaving you with a naked base. Under-watering symptoms include a gradual decline in foliage size, crispy leaves and stunted growth, which are usually due to forgetfulness or too much heat/sunlight. Over-watering symptoms include a rotten root ball, lower leaves turning yellow and plant death. Never allow the plant to sit in water for long periods, primarily if it's situated in a shady spot. Prolonged saturation will enable mould to develop on the soil, along with the heightened chance of root rot.
Saturated air is essential to compliment the longevity of moist soil. Introduce a pebble tray to provide a humid, reliable environment for your Baby Tears to thrive in; too dry air will cause its foliage to crisp up, as well as the heightened chance of browning leaf-edges.
Feed every four waters during the growing period and every six in the autumn and winter, using a 'Houseplant' labelled fertiliser. Never apply a 'Ready-to-Pour' feed into the soil without a pre-water beforehand, as the combination of dry compost and harsh chemicals will lead to the burning of roots.
Common Issues with Baby Tears
Under-watering is the biggest issue that gardeners will face. Typical signs include wilting, sunken or yellowed leaves and stunted growth. If the specimen receives even a hint of direct light - relocate it. The increased temperatures and sun exposure will significantly speed the process of dehydration, which in turn will result in inevitable death. Baby Tears cannot survive in drought-like conditions, so providing a bright, indirect setting with an abundance of moisture is paramount for quality growth. Those situated in direct sunlight or within three metres of a radiator are most likely to suffer from dehydration.
When a specimen is severely dehydrated, most of its leaves will crisp-up and fall off - leaving you with a naked plant. Although it may spell the end of juvenile plantlets, there may still be light at the end of the tunnel for more established specimens. If its stem is still plump without any signs of retraction, prune-away the severely affected areas and contain the plant (with its pot) in a transparent bag that has small holes. Keep the soil continually moist, providing a good level of indirect light and temperatures above 15°C (59°F). After a few weeks, new life will form in the nodal junctions on the stems, signalling the start of its recovery process. Maintain a sealed environment for the following month until you feel it's necessary to release it back into the open air. For the prevention of environmental shock, be sure to introduce a humidity tray for higher levels of atmospheric moisture around the plant in its new setting. Not only will this ease the specimen back into healthy functioning life, but it'll also reduce the rate of transpiration (water-loss in the leaves), and therefore downplay the risk of dehydration and further decline.
Never situate it within four metres of an operating heat source, for instance a radiator or fireplace. Due to the heightened temperature and dry air, the plant will soak up far more moisture than those situated in cooler locations, increasing the chance of dehydration and browning leaf-tips.
As mentioned before, botrytis (grey mould) & southern blight are major threats among heavy foliage plants when excess moisture is allowed to sit on compacted foliage. Remove the affected areas and improve the growing conditions by situating the plant in a brighter location and keeping the leaves dry.
Too low humidity can cause browning leaf tips with yellow halos. Although this won't kill your specimen, you may want to increase the local moisture to prevent the new growth from adopting these symptoms. Mist or rinse the foliage from time to time and create a humidity tray whilst the heaters are active to create a stable environment for your specimen.
Yellowing lower leaves (closest to soil) are a clear sign of over-watering, usually caused by too little light. Although they can do well in darker locations, the frequency of irrigations must be reduced to counteract the chance of root rot. People don't realise that a plant's root system needs access to oxygen too; when soil is watered, the air will travel upwards and out of the potting mix. A lack of accessible oxygen for the roots will cause them to subsequently breakdown over the oncoming days.
Curled leaves and brown leaf-edges are the result of too little water and over-exposure to the sun. Baby Tears are best located in bright, indirect settings, and those that haven't acclimatised to the harsh rays will show signs of sun-scorch and environmental shock. A splash of winter sunlight is acceptable as long as the soil moisture is regularly observed, with complete avoidance once summer comes along.
Soleirolia soleirolii, or Helxine, is a creeping perennial the originates from Italy but has recently been introduced to western parts of South America and Northern Europe. The genus was named by Charles Gaudichaud-Beaupré in the 1830s, honouring botanist Joseph Soleirol who was one of the first to introduce the species to France. S. soleirolii was initially classified in the early nineteenth century by Esprit Réquien (Helxine) but was eventually overwritten by James Edgar Dandy in 1964.
5° - 26°C (40° - 80°F)
H1c (Hardiness Zone 11) - Can be grown outdoors between late spring and summer throughout most of the UK while nighttime temperatures are above 8℃ (46℉). If you decide to bring the plant outdoors, don't allow it to endure any periods of direct light as it may result in sun-scorch. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing back indoors.
Up to 10cm in height and 1m in width once they reach maturity; the ultimate height will take between 2 - 5 years to achieve with 10cm of new growth per season.
Pruning & Maintenance
Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.
Via Seed or Division.
Division (Easy) - In spring, split the root ball into several sections that house a good amount of foliage and roots. Dividing too-small segments of the rootball could lead to transplant shock or unsuccessful propagation. Sections that are at least 5cm (2 inches) in diameter serve the best chance of propagation due to the stored energy in the roots and stems. Place the sections into 'Houseplant' compost and water regularly, avoiding prolonged sunlight or persistent droughts.
Baby Tears will produce insignificant perennial inflorescences that sport either a pink or white appearance, within the foliage of the plant. The blooming period will last up to a month or two during late spring to early summer.
Repot every three years in spring using a 'Houseplant' labelled compost and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. As Baby Tears are ground creepers, they tend to grow quicker in a wide, shallow pot; visit your local garden centre and search for 'Terracotta Bulb Bowls' which should be on sale all year round. Hydrate the plant 24hrs before tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. For those that are situated in a darker location, add a thin layer of small grit in the pot's base to improve drainage and downplay over-watering.
Pests & Diseases
Although pests aren't usually an issue when cultivating Baby Tears, fungus gnats or aphids may attack weakened specimens with overly moist soil. Common diseases are root rot, botrytis, rust, powdery mildew and southern blight.
Not known to be poisonous by consumption of pets and humans. If high quantities are eaten, it may result in vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite.