Baby tears is a mat-forming perennial plant in the family Urticaceae. It’s native to the islands of the Western Mediterranean, particularly Sardinia and Corsica.
Interestingly, botanist Joseph Francis Soleirol is responsible for its scientific name Soleirolia soleirolii. The plant is unique thanks to its many tiny leaves that spread into a large surface area, forming a mat.
Baby tears thrive in indoor and outdoor environments. You can best plant it as a potted plant indoors and a good bedding plant outdoors.
Indoors, you can grow it in terrariums and mixed containers.
Surprisingly, some plants look like baby tears. To avoid doubt and confusion, we have compiled this list of baby tears look-alikes to keep you in the know.
Growing Baby Tears
Beginning gardeners will find the plant easy to grow. However, you need to note that it requires regular attention for the best appearance.
You want to plant it indoors since they do well in low light conditions. Use artificial light indoors or bright filtered light and shady locations outdoors.
Baby tears survive in both cold and warm climates if planted outdoors. It forms a splendid mat-forming ground cover that serves as a filler plant for rocky areas in gardens.
The plant spreads aggressively, covering an area of 3-6 feet and growing to a height of about 0.25-0.5 feet.
Baby tears love loose soil that is well-draining and slightly acidic. You want to add compost or manure to the soil to make more nutrients available to the plant.
Manure is also helpful for regulating moisture levels. Use any commercial potting mix available when growing them as house plants.
The plant loves high humidity levels making places near to kitchen or bathroom their ideal growing environment.
Alternatively, you could keep a humidifier close to the plant or put pebbles underneath the pot.
Another option is to mist the plant regularly.
Regarding fertilizer, use one that is well-balanced. It helps in keeping the foliage evergreen and dense.
Liquid fertilizer is more appropriate than granules because of the lush greenery that makes the soil less visible. It’s also easier to dilute liquid fertilizer.
We advise rinsing the leaves after fertilization to avoid liquid fertilizer destroying the foliage of the low-growing plant.
Baby tears thrive in outdoor temperatures of 10-21 degrees celsius. If the ambient temperature is higher, you want to pay more attention to light and humidity.
Water your plants twice a week under normal conditions. It requires less water in the winter months.
Avoid soggy soil and don’t allow it to dry out completely, which causes wilting. The area around the roots should always be kept moist.
Plants That Look Like Baby Tears
There are Baby tears look-alike plants that gardeners may easily confuse with the former. Their nature, leaf shape, and arrangement give them a similar appearance.
You can also grow these in place of the former.
Let’s look at some of these Baby tears alternatives and how to grow them.
1. Irish Moss
Some gardeners confuse the Irish moss with Baby tears and mistake the two plants for being one. However, they are different plants.
Like Baby Tears, the Irish moss is also a good ground cover for lawns and rock gardens. It is found in the carnation family Caryophyllaceae and has the alternative name Pearlwort.
The plant has emerald green leaves and stays vibrant throughout the year. It is a native of Central Europe and thrives well in hardiness zones 4-8.
Irish moss forms a dense, compact mat of low-hanging ground foliage. The plant spreads one foot wide and grows to about 1-2 inches tall.
The plant loves full sun or partial shade areas. Avoid extreme heat, which could damage the plant foliage and make the dense green shades turn burnt brown.
Irish Moss prefers well-draining quality soil. Adding organic matter to the soil helps it thrive in less fertile areas. Organic matter also allows it to beat the hot and dry summers.
Water Irish Moss regularly but avoid deep watering. Overwatering or underwatering the plant results in brown patches on the leaves.
Get excellent results with a slow-release fertilizer during springtime. It helps maintain its density and ensures consistent growth.
2. Pearl Grass
Pearl grass is a common plant that gardeners love to propagate for the aquarium decor. They are gorgeous fluffy squabs that provide an aesthetic value around tanks.
They are native to North America and love aquatic habitats such as rivers, marshes, freshwater, lakes, and saline backwaters. Its leaves resemble teardrops somehow, which makes most gardeners confuse it with Baby Tears.
The leaves are tiny and bright green with an arch that makes them look like a mini-version of Egeria. You can distinguish the two plants by their stems.
Pearl weed stems are the shortest among their species and general tank plants. Growing them is a no-brainer; however, they are not without challenges, especially when growing them underwater.
Its best position is horizontal; however, it has the natural penchant for growing vertically. Pearl grass is a high-maintenance plant that requires regular trimming.
Use curved scissors to cut the top part of the plant. This is a precautionary measure to prevent the top part of the plant from dying.
You want to do this regularly, preferably daily, after two weeks of planting them in your tank.
To best meet the lighting requirements, ensure maintaining the plants under medium bright light. Light is necessary for nourishment and display.
3. Sedum album var chloroticum
Another plant that resembles and is often called Baby tears is the Sedum album var chloroticum. It’s a mat-forming evergreen perennial; the leaves are tiny, evergreen, and bid-like, accompanied by little white star-shaped flowers.
The flowers bloom atop the succulent foliage. The plant is low maintenance, and gardeners can have an easy time growing it.
It’s drought tolerant once established. Sedum album does well in well-draining soils, forming a good ground cover.
Also, plant them on borders or between pavers. The plant requires general maintenance involving cutting back after flowering to help keep its shape tidy.
4. Glossostigma elatinoides
Glossostigma elatinoides is the other aquarium ground cover resembling baby tears. It’s native to New Zealand and grows to about 2-3 cm tall.
It’s fast-growing— forming intense carpets. This makes it a good foreground plant.
One fact you will have to grapple with when planting it is its great demand for a lot of light. If in an area with poor lighting, you want to grow it upwards.
We advise growing it away from tall plants that are likely to overshadow it— plant Glossostigma in the aquarium in small clumps.
Place them at intervals of a few centimeters. This helps the plant to grow more quickly.
5. Pilea depressa
Pilea depressa is also referred to as Baby Tears, but it’s not the real Soleirolia soleirolii. It’s found in the genus Pilea.
It’s a creeping plant that fully grows into hundreds of tiny, fussy leaves. You can grow it in both indoor and outdoor environments.
Pilea depressa requires active care to thrive. They love partial shade or indirect light; you are better off growing them around such environments.
Being tropical plants, they love moisture in the soil. To meet their watering needs, water when the topsoil is about an inch deep dry. You can test this by sticking your finger.
The best potting mix is peat moss with some perlite in a ratio of 2:1. Regardless, a general potting mix containing compost will still serve the purpose.
The plant loves high humidity levels. Supplement your indoor humidity levels with a humidifier or pebble tray. Apply liquid plant fertilizer during the growing season in spring or summer.
6. Ficus pumila
Also known as the climbing fig, Ficus pumila is found in the mulberry family. The plant is native to Japan, China, and Vietnam.
It’s a hardy houseplant that can tolerate different growing conditions. The plant is an evergreen liana that can grow up to four meters in height.
The best place to grow the plant is in terrariums or larger pots as a ground cover. Ficus pumila thrives well in high humidity, a temperature range of 18-29 degrees celsius, and loves well-draining soil.
Like other plants on the list, Ficus prefers that you water it sparsely and only when it needs. The leaves browning or dropping is a clear sign of too much water. Feed it a weak liquid fertilizer during the growing season.
We hope we have helped you identify and differentiate Baby Tears look-alike plants. These plants also serve as excellent alternatives to the former.
While some may carry the Baby Tears’ name, they aren’t the real Soleirolia soleirolii. Luckily, you now know about these types of plants and their growing conditions.