Tradescantia : Greenhouse Plants
W – warm, minimum of 13°C (55°F)
N and Tropical America
These are often rather straggly trailing plants which go by the name of Wandering Jew. The most commonly grown (and most straggly) is Tradescantia albiflora which has plain green shiny leaves. T. a. ‘Albovittata’ has white stripes, T. a. ‘Aurea’ has yellow leaves and T. a. ‘Tricolor’ has leaves striped with white and pink. T. fluminensis is superficially very similar but far more robust with bigger thicker stronger stems and leaves which are purple on the undersides. It is also more disposed to flower, albeit rather insignificantly.
For use as a filler and edging plant for the greenhouse I would recommend T.f. ‘Quicksilver’ which is missing the purple undersides to its leaves that area soft green striped with white. This is a very free branching plant which tends not to lose its lower leaves with quite the same abandon of the other types. They root very easily and I find it time saving to insert 8-cm (3-in)straight into their final pots. Three cuttings to a 9 cm (3-½ in) pot are ideal. These plants can also be rooted in water. T. blossfeldiana from Argentina has dark green hairy leaves with purple beneath. The hairiest species I know of is T. sillamontana from Mexico which is also my favourite. The leaves are a very fresh pale green and are covered in fine silvery hair. The flowers are bright pink and, for once, worth having.-They contrast well with the foliage. When plants have become straggly you will suddenly notice a new flush of buds at the heart of the plant. Simply cut off all the old growth and allow the new to grow. They need maximum light to do well.
All of these benefit from being cut hard back. Provided there are plenty of nodes left at the centre of the plant they will shoot again if given good light. Propagation of the hairier leaved species is a little more difficult than the smooth. They should be inserted into cuttingand not be kept too wet.