Tradescantia Care

Family: Commelinaceae
Common Name: Inch Plant, Spiderwort, Wandering Jew
Botanical Name: Tradescantia spp.

If you are looking for a lush, vining houseplant with vibrantly variegated leaves then look no further because the tradescantia is for you. This trailing beauty looks amazing when hung in a basket, dangling in a macrame hanger, or placed on a high perch. The Inch Plant is known as an easy care houseplant. It also has a reputation for being a fast grower, making it a great plant if you want to try your hand at propagation. Keep in mind that inch plants are not long-lived indoor plants and after a few years they will need to be replaced, and a great way to do this is to propagate new plants from cuttings!

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Light

Tradescantia can handle a range of light, but bright indirect light is necessary for this houseplant to thrive. Ideally, 8 hours of bright indirect light is best. Direct light can burn the leaves and the variegation may diminish or fade in low light settings.

Water

The soil should be kept consistently moist for tradescantia. Water when the top couple of inches of soil are dry. Don't let the soil stay soggy, but avoid letting the soil dry out all the way through. It is completely normal for spiderwort to need less water during the winter, when the plant is not actively growing. Monitor the soil to determine when it is best to water.

Soil

Inch Plants love loose, nutrient-rich potting soil. Use a soil medium that can retain moisture but also allows for draining excess water to avoid root rot. Most pre-mixed soils will suffice. Make sure that there is plenty of organic matter, like coco-coir, peat moss, or shredded leaves, and avoid soils that contain moisture retaining crystals. If your soil drains too quickly, we recommend re-potting your tradescantia into a compost-rich soil mixture, with less drainage materials. Learn how to create your own universal soil mixture for all of your indoor plants!

Temperature

As a native of Mexico and South America, the Inch Plant likes warmer temperatures. Comfortable room temperature is good, but as long as the temperature stays between 60-80°F the plant will be just fine. Spiderwort can be grown outdoors in the warmer months. Avoid direct sunlight and bring the plant back indoors before the temperature gets below 50°F at night.

Humidity

Extra dampness in the air will keep the tradescantia happy and healthy. Finding a spot that is naturally humid, like a kitchen or bathroom is a good fit. If the leaves begin to dry out and turn brown along the edges then increase the humidity. Using a humidifier or a pebble tray with water can give your tradescantia some extra moisture and is a good solution during the winter or if you live in a dry climate. Learn how to increase the humidity for your houseplants!

Fertilizer

Tradescantias do not require a lot of feeding or fertilizing. Water with a ¼-strength diluted complete liquid fertilizer every month during the spring and summer when the plant is actively growing. Hold off on fertilizing the plant during the fall and winter. 

Growth Rate

Inch Plants are fast-growing indoor plants that can grow an inch per week (true to its namesake!) when giving proper care during the growing season!

Pet Friend or Foe

Tradescantia is toxic to pets! Foe.

Pro Tips

  1. Inch Plants can easily become leggy. This can happen more quickly when the plant does not receive enough light. Routinely trim the tradescantia to promote new growth and maintain a compact and bushy appearance.
  2. While spiderwort is a fast grower, it has a relatively short lifespan of just a few years. Hold on to some of the sections removed during pruning to propagate. Tradescantia can easily be propagated in water or soil. New plants can be added to the same pot as the mother plant to maintain a full and lush look as some sections die back. 
  3. Given the right care, tradescantia will bloom, The delicate flowers are rather subdued, at least when compared to the eye-catching variegation of the leaves, but they do add a burst of color.

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