Tradescantia is an herbaceous plant that can climb or trail. Available in a variety of colors and color combinations, most notable for their deep purple sheen that looks sparkly. While the common name 'Wandering Jew' makes some people uncomfortable due to it's seemingly anti-Semitic origin, I (Jordan) was once informed by a lovely woman, while attending the Philadelphia Flower Show, that the name originated from the Jewish people. She told me that Tradescantia was knick-named 'Wandering Jew' because when a piece breaks off (and they do), no matter where it lands, it will root and prosper.
(WANDERING JEW / INCH PLANT)
I have since not been able to prove or disprove that reasoning for it's name, but it is true to say that no matter where a piece of Tradescantia falls, it will root, so I stick by what she told me.
This ability to root and grow just about anywhere makes Tradescantia a wonderful houseplant. It's kept in planters, by itself, or as an edge around other plants. It's also, and more commonly, grown in hanging baskets, where it can quickly fill the pot and create a gorgeous ball of color.
Tradescantia prefers the shade, but some can adapt and acclimate to higher light levels. If you wanted to grow your ivy in more direct sun, go slow and allow it to gradually acclimate. Too much sun, too quickly, and you will see the leaves burn right off. It is great for lower light rooms, hallways and basement areas.
Tradescantia like to remain evenly moist at all times. If they dry out, even once, they can wilt and fall apart. Bringing an ivy back from the edge of death is very difficult. On the opposite end of that, be careful not to overwater your Tradescantia. If the soil becomes to muddy and waterlogged, your plant will rot and fall apart. Planters with drainage are preffered.
While it is not completely necessary, you can use a general purpose, high quality fertilizer from Spring through Fall. We recommend diluting the fertilizer to about 50% strength. Fish Head Farms soil conditioner is a great option to use year round to provide essential nutrients and promote strong, healthy growth.
Tradescantia can happily survive in almost any potting mix. A general purpose, all natural, commercial mix is just fine.
They are fast growers, but that does not mean that they need to be repotted very often. As a vine, they will grow, sprawl and cascade to great lengths, up to 3 feet, and still be ok in what may look like, a small planter. We recommend repotting your Tradescantia every 2-3 years, and even then, you only want to move up 2" or so in pot sizes to reduce stress. This should be done in the Spring or early Summer months. If you have just recently purchased your plant, do not repot it for at least 6 months.
The most common pest issue for Tradescantia is Red Spider Mites, however, even Scale Bugs and Mealy Bugs can cause issues. It is always best practice to isolate any new plants you bring in to your home for a few weeks to watch for little pests. For help and tips on prevention and treatment of pests, see our At Home Pest Recipes here!
If you have any more questions, or need further assistance, please feel free to give us a call or shoot us an email!