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Tradescantia zebrina, syn. Zebrina pendula
Wandering Jew, Inch plant
This herbaceous perennial has creeping shoots from which grow
pointed, oval, fleshy leaves. The distinctive coloring is green
and silver striped on top and reddish-purple underneath.
Plants can last from months to years.
Tradescantias are available year-round.
IN-STORE AND CONSUMER CARE
WATER Water thoroughly from
spring through fall and less during the winter. light The plants
do best in bright light.
TEMPERATURE Average room
temperature is preferable, from 60 F to 75 F. Avoid temperatures
below 55 F.
HUMIDITY Mist the leaves
Fertilizer Feed Tradescantia zebrinas with a balanced houseplant
fertilizer every two weeks from spring through late summer. Feed
monthly in winter.
PROPAGATION Three-inch stem
cuttings can be propagated in spring or summer. Rooting hormone
can be used, but the cuttings usually will root even without it
in about three weeks.
PESTS AND PROBLEMS
Aphids and spider mites can be problems, and affected stems
should be pinched back. Dispose of
affected leaves in a sealed plastic bag.
Rinse the plant with water. Insecticidal soap can be used if
these insects and mites remain a problem.
Pinch back leggy stems to encourage new branches and a bushier
form. Remove all-green shoots as soon as they appear (a sign
that the plant isn’t getting enough light or is being
Yellowed leaves and limp stems are a sign the plant isn’t
receiving enough water. Brown leaf tips are caused by air that
is too dry, a condition that also can encourage spider mites.
• Tradescantia albiflora ‘Albovittata’ (Giant white inch plant)
features white stripes on bluish-green leaves.
• Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Quicksilver’ features green and
silver striped leaves.
• Zebrina pendula ‘Quadricolor’ features green, silver, pink and
• Zebrina pendula ‘Purpusii’ is green and purple.
• Callisia elegans (Striped inch plant) is sometimes sold as
Setcreasea striata. It has small leaves (1 to 1.5 inches) with
dull-green foliage and long stems.
FAMILY Tradescantias are
members of the Commelinaceae (spiderwort) family.
HOME SWEET HOME They are
native to Mexico and Brazil. Common relatives include Rhoeo and
WHAT'S IN A NAME The genus
is named for naturalists and travelers John Tradescant Sr. and
his son, John Tradescant. Each served as gardener to King
Charles I, also known
as Charlemagne, of France and the Holy Roman Empire. The epithet
zebrina, from the Portuguese for “zebra,” refers to the plants’
COLOR CHAMELEON Lighting
affects these plants’ coloring—low light brings out the green
color, and high light will increase the purple in the leaves.
BREATHE EASY Tradescantia
zebrina is among plant species that can remove air pollutants,
such as those found in cigarette smoke.
information provided by:
The Chain of Life NetworkÆ,
The Complete Guide to Conservatory Plants by Ann Bonar
The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual by Barbara Pleasant
Flowering & Foliage Plants Book 2 by Debra Terry Graber
Handbook of House Plants by Elvin McDonald
The Houseplant Encyclopedia by Ingrid Jantra and Ursula Kruger
The House Plant Expert by Dr. D.G. Hessayon
Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names, by William T. Stearn
You may reach Foliage Plant of the Month writer Amy Bauer by
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (800)
Photos courtesy of The John Henry Company
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