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Wandering Jew Plant (Tradescantia or Spiderwort): Care, Types, Images and More

Wandering Jew Plant (Tradescantia or Spiderwort ): Care, Types, and Growing Tips

The wandering Jew plant is a common name for different species of plants that belong to the Tradescantia genus. There are around 75 different types of plants in Tradescantia genus and some are called inch plants, spiderwort, striped wandering Jew, Boat Lily, Purple Queen, or flowering inch plant. Wandering Jew plants are great house plants because they are relatively easy to care for. They are also easy to grow because the wandering Jew plant propagates easily from cuttings.

Some types of wandering Jew plants have green and gold leaves, some have reddish leaves, and others have green fuzzy leaves. There are also types of wandering Jew plants that flower. Depending on the species, the wandering Jew plant could have purple, white, or pink flowers.

How to care for wandering Jew plant : For the Tradescantia or spiderwort plant to thrive, grow in a plenty of indirect light and plant in fertile, moist potting soil with good drainage. Make sure the soil isn’t too dry or too damp and keep medium humidity levels. The ideal temperature range is between 65°F (18°C) and 75°F (23°C). You can fertilize every four weeks during the growing season with a diluted liquid houseplant fertilizer.

In this article, you will find all you need to know about this delightful houseplant. You will also get tips and ideas on how to care for your wandering Jew plants.

Wandering Jew Plant (Tradescantia or Spiderwort) – Overview of the Plant and Its Flowers

The botanical name for wandering Jew plant is Tradescantia zebrina and is also called the inch plant. However, the name wandering Jew is given to many herbaceous perennial plants in the Tradescantia genus. ( 1 )

Species of Tradescantias naturally grow outdoors in countries in Asia, Africa, Central and South America, and Australia. Varieties of wandering Jew plants also thrive well indoors, where, like their garden varieties, they grow well when it is warm, sunny, and moderately humid.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, various varieties of Tradescantias are regarded as invasive plants in the wild. However, it is the fast-growing nature of spiderworts, wandering Jews, and inch plants that makes them perfect houseplants. ( 2 )

Many people like to grow wandering Jews or spiderworts in hanging baskets or grow them in pots to decorate a garden.

What does a wandering Jew look like?

Plants from the Tradescantia varieties have leaves that seem to grow in all directions (hence the term “wandering Jew”).

One of the distinct features about foliage on wandering Jews is that many of them have striped leaves. Sometimes, the leaves can be purple and silver stripes, whereas other types of Tradescantias have leaves that are almost all silver. ( 3 )

You may also notice that some varieties of wandering Jew plant have different colors on the underneath of the leaf. For example, the Tradescantia zebrina has green/silver leaves on the upper side and deep red or burgundy colors on the underside.

Wandering Jew flower

Wandering Jew houseplants also produce attractive flowers. These flowers can sometimes be white or can range in color from pink to various shades of lilac and purple. ( 3 )

However, plant lovers don’t usually grow wandering Jews indoors or outdoors for their blooms. It’s the beautiful variation of leaf colors that makes various types of Tradescantias so desirable houseplants.

Types of Wandering Jew (Spiderwort) Plants

The most popular types of Tradescantia plants to keep indoors are Tradescantia fluminensis ( spiderwort ), Tradescantia pallida ( purple heart ), and Tradescantia zebrina ( wandering Jew ).

Wandering Jew or inch plant ( Tradescantia zebrina )

This type of  wandering Jew houseplant has purple and green leaves with a stripe pattern that resembles zebra’s stripes. There are types of wandering Jews that have bluish green leaves and purple hues on the underside.

Tradescantia zebrina

Tradescantia fluminensis (spiderwort)

There are a number of types of Tradescantia that are called spiderwort. This is distinguished from some Tradescantias as it has ovel shiny dark green leaves with pointed tips which are slightly fleshy .

Tradescantia fluminensis (spiderwort) - Picture of wandering Jew plant with white flowers

Picture of wandering Jew plant with white flowers

Tradescantia pallida (purple heart)

This type of spiderwort plant is also commonly referred to as wandering Jew. The T. pallida houseplants have vibrant purple leaves and light pink flowers when they bloom.

Tradescantia pallida (wondering Jew) with flowers (purple heart)

Wandering jew plant with deep purple leaves and light purplish-pink flowers

Tradescantia callisia

The leaves of T. callisia varieties are sometimes referred to as creeping inch plants. They have remarkably stripy leaves made up of green and white stripes.

Tradescantia callisia - Picture of green wandering jew

Picture of green wandering jew

Wandering Jew Plant Care (How to Grow Spiderwort or Tradescantia)

Caring for wandering Jew plants is fairly simple and straightforward. All plants in the Tradescantia genus enjoy moist soil, sunny but indirect sunlight, and warm conditions.

So, it doesn’t matter if you have fuzzy leaf Tradescantias, purple queen varieties, spiderworts, or wandering Jews, they all require the same type of care.

Light requirements for Tradescantias

To make sure that wandering Jew plants grow successfully, they require a good amount of light. This ensures that they grow with healthy leaves that have a vibrant green, silver, purple, or lilac colors.

The best place to place wandering Jew plant or spiderworts is in an east- or west-facing location. This means that they get plenty of natural light without being in direct sunlight when the sun is at its strongest.

The only exception is if you have Tradescantia pallida plants with dark purples leaves. They usually thrive in direct sunlight, although you should regularly check them in the summertime to make sure the sun isn’t too strong.

One sign that your Tradescantia isn’t getting enough light is if the color of their leaves starts to fade.

Best growing temperature for Spiderwort or Tradescantia

One of the reasons why wandering Jew plants are good for the home is that they thrive in room temperature.

The best temperatures for growing any type of Tradescantia plant is between 65°F (18°C) and 75°F (23°C). The houseplants also thrive in conditions that are described as “average humidity.”

If you grow Tradescantias outdoors, you should be aware of a drop in night temperatures and lower temperatures during winter. You should bring Tradescantias indoors if the temperature drops.

Best watering techniques for wandering Jew plant care

To care for your inch plant, spiderwort, or wandering Jew, you should keep the soil moist.

The best way to water a wandering Jew is to water the soil thoroughly and let the water drain out the bottom. Another way to water your purple house plant is to put water in the plant pot tray and allow the plant to soak up as much as it needs.

Some beginners who start caring for houseplants such as Tradescantias for the first time buy a soil moisture gauge to help get the soil moisture levels just right.

When it comes to proper watering for your wandering Jew, always make sure the soil isn’t too dry or too damp. Usually, weekly watering in the summertime is enough to keep your Tradescantia growing well.

The best fertilizer for wandering Jew houseplants

The reason why Tradescantias are so easy to care for is that they don’t usually require any feeding.

If you decide to encourage your inch plant or spiderwort to grow faster, then choose a liquid organic fertilizer mixed at half strength and use once a month.

Most houseplant growers don’t feed their wandering Jew plants in the fall or winter as they tend to become “leggy” or “straggly.”

Which type of soil to use for Tradescantias

To properly care for wandering Jew varieties of houseplants, you only need to plant them in regular potting soil.

How to prune wandering Jew plants

In time, Tradescantia plants require some cutting back and pruning. This helps to give your houseplant a bushier appearance and also gives you plenty of cuttings to propagate.

For Tradescantia pruning, you just need to pinch off the stem tips to leave about ¾ of the length. This will encourage your plant to grow better and become more attractive.

Growing Plants from Wandering Jew Cuttings

Even for the most novice of houseplant owners, propagating any type of Tradescantia plant is very easy. After you have cut back your “leggy” wandering Jew stems, you will have a large number of cuttings that you can use to grow new house plants.

How to propagate wandering Jew plant leaves

To prepare your wandering Jew cuttings or purple heart plant cuttings for propagation, you need a couple of stems about 1-2 inches long. Remove all the leaves apart from 2 or 3 at the end of the stem.

There are 2 ways you can grow wandering Jew plants from cutting:

  • The first way is to just put a cutting in potting soil and wait for it to grow. All you have to do is make sure that the soil is kept moist and not overly damp.
  • The other way to grow a Tradescantia from a cutting is to put the stem in water. You should notice that new roots start to grow within a week. When you notice new roots growing, you can transfer your cuttings to a pot to grow a new houseplant.

Wandering Jew Outdoor Plant Care

Tradescantia plants are great garden plants and grow well outdoors in warmer zones in the U.S. (USDA growing zones 9-11). In fact, it is because they grow so well outside in warmer countries and are quite invasive that they are classed as a weed in certain countries.

You can easily care for any Tradescantia plants to add color and beauty to your garden. Purple hanging plants or wandering Jew vines with stripy leaves can grace any patio, doorway, or garden area.

As with caring for wandering Jews or spiderworts indoors, Tradescantia plants growing outdoor should be protected from direct sunlight. So, place your plants in shady areas of the garden. But it’s good to remember that some bright light will help the wandering Jew plant produce more flowers.


Also, frost can damage the plant, so, if you live in areas where fall and winter temperatures drop below 10°F (12°C), you should take them indoor and continue to grow them as houseplants.

Problems with Wandering Jew Plant (Spiderwort)

Even though it is relatively easy to care for wandering Jew plants, you can still come across certain problems.

Let’s look at some growing tips for Tradescantia plants to avoid or remedy some common problems.

The most common pest when growing wandering Jews indoors are bugs such as spider mites or aphids . The appearance of these pests on your bushy spiderwort or inch plant may be a sign that conditions are too dry.

To help remedy the problems of pests on your Tradescantia, mist the leaves regularly and make sure the soil is moist enough. You may need to wash off the mites with water to help get rid of the infestation.

One of the beauties about caring for wandering Jew plants indoors or outdoors is that they are not susceptible to disease. Usually, any discoloration of the leaves or poor growth is connected to the soil being too dry or too damp.

Fungal infections

Overwatering spiderworts, inch plants, or wandering Jews can cause a fungal growth called botrytis to develop in the roots.

Brown leaves

As with most problems associated with caring for Tradescantias, brown leaves can also indicate that the growing environment isn’t right. The leaves of your wandering Jew could have turned brown because of too much or too little sunlight. Also, too much watering can affect leaf health.

Where to Buy Wandering Jew Plants

Many garden centers and online stores stock many different varieties of wandering Jews. You will also find that Tradescantia cuttings are available online.

Because many different types of wandering Jews are so easy to grow yourself, you could ask a friend for a cutting if they have the plant. You can also get more Tradescantia houseplant or garden plants by propagating cuttings from plants you already have.

FAQ Related to Wandering Jew Plant (Tradescantia)

Do they need any pruning.

To properly care for wandering Jews, the leaves and stems require pruning. The stems can grow quite long and start losing their leaves from the base. The best time to prune any Tradescantia plant is just before the growing season in late winter or early spring.

You may also find that Tradescantias grow better if you give them a mild prune in late summer.

How to prevent wandering Jew roots from rotting?

Go easy on the watering to stop Tradescantia plants’ roots from rotting. Water them enough to keep the soil moist during summertime and only occasionally in the winter.

Are wandering Jew plant leaves toxic to animals?

While not toxic to cats or dogs, the leaves of wandering Jew plants can cause irritation. If you have pets that like to nibble on leaves, you can still benefit from the beauty of Tradescantias if you grow the outdoor plant in hanging baskets.

Can I grow my Tradescantia plant outdoors?

Yes, you certainly can. Wandering Jew plants grow well out of doors in warm climates. During the summertime, you can move your indoor houseplants to the garden and place them away from direct sunlight.

Dashes of purple colors, bright pinks, or interesting green and purple stripped leaves can make an interesting feature in any garden or balcony.

Can you train a wandering Jew plant?

Tradescantia plants are easy to train because their stems can grow very long and you can wrap them around objects. Wandering Jew plant stems can grow up on trellises or obelisks or up around any other item.

Heavily pruning wandering Jews in late winter can also help to train the plant to grow into a colorful bush.

How fast does wandering Jew plant grow?

Tradescantia cuttings should start growing roots within a week or so. Once the plant is established, you can expect it to grow about an inch every week. Some people claim this is the reason that some Tradescantias are called inch plants.

Can Tradescantia houseplants cause allergies?

The sap of wandering Jew plants or prolonged skin exposure to its leaves could cause allergic reactions.

The journal Allergy reports that indoor plants such as Tradescantia can also cause symptoms such as itching of the throat, swelling, wheezing, and runny eyes and nose. ( 4 )

Do wandering Jew varieties have any health benefits?

Although not widely used, extracts from Tradescantia zebrina have certain medicinal properties. You can buy inch plant herbal liquid extracts that are said to have many antioxidant properties.

Researchers have found that therapeutic compounds in Tradescantia extracts have antibacterial, anticancer, and antioxidant uses. ( 5 )

Related articles:

  • Moses In Cradle Care: How to Grow Tradescantia spathacea
  • Chinese Money Plant Care: How to Grow Pilea Peperomioides
  • Dracaena Marginata Plant Care: How to Grow Madagascar Dragon Tree

Hobby Plants

Wandering Jew (Tradescantia Genus) Care & Growing Guide

The Wandering Jew is a name that is used for several different species of plants in the Tradescantia genus, which includes at least 75 different species.  

In times past, gardeners would share cuttings from their Wandering Jew plants with friends and neighbors so, like its name, it traveled from place to place.  If you want to brighten up your home, having the Wandering Jew Plant will do just that with its colorful variegated foliage and beautiful flowers .

Wandering Jew Care & Growing Guide

1. light requirement.

They will tolerate low light as this will help them to retain their striking colors.  If it is an indoor plant, put it in a location where it will receive filtered sunlight.  Outdoors, it needs to be in a spot where it is receiving partial shade or partial sun.  You can also move your indoor plant outside to get this type of shade or sun.

The soil will need to be kept moist but not soggy.  If the soil starts to feel very dry, then it is time to water your plant.  Just stick your finger into the soil and if the top inch feels dry, water it until the water comes from the bottom of the drain holes of your plant.  

For the outdoor plants, during the spring-summer growing season, you should water your plants once a week.  In the winter, during the dormancy period, you will only need to water it about once every other week. It will need to be fertilized each month during the growing season.

The Wandering Jew can be grown as a houseplant in any climate but outdoors it should be USDA Hardiness Zone 9-12

The Wandering Jew plant can grow in different soils as long as they drain well in order to prevent stem and root rot.  You should make sure that you are using a lightweight soil mixture.  You should not use straight potting soil as they retain too much moisture.  You can also use a potting soil that has a slow-release fertilizer mixed in so you do not have to fertilize each month.

Tradescantia genus leaves

5. Temperature

The ideal indoor temperature should be between 50-85 degrees Fahrenheit.  They do need some humidity for growing so if your house is not very humid, you can fill a spray bottle with water that is at room temperature and mist the plant several times a week.

6. Repotting

If you bought a Wandering Jew that is already in a planter or container, it should be okay for at least a year before it needs to be repotted.  If you get root cuttings in a small four to six-inch pot, you will probably have to repot the plant into something bigger or outside so they can properly grow.  In that small of a pot, it will outgrow it in a month or two.

7. Speed of Growth

It is stated that it has a fast rate of growth and will quickly spill over your hanging basket or covering your ground area.  When you are starting new plants from your cuttings, it will take several weeks before you start to see new roots.

8. Height and Spread

The stems of the Wandering Jew plant grow from 6-9 inches high and 12-24 inches in spread

Depending on the species, you can get pink, white, or rose-purple blooms

10. Trimming

The Wandering Jew does not need much trimming.  You can pinch off the stems if you want to promote a bushier growth or control the size of the plant.  Trim off any dead, damaged, or broken leave or stems throughout the year to keep it looking good.  You should regularly pinch the stems back by at least twenty-five percent.

Is Wandering Jew Poisonous?

Some people may experience skin irritations when they handle the cuttings because of the sap so you may need to wear gloves when you work with the plant.  If your pet chews on it, the sap can irritate their digestive system, especially a cat.  If they eat or chew on the leaves, these do not normally cause a problem, just the stems with the sap.

Tradescantia genus isolated

Can Wandering Jew grow in Water?

Yes, you can take the cuttings from your trimming to start new Wandering Jew plants in water.  Fill the container with three inches of water that is room temperature.  Pinch off any of the leaves that will be submerged in water before you put the cutting in the container.  Set it in a bright indoor location.  Change the water when it becomes cloudy or every other week.  When the roots are several inches long, you can repot them in a planter or outdoors.

How to get Wandering Jew to Flower?

Make sure that you give it the right soil, and moisture.  Also remove any dead flowers or dead or damaged leaves.  You also want to make sure it is getting the right light because the brighter the light, the more flowers it will produce.

More like this: Elephant Bush (Portulacaria Afra) Care & Growing Guide

Common Plant Diseases

Wandering Jew is prone to a variety of diseases, including:

  • Stem or root rot—it is getting too much water or it is not draining properly so watch the watering and make sure that it is draining.
  • Leaves losing color or drooping—not enough light so if indoors, you just have to move the plant where it will get more light.
  • Sunburned foliage—too much sun so you need to put it in a less sunny location.
  • Aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, or whiteflies—these are all sap-sucking insects and can quickly kill your Wandering Jew plant.  If the infestation is small you can just wipe the leaves and get rid of them.  You may also use an insecticidal soap with water and gently spray the plant.
  • Rubber plant Care & Growing Guide
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  • This is a hardy plant that is easy to take care of, even those that fell they kill every plant they try to grow.
  • They grow well outdoors in frost-free regions or in hanging baskets or planter.
  • When grown outdoors, it can be used as a groundcover that grows quickly.
  • The biggest problem with using Wandering Jew as a houseplant is to be able to get the moisture levels correct.

Wandering Jew

Victoria is the owner and main author of hobby plants. She loves spending her free time in her garden planting and taking care of her plants. Victoria hopes you enjoy the content here!

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8 Types of Wandering Jew Plants+Care Tips

Ralph Astley

2-Minute Read

When it comes to versatility, there’s none like the adaptable wandering jews check all different types of wandering jew plants in this detailed article.

Wandering Jew Plant comprises various species in the Tradescantia genus. As the plant is adaptable to both indoor and outdoor conditions, it doesn’t matter if you are planning to have it as ground cover, in hanging baskets, or in containers; it’ll do equally well! Also, d o you know you can grow wandering jew in the complete shade, as well as in full sunlight? In full sun, it looks more colorful. Whereas, shade gives its leaves a greenish hue. Here are the Types of Wandering Jew Plants you should consider growing!

Have a look at the plants you can start with just one cutting and a glass of water here

1. tradescantia fluminensis.

Types of Wandering Jew Plants

It’s a popular indoor houseplant, which is also used as ground cover. Its white flowers are triangular and formed by three petals and look glorious attached to fleshy stems with oval-shaped leaves that are glossy and deep green.

Check out our article on colorful houseplants here !  

2. tradescantia zebrina.

wandering jew genus

The variegated leaves resemble the stripes of the zebra, hence the name! The purplish-green foliage has a silver outer edge and white stripes running down lengthwise. It grows low to a height of 6-12 inches, and that’s why it can be grown as ground cover. It is one of the best types of wandering jew plants on the list.

3. Tradescantia pallida

Types of Wandering Jew Plants you can grow

It also goes by the name “Purple Heart” and is native to Mexico. Deep purple foliage, adorned with light purplish-pink flowers, looks marvelous and is the reason that it’s one of the most popular types of wandering jew plants! Apart from growing it as a striking ground cover, you can also have it in hanging baskets.

To know about more purple houseplants, click here !  

4. tradescantia blossfeldiana.

wandering jew genus

Commonly known as the ‘Inch plant,’ it’s also referred to as Tradescantia cerinthoidebs . The thick green leaves have a fuzzy texture and a purple hue on the underside. You can easily propagate it from the cuttings, both in soil and water, once it gets growing. It bears delightful clusters of blue, purple, white, or rose pink flowers, making it one of the best types of wandering jew plants on the list.

5. Tradescantia Sillamontana

Types of Wandering Jew Plants to enhance the beauty of your garden

If precise geometric patterns are your thing, then you’ll love it because of its foliage. Growing from a thick succulent stem, the leaves are around two inches long and covered entirely in white hair. Magneta flower protrudes from the terminal end of the stem in summers.

6. Tradescantia spathacea

wandering jew genus

Known as Moses-in-a-basket, Oyster plant, or Boat lily, it is a sub-succulent herb from southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. It grows in 6-12 inches long rosette and sword-like, narrow, and spiral-shaped dark green leaves, with purple bottom sides. The white flowers are enclosed with boat-like purple bracts, hence the name.

7. Tradescantia virginiana

Types of Wandering Jew Plants you never knew about

Commonly known as the spider lily, it is a herbaceous perennial from the Commelinaceae family. The plant produces violet-purple to blue, three-petaled flowers, with yellow stamens and dark green arching leaves. You can grow this one of the most popular types of wandering jew plants under full to partial shade.

8. Tradescantia longipes

wandering jew genus

Adorn your garden by growing beautiful, purple-blue flowers of tradescantia longipes or spiderwort. It is native to Southern Missouri and northern Arkansas from the family Commelinaceae. Grow these three-petaled flowers for rock or naturalize gardens, in partial shade, by using well-drained, moist, acidic soil, making it one of the most popular types of wandering jew plants on the list!

Check out our article on indoor rock garden ideas here ! 

Wandering jew plant care tips.

  • Grow a wandering jew plant in bright, indirect light or expose it to full sun, which it won’t mind either. Just keep in mind that low light can fade the markings on leaves.
  • Water the plant directly around the roots, avoiding the crown, as it can result in rot.
  • The plant prefers slightly moist soil, so maintain the right watering schedule.
  • Use an all-purpose, water-soluble fertilizer, once a month, during the growing period.

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Depends on the plant and where you live. Do research on the specific plant.

Sooooo number 4…. Is not a blossefeldiana. It’s a flumensis. …. You posted a tri-color-mundula variegata……. Not a nanouk. A nanouk is a blossefeldiana centerthoides

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Urbane Jungle

In a world of towering brick and concrete edifices, sometimes one needs a little bit of plant life

Tradescantia: Wonderful Wanderers

02.07.2018 by rzr5355 // Leave a Comment

wandering jew genus

Solid, striped, or variegated; burgundy, emerald, lilac, and (sometimes or) white; and almost always pointed. The leaves of  Tradescantia species come is a vast array of appearances and hues which dazzle the eye and draw many a plant-lover near. Now, these unique descriptions may cause you to believe that these lovely specimens are rare pieces of small gardening collections hoarded away from the eye of the general public; however, it is rather likely that you have encountered at least one cultivar of this ever-popular genus in your wanders through the wilds of your local gardening center.

All About Tradescantia

Known more widely as inch plant, spiderwort, or “wandering jew,” Tradescantia are a genus of around seventy-five perennial flowering plants native to the regions between Canada and mid-South America. The genus became more well-known during the 1600s, during which foreign trade introduced the prior unknown beauties to Europe. It was during this very same period that the genus’s popularity began to take root and, subsequently, these colorful, winding wonders trailed their way into the hearts of green thumbs and the environments of locales across the globe. This, unfortunately, has caused some species to become invasive and cause unrest in those ecosystems where it survives a little bit too successfully. (A kind thanks to Wikipedia for giving me the most quintessential knowledge I can’t seem to dig up on more “academic” sites!)

If you are anything like me, you are likely wonder why in the dickens these plants are known as “wandering jews.” Jackie Rhoades of Gardening Know How shares the story of the namesake in the post “ Growing Wandering Jew Houseplants .” Simply put, women of the home we quite adept at growing the plants and would share their clippings with one another, thereby allowing the houseplant to spread in a manner similar to that of historic members of the Jewish community.

wandering jew genus

Tradescantia are widely known to be of insubstantial need; they are, in nature, wildflowers which trail and vine, after all. Despite the this self-preserving, low-maintenance facade, though, some small eccentricities have slightly swayed the genus’s total ease of care and necessitated a tidbit of attention on the part of jungle caregivers.

For Tradescantia , the most basic requirements, soil, is of equally basic need. Genus members grow best in a well-draining general purpose potting soil, but they can also do extremely well in soilless mediums  as a result of their abilities to drain. Container size is not typically an issue and many cultivars can be placed in hanging baskets or pots one size up from their nursery pots to contain their growth.

One such peculiarity comes in relation to the watering preferences of the plants: they  really don’t like wet feet and  really, really don’t like to be watered at the base of their stems , known as the crown of the plant. At this point, you have probably heard my spiel about root rot and how plants (usually) don’t like to have water sitting in their containers; this also applies to  Tradescantia . Beyond these small finicky pieces, the genus likes to be watered deeply, drained well, and misted to raise the surrounding humidity. During the dormant season (winter), watering should be reduced to accommodate for the plant’s growth stagnation, though.

Fertilization of the plant is not entirely necessary, but can be done up to twice monthly with a diluted solution of general-purpose houseplant fertilizer.

The sunlight and temperature requirements of  Tradescantia  are straightforward. All members of the genus prefer bright, indirect sunlight with the occasional glance of full exposure and all will grow steadily in temperatures ranging between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Unfortunately,  Tradescantia  are known be become elongated and “leggy” with time due to their trailing nature. Many growers, including The Spruce , suggest pinching the plant to encourage branching of the plant and ensure fullness. When the plant becomes too stretched, though, the issue can be addressed by taking plant cuttings, rooting them in water on a sunny window sill, and replanting when the new roots have grown to one inch in length. For more precise details about propagating, head over to SF Gate ‘s post on Wandering Jew Propagation !

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Tradescantia Tricolor Care From A to Z

By: Author Daniel

Posted on Last updated: July 15, 2021

Tradescantia Tricolor Care From A to Z

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(image credits, IG: oohyouplantsy )

I have a hide-away in my home that I escape to for some me-time. It is ultra-feminine and all done out in pink.

When I saw this stunning pink Tradescantia Tricolor plant at the nursery, I just had to have it! It offers the most glorious shades of pink transforming into a darker purple, interspersed with green. 

Like all plants, the Tradescantia Tricolor has a difficult Latin Name. This one is Tradescantia fluminensis.

It is also known by other names including the Wandering Jew , Flowering Inch Plant, Wandering Willie, Wandering Gypsy, Purple Queen, Spiderwort, and Tradescantia.

What’s more, Tradescantia is a genus of 75 species of wildflowers. The name comes from John Tradescant, a botanist who lived during the 17th century.

The ‘wandering’ word refers to the fact that it spreads easily, wandering all over your window sill. They are very easy to grow at home. Most are native to South America where they grow as dense mats underneath forest trees. 

To enhance the glorious pink shades, I place my Tradescantia Tricolor next to a Mosaic Plant , Fittonia albivenis. This is a trailing plant with deep pink veins in the green leaves. They make a great pair. 

Let’s take a closer look at how to care for your Tradescantia fluminensis .

Table of Contents

Tradescantia Tricolor Care

For ideal Tradescantia Tricolor care, give it well-draining soil that will partially dry out between waterings. Fertilize with a good mix of peat, compost, mulch or humus, bark, pumice, or perlite. It thrives best in temperatures between 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C). Temperatures should not drop below 50°F (10° C). The  Tradescantia Tricolor wants bright light but not direct sunlight. Placing it near to a south-facing window is ideal. 

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Tradescantia fluminensis enjoys moist soil to thrive best. However, it must not be drenched or allowed to dry out completely.

Plant it in well-draining sandy soil. You can achieve this by mixing perlite into regular potting soil. Use a mix of 40% perlite and 60% potting soil.

Ensure that your pot has drainage holes at the bottom. This allows the excess water to run out and won’t cause the roots to become waterlogged and drown. 

For ideal Tradescantia Tricolor care, I use natural organic additives. Including everyday materials like pumice or crushed bark, sterile garden compost, mulch, or organic manure gives you a rich, fertile soil that makes your Wandering Jew flourish.

Adding in some environmentally friendly coco Husk chips is a great way to introduce extra aeration into the soil. The Tradescantia Tricolor is not fussy about PH levels, try to maintain a neutral PH of around 7.0. 

Tradescantia Tricolor does best in bright conditions with indirect sunlight. Allowing direct sunlight to fall onto the plant for too long causes the leaves to scorch.

Too little sunlight results in the leaves fading and not producing those lovely pinky shades. 

Try to place your plant about 3 feet away from a south-facing window (if you are in the northern hemisphere), on a side table or high shelf. In this way, it gets the benefit of bright light but not direct sunlight. In general, 45 minutes of direct sunlight will be enough. 

If you do need to stand it on a window sill, try to place a sun filter over the window. You can also use your décor skills and get it to nestle under another plant with large leaves, creating a natural umbrella.

If you prefer to plant your Tradescantia Tricolor outdoors, find a spot that gets bright light and limited direct sunlight. 

Care tip for Tradescantia Tricolor: If your plant does not show healthy signs of variegated growth, ie, it is not displaying lovely different pink colors, it is probably getting too little light. 

When it comes to watering care for your Tradescantia Tricolor, it is best to keep the soil moist. You need a balance between drenched and bone dry.

Watering once a week during the summer months is adequate. In winter, reduce watering to once every two weeks.

Because you are not drenching this plant, you should not create too much of a mess indoors. Place a plant saucer under your pot that is large enough to catch any water that may flow out.

When watering in winter, use lukewarm water, no plant responds well to an icy blast! I do notice that my Wandering Jew can get to the point of looking almost droopy. Then a good watering brings it back to life within 24 hours. 

Tradescantia Tricolor care tip: You can also water from the bottom. This technique involves placing your pot into a tub or sink filled with a few inches of water. The drainage holes in your planter allow the water to slowly absorb into the soil without over-saturating it. 


Tradescantia species perform best at temperatures ranging from 65°F to 75°F (18°C to 24°C). They can, if necessary, withstand higher temperatures. If the temperature drops below 50°F (10° C), the leaves will suffer. 

It will tolerate short-term exposure to cold weather but generally does not do well in the cold. If you live in a cold climate, consider growing your outdoor Tradescantia Tricolor in a container.

You can then bring it indoors during the winter months. All species of Tradescantia are Winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 12. 

Coming from South America, the plant does not require tropical temperatures to thrive. It is quite hardy, and as long as it is not exposed to frost you should be fine. It can even stand on a chillier window sill.

Your Tradescantia Tricolor is not overly fussy about humidity. It is not a desert plant nor a tropical plant, so the average house humidity of 30% to 45% found in a home should do fine.

In winter, running heaters and air-conditioners can dry out the air and change the humidity, so you will need to be aware of this. 

If the humidity in your home is too high, at over 50%, this could result in the growth of mold and bacteria and will give your living space a musty smell. Installing a dehumidifier will help to solve the problem. 

Tradescantia Tricolor care tip: I find that my plant responds well to a lovely soft shower from a watering can.

Although this does not increase humidity, it acts as a natural rain shower, wetting all the leaves and washing away dust and pests.

Make sure you do this outside and allow the plant to dry off before moving it back indoors. 


The Inch Plant loves to wander and grows fairly fast, spreading over window sills indoors and rocks outdoors. It does not require a serious fertilizing program.

Like many potted indoor plants, Tradescantia fluminensis does well with some extra fertilizer during the growing months of Spring through early fall.

I am a great supporter of eco-friendly living and that also applies to the plant fertilizers I use. I stay away from chemical fertilizers whenever possible.

My number one care hack for Tradescantia fluminensis is to buy or make my own natural organic fertilizer. If you have a liquid fertilizer, dilute it, and use it once a month. 

Fertilizing plants outside of the growing season is not good. The fertilizer can end up harming the plant by burning the roots. 

Natural organic fertilizers can be made using peat, pumice, perlite, mulch, coco husks, and crushed bark. A small compost making kit is a fun addition to any garden and makes good use of fallen leaves, dead flowers, and grass cuttings. 


The easy-to-grow Inch Plant is also easy to propagate. This can be done by simply snipping off a healthy stem, placing it into rich, moist soil, and watering from time to time.

You can also put the stem cutting into a tall vase of water and allow it to grow roots. Place the vase in a bright spot and keep an eye on it.

Roots will appear within a week. Remove the cutting and plant into your terracotta pot or unglazed planter. 

Propagating your own house plants is a fun and rewarding experience, give it a try! 

Tradescantia Tricolor gets its Wandering’ name because it loves to wander. It grows fairly fast and spreads over the edge of pots, along window sills, and over rocks. It also looks great as a ground cover next to pathways and walkways in a garden. 

It has beautiful variegated pink shades, that darken to purple and are interspersed with green. The stems and leaves are soft and hairless.

The leaves are an oval shape with pointed tips. They are shiny and smooth and grow to about 1.25 to 2.5 inches (32 to 64mm) long.

The flowers are white and have 3 petals, about 0.5 to 1 inch (13 to 25mm) in diameter. The flowers appear in Summer in small clusters. 

The best Wandering Jew growing condition is in a bright spot with indirect sunlight and average humidity.

This plant is a ground cover perennial. It does not require heavy pruning, but if it sprawls too much and becomes straggly, you should trim it back to keep it in shape. 

Tradescantia fluminensis care tip: If your plant is producing only green leaves, your light conditions are not ideal.

It does this to conserve energy, as creating variegated leaves uses up more energy. Prune back the green leaves, allow it to recover and produce those glorious pink shades. 

Tradescantia fluminensis is not fussy when it comes to pot size. It will thrive in a small pot for years and will grow happily in a large pot.  

If you do want to repot your Inch Plant, Springtime is the best season to do this. Repot into a mix of fresh soil and perlite to boost growth.

You can add some gritty sand to the potting mix to enhance drainage. Water well but do not drench. Check that the PH of the soil is neutral at around 7.0. 

Care tip: Ensure that your planter has drainage holes so that the water can flow out. You don’t want the roots to rot in stagnant water at the base of the pot. 

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Propagate Tradescantia Tricolor from cuttings

– This is best done in early Spring to late Summer, during the growing period

– Use a sterile sharp knife, scissors, or cutter

– Wear gloves as the sap can irritate the skin

– Select a stem that looks healthy and has a few sets of leaves

– Carefully cut off the stem at the base, where it joins another stem

– Remove the lower leaves by snipping off to leave a clean stem at the base

– You now have 2 options: propagate in soil or propagate in water

Propagating the cuttings in soil

– Prepare a pot with a mix of soil, gritty sand, and organic fertilizer

– Water well but don’t drench

– Push your finger into the soil and create a hole about 2 inches deep

– Place the offcut into the soil and pack the soil back to hold it firm

– Place the planter where it will get bright light but not direct sunlight

– Water well for the next few weeks

Propagating the cuttings in water

– Fill a clear vase, tall glass, or container with water

– Place the cutting into the water

– Keep it shallow enough so that the leafy section is above the waterline

– A slender glass works well as the leaves will balance on the top rim

– Fine roots will start showing in about 1 to 2 weeks

– Wait for the roots to grow to 1 to 2 inches long

– Plant into a pot as described above

Common problems with Tradescantia Tricolor

Pest control.

Like all plants, your Tradescantia Tricolor can be attacked by pests. Common pests that affect the Wandering Jew are spider mites and aphids .

An easy way to get rid of them is to give your plant a good shower and wash them off. If they persist, you can spray with a solution of insecticidal soap. 

Tradescantia Tricolor care tip for pests: Make your own insecticidal soap. Use all-natural soap, not detergent.

Mix 5 tablespoons to 1 gallon of cooled, boiled water. Add in 1 teaspoon of vinegar and 1 teaspoon  vegetable oil to get the solution to stick. You can also add a teaspoon of garlic. Pour into a clean garden sprayer that has a fine spray setting and spray the plant.

Leaves don’t have variegated colors

If you notice that your Tradescantia Tricolor is only producing green leaves, this is due to bad lighting. Bad lighting reduces the energy of the plant.

To create the gorgeous colors, it needs energy, so it will conserve energy and only create green leaves. 

Leaves look scorched 

If your leaves are turning brown or look scorched, your plant is getting too much direct sunlight. Move it to a more suitable position, or protect it with sunscreen if possible. 

Plant looks scraggly and untidy

Tradescantia Tricolor grows fast and spreads. You need to keep it in shape by trimming now and then. Remove any dead stems and leaves. Trim back into the neat shape you want. 

Rotting roots 

This is a sign of too much water. Tradescantia Tricolor does not enjoy drenched soil. Ensure that your container has drainage holes and allow the soil to partially dry out. 

Tips to grow Tradescantia Tricolor problem-free

– Avoid overwatering your Tradescantia Tricolor 

– Keep soil moist but well-drained

– Ensure that your plant is in a bright spot, it does not enjoy the dark

– Do not place in direct sunlight 

– Does not enjoy very dry or very humid conditions 

– Fertilize during the growing season with organic mixtures

– Trim from time to time if it becomes scraggly

Frequently asked questions about Tradescantia Tricolor 

Is tradescantia tricolor considered invasive .

In some countries, Tradescantia Tricolor is invasive. This is because it spreads fast outdoors and can become invasive. It grows as thick mats in forest areas, blocking out the light for other ground plants. 

Can Tradescantia Tricolor grow indoors? 

Yes, it makes a very attractive indoor plant in a decorative pot. It looks fabulous in a hanging basket, or on a high shelf where you can let the long stems flow downwards. 

Is Tradescantia Tricolor easy to care for?

Yes, this is a great plant for beginners. It requires very little maintenance and is hardy and strong. You don’t want to be discouraged by losing your first plant. The Tradescantia Tricolor will flourish in a bright spot out of direct sunlight. 

Is Tradescantia Tricolor poisonous?

Do you want a glorious plant with pink tones? The Wandering Jew is eye-catching and easy to care for. It is a great choice for a beginner to create a focal point in a room or on a patio, in a hanging basket. 

Once you are successful in growing your Tradescantia Tricolor, you can add other Tradescantia plants to your collection. Take a look at the lovely Tradescantia occidentalis, Tradescantia zebrina, and the Tradescantia pallida.

Daniel Iseli

Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.

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Tradescantia – A Common Little-Known Wild Food

article image

Various vining plants of the Tradescantia genus are very common throughout the Southern California area. Sometimes they are called spiderworts, sometimes wandering Jew. They are great survival plants. They can be green or purple, and are sometimes used as ornamentals. However, more often they are simply the plants that take over an area when nothing else is grown.

The purple ones are Tradescantia pallida , which are usually house plants or hanging plants. The ones with purplish leaves with stripes are T. zebrina , also typically an ornamenal. Both of these are occasionally sold at nurseries.

The variety that is widespread, growing in the mountains and backyards, and seeming to need no care, is T. fluminensis , a common vining groundcover with green leaves. There are a few horticultural varieties that you might encounter.

Though the leaves are usually solid green with a smooth margin, some have white stripes in the leaves, and some have wavy margins. And while the flowers are typically blue, some have white flowers.

So is this an edible plant?

I long wondered about this, and yet there were no references to this plant being used for food. In the mid-1980s, a Phillipino friend told me that he commonly ate the leaves back home, usually in a soup or broth in which chicken and beetles were added. I tried cooking without the chicken or beetles, and found that it made a spinach-like dish, though somewhat bland, and certainly improved with butter.

I also began trying it in salads, and again, though bland, it is edible. I have had good salads with about two-thirds chopped T. fluminensis leaves, and about a third avocado, with dressing.

I learned that if you eat a little too much, it will have a mild laxative effect. Also, if you pick it and store it in your refrigerator for a few days, the leaves will darken and begin to decompose. They do not have the keeping quality of other greens, like lamb’s quarter for example.

In the early 90s, we used to collect and sell bagged wild salad and wild soup mixes at the local farmers markets and to Wild Oats market. Though we initially added the T. fluminensis leaves, we discontinued that practice because the leaves would turn black in a day or two, whereas all the other wild leaves that we collected and bagged would last for up to two weeks.

Still, the plant is so widespread that it is worth getting to know. I don’t use it extremely often, but I do occasionally add some of the green leaves to a fresh salad, and sometimes soups. I might add the Tradescantia fluminensis leaves to dishes where the other wild leaves are very hot or spicy, as a way to balance out the flavor.

A mentor of mine recently revealed that he’d been using these green wandering jew or spiderwort leaves for over 40 years as one of the ingredients of a wild kim-chee that he makes by soaking various greens in raw apple cider vinegar.

He has also pickled the purple flowers of Tradescantia pallida and found them delicious. However, the pickled leaves were described as “palatable,” and the pickled stems as “ok.” Of course, relative palatability is largely determined by how you prepare any given plant, and how you season it. At least I learned that, yes, you can also eat the purple wandering Jew.

Remember, always eat any new food sparingly to see how your body reacts, and never eat any wild food if you haven’t positively identified it.

I’d love to hear from any readers who try these foods.

Nyerges is the author of “Guide to Wild Foods” and other books. He leads regular ethnobotany walks. He can be reached at School of Self-reliance , Box 41834 , Eagle Rock, CA 90041, or www.ChristopherNyerges.com .

  • Published on Jan 11, 2013

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Genus synonyms.

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Wunderlin, R. P., B. F. Hansen, A. R. Franck, and F. B. Essig. 2024. Atlas of Florida Plants ( http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/ ). [S. M. Landry and K. N. Campbell (application development), USF Water Institute.] Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa.

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  1. Wandering Jew Plant (Tradescantia or Spiderwort): Care, Types, Images

    The wandering Jew plant is a common name for different species of plants that belong to the Tradescantia genus. There are around 75 different types of plants in Tradescantia genus and some are called inch plants, spiderwort, striped wandering Jew, Boat Lily, Purple Queen, or flowering inch plant. Wandering Jew plants are great house plants because they are relatively easy to care for.

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    The Wandering Jew is not a single plant — it's the name given to a few different plants in the genus Tradescantia.. When grown outdoors it's considered invasive in many regions of the world, but those same growing characteristics make it perfect as an indoor vining plant.

  3. Wandering Jew (Tradescantia Genus) Care & Growing Guide

    The Wandering Jew is a name that is used for several different species of plants in the Tradescantia genus, which includes at least 75 different species. In times past, gardeners would share cuttings from their Wandering Jew plants with friends and neighbors so, like its name, it traveled from place to place.

  4. Wandering Jew Plant

    W andering Jew Plant Care. To keep your Wandering Jew plant thriving, ensure it receives bright, indirect sunlight. Keep it in average room temperatures of 60-75°F (16-24°C). Fertilize once a month during spring and summer. In winter, relocate the plant to a cooler area with temperatures of 54-59°F (12-15°C).

  5. Tradescantia

    Tradescantia ( / ˌtrædəˈskæntiə / [4]) is a genus of 85 species [5] of herbaceous perennial wildflowers in the family Commelinaceae, native to the Americas from southern Canada to northern Argentina, including the West Indies. Members of the genus are known by many common names, including inchplant, wandering jew, spiderwort, [6 ...

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  7. Tradescantia zebrina

    Tradescantia zebrina, formerly known as Zebrina pendula, is a species of creeping plant in the Tradescantia genus. Common names include silver inch plant and wandering Jew. [1] The latter name is controversial, [2] and some now use the alternative wandering dude. [3] The plant is popular in cultivation due to its fast growth and attractive foliage.

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    It is one of the best types of wandering jew plants on the list. 3. Tradescantia pallida. It also goes by the name "Purple Heart" and is native to Mexico. Deep purple foliage, adorned with light purplish-pink flowers, looks marvelous and is the reason that it's one of the most popular types of wandering jew plants!

  9. Tradescantia fluminensis

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    The Wandering Jew or Love's Masquerade, a comedy by Andrew Franklin, was produced at Drury Lane, London, in 1797. From the end of the 17 th century the Wandering Jew was used to describe "at first hand" events in world history or remote corners of the earth. *Goethe planned an epic poem based on the legend to survey events in history and ...

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    It is also known by other names including the Wandering Jew, Flowering Inch Plant, Wandering Willie, Wandering Gypsy, Purple Queen, Spiderwort, and Tradescantia. What's more, Tradescantia is a genus of 75 species of wildflowers. The name comes from John Tradescant, a botanist who lived during the 17th century.

  17. Purple Heart, Tradescantia pallida

    Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida) used as a bedding plant at the Missouri Botanical Garden.Tradescantia pallida is a tender evergreen perennial native to northeast Mexico (from Tamaulipas to Yucatan) grown as an ornamental for its striking purple foliage. Originally named Setcreasea pallida by Joseph Nelson Rose in 1911, it was reclassified in the genus Tradescantia by D.R. Hunt of the Royal ...

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    Various vining plants of the Tradescantia genus are very common throughout the Southern California area. Sometimes they are called spiderworts, sometimes wandering Jew. They are great survival plants.

  19. Commelina cyanea

    Commelina cyanea is a trailing herbaceous perennial plant, whose stems grow along the ground. [1] It readily roots at the nodes when they come into contact with the soil. They die off in winter. [5] The leaves are ovate to narrow-ovate, and measure 2-7 cm (1-3 in) long by 0.5-1.5 cm (0.20-0.59 in) wide.

  20. Tradescantia zebrina

    Any of various plants that have the vascular tissues xylem and phloem. The vascular plants include all seed-bearing plants (the gymnosperms and angiosperms) and the pteridophytes (including the ferns, lycophytes, and horsetails). Also called tracheophyte.

  21. Tradescantia

    2. Stems pilose; leaf blade lower surface often purple; petals white to dark pink. 2. Stems glabrous; leaf blade lower surface green; petals white. 3. Leaves lanceolate-oblong to ovate-elliptic, 5-10 cm long, 2-3.5 cm wide; cyme pairs 2-4 per shoot; bracts, especially those of axillary inflorescences, usually reduced.

  22. Wandering Jew

    The Wandering Jew by Gustave Doré. The Wandering Jew (occasionally referred to as the Eternal Jew, a calque from German "der Ewige Jude") is a mythical immortal man whose legend began to spread in Europe in the 13th century. In the original legend, a Jew who taunted Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion was then cursed to walk the Earth until the Second Coming.

  23. The Legend of The Wandering Jew

    THE LEGEND OF THE WANDERING JEW. AA. Franciscan H eadache. This story, in one form or another, circulated throughout. tine and was fairly well established many years before the of the Franciscans (1335) but had not as yet been definitely nected with any of the Holy Places. In later times, however, acquired local coloring to such an extent that ...