Grooming a bobbed head - tips for watering, cutting and fertilizing


One of the reasons why the baby's head is so popular is because it is an undemanding houseplant. However, there are a few maintenance tips to be followed.

© Melica -

The baby's head (Soleirolia soleirolii) is one of the most popular houseplants. It is not uncommon for the plants to have the shape of the trendy hairstyle from the 1920s. Arranged in traffic lights or plant bowls, the thin leaf veins also grow decoratively downwards. The bobbed head can also be used very well as ground cover, in climatically favorable areas even outdoors all year round.

You can read here what you should keep in mind when caring for this rather undemanding beginner plant.

How did the bob head get its name and where did it come from?

The hobby gardener can only create ideal conditions for his plants if he knows their origin and history. The baby's natural home is in the Mediterranean. The plant is primarily at home in Mallorca, Elba or Corsica. The plants are therefore adapted to the subtropical climate with warm, low-precipitation summers and mild, humid winters. Bobbies prefer to grow on rocks or under trees. The undemanding bobbed head can also often be found in wall joints or between the step plates.

The baby's head owes its name (Helxine soleirolii) to Joseph Francois Soleirol. The botanist collected the plant in Corsica in the 19th century and described it in detail.

Water the bobble properly

The bobbed head needs constant moisture all year round. This is rather rare for houseplants. Many representatives are watered only sporadically in winter. With cacti, for example, the watering is completely stopped. Whenever watering is sufficient, water should not accumulate, as this is the plant's greatest enemy. It is always important to remove excess water from the planter or the saucer.

➔ Tip: Waterlogging is particularly dangerous for the plant when it is cooler. The result is often root rot.

It is very important when watering the baby's head not to water the plant from above. The bob head should always be poured from below. The water is therefore filled directly into the planter or saucer. Special coasters are available on the market. These have a wick that can be pressed into the planter and thus facilitates water absorption.

➔ Attention: Standing water should be removed from the coasters and planters after half an hour at the latest. Then the plant is adequately hydrated and waterlogging can be avoided.

Pour the bobbed head in keywords:

  • constant moisture requirement all year round
  • Plant must not dry out
  • Let the substrate dry slightly
  • always pour from below
  • Avoid waterlogging

Properly fertilize the bobbed head

The nutritional needs of the bobbed head can be classified as very low. Fertilization with conventional liquid fertilizers for green plants can contribute to healthy plant growth, but should only be done in moderation. Fertilization is carried out exclusively in the months of October to March.

➔ Attention: The fertilizer solution must not touch the leaves of the bobbed head. This could cause burns on the foliage.

To avoid contact with the aerial parts of the plant when applying the fertilizer solution, the fertilizer can be added directly to the irrigation water. If you fertilize your plants from above, you should briefly shower the head with water after fertilization and let the leaves dry well.

Key words to fertilize the bobbed head:

  • moderate nutritional needs
  • Use liquid fertilizer for green plants
  • Fertilize only between autumn and spring
  • Leaves must not come into contact with the fertilizer
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Does the bob head have to go to the hairdresser?

It all depends on whether the bobbed head should keep its natural shape or grow abundantly. The plants grow quite quickly and by shortening the shoots a bushy shape can be obtained or worked out.

➔ Tip: Traffic light plants do not have to be cut.

A distinction can be made between maintenance and form cuts. In order to maintain the naturally spherical growth, you must regularly cut the plant into shape. You can use conventional household scissors. If you want to demonstrate creativity in topiary, you can also dare to make angular cuts or turn your bobbed head into a heart.

A maintenance cut is necessary if the plants grow too dense. This can be seen from the fact that the shoots begin to wither in the middle of the plant. If individual shoots shoot out for a particularly long time without developing enough leaves, these must also be removed. A change of location should be considered, since the plant was probably too dark.

An overview of the correct care of the bobbed head

care measureexplanation
to water▶ The plants have a constant need for moisture throughout the year.
▶ The bobbed head must not dry out.
▶ It should always be poured from below.
▶ The remaining irrigation water must be removed from the coasters.
Fertilize▶ The plants' nutrient requirements are not too high.
▶ To promote growth, conventional liquid fertilizers can be administered.
▶ Baby heads are only fertilized between autumn and spring.
To cut▶ It is possible to prune the plant at any time.
▶ A topiary maintains the spherical growth or brings the plant into any desired shape.
▶ Wilted or too long shoots are removed during the maintenance cut.
▶ Traffic light plants do not need to be pruned.

What types of baby heads are there?

In the traditional sense, there are no different types of bobbed heads. All plants belong to the genus Soleirolia soleirolii. However, some cultivars have now come onto the market whose leaf color differs:

✿ Aladatase - The leaves have fresh spring green.
✿ Argentea - The leaves are covered with a silvery veil.
✿ Aurea - This cultivar mixes some gold with the leaf green.

Does the bobblehead bloom?

Even if it is rather rare in cultivated forms, it cannot be excluded that the bobbed head will produce flowers with good care. The flowers, however, are quite inconspicuous. Only one pair of flowers can develop on each flower stem. So you have to take a close look to see the pinhead-sized white flowers.

Fruits are also formed. These are called achenes and represent a special form of nuts. The brownish mini fruit, however, only reaches a diameter of 0.5 centimeters and can only be identified with a practiced eye in the dense foliage.

Detect pests and diseases on the bobbed head

The plants are very robust. Diseases therefore rarely occur. Pest infestation is almost impossible. The baby's heads are at risk solely due to incorrect care.


The most common problem and at the same time the most frequent maintenance error is waterlogging. The leaves are attacked by incorrect watering behavior and begin to wither. The delicate leaves must not be permanently wetted with water. So it is wrong to water or even spray the plant from above. The bobblehead only thrives if it is poured from below and standing water is regularly removed from the planters. Waterlogging leads to root rot and the plant can usually not be saved.

Wrong location

The plant can also suffer from an incorrect choice of location. The little heads tolerate temperature fluctuations very well, but do not tolerate blazing sun. The midday sun on the flower festival in particular can cause the leaves to burn. In general, a location directly above the heating is not ideal for the plant.

Weakened plants can be affected by aphids every now and then. Aphids can be gently removed by treating the plant with soft soap solution or by showering it with lukewarm water.

➔ Tip: The leaves must then be dried well, as the plant cannot tolerate wet leaves.