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Wandering Jew Plant – Care, Types of Tradescantia(Colors, Species)

Wandering Jew plant(Tradescantia zebrina) is a Perennial Houseplant that has been grown for years now and it is used for business purposes to sell and make a profit. These plant tends to grow faster than many other vine based plants. Not to get confused there are so many names of this plant alone and even it is denoted from 2-3 family species so remember only the Genus name Tradescantia.

It is also in garden cover and hanging plant as the stem of these plant floats downwards. This is also a good for improving indoor air and can get rid of many respiratory problematic pollutants. Just like any other plant these one also produce some flowers having 3 petal where it has zebra lines on the leaves.

And did you know its foliage has light colored stripes on one side and dark magenta from the back side. There are varieties or species where the bloom has different colors including purple, white, pink. Wandering Jew plant Care is easy and very minimal.

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Wandering Jew Plant Quick Facts

Family Commelinaceae
Common Names  wandering Willie (T. fluminensis), Inch plant, striped wandering Jew (T. zebrina), flowering inch plant, spiderwort purple queen (T. pallida)
Native   Mexico
Scientific Name   T. zebrina,Tradescantia pallida, T. fluminensis
Height  5-9 inch
Width   15-24 inch
USDA Hardiness zones  9 to 11
Plant Type  Perennial , Ground Cover , Herbaceous.
Blooming   Whole year
USDA planting(9-11)    Anytime of the Year
Soil   Well Drained and moist.
Light  Indirect Sun
Temperature   55-75 degree F
Water    Medium
Humidity   Moderate
Fertilizer     Liquid based
Uses      Hanging Basket, Indoor Growing, Ground cover, Fence Cover, In Container
Invasive  Yes
Propagation   Stem Cuttings
Growth Rate  Fast
Pest   Not much affected , Mites can still bother

 

Wandering Jew Plant Care
Mokkie, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wandering Jew Plant Care

Wandering Jew plant(Tradescantia zebrina) care is absolutely easy and if you are a beginner you can easily grow them. Providing sufficient light and pruning can make them more healthy and your Tradescantia can be able to grow and even propagating them is an easy task. Here are some of the Care Tips:

Water

These Jew plant love moist soil and happily grow when you give them water regularly. But Remember not to pour heavy water as they don’t like to sit on soggy soil.

Checking the pot for drainage holes sometimes using them can make the pot hole blocked if the water gets trapped on the soil making a bigger issue on roots of wandering Jew. Always see if the 2 inch soil is dry , if it does they pour some water.

At the time of winters , minimize the watering and also pruning can be limited in that season.

Light

Mostly they are growing indoors with indirect sunlight and it’s true they don’t like direct sun so avoid it else its leaves might burn. There is saying ” More bright is directly connected to how dark the leaves will be”, In case of this plant it will grow more flowers.

With low light your plant might end up losing its color and start to fade and look pale. Place it in an area near the window which gets partial sunlight.

Soil

Wandering Jew plant are not dramatic, they grow in any soil or potting mix. But it will be better if you put organic matter in the soil which increases the quality of the normal potting mix.

Some of the items you need to make a Well drained Soil Mixture :

That’s it. Now mix this potting soil and what is good about this perlite and peat moss is it helps in water retention and increases the ability to drain water properly. You can adjust the soil according to your need. This mixture works in many other plants’ soil requirements.

*For those who want minimum Items to be used just buy a potting soil and mix it with the 30-40% sand.

Repotting 

As Your Spiderwort or Wandering Jew plant(Tradescantia zebrina) require repotting once they grow bigger and choosing the right container can help them sit well on the new container.

Our plant has a faster growth rate and it can grow invasively if we don’t prune them. Many People Who choose to grow them in hanging pots repot them in larger pots as they like these plants to flaut the vines in the whole balcony. 

Initial When doing Repotting , You need to take out your plant and shift it in a new larger pot, carefully do it doesn’t harm the root ball. Now Add soil to the every corner of the pot and fill it till just 2 inch below the container rim. Now water it fully and so the soil sits well on the new pot.

Humidity and Temperature

Tradescantia are able to grow in ideal room temperature below 65- 76 degree F. Mostly they like Warm Climate and below 40-45 Degree F can damage its overall growth pattern resulting in Fade and discolored Foliage although they can easily manage most ideal temperature conditions. They prefer low to moderate humidity environments.

Fertilizer

You can use liquid based fertilizer every 2 month when Inch plants are in the phase of growing. For this kind of plant food use only 50% of its strength because we don’t want any excessive feeding to burn the leaves of our Tradescantia plant.

Using a Slow release fertilizer can help it to provide soil its strength from time to time and not immediately. This can be used every year only once.

Propagation

When doing trim to short your Wandering jew Plant(Tradescantia zebrina), don’t waste the cutting. You can do wandering jew plant propagation with just 3-5 inch stem cutting and it’s an easy process. Cut down all the leaves from the bottom 2 inch stem of 5 inch. That’s the area where it will develop roots and also from base.

Initially use a small pot and use well drained soil and place your propagated stem on the pot with the soil. Shift pot in a partial shade location and keep the soil moist for some days by giving it water regularly.

Rooting will start in 30-45 day of planting so patience can be fruitful and it’s the easiest method of propagating any plant. Also Many use rooting hormone so basically they don’t require that’s the beauty of this plant.

Pruning

With flowering inch plant, you may notice they are quite fast at growing and when they grow it’s aggressive and sometimes overgrown if not pruned. Even they starts to become leggy because low light so to solve that pruning can be done to make them healthy again and revive its nature robust stems.

You can punch off some of the top stems or use a pruning tool and then do it. When you cut them from a node wandering plant stem will produce 2 new stems and make it compact.

Problems:

Some of Pest and Disease you might see in your inch plant(Tradescantia zebrina) as every plant goes through this phase. These plants are mildly toxic and also show skin irritation in humans and animals if anyone comes in contact with its sap juice. The best prevention method to cats and dogs would be to place this plant in a location where your pet doesn’t go often. It’s a hanging plant so you might not see any dog jumping and for cats don’t open the gate for them as they try to destroy your plant. Cats and dogs if their stomach is full they don’t do any harm.

Pests

Your wandering Jew plant will deal with mostly all pests but spider mites still bother them with the webs. To tackle them, keep the area moist so spraying water can be a good idea as mites like dry areas to don’t make it too dry.

Still if it didn’t work for you , then use excessive water on the stems to knock them off but if the infestation is bigger and there are too many spider mites then use insecticide which is made for these types of pest problems.

Diseases

When we discuss diseases in plants mostly every problem is connected to root rot. That is the major problem as it can kill the plant if not solved.

There are 2 reasons why it will happen in the first place:

1 .Soil is not well drained.

This can be a problem if you are using poor soil without peat moss or perlite which are used for better drainage of soil. Also sometimes the pot hole gets blocked which creates this problem. Clean the pot hole and change the soil or use perlite and small rocks on the bottom soil to improve the draining of water.

2 .Over watering.

This problem is because of its master pouring too much water on the plant everyday. Firstly you must check 2 inch of soil for dryness , if it’s dried out completely then water it.

Wandering Jew Plant Varieties

Wandering jew plant has 3 major varieties of Species with different shape and color, that includes zebrina, T.pallida and T.fluminensis. Wandering jew plant blooms with 3 petal flowers with greenish leaves and similarly Tradescantia varieties have tri-petal flowers that are very unique and beautiful.

Type of Wandering Jew plant are basically not a single plant but a collection of species of plant that comes under Tradescantia. There are 3 major species but Tradescantia genus have over 75 species from that I am listing out Total 9 Wandering Jew plant varieties –

  1. Tradescantia Zebrina
  2. Tradescantia Pallida
  3. Tradescantia Fluminensis
  4. Tradescantia spathacea
  5. Tradescantia longipes
  6. Tradescantia blossfeldiana
  7. Tradescantia virginiana
  8. Tradescantia Sillamontana
  9. Tradescantia Nanouk Variegated

I have given images of some varieties that are best in look as well as growth .

1. Tradescantia Zebrina

Tradescantia Zebrina is the most known variety and its leaves are in green color with white petals. Tradescantia looks like a zebra as it has white stripes and outer lines are in white silver color. It came from Mexico and Its scientific name is T.zebrina. You may encounter purple color on the upper side also.

Tradescantia Zebrina
T.Voekler, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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2. Tradescantia Pallida

Tradescantia pallida variety also comes from Mexico and the most popular is this one. Also Known by the name purple heart plant. Its binomial name is Tradescantia pallida and this has deep purplish color on the upper side and on the back it has magenta or violet color. It also produces flowers which have purple color but are very light. Foliage is long , clasping looks like 3-4 leaves coming from one stem.

Tradescantia pallida
KENPEI, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

3. Tradescantia Fluminensis

Tradescantia Fluminensis variety comes from South America and holds the binomial name T.fluminensis. Leaves are oval shaped but are long in dark green color or may turn purple if mature. It does produce flowers having white in color.

4. Tradescantia spathacea

Tradescantia spathacea is a very flowery, gorgeous looking wandering jew plant variety. YES it is best suited indoors and gives an eye -catching look, and may attract visitors. It has a very vibrant structure with leaves that are green to purplish and narrowed. It has features that make it semi-succulent. This variety also produces flowers with boat shape having 3 petals  of white color.

Tradescantia spathacea
Mokkie, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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5. Tradescantia longipes

Tradescantia longipes is a wandering jew variety that has blue purple flowers that look fantabulous and it is grown in rock gardens, natural parks and this can be grown in well draining soil as longipes are not tolerant to any soil. 

6. Tradescantia blossfeldiana

Tradescantia blossfeldiana is the best variety after Tradescantia zebrina & Tradescantia spathacea & quite similar to zebrina type. It grows similar to wandering jew and plants can be seen growing horizontally. It has green, white, pink foliage; some leaves you may notice turn purple while others remain green. This plant also produces flower with white in color and quite good looking this plant is. 

Tradescantia blossfeldiana
阿橋 HQ, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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7. Tradescantia virginiana

Tradescantia virginiana variety of wandering jew can be seen having purple blue to violet color and grown year by year this perennial plant is best suited for garden lovers. This T.virginiana has the same type of requirement which wandering holds.It can also produce flowers with 3 petals.

8. Tradescantia Sillamontana

Tradescantia Sillamontana has leaves that are green but covered with white hairs which makes the foliage looks like white. Smaller leaves with a length of 2 inches grow very beautifully and it may become a houseplant. It has light purple to darkish purple flowers with 3 petals, the same as other varieties. It is quite fuller and compact when grown and it looks amazing.

9. Tradescantia Nanouk Variegated

This variety is similar to wandering jew only different is its leaves that are long otherwise it is same like having foliage with purple green. It thrives in indoors and outdoor and have minimal requirement to sucessfully grow. One its become mature regular pruning is needed and other things on watering, light , fertilizer is same as wandering jew.

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Wandering Jew plant indoor

When growing wandering Jew indoors it needs bright light and moist soil for its overall growth. If light is not sufficient it may develop some leggy stems. If water poured too much it can harm the roots leads to leaves fade. Always grow them in partial shade or indirect light source as they thrive well there. Once I put them in sunlight and it just burned some of the pure leaves on the plant. Winters you don’t need to give them water regularly it needs light which is less in colder climate. Provide them outside bright light and placing below the tree is also a good place. Wandering Jew plant requires fertilizer in every 30-44 days when they are in growing season. Winters you need to limit these things and focus on only misting water and light to give water to the plants. No need to give plenty of water. 

Pinching some of the leaves so that spiderwort(Tradescantia zebrina) don’t become invasive, you can do this more often. using pair of pruner will reduce the time and help you cut down more stems and leaves easily. Also Pruning increases New growth, and sometimes we can get rid of pests by trimming in plants.

By Doing Caring you can make them live longer and they will grow for many years. 

For wandering Jew Plant Outdoor Care Check.

Can wandering jew live in water?

Wandering jew may live in water as these plants are discovered in wetlands and rainforests even places where there are stones with water present. Wandering jew is propagated in water so yes it can live in water for days and several weeks but for garden cover and other making it as houseplant you need to transplant it in a pot.

Wandering jew plants like water so being watered regularly is not an issue with them but the roots in soil may increase pathogens that could lead to root rot. That is why even if it was in clear water it grows but not in too much water. 

Best way to grow wandering jew is to moisturize its soil and check the soil for 2 inch always before watering next time. Don’t overwater your plant pot and you can water it from the base and no need to spray over the leaves. This way an inch plant can get all the water for its growth. 

So can wandering jew live in water forever?

Wandering jew can live in water for several weeks not forever but if you want to increase its life then change water so it doesn’t get any fungal infection. These plants placed in water glass or any glass material would make an eye -catching view as inside water they look marvelous. You can propagate wandering jew in water for weeks after rooting; it can be grown in soil forever.

Can wandering jew take full sun?






No, Wandering jew should not take full sunlight as it may burn leaves and could harm the overall plants growth. Wandering jew is choosy when it comes to light requirements and getting enough light to have vibrant purplish foliage. As ground cover, yes they do get direct sun which makes this plant invasive as it spreads quite fast otherwise it is a good houseplant , frost resistant and you can place them indoors if there’s too much cold outside.

Best location for wandering jew outdoors is near the tree or somewhere it can get partial to shade area so doesn’t get those heavy sunlight that could make it invasive and with that it may burn some leaves.

a wandering jew plant can be placed indoors near south facing windows or in a location near a window that gets morning sunlight only and the whole day it can live with indirect light. No wandering jew won’t stop growing if placed in a shade spot. 

also remember if you give too much sunlight then it needs to be pruned in every few months to stop overgrowth.

Do wandering jew plants flower?

Yes Wandering jew plants do flower having 3 petals making a triangle shape. Wandering jew have different flower colors including pink, white and purple and these flower blooms might form at any time and I can’t comment when it is the exact time for these flowers to show up but maybe we can expect in the months of winters. 

These Flowers in wandering jew plants are closely attached to green-purplish leaves. The 2 most popular varieties can be seen having 3 petals in their flower form.

How to trim a wandering jew plant?

For trimming wandering jew plants you need a pair of shears and make sure to sterilize the sharp pruners before doing any pruning. To prune wandering jew first cut those leaves that look pale, dried, weakened. You may notice some of them might be losing color and some already dead leaves present on wandering jew so prune the plant 1/3 part and don’t worry about any mistake as wandering jew is highly tolerable to excessive pruning. And it will grow again and become thick and fuller. 

Cutting stems that have so many leaves dying can help to supply nutrients to other parts of plants. Don’t hesitate just prune long stems as well because this plant grows vigorous and whenever you cut the stems make sure to see how much you wanna cut back and only cut above the leaf node.

This way it will again grow from that node and make new stems and leaves. 

FAQ’s

Why is it called the Wandering Jew plant?

It’s a Story about a Jewish Person Taunted Jesus when he was going for golgotha. With this Kind of Rude behaviour, he is cursed to live on earth & he has been walking until the second coming. Read About the Whole Story Here on wandering jew plant spiritual meaning.

How often should I water my wandering Jew?

Wandering jew(Tradescantia zebrina) should be watered regularly as they like moist soil. You need to water them only when Soil is dry about 2 inch from the top, also when it’s completely dry then pour water fully to the bottom until it drains out. Make sure not to water when there is already soil moist otherwise it will be waterlogged which lead to root rotting.

Is a Wandering Jew an indoor or outdoor plant?

Wandering jew thrives in both indoors and outdoors environments but it makes a perfect hanging houseplant when grown indoors. In terms of outdoors it becomes invasive that’s why it is not considered outside. Still If you prune them often then it can be a good plant for both locations.

Why Is My Wandering Jew so leggy?

Leggy growth of plant(Tradescantia zebrina) comes when it doesn’t get enough light, wandering jew become leggy because during the colder climate it doesn’t get sufficient bright light , this happens in winters only. If you want to resolve this issue then place them where it receives 3-5 indirect sunlight, it will regrow again. Leggy condition can be solved with pruning but in the end you need to change its place in winters.

Are Wandering Jew plants poisonous to dogs?

It is considered as toxic to dogs , cats , horses and can give skin irritation like dermatitis. Other symptoms are rash, red , itchy skin or also may cause blisters. So if any of the problems your pet faces make sure to call the pet center for help and the hospital if the child has eaten. 

Lotusmagus.com provides this information from ASPCA, It is an organization for animal cruelty prevention.

Wandering Jew Plant Cats : Is it Poisonous to Cats and Human?

Conclusion

Inch plant is one of the lovely looking plants grown in both areas of outside and indoors. We can propagate Wandering Jew plant(Tradescantia zebrina) easily many times. Pruning is also easy. It regrows back so it’s a good ground cover and hanging plant so I really like it. If you want minimal care plants then wandering Jew is the one.

Amelia Clark

I have over 10 years experience in gardening and here I try to answer every question about plants and how you as a beginner gardener can able to solve various problems. Also If you would like to check our Designed Plant T-Shirts. Please do so.

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