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Try a pot of baby’s tears

Sometimes I come across a plant in an unusual way and last summer I did just that. I am a thrift store junkie and a garage sale addict! Early in the summer I was in Brandon, and made my usual stop at the MCC Thrift Store. This interesting establishment has a big window near which donated plants for sale are displayed. I purchased one of the many pots of baby’s tears that were there. The pot had been started with several small slips and by summer’s end the pot had completely filled with attractive foliage that was cascading down over the edge of the pot.

Baby’s tears, Soleirolia soleirolii, is a member of the nettle plant family. Another common name for the plant is angel’s tears. The tiny thread-like stems sport tiny, round, somewhat kidney-shaped leaves that form a dense, moss-like mound of foliage. The plant drapes attractively and will cascade to form a lovely ball of apple-green foliage.

The plant likes high humidity and consistently moist soil. If the air is too dry or if the planting medium — which should be a peat-based soilless mix — is allowed to dry out, some of the leaves will turn brown and the plant will be less attractive. The brown leaves are very difficult to remove because they are so tiny and because of the multitude of thin, intertwining stems. Although the plant likes moist soil and high humidity, it does not like to be too wet and performs best if its pot drains well and if its location has good air circulation.

I have my baby’s tears displayed in a jardinière, and this particular ornamental pot has a pedestal, so that the plant can cascade unimpeded. Even so, I have had to clip the ends off some of the stems because they became too long. Pinching the plant does no harm; it will simply cause a more mounded plant as opposed to one with a cascading growth habit. I have my baby’s tears located on the dining room table, which is adjacent to a north-facing window and it seems happy with that light level. I add a bit of balanced 20-20-20 soluble fertilizer — half-strength or less — to the water every three weeks or so.

I carefully planted the stems that I snipped off into a pot of damp, soilless mix, and so far they seem to have taken, so I may have some new pots of this interesting plant come springtime when the horticultural society has its spring plant sale. I’m sure they will be snapped up just as quickly as I grabbed my plant at the thrift store! Baby’s tears is a unique plant that will add a great deal of charm to any indoor space.

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