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19 Jan 2020

How To Grow The Tradescantia Plant


The Tradescantia plant is commonly known as the Wandering Jew plant – an attractive vining plant whose distinctive leaves bear stripes of purple, white, green and silver. The botanical name for the tricolor wandering jew? Tradescantia zebrina!

The wandering jew, is a native of Mexico who earned its common name thanks to the plant’s ability to root easily, spread and thrive in a wide variety of conditions.

This plant comes from the spiderwort family (Commelinaceae) and is also known as Zebrina pendula or inch plant.

Another popular wandering jew variety is Tradescantia pallida – with deep purple leaves and goes by several common names like purple wandering jew, purple queen, and purple heart.

There are several other wandering jew varieties with green and white variegated leaves.

Tradescantia displays small 3-petaled pink, white or purple flowers.

In the “old days” before the advent of garden centers and nurseries carrying a wide variety of houseplants, housewives and gardeners shared cuttings of plants freely.

Cuttings of the wandering jew traveled broadly from home to home and proved itself adaptable and capable of thriving in almost any setting.

This reminded people of the wanderings of the Jews of biblical times, hence the nickname.

This easy-care plant grows indoors or out in a variety of settings.

In this article, we will provide best practices instructions on how to grow and care for Tradescantia pallida and provide some words of caution regarding another invasive species related to it, Tradescantia fluminensis. Read on to learn more.

Wandering Jew Care

The Wandering Jew does well in pots planted in a 60/40 peat moss and perlite potting mixture or with an all-purpose potting mix.

This indoor plant makes an exceptionally beautiful hanging basket plant.

Lighting can vary from medium indirect light to even full sun. Likewise, this hardy plant does well in room temperatures ranging from 55° degrees to 75° degrees Fahrenheit.

NOTE: Tradescantia Plants will achieve the most vibrant, bright colors in high, bright indirect light and at consistently warmer temperatures.

Like most houseplants, the Wandering Jew does not like soggy roots. Translation – Too much water leads to root rot.

Allow the soil to dry completely between waterings, then water deeply. If desired, use a general liquid houseplant fertilizer two times monthly.

Do not water directly into the crown of the plant. Doing so may encourage rotting of the stems and the roots.

These plants like humid conditions, so between watering, the leaf surface enjoys a frequent misting.

Continue misting through the winter, but cut back on watering. Generally speaking, watering once a week should work.

During the winter, reduce watering to two times monthly, and do not fertilize.

Pruning and grooming play an important role in caring for your Wandering Jew indoors.

These houseplants grow very quickly and send out long tendrils and stems on a regular ongoing basis. Keep these trimmed or pinched back at leaf nodes to encourage your new growth and fuller plants.

Propagation of this rambling plant is very easy.

Simply clip off the long stem cutting tips (3” length) during the spring and summer months and root them in potting soil or in water.

Growing Wandering Jew As An Outdoor Plant

Wandering Jew thrives in a temperate climate with fairly high humidity. Hardy in USDA Zones 9-11.

Tradescantia tricolor makes a good ground cover in spots receiving bright indirect light, such as around the base of tall trees which are shady areas.

They also serve as a great ornamental and basket plant.

Planting is simplicity itself. You can use four-inch plants in pots purchased from a nursery, or use stem cuttings from your houseplant for repotting or creating new starts.

You’ll get best results planting in rich, well-drained soil.

Be sure to cover the roots or sink your cuttings 3″ to 5″ inches into the soil. Keep a moist soil until the plant becomes established.

After this, weekly watering should suffice. Applying liquid fertilizer once a week will help to develop a healthy root system.

Keep plants pinched back and pruned to encourage them to grow bushy rather than spindly and trailing manner.

NOTE: Some people report skin irritation when coming in contact with the sap when handling cuttings.

More on the Wandering Jew Plant being Poisonous or Toxic.

Wandering Purple Jew plants will die back during cold winter months outdoors. Fear not, if you plant correctly and help establish a good root system they will reappear come springtime.

wandering jew flowers

Three Best Ways To Root Tradescantia

  1. Poke the ends of cuttings into potting soil and keep the potting mix moist for a few weeks. During the rooting process, keep plants in partial shade. Once rooted, transfer them to pots and water as you would a mature plant.
  2. Simply lay cuttings on the surface of moist potting mix. Press the joint of the cutting into the soil so that it makes good contact. Roots will form at the joint. Once the plant becomes established, transfer it to its own pot.
  3. Place cuttings in a glass or bottle of water set on a sunny windowsill. Once roots emerge, transfer cuttings into pots. Keep the soil moist for a few weeks until the cuttings adjust and established themselves in the soil.

Replacing The Wandering Jew Sometimes Becomes Necessary

This houseplant does not usually live for long periods of time like a Hoya the wax plant or grandma’s African violet plant. Luckily it regenerates itself easily.

If your Wandering Jew begins looking shabby, loses foliage easily and gets too leggy, you may want simply toss it into the compost pile and replace it with one of its offspring. Alternately, you could try cutting the foliage back to the roots to see if it will regenerate.

Pests and diseases rarely attack Wandering Jew, but occasionally you’ll discover spider mites and aphids on the leaves and stems.

When this happens, simply cut back the affected areas and dispose of the cuttings in a sealed plastic bag.

Spray plants vigorously with water to knock off any errant pests. Depending on the infestation this should take care of the problem.

If it does not, turn to natural insecticides for killing any remaining aphids and prevent reinfestation.

NOTE: Don’t compost diseased or pest-infested plants.

Beware Of The Wandering Jew’s Invasive Cousin!

So far we’ve discussed the wandering jew – Tradescantia pallid. Another variety known as Tradescantia fluminensis is solid green and produces white flowers.

This wandering jew variety thrives in USDA zones 9 through 11. In fact, it does so well it can quickly become invasive. You must take great care to prevent it from taking over your entire yard.

In subtropical areas such as New Zealand and Australia and in the southern United States it has become a serious invasive plant problem.

Wandering Jew Propagation:

It propagates itself with wild abandon, and new starts grow readily from stem segments.

Inclement weather only encourages this because the segments can float and travel far and wide to establish themselves in new homes.

Eradicating Tradescantia fluminensis or even cutting it back by hand may encourage the plant to spread.

Very often people regret introducing this “Wandering Jew” in their gardens. They often end up having to use a strong herbicide to kill it off.

Should The Green Wandering Jew Be Avoided Entirely?

Tradescantia fluminensis can be a good garden addition, and it does well as a groundcover in Brazil and Argentina from whence it hails.

If you want Tradescantia fluminensis in your garden, look for the Innocence variety.

It’s more attractive and less invasive than the common varieties. It prefers damper and shadier areas and thrives in lower shade with moister soil.



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04 Jan 2020

Birds In The Garden – 5 Tips For Attracting Birds To Your Yard


The chirp and tweet of birds
whirring and hopping through my yard is one of my simple pleasures. Birds of a
feather and all that, it turns out I’m not alone. More than 70 million people
put out bird food to entice our feathered friends. Putting out bird food is a
one way to lure birds in the garden, but what else can you do to keep them
flitting about? It turns out quite a few things. Here are my top 5 tips for attracting birds to the yard.

Landscape your yard with your bird
friends in mind
. This means incorporating plants
that create places where they can roost, raise young and find food. Depending
upon the type of bird, this may mean adding trees or creating a thicket of
dense shrubbery. Add shrubs that produce berries (such as holly, mulberry or beautyberry)
as well as fruiting trees and plants that produce seeds and nuts, and plant in
groupings to create a protected area.

Provide the birds with a water
source
. Sure, a bird bath
is an option, but instead of static water, add a bubbler, mister or dripper to
create motion. If you really want to go big, add a waterfall or pond. Don’t
forget the birds in the winter. While they can get their water from snow and
ice, if you want to attract them, add a heater attachment to a bird bath.

Put feeders in the right location. Bird feeders are terrific ways to attract birds, but they
do their job best when put in the right spot. Some birds are scared to visit a
feeder that is exposed while others like to take a flying leap across the yard
to the feeder. Situate multiple feeders so they can accommodate different types
of birds. This means placing one feeder near a large shrub or tree that offers
cover for timid birds and placing another farther away in a tree for the bolder
birds. Give bird species some space and separate individual feeders at least 3
feet (around a meter) from each other.

Give them a place to nest. Creating habitat in the landscape is a terrific way to
keep the birds around, but you can provide them with options by hanging
birdhouses or a roost box. Be sure to have nesting material available. Some
birds use detritus from the landscape while others may use man-made materials,
such as cotton or string, and still others make good use of Fido’s shed fur.

Vary the menu. Many people feed the hummingbirds
or put suet out in the winter for the birds, but if you want to get a variety
of avian wildlife, try varying the menu. Yes, hummers like a variety of
flowering plants to fill up on, but they will happily sip from a syrup filled
feeder. For a treat, you can even offer the birds a sampling of your menu by
feeding birds kitchen scraps such as pasta, rice, or bread. Don’t use the birds
as composters, however. It is much better for them to eat naturally occurring foods
so give them the previous foods only on occasion.



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