Pilea depressa ‘Baby Tears’ is a gorgeous little trailing plant that’s sure to win the hearts of many a doting plant parent.
Not to be confused with the popular Baby Tears Plant (Soleirolia soleirolii), this compact vine has a dense foliage of bright green leaves with delicate, often ruffled edges.
She may look fragile, but she’s surprisingly tenacious.
The miniature stature and undemanding nature of this beautiful Pilea make this species an easy choice for terrariums and homes alike.
Stick with me to find out how to keep the soft foliage of this plant happy and healthy!
An Intro to Pilea depressa
Native to Mexico, this tropical charmer is a versatile plant.
Looking sort of like a 3 (+) leaf clover on a trailing vine, Pilea depressa packs a lot of texture into a tiny package.
With each new set of leaves overlapping the last on the vine, the resulting effect is like an interlocking wall of soft, plump foliage.
This effect makes Pilea depressa such a fantastic ground cover plant for terrariums.
Alternatively, they look beautiful when they’re mounted high – either in the home or on a terrarium background – and allowed to cascade over an edge.
Where to Buy Pilea depressa ‘Baby Tears’
See the links below to purchase from reputable terrarium plant shops and marketplaces (may include affiliate links).
Pilea depressa Care & Growth
At a Glance
|Lighting||Medium – high indirect light|
|Watering||Regular, even moisture|
|Humidity||High humidity (60-90%)|
Pilea depressa will grow in various lighting conditions, but an area that receives lots of bright, indirect light is optimal for growth.
You may find the plant has a more prostrate (mat-forming) growth pattern under bright light, which might be exactly what you want.
Alternatively, you’ll see more leggy growth in low light as the plant grows further to the light source (which can look equally charming).
I’d avoid areas with lots of direct sunlight as the delicate leaves can quickly scorch. Not to mention that intense sunlight will accelerate the soil drying out, and the depressa won’t fare well there. This leads me to…
Regular, even moisture is the best way to achieve a happy and healthy plant here.
Pilea depressa has pretty high water requirements and will appreciate frequent watering when planted indoors.
In a terrarium, this means achieving an ample water balance, though the high humidity of a sealed environment offsets some of this challenge.
That being said, I’ve found that overwatering this species in a terrarium can quickly lead to rotting (I used it in my first ever terrarium attempt, and the whole thing rotted within a week).
So, go easy on the water when establishing a new terrarium container.
As you’d imagine, if you’re keeping your depressa as a houseplant, it will appreciate a pot with drainage holes.
This plant will thrive in a substrate that can hold plenty of water to satisfy its high moisture requirements but also provides sufficient drainage to prevent root rot.
That being said, Pilea depressa isn’t an overly demanding species in what it’ll grow in.
A typical tropical substrate (like ABG Mix) should do the trick in terrariums and the home.
Temperature & Humidity
While this tropical species isn’t susceptible to temperature (55-80°F will be just fine), it appreciates a high humidity level.
In fact, low humidity can spell the end of most members of the Pilea family, so try to keep your home consistently above 60%, or stick it in a terrarium.
A good trick to boost humidity is by keeping watering cans dotted around the room for the water to evaporate.
Grouping plants works brilliantly too, which justifies getting even more plants, right?
Under the right conditions, Pilea depressa ‘Baby Tears’ can grow very well.
In a terrarium, you can enjoy it as a thick mat of ground cover, or it’ll happily cascade down a background/hardscape as long as you can provide consistent moisture.
As a houseplant, pop it on a high shelf or in a hanging pot to make the most of its trailing vine qualities. It won’t take long for it to start spilling over the edges in all directions.
Thankfully, if it gets too long or bushy for your liking, it’s super easy to prune and keep its growth in check. Just snip as you see fit.
In terms of flowers, I’ve never managed it at home, but we have seen it in action in Thailand.
Pilea depressa propagation is super straightforward via stem cutting.
As long as your cuttings include a few inches of stem and a root node, they should readily root up in water and soil.
Thankfully, a tropical terrarium’s extra warmth and moisture are the ideal natural conditions for rooting up fresh cuttings.
I often use Pilea glauca in my terrarium builds, and it couldn’t be easier to propagate on the go. I chop a strand off my mother plant and drop it in the terrarium; a couple of weeks later, it’s already rooted and established itself.
I have gone with water propagation too, but with less success. Some of the cuttings thrived but a few rotted. Putting them straight into a closed terrarium environment has worked every time.
Varieties & Similar Plants
The Pilea genus is full of wonderful diversity, and many make perfect terrarium plants (e.g., Pilea involucrata, Pilea mollis, and Pilea cadierei).
However, the depressa is one of the few trailing species.
And, gladly, there are a couple of other notable varieties worth your attention; including P. depressa ‘Sao Paulo’ that has darker green leaves and burgundy undersides, and P. depressa ‘Tiny tears,’ which (as the name suggests) is even smaller still.
Though the jury isn’t entirely decided on whether the Tiny Tears is an established variety or not…
And if you’ve made it this far in the article, I’m sure you’ve picked up on the fact that I’m quite the fan of Pilea glauca – it’s such a stunning alternative.
Frequently Asked Questions
With the right conditions, Pilea depressa can be a fast-growing plant. It can quickly form a thick mat or long trailing vines as long as it has plenty of moisture and humidity.
Though the leaves of Pilea depressa are quite plump, it’s not a succulent and has much higher water requirements than its succulent equivalents.
As a genus, Pilea tend to be non-toxic so Pilea depressa is one of the safer houseplant choices.