Baby tears plant, or Baby’s tears, is a gorgeously luscious perennial ground cover plant that can easily replace lawns throughout the US. Despite being well adapted to outdoor life in our climate, it’s also a beautiful addition to any home and makes an attractive hanging indoor plant.
In our guide, we’ve got tons of ideas about how to grow baby tears plants, how to care for them, and how to propagate them to fill large areas with green carpets fast, without spending a penny.
So, keep reading to find out just how simple this stunning perennial really is to grow.
Baby’s Tears, Baby Tears, Mind Your Own Business Plant
Indoor or outdoor
(H) 5cm x (W) 1m
Part shade to full sun
Poisonous for Pets:
Safe for pets
What is a Baby Tears Plant?
Baby tears (Soleirolia soleirolii) is a vividly verdant ground cover plant that thrives in warm and tropical conditions. Outdoors, it can quickly cover bare soil, helping to reduce weeds, or providing a useful alternative to traditional lawns.
Indoors, it works best in a hanging basket, or container where it can spill over the sides, often reaching over 2m when dangling vertically down from a pot.
The subtle flowers in early summer aren’t much to write home about, with even clusters of tiny cream-colored flowers that are barely noticeable.
Baby Tears Plant’s Natural Habitat
Baby tears is native to the western Mediterranean and are mostly found on the Mediterranean islands of Corsica and Sardinia where it has fewer competing plants to fight for ground space with.
Provided it has access to reasonably good temperatures, and some shade from hot summer sunshine, baby’s tears will thrive pretty much anywhere in the US.
Best Baby Tears Plant Varieties to Grow in the US
Commonly known as Mind-Your-Own-Business plant due to its ability to stick its nose into anywhere it possibly can, baby’s tears is a fast spreader, and quite hard to get rid of once you’ve introduced it into the garden.
However, with proper planning, and the right care, the five varieties below can be controlled, and become beautiful additions to any garden.
1. Soleirolia soleirolii ‘Aurea’
Of all the baby’s tear plants you can buy, the only one that will consistently shine through every season in any color other than green is Aurea.
The golden hues of the foliage last all year round and re-fresh each year with a flush of bright new golden leaves with speckles of green throughout.
It will grow, and happily spread in most climates, but will need to be cut back at least twice a year in warmer parts of the US, where it can spread out, particularly in humid spots.
2. Soleirolia soleirolii ‘Alba’
Perhaps a touch more silver than white, Alba is a perfect perennial ground cover plant from more natural feeling gardens, where foliage is working in the background to tidy up a yard, rather than trying to be the centerpiece.
I love Alba baby’s tears for that, which are subtle, muted, silver tones, happily spreading out around the floor of garden beds, without ever complaining about water logging or drought. This tough lawn plant just gets on with growing.
3. Soleirolia soleirolii ‘Variegata’
For gardeners looking for something a little out of the ordinary, variegated plants always seem to fit the bill. There’s just something magical about the white-tipped, green, leaves of S. soleriolii ‘Variegata, the variegated Baby Tears plant.
Some gardeners want nature, others want control. If you want to make that statement and show that you’re in control, planting ground cover like this is sure to make that crystal clear!
4. Soleirolia soleirolii ‘Silver Queen’
Silver queen is such an effective spreader that it can be used to green up stone walls and fences within just a few years. Plant silver queen at the base of a wall, and mist the stone occasionally to add moisture.
These clever trailing plants will easily crawl up to the moisture and cling on until they reach the top. There has never been a cheaper way to create a living wall!
5. Soleirolia soleirolii ‘Golden Queen’
Baby’s Tears ‘Golden Queen’ has bright green foliage with distinctive yellow margins on each leaf. Like all baby’s tears plants, it loves humid but warm spaces where it has plenty of shelter from the elements.
How to Grow Baby Tears Plant
Baby tears come in all shapes and sizes, but the reality is, that after a while, every variety will grow in almost exactly the same way; fast.
For that reason, we’ve got a few different methods for growing baby tears without worrying about their invasive nature, as well as a guide to looking after them in the garden.
Growing Baby Tears Indoors
If you’re at all worried about baby tears being invasive or want a low-maintenance garden, then consider growing it indoors instead. Growing baby tears indoors gives you complete control, and significantly restricts its potential to root.
Plant baby’s tears either in a terrarium, where it can benefit from the higher humidity, or in hanging pots, or containers on shelves, where it can be allowed to trail down for up to two meters before you need to cut it back.
There’s something wonderfully bonkers about the vastness of baby tears when grown indoors. We’ve got ours in a container at the top of the stairs, dangling down like a curtain over the handrail.
It’s just four years old but is a defining feature in the indoor jungle we call our home!
How to Grow Baby Tears Outdoors
If you’re growing baby’s tears outdoors there are a few different ways, but it fundamentally boils down to how much you’re willing to commit. If you plant baby tears in the ground, it can, and likely will spread throughout the entire garden over time.
Containers and hanging baskets will reduce the chances of spread, and limit its immediate space significantly, providing potentially wonderful opportunities for greening up walls and patios.
Plant baby's tears plants in hanging baskets on either side of your patio doors. Within a year it will be a dramatic curtain on either side of the door, adding presence to your house and helping to tie indoors and outdoors together in harmony.
If you’ve got a pergola, it’s well worth growing it in secured hanging baskets too, to add year-round interest when other climbing plants stop flowering or die back through winter.
Even standard pots are great for baby tears. They restrict their spread by making it much easier to prune. Simply cut them back slightly before they hit the ground, and pick up any stems that could potentially root into the soil.
After a few years, you’ll have beautiful domes of mind-your-own-business plants which you can have as stand-alone displays, or even plant plug bedding through in spring.
If you keep the whole pot well-watered, you’d be surprised how well bedding can work in harmony with baby tears.
Using Baby Tears Plant for Lawns and Ground cover
For the bravest gardeners amongst us, some less conventional uses for mind-your-own business are as a lawn replacement or border ground cover.
Personally, I love seeing mind-your-own-business crawling through stepping stones and helping to merge paths with the lawns they weave through.
Obviously, this will reduce weeds, and self-seeded annuals around the garden, but it can make it tough to maintain wildlife gardens where wildflowers need bare soil to germinate each year.
However, the counterargument to that, is that baby tears help to provide habitat for humidity-loving creatures like beetles and slugs, which are an excellent food for other creatures.
To create a reliable baby tears lawn, simply plant plugs in 30cm increments. Water them well for a few months and they should quickly connect up to fill out entire lawn areas within their first year.
The second year will be lusher, and in the third, it will be able to take really quite heavy foot traffic.
Soleirolia Soleirolii Propagation
Baby tears can be propagated from cuttings or division, and in most cases will do so without you even needing to lift a finger. But, if you don’t already have baby's tears plants to work with, we’ve got you covered with a guide to propagating these practical plants below.
Baby Tears Plant Propagation from Cuttings
To make new baby's tears plants you will need a plant to begin with. Baby’s tears are very rarely propagated by seed as their seeds are minuscule and propagation can be tricky in the shade humidity it requires.
To propagate baby tears from cuttings, treat it like you would a strawberry runner. Place a living stem onto the surface of some compost, still attached to its parent plant.
After 1-2 weeks it should have rooted. Follow our detailed step-by-step guide below to get it just right:
Cutting Method 1 (outdoor plants)
- Clean, sharp scissors or secateurs
- Small pots (8-9cm)
- Any garden compost
- Wire pegs / DIY staples
- In spring or late summer, fill a small pot with clean compost
- Find a healthy stem growing from your baby tears plant
- Lay the stem onto the compost and secure it in place using a peg or staple
- Water it well
- When the stem has rooted into the compost, cut it away from the paper plant and keep it humid for a few weeks until roots appear at the base of the pot.
- That's it. You’re ready to plant your new plant in the garden, or indoors.
Cutting Method 2 (indoor plants)
- Clean, sharp scissors
- Small pots (8-9cm)
- Any garden compost
- Tissue paper, or moss
- Plastic bag, or cling film
- At any time of year, wrap moss or paper towel around a healthy stem (this works best with hanging baby tears plants).
- Spray the moss or tissue with clean water to dampen but not soak it.
- Cover the area with plastic wrap, and tie it securely with twine.
- Check the area every few days for signs of roots.
- When roots form, leave the tissue or moss in place for a few days for them to develop slightly.
- Then, cut this section away from the parent plant, and plant it into a small pot with fresh compost.
Propagating Baby Tears Plants from Division
Dividing baby tears could not be simpler. All you need is a hand trowel and some earth to plant it into. Dig up a small section of baby’s tears, and backfill any gaps with soil.
Plant the section you removed anywhere in the garden, or indoors, in reasonably drained, but moist soil, in part shade. The division should take within a few days and begin to spread again after about a month in its new location.
Baby Tears Plant Care Guide
As baby tears mature it develops a dense mat of foliage, which is pretty much indestructible but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do.
Thankfully, the ongoing care for baby's tears plants is straightforward because we don’t need to worry about flowering, and the weather does most of our work for us.
Baby tears are tropical ground cover perennials, so they can cope with full sun, but prefer partial shade under the cover of plants that protect them from dry heat, and soak up a lot of moisture.
Generally, this means that baby tears are better suited to being ground cover in beds and borders but provided it is watered fairly regularly baby tears can cope in full sun in most of the US.
Soil Requirement of Baby Tears Plants
The best soil for baby tears is moist, but free draining. This allows it to root easily, and limits the potential for root rot and other fungal problems which occur when it is both damp and humid, rather than just humid.
As you will notice, baby tears adapt well to most soil types, so will grow equally well on clay or sand.
Babys Tear's Plant Fertilizer
A general-purpose liquid fertilizer is enough for baby tears. There is no need for targeted fertilizers, and two feeds each year is enough to give its foliage a boost.
Regular feeding of baby tears will just burn it, leaves and all, preventing growth, and generally ruining the look of the plant, so feed with a liquid or diluted feed, then water the whole thing down to wash any residue off the leaves.
Baby tears don't really need watering past the first couple of weeks, but it does benefit from a weekly soak in summer, similar to traditional lawn grass.
If growing baby tears in containers, water once every couple of weeks, but mist every so often to increase humidity.
Humidity is hard to manage outdoors, so occasionally misting baby tears can be beneficial, but isn’t 100% necessary. For indoor baby tears, regularly misting, and a fortnightly soak is enough to keep them happy and stave off common fungal problems.
If you are planting it in a terrarium, baby tears will really thrive, but can grow incredibly quickly with the higher heat and humidity in that environment, so cut it back regularly.
For baby tears in containers or hanging baskets indoors, pair each pot with a humidity tray.
Baby Tears Plants Pests and Diseases
There are so few pests and diseases that can damage a baby's tears that it’s barely worth mentioning. The tiny leaves are unattractive to most insects, and like most ground cover plants it is more of a habitat than a food source.
Due to its love for moist, humid, warm environments, it is also excellently adapted against fungal problems, which can kill most other plants in similar growing conditions. However, there are one or two problems that can afflict baby’s tears in poor conditions:
Root rot is most commonly caused by fungal problems around the roots of plants due to over watering, or poorly drained soil. Early signs are brown leaves that look under-watered, coupled with damp soil (a soil moisture sensor can help you keep track).
This contradictory pair of signs almost always means root rot has set in. To check, lift your plant out of its container, and check for black, brown, or generally mushy roots.
Rinse off the roots completely, cut away any affected material, then rinse the whole thing in clean water and pot on into clean compost.
Rust can be problematic on baby tears plants as once it sets in it spreads very easily through foot traffic, water drainage, and passing wildlife. It’s a curse attached to most ground cover plants.
So, if you notice rusty, orange leaves, with small orange pustules or lesions remove that section of the plant before it has a chance to spread.
Rust can go away by itself, but in highly damp or humid environments it can continue to thrive and spread to other garden plants, so should be treated by removal.
Powdery mildew is similar to rust, not in appearance, but in how it spreads. It is spread by wind and touch, and like any ground cover plant, that means that it will either fall from other plants in spores or be tread across baby's tears plants by foot.
In an ideal world, you would only ever walk on baby tears with clean footwear, but that’s just not realistic, so if you spot gray, powdery coatings on the leaves of baby tears, remove it, and treat the area with an organic fungicide.
Baby Tears Plants FAQs
Why is My Baby Tears Plant Dying?
Baby tears, or mind-your-own-business, is a resilient plant, but that doesn’t make it immune to everything. Brown or anemic leaves are often caused by root rot and can be hard to diagnose.
Some other potential problems include mildew or rust as identified by powdery, or rusty coating respectively.
Can Baby Tears Grow in Water?
Baby tears will spread into ponds and water features, but won’t last long. It can be rooted in water too, but again, once roots form, they will need planting into soil quickly as water doesn’t have enough nutrients to feed baby tears through a full season.
How Can I Bring My Baby Tears Back to Life?
Baby tears are easy to revive. Just cut away any damaged sections, fill in the holes left behind with fresh compost, and water the whole area well with diluted fertilizer.
Leave it for a few weeks and you’ll quickly notice thriving green patches beginning to fill back out. These will rapidly replace the missing sections and help to revive your tired-looking ground cover.
Do Baby’s Tears Need Sun?
This is a full shade or semi-shade plant, so it doesn’t need any direct sun, as this will burn the fragile leaves. It will do best under trees and shrubs and in other shaded areas of the yard, as well as in rooms that get moderate light. It even grows well under artificial light.
Will Baby Tears Spread?
Baby tears will spread in gardens, and is really quite difficult to get rid of once it has matured or seeded naturally. However, there are some more manageable cultivars, like ‘Alba’ or ‘Silver Queen’ which grow just as well but are simpler to grow in containers for a more restrained form of gardening.
Is Baby’s Tears Poisonous to People and Pets?
Baby tears plants will cause vomiting if ingested in huge quantities, but they are not toxic to any pet and are safe around young children. Just like grass, they have no toxic effects, but our digestive system isn’t set up to handle it.
Now it’s Time for Your Baby Tears Plant to Thrive!
Baby tears plants are perfect as ground cover, and even make impactful indoor plants too. Just remember that if you’re growing it outside, you will need to regularly prune them, or make peace with the fact that it will become a defining feature of your garden.
While there are gardeners who would turn their noses up at the idea of letting mind-your-own-business into their yard, it’s well worth noting that some of the most exciting modern gardens use baby tears as a standard path cover to help connect cobbled or stepped stone paths to lawns and the greener garden.
Now you know how to grow baby tears plant, the rest is up to you.