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Tradescantia Tricolor Care Guide

Published on January 30th 2021
A close up of a flower

Shop for Tradescantia

Discover Tradescantia care tips for this top indoor trailing plant.
With millennial pink variegation, glistening leaves and a trailing habit that will make your hanging baskets pop, it's no wonder Tradescantia fluminensis 'Tricolor' is a popular houseplant. And the good news is Tradescantia fluminensis 'Tricolor' isn't just easy on the eye, it's relatively easy to look after too.
Jump straight to the care tips here:
Tradescantia fluminensis 'Tricolor' is a herbaceous perennial ornamental in the Commelinaceae family. Common names include Spiderwort ‘Tricolor’ and Tradescantia ‘Tricolor’. Note that the name 'Wandering Jew’ is no longer commonly used by the horticultural world due to its historical use in perpetuating antisemitic stereotypes. We much prefer the fun name tweak Wandering Dude.
Get your green fingers on a Wandering Dude here.

A brief history

The genus was named after Tradescant the Younger, a gardener and avid plant collector who introduced Tradescantia virginianato England in 1629 from the American Colonies. During the 17th century, Tradescantiatook off, spreading throughout Europe and the rest of the world via the blossoming plant trade. Today, many differentTradescantia species are naturalised in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
While this cultivar does produce tiny 3-petalled flowers, they are the blink-and-you-miss-them sort. The real drawer is its fabulous fast-growing foliage, resplendent in complementary shades of green, white and pink, with a purple underside that appears to glitter when it catches the sunlight, perfect for adding a touch of bling to a room.
However, not everyone is a fan. The very thing we love it for in our homes - that dense carpet of creeping foliage - is proving an ecological nuisance in the wild. Some Tradescantia species are now considered weeds, with some regions banning them from being sold. Varieties that been earmarked as invasive includeTradescantia zebrina(inch plant),Tradescantia spathacea(boat lily),Tradescantia pallida(purple queen) andTradescantia fluminensis(small-leaved spiderwort).
Read our series on invasive species here:

How to care for Tradescantia fluminensis 'Tricolor'

Light: Tradescantia fluminensis 'Tricolor' thrives in bright indirect light, with a couple of hours direct sunlight in the morning or afternoon, but keep an eye out for scorched leaves - a sign your plant is getting too much direct sun.
Water: Water liberally during the growing season but be careful not to leave your Tradescantia sitting in water. Allow the soil to dry out a little between watering but not completely. Reduce watering in winter to keep root rot at bay.
Humidity: Tradescantia enjoys a light misting every now and then.
Soil: A well-draining soil will do. Mix some perlite with a potting soil to ensure a free draining compost.
Top tip: Pinch out green leaves so the plant directs its energy into producing that coveted variegation.
For general tips on taking care of your houseplants, read this:

How to propagate Tradescantia fluminensis 'Tricolor'

With foliage this pretty, propagation is a must and it's super easy to do. Take stem cuttings (or save your prunings) in spring, summer or autumn and root them in water or soil. For a step by step guide to propagating a Tradescantia zebrina, watch this video.

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Why is my Tradescantia dying?

While Tradescantia care is straightforward, some common Tradescantia problems include:
All green leaves: Too little Vit D and your plant may lose its variegation. A grow light could help if you're struggling with nailing the perfect light conditions.
Bare leggy growth: If your Tradescantia is looking a little spindly and sorry for itself, there are 3 questions you should ask yourself. Is my Tradescantia getting enough light? Am I watering my Tradescantia enough? And does my Tradescantia need feeding? Once you've ruled out those three, your leggy stems could just be old growth that you can cut away.
Brown tips: Is your Tradescantia Tricolour sporting one too many brown leaves? Brown tips are usually a telltale sign of dry air. Mist your plant but check for red spider mite while you're trimming the dead growth.
Yellow leaves with spots: Are those precious leaves turning a sickly yellow? This could be a sign of underwatering, particularly during the growing season when more frequent watering is required.
Other Tradescantia varieties

Where can I buy Tradescantia fluminensis 'Tricolor' ?

You can find Tradescantia fluminensis 'Tricolor' for sale from independent UK sellers on Candide alongside many other beautiful Tradescantia varieties:

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