Soleirolia soleirolii

Common Name: baby's tears 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Urticaceae
Native Range: Western Mediterranean
Zone: 9 to 11
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Creamy white
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11 where it is easily grown in rich, organic, consistently moist but well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Performs best in bright but indirect light. Best in climates with daytime temperatures of 60-65 degrees F. and night time temperatures of 50-55 degrees F. Plants are intolerant of frost. Leaves remain evergreen in USDA Zones 10-11, but may lose foliage (becomes deciduous) in USDA Zone 9 over winter because of frost, with new growth reviving in spring. Plants are intolerant of direct sun (foliage will often scorch), high temperatures, droughty soils, or poorly-drained wet soils. Best in shady conditions. Once established, this groundcover can be difficult to eradicate. Intolerant of foot traffic. Works well indoors as a houseplant because it thrives in low-light conditions. Likes high humidity. Water freely in summer but reduce watering in winter (keep slightly moist). May be grown as an annual in areas with cold winter conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Soleirolia soleirolii, commonly called baby's tears, is a creeping, mat-forming, evergreen perennial of the nettle family. It is native to certain islands in the western Mediterranean, primarily including Corsica and Sardinia. It is typically grown for its ornamental foliage. Upward growth is only 1-2" (sometimes to 5") tall, but plants spread aggressively and indefinitely (to 3-6' wide) by many-branched fragile stems which root in the ground as they go. Shiny, rich green to lime green rounded leaves (to 1/4" diameter) form a dense, moss-like, quick-spreading groundcover. Miniature, creamy white flowers (May and June) lack petals and are ornamentally insignificant. Plant spread is sometimes characterized as invasive and weed-like, but plants are small and rather easy to uproot. Unfortunately any small stem section not removed will often regenerate.

Synonymous with and formerly known as Helxine soleirolii.

Genus name honors Joseph Francois Soleirol (d. 1863) who made vast collections of specimens of Corsican plants in the first half of the 19th century.

Specific epithet is also in reference to Captain Joseph Francois Soleirol.

'Aurea' is a popular golden-leaved cultivar.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. For more information see: Problems Common to Many Indoor Plants

Garden Uses

Mediterranean low spreading mat-forming groundcover. Rock gardens. Borders. Houseplant. Stems spill over the sides of containers. Lovely under ferns and at the edge of a shade garden. Terrariums.