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 ruffled edges.
She may look fragile, but she’s surprisingly tenacious.
It’s the miniature stature and undemanding nature of this wonderful Pilea that makes this species an easy choice for terrariums and homes alike.
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 very small package.
With each new set of leaves overlapping the last on the vine, the resulting effect is like an interlocking shield wall of soft plump foliage. It’s this effect that 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.
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 a variety of 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 of course may be exactly what you want in a terrarium!
Though I’ve seen partial shade recommended, I’d personally try to avoid areas with lots of direct sunlight as the delicate leaves can quickly scorch.
Not to mention the fact that this beautiful plant cannot withstand drying out, and intense sunlight is a quick way to do just that in the home.
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 definitely offsets some of this challenge.
That being said, I’ve found that overwatering this species in a terrarium can quickly lead to rotting (in my first attempt with this plant, the whole thing rotted within a week). So, go easy on the water when establishing it in a new terrarium container!
In fact, pots with a drainage hole are always a good idea for this plant in the home too.
This plant will thrive in a substrate that’s able to 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 in the home. Though, others have found success with sandy soil mixtures too.
Temperature & Humidity
This tropical species really appreciates a high humidity level and can be quite sensitive to temperature.
Keeping both consistently high will ensure your plant stays healthy – so as you can imagine, it’ll thrive in a closed tropical terrarium environment.
Though, typical household conditions tend to be enough too, provided you can protect it from cold drafts and those extra chilly Winter nights.
Under the right conditions, Pilea depressa ‘Baby Tears’ can grow very well indeed.
In a terrarium, you can expect it to quickly form a thick mat, and it’ll happily cascade down a background/hardscape as long as you can provide consistent moisture.
In the home, it’ll start pretty compact but will soon start spilling over the edges in all direction. Which is what makes the trailing vine so great for hanging pots.
Thankfully, it’s super easy to prune and to keep it’s growth in check.
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/or in soil.
Thankfully, the extra warmth and moisture of a tropical terrarium are the ideal natural conditions for rooting up fresh cuttings. You can often simply lay them on top of the substrate, though you might prefer to plant them gently.
Water propagation is a breeze too (and you get the added benefit of watching the roots develop). Simply place your fresh cuttings directly in water and wait a couple of weeks for new growth.
Varieties & Similar Plants
Though, there’s are a couple of other notable varieties worth your attention; including, P. depressa ‘Sao paulo’ that has darker green leaves and P. depressa ‘Tiny tears’ which (as the name suggests) is even smaller still – perfect for the truly tiny terrarium.
Or, for an even more decorative plant, Pilea glauca ‘Aquamarine’ is a stunning alternative!
Goes Well With
I find the delicate green foliage of this plant pairs well with particular broad-leafed species – like ferns and other tropical vines – which share similar water requirements.
- Crocodile Fern (Microsorum musifolium)
- Philodendron Birkin
- Philodendron hastatum (Philodendron Silver Sword)
Frequently Asked Questions
With the right conditions, Pilea depressa can be a fast growing plant. It’s able to 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.