Tradescantia

Wandering Jew Plant

The wandering jew is the common name given to a number of plants from the tradescantia genus with the most popular being the T. Fluminensis.



Some countries class this species as an invasive plant or even a weed. This is because of it's growth habit (grows fast and prevents growth of other plants). However, grown indoors it makes an attractive hanging basket or windowsill plant.


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Description

Plant potted in shop

There's a number of tradescantia varieties very similar in looks, how they're grown and their growth habit, including the T. zebrina (has dark green leaves with silver bands), the T. fluminensis variegata with cream stripes and quicksilver which has white stripes. Then there’s the T. pallida from the same genus which is sometimes named wandering jew plant, but looks very different from the T. fluminensis and zebrina.

Foliage: Fleshy oval or lance shaped leaves are produced from the pendant stems (growing a couple of feet or so long). These small leaves have a shiny appearance and grow to about 2 - 4 inches long with pointed tips. The underside of a leaf is purple in color on the zebrina and new leaves appear purple at first, then turn green. In the wild or grown in gardens (grown as a bedding plant) stems take root at the nodes, but indoors in a hanging basket or container they grow and hang over the sides.

Flowering: The small non showy flowers are white in color, appearing during summer usually and at other times (depending on the conditions). These flowers appear in clusters, and display three small petals.

Care level and growing: Wandering jew plants are pretty simple to care for and maintain, although providing plenty of bright light is important. Tradescatia naturally become spindly and need to be pruned regularly and pinching stems will encourage fuller growth, improving it's appearance.


Facts

Origin: South America.
Names: Wandering Jew, Flowering Inch Plant (common). Tradescantia Zebrina, Tradescantia Fluminensis [Syn. T. Albiflora] -- (botanical/scientific).
Max Growth (approx): Stems grow over 2ft long.
Poisonous for pets: Non-toxic to cats and toxic to dogs.
Arial view of wandering jew

Wandering Jew Care

Temperature: Average indoor temperatures of 65-75ºF (18-24ºC) are suitable, and no lower than 50ºF (10ºC).
Light: Enough light is vital for this plant to grow well, and prevent spindly growth. South or east facing rooms are best without too much direct sun (some direct sun is appreciated).
Watering: Water thoroughly from April - October keeping the soil moist - and then much less during November - March.
Soil: A well draining peat based potting mix is suitable. 2 parts peat and 1 part perlite can be used.
Re-Potting: Re-pot once the plant has outgrown it's present container or every 2 years.
Fertilizer: Feed from April - October with a balanced diluted fertilizer every 2 weeks.
Humidity: Average indoor humidity should be fine. To improve humidity mist the leaves frequently.
Propagation: Very easy to propagate with 3 - 5 inch soft wood stem cuttings. Remove all but 1 or 2 leaves and place in a pot with moist potting mix within a warm and bright setting. Within 3 - 6 weeks you will see new growth appearing. It doesn't get much simpler than this.
Pruning: When the plant becomes leggy prune back the stems and pinch stem tips, during spring or summer.

Potential Problems

  • Spindly growth and bare stems: This happens naturally with age for this plant but lack of light, water or plant food can also cause spindly growth. If the plant is old and conditions are fine (water, light etc.) then it could be time to replace it.

  • All green leaves: Variegated leaves turning green and losing their variegation is most likely due to too much light.

  • Limp stems: Limp stems is usually a sign that the plant is lacking water


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