Family: Commelinaceae
type : Perennials
sun exposure : Varies by Species
water : Varies by Species
Plant Details

Most are virtually indestructible plants with long, trailing stems. Usually seen in pots or hanging baskets, but can be used as ground coversthough the most vigorous, rambling types can be invasive. On variegated forms, pinch out any growth that reverts to solid green. Deer don't normally browse these plants. Types grown as houseplants should be given bright, indirect light and kept fairly moist; feed them with a general-purpose liquid houseplant fertilizer twice a month from spring through fall, once a month in winter.

tradescantia x andersoniana

  • See Tradescantia virginiana

green wandering jew

tradescantia fluminensis

  • Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11; or houseplant.
  • From South America.
  • Rapid grower to 2 inches high, with indefinite spread.
  • Succulent stems have swollen joints where dark green, oval or oblong, 212 inches-long leaves are attached.
  • Tiny, unshowy, white flowers.
  • Easy to grow.
  • Excellent for window boxes and dish gardens.
  • If plants are overgrown, renovate by cutting back severely; or discard them and start new plants with fresh tip growth.
  • Stems will live a long time in water, rooting quickly and easily.
  • Partial to full shade; regular to ample water.
  • Variegated forms include 'Albovittata', leaves finely and evenly streaked with white; 'Aurea', bright yellow-green foliage; 'Laekenensis', leaves banded in white and pale lavender; and 'Variegata', yellow- or white-striped foliage.

purple heart

tradescantia pallida 'Purpurea' (Setcreasea pallida 'Purple Heart')

  • Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11; or houseplant.
  • From Mexico.
  • Creeping plant to 1112 feet high, 1 feet wide; stems tend to flop.
  • Pointed, rather narrowly oval leaves are deep purple, three-petaled, pink flowers in summer.
  • Cuttings root quickly.

Generally unattractive in winter. Frost may kill tops, but recovery is fast in warm weather. Use as ground cover, for bedding, in pots. Full sun or light shade. Moderate water. Pinch back after bloom. Tradescantia p. 'Variegata' sports dazzling purple, cream, and pink stripes; not quite as cold hardy. 'Blue Sue' has blue-green foliage with a purple margin.

moses-in-the-cradle, oyster plant

tradescantia spathacea

  • From Mexico, Central America.
  • Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11; or houseplant.
  • Grows 2 feet tall and 1 feet wide.
  • Each plant has a dozen or so broad, sword-shaped, rather erect leaves that are dark green above, deep purple beneath.
  • Small, three-petaled, white blooms are interesting rather than beautiful, crowded into boat-shaped bracts borne down among leaves.
  • Most often used as a ground cover or a potted plant.
  • Tough plant; takes heat, low humidity, sun or shade.
  • Best with regular moisture but withstands inconsistent watering.
  • Try to keep water out of leaf joints when watering.
  • There is also a dwarf form.
  • Vittata has leaves striped in red and yellowish green.


tradescantia virginiana

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • From the eastern U.S., but long a favorite in Southern gardens.
  • Clump-forming border plant to 112 feet high and wide.
  • Long, grassy-looking, deep green, erect or arching leaves.
  • Three-petaled flowers last for only a day, but buds come in large clusters, and plants are seldom out of bloom in summer.
  • May self-sow and become somewhat invasive.
  • Divide clumps when crowded.
  • Sun or shade; regular to ample water.
  • Named garden selections offer flowers in white, blue shades, lavender, purple, shades of pink from pale to near-red; these plants are often sold as Tradescantia x andersoniana or as members of the Andersonia Group.
  • Sweet Kate has yellow foliage, striking in contrast with the purplish blue flowers.
  • Concord Grape has grape, purple flowers.
  • Little Doll has lavender flowers; compact habit.

wandering jew

tradescantia zebrina (Zebrina pendula)

  • Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11; or houseplant.
  • From southern Mexico.
  • Similar to Tradescantia fluminensis but more cold hardy; bears pinkish or bluish flowers.
  • Most widely grown are forms with colorful leaves, including 'Quadricolor', purplish green leaves with longitudinal bands of silver, pink, and red; and 'Purpusii', dark red or greenish red foliage.
  • Attractive ground covers for shady, frost-free sites.
  • Partial to full shade.
  • Regular water.

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