Tradescantia pallida ”Purpurea” also known as Purple Queen, Purple Heart, Setcresea Purpurea, Purple Spiderwort, or Wandering Jew “Purpurea” is a popular evergreen perennial. It belongs to the spiderwort family which includes 40 genera and 652 species and it is widely distributed in tropical and temperate regions.
The genus Tradescantia is native to the New World tropics and includes 70 species. The species Tradescantia pallida was collected first in 1907 in Tamaulipas, Mexico by E. Palmer, a leading botanist of his time. Because of their spectacular aspect, these plants were brought on the European continent as ornamental plants and are now grown as such in many parts of the world.
It is a long-jointed sprawling ground-cover plant. Its stems and branches recline on the ground and its ascending extremities can grow up to 8 inches (20cm) tall.
The stems and upper surfaces of the leaves are a deep royal purple with shades of a faint dusty turquoise-gunmetal that becomes darker as the foliage grows older. It blooms in small clusters throughout the warm season making small three-petaled flowers of a vivid pink that only stay open in the morning.
Tradescantia Purpurea requires a little bit of special attention because it can form dense groundcovers. This can prevent the germination and establishment of other native plants. For this reason, Purpleheart plants are considered invasive in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
They are great for hanging pots or as groundcovers and can add a lush texture and a tropical atmosphere to any garden, be it indoor or outdoor. It is also excellent in containers and ideal for gardening beginners. Thanks to its downward trailing stem it stands out the most when used in rock gardens, border fronts, and wall plantings. It is a widely commercialized genus, important in the nursery and landscape trade.
About Tradescantia Purpurea Pallida
- Tradescantia pallida “Purpurea” is a long-lasting evergreen perennial noted for its striking purple foliage of narrow, pointed leaves, 2-5 in (5-12cm)
Its stems grow in segments that make the plant more fragile and easy to snap at the joints but at the same time easy to propagate.
- It is recommended to handle Purpleheart plants with care and to place them in a safe place, where you won’t brush against them often.
- When planted in gardens, these plants prefer to be sheltered from drafts, AC, and strong winds.
- Purpleheart plants are drought tolerant and thrive on neglect, but can also tolerate frequent watering.
- If you grow Tradescantia Purpurea in your outdoor garden you will have a thriving plant as long as you keep the soil moist and well-drained.
- When grown indoors, in containers, it should be watered moderately during the warm season and sparingly in winter.
- When planted in a container it grows best in loam-based compost and it is advisable to use liquid fertilizer monthly in its growing season.
- When kept indoors it likes bright filtered light and it can grow in full sun and shade when kept outdoors. You will want to give it as much light as possible if you want to achieve a good colour development.
- It is worth mentioning that plants growing in shade don’t get a lot of direct light so they are usually green rather than purple.
- The best temperature for Tradescantia pallida ”Purpurea” is average to warm (65-80 F/ 18-27 C).
- It will do well in varying temperatures as well, but no less than 50 F/10 C. Place it away from any source of heat and keep it away from drafty areas around your house.
- If you want your plant to grow more compact and bushy you can pinch it and cut it back after flowering to prevent it from getting spindly.
- The juice from the leaves or stems is relatively toxic and it may cause skin redness and irritation in some people and dogs, but this is not a common problem. However, it’s recommended to keep this plant within a safe distance from kids and pets.
- Spider mites are a common pest indoors, while outdoor plants are prone to scale insects. Mealybugs are a very common issue. You can use neem oil to combat all these pests.Tradescantia pallida ”Purpurea” Features – An Overview
- Tradescantia Purpurea is a tender perennial that is winter hardy and it can easily be grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 10-11.
- It is suitable both for gardens and interiors and it is mainly grown for its boldly textured foliage that reaches a vivid purple in bright sunlight making Tradescantia pallida “Purpurea” an excellent ornamental plant.
- As a houseplant, depending on your preference, you can trim it to encourage compact growth or you can leave it to its trailing habits dropping out of a hanging basket.
- It can also give your outdoor landscape a lavish aspect as it is an outstanding groundcover and/or container plant that will provide colour and contrast to the rest of your garden.
- It is a widely commercialized specimen and you can find inexpensive starter plants in nurseries around spring.
- Tradescantia Purpurea doesn’t do well in temperature below 50°F (10°C) and when you move it moved indoors for the cold season, make sure you do so well in advance of frost.
- It is a plant that prefers generous moisture, but it will do well in dry soil too as it has adapted to withstand long periods of drought. It can usually survive accidental or occasional overwatering.
- It will typically grow to 8 in (20 cm) tall and it will develop thick but fragile stems clothed with pointed, narrow, v-shaped leaves 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) long.
- The stems of the Tradescantia Purpurea usually trail up to 45 in (45 cm) or more.
- Tradescantia Purpurea blooms in small clusters of three-petaled, pink flowers to 1,5 in diameter (3,5 cm) throughout the warm season.
Growing Tradescantia Purpurea
To ensure that your plant will have nicely coloured foliage, it’s highly recommended to give it plenty of bright light. The plant can grow in the shade or indoors in places with low levels of light, but the foliage will remain green instead of purple.
Tradescantia Purpurea loves to get a little sun but it needs some shade during hot summer days, especially at noon. Extreme heat and direct sun can scorch its leaves.
To encourage branching and to ensure that your plant grows nicely, remove the new stem tips. You can use the freshly removed tips to propagate the plant, so don’t throw them away.
Watering Tradescantia Purpurea
It is best to water your Tradescantia Purpurea plants thoroughly. You can apply the ‘soak and dry’ technique and rewater the plant when you notice that the top 1 inch (2.5cm) of soil is dry.
Like most plants, Tradescantia Purpurea needs to be watered more frequently in summer, and less in winter with the growth process is paused.
Wilted and limp stems that have an unusual and unhealthy aspect can be a sign of root rot. Brown leaf tips, on the other hand, indicate that the plant isn’t getting enough humidity.
- 5 cuttings (stems) that you plant and become a new plant
- Grow to approximately 1' in height and are great for ground cover or in pots.
- Beautiful pink flowers!
Propagating Tradescantia Purpurea
Tradescantia Purpurea pallida can be propagated easily by rooting cuttings in water or directly in the soil. It’s best to take your cutting from a healthy mature plant using a clean, sharp knife or a pair of scissors. Cut the stem just below a segment node. A cutting measuring 4 to 6 in (10 to 15 cm) roots the best.
Propagation in water works very well for a thick-stemmed plant as Tradescantia Purpurea. This is done by placing the cuttings in a glass container filled with lukewarm water. Make sure you don’t have any leaves submerged in the water because they will rot. Place the cuttings in a bright place, but not under direct sunlight as this may prevent them from rooting.
Roots will take one to four weeks to appear and all you have to do is to make sure they always have enough water. When the roots are a few inches long, plant the cuttings in a pot filled with a light commercial potting soil. For more of a full-sized plant, you can root several cuttings and plant them in one pot.
If you decide to propagate the plant directly in the soil, fill a container with moistened potting mix and plant the cuttings after removing the lower leaves of the stem. You can plant more than one cutting as long as they don’t overlap. Wrap your pot in a clear plastic bag that you can secure with an elastic rubber and place the pot in a bright place, away from direct sunlight. You don’t need to water the plant because the plastic will keep all the moisture in. After about a month, when you see new growth appearing on the stems, you can safely remove the plastic.
The newly rooted plant needs to be watered as soon as the top layer of soil feels dry. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy to prevent the plant from rotting. Feed the newly rooted plant every month, using a water-soluble fertilizer.
Tradescantia Purpurea is an overall easy to grow plant that doesn’t require any special care. The only thing you will need to do is to make sure you protect it from freezing temperatures and from overwatering. To grow happy and healthy, Tradescantia Purpurea plants need regular watering and plenty of natural light.
Attractive and durable, these beautiful house plants will bring joy to your garden year-round with their rich purple stems and lance-shaped leaves. Tradescantia Purpureas make an outstanding addition to any plant collection. Whether you decide to grow it in a small decorative container or a hanging basket letting the long stems cascade over it you will surely obtain a lovely decorative plant.