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How to Grow Tradescantia in The Garden and Indoors

Published on July 27th 2020

by Kyra_Sian. All rights reserved

A baby tradescantia

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Tradescantia, the easy-care trailing plant, goes by a lot of names – Inch Plant, Spiderwort to name a few. With its legs spilling out over a pot or hanging basket, or sprawling along a garden bed, this plant is a beautiful addition to any garden or home.
A person holding a Tradescantia plant leaf

Wandering Dude

Tradescantia spp.

A hand holding a white pot of colourful Tradescantia 'Tricolour' foliage

Tradescantia ‘Tricolor’

Tradescantia 'Tricolor'

Boat Lily

Tradescantia spathacea

Tradescantia grows so quickly it is often considered invasive in warm, humid climates and is cold tolerant in zones 8-12. All growing zones, however, can enjoy this attractive plant indoors. There are a multitude of different varieties, boasting greens, yellows, pinks, and purples. Many varieties also produce small clusters of flowers if the light conditions are favourable.
This attractive plant is fun to grow and very forgiving, which makes it a great plant for beginners.
How to Look After Tradescantia
A close up of a Tradescantia in a terracotta pot
Does Tradescantia prefer sun or shade?
Tradescantia loves bright light. It will grow in full sun to partial shade outdoors, however, monitor how long they get full sun, particularly if you live in a hot climate. Tradescantia can only take so much heat before it begins to brown. Move it to a location with partial shade or full shade, which it really enjoys.
Can you grow Tradescantia indoors?
Indoors, like most tropical house plants, Tradescantia is going to do its best with bright indirect light, but the beauty of this plant is its flexibility. It is happy to grow in medium light as well. Although it might lose some of that prized variegation, it will still grow and show off those long, trailing legs.
The trailing leaves of Tradescantia
What soil does Tradescantia like?
Whether you are planting indoors or out, Tradescantia soil should be well draining. Adding a little extra perlite or vermiculite to a regular potting mix should do the trick. If you have access to a premade succulent mix, this would work fine as well. If you are planting Tradescantia into the ground, be sure to amend the soil to provide optimal drainage.
How to water Tradescantia:
Inconsistent watering would be deadly for some houseplants, not Tradescantia. This (I must mention again) flexible houseplant doesn’t mind a dry out between watering, and will perk right back up with a good soak.
On average, letting the top two inches of soil dry out between watering is ideal and preferred. In the garden, they will likely dry out faster in full sun, promoting that browning I mentioned, above. In all situations, overwatering Tradescantia would be a mistake, as their roots can easily rot.
Should I fertilize Tradescantia?
These fast growers rapidly use up the nutrients in the soil. Feed actively growing plants a well-balanced fertilizer every 3-4 weeks.
How to propagate and trim Tradescantia
A trailing tradescantia
Trimming Tradescantia not only will promote growth throughout the plant, and result in a bushier look, those cuttings can easily be propagated to create a new, or multiple new, plants.
Although some prefer their Tradescantia to have a long, leggy look, this plant can be brittle, and sometimes sections can accidentally be broken off.
No problem! Simply lay the broken section on top of the soil and keep moist with regular misting. The cutting will take root, filling in any bald sections your plant has developed.
A close up of tradescantia
Can Tradescantia grow in water?
If you prefer to create a new plant, simply place Tradescantia cuttings in water. They should root within a week or two and then can be transferred to the soil once the roots are an inch or two long.
If you prefer, you can also place cuttings directly in the soil, keeping the plant moist for a few weeks as the roots are allowed to develop. Pull back on watering once you see new growth and the plant is established.

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