How to Grow Homalomena Emerald Gem & Care Tips

homalomena emerald gem

The Emerald Gem is a vibrant Homalomena with spade-shaped glossy green leaves. This eye-catching houseplant has ridges on the leaves that fan out in a unique pattern.

The Emerald Gem is sometimes confused with the Homalomena Rubescens because they look very similar. However, the Emerald Gem has green stems in contrast to the Rubescens with its red stems.

homalomena rubescens vs emerald gem

While this plant is sold at some of the big box stores, finding the Emerald Gem can be a hit or miss when you’re out plant shopping. Its care is not difficult but can throw a couple of challenges at houseplant beginners. As a tropical houseplant, the Emerald Gem thrives in warm temperatures with indirect light. As we’ll discuss here, avoid underwatering and monitor for pests on your Emerald Gem. 

Light Conditions for the Emerald Gem

This houseplant prefers medium indirect light. It is a tropical understory plant and is not adapted to direct light. Place your Emerald Gem in a room with medium to bright indirect light.  

Troubleshooting with light conditions

  • In low light, the Emerald Gem will begin to lean and stretch toward a window. You may also see yellow leaves between waterings due to the soil being slow to wick up water. Move your Gem to a brighter location. 
  • If your Emerald Gem receives direct light, you may notice brown spots appear on the leaves from sun scorching. While its glossy green leaves can reflect some light, they are thin and can burn. Avoid placing this houseplant in direct sun. 

Emerald Gem Watering Requirements 

Water the Emerald Gem when about 50% of the soil is dry. If using a moisture meter, this typically shows up as a 4 on the meter. In a shallow pot, you can use your finger to determine if the top half of the soil has dried. 

This Homalomena is similar to other varieties in that it is a thirsty plant. However, the Emerald Gem is much more forgiving about being watered late than the velvety-leaved varieties (Selby and Camouflage). For the best growth, avoid letting it dry out between waterings. 

Water troubleshooting

  • If your Emerald Gem has gone too long without water, it will let you know! The stems will gradually begin to slump over. After the plant is watered, it will perk right back up. Normally, the leaves will not get crispy or damaged from drought stress unless its light source is too intense while thirsty.
  • If watered too soon or left in wet soil for too long, the Emerald Gem will likely have 1-2 leaves turn yellow. This may temporarily slow growth, but the plant usually recovers well. 

The Emerald Gem is not very susceptible to root rot but can develop root rot if it is overwatered too often. Check the roots if you notice the plant wilting when it does not need water.

Homalomena Emerald Gem indoor

Temperature Requirements for the Emerald Gem

Since Homalomenas are native to tropical rainforests, the Emerald Gem requires warm temperatures. Keep this Homalomena in a temperature range of 60°-90°F (16°-32°C). It is sensitive to cold stress and may get a temporary droop of its leaves in temperatures below 55°F (12°C).

Emerald Gem Fertilization

Feed the Emerald Gem twice monthly with a half-strength liquid organic fertilizer in the growing season. In the Winter, no additional feeding is needed beyond the slow-release fertilizers in the soil mix.

Humidity for Your Emerald Gem

Unlike the Homalomena varieties with velvety leaves, the Emerald Gem’s glossy leaves don’t require high humidity. While this tropical plant grows much faster in a humidity of 55% or above, it does not require it.

Household humidity of 35-40% is fine if you don’t have pests nearby (the risk is higher for pests in dry air). 

Soil for the Emerald Gem

You can provide the same soil for your Emerald Gem as you do with other Homalomenas. They grow well in light, loamy, well-draining soil with some elements of moisture retention. This plant does not like compacted soil and may benefit from occasional loosening with a wooden pick. 

Recipe for Homalomena Soil (including Emerald Gem):

Homalomena Emerald Gem Pests

The Emerald Gem is prone to thrips when exposed. Be sure to check the leaves often for specks of black (thrip adults) and white (thrip nymphs). See the pictures below. 

The backside of an Emerald Gem leaf with thrips
The backside of an Emerald Gem leaf with thrips

As you can see from these photos, they are very difficult to see unless you look closely. This is the same leaf at the same time! 

thrips on Emerald Gem leaf

As shown in the photo below, you may also see tiny scratch-like marks on the base of its leaves from thrip damage. 

 thrip damage on emerald gem leaf

To treat pests:

  1. Wash thoroughly with insecticidal soap.
  2. Treat with diluted neem oil for at least 3 treatments.
  3. Quarantine your Gem from other houseplants.

Other than thrips, this plant is not prone to common pests. Monitor for other pests on your Emerald Gem and treat it accordingly. 

Pro Tip: Increased humidity, while not required for the Emerald Gem, lowers the chance of pests. It is known that houseplant pests thrive in a dry environment. Therefore, pest infestations are less likely in humidity at least 50%. 

The Emerald Gem is easy to treat for pests. The plant is most likely to get thrips from a store and not nearly as likely to develop an infestation in a pest-free environment. Check the plant well before purchasing.

Due to its waxy leaves and growth pattern, you can easily wipe or shower the Emerald Gem’s leaves without harm. This will help rid the plant of pests quickly. 

Toxicity Reminder

The Emerald Gem, like other Homalomenas, is toxic to pets and small children. Keep your Gem in a room away from them or where they cannot reach it. 

Emerald Gem Propagation 

You can propagate your Emerald Gem in two ways: 

Option 1: 

emerald gem propagation

Cut a horizontal section of the rhizome on the mother plant. Be sure to use a sterilized knife or pair of shears. Reserve plenty of the root system for the mother plant while cutting a section with some roots for your new plant. Then, plant your new rhizome section in the soil and water it. 

Option 2:

Emerald Gem propagation

Separate the rhizome vertically from an offshoot. You should only use this option on a small section or if your Emerald Gem has grown a new pup (like snake plants do). We don’t recommend cutting more than ¼ of your Emerald Gem since this can shock the plant. Using sterile shears, cut the rhizome for the baby plant to grow separately from the mother plant. 

This beauty will make an excellent gift for your plant-loving friends. Happy Growing! 

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