If you are new to indoor plant care or may be restricted physically or time-wise, then wandering jew care may be just the answer for you.
Tradescantia pallida, wandering jew or walking jew is a species of spiderwort from the New World plant genus. Its common name ‘wandering jew’ is also shared with its close species T. Zebrine and T. Fluminensis.
You can also find it under other common names like purple queen and purple heart.
It originates from the Gulf Coast area in eastern Mexico. Its foliage has impressive zebra-stripe patterns.
This evergreen perennial plant has pointy leaves and they’re elongated with a green color and have purple or red fringes.
They bear small and sterile flowers with three petals. They can be purple, pink or white.
It’s a loved decorative plant in homes and offices because of its amazing ability to improve the air by filtering out volatile organic compounds.
Plus, it’s very easy to maintain, making it suitable for both beginners in gardening or elderly.
The species has various cultivars of which the one with purple foliage or Purpurea has gained the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.
When it reaches maturity, expect it to grow between 6 and 9 inches in height and between 12 and 24 inches in width.
However, if you decide to have this stunning plant in your home or office, make sure you place it out of pets’ reach’ it’s toxic to them according to the ASPCA.
Expect flowers in spring or early summer with a wide range of colours. They’re really amazing when placed in hanging baskets.
The sepithet pallid means ‘pale’ while the wandering jew name may be of medieval origin or refer to a myth.
How to Care for Wandering Jew Indoors
This plant enjoys a bright, but indirect light. The brighter the area where you place it, the more flowering will you notice.
The plant will tell you if it’s too dark for it by the foliage-it will start to fade if it’s not light enough.
Any of the species will grow well when placed in an area where the temperature is between 65 and 75 degrees F. But, it can also do well in warmer temperatures.
Avoid areas where the temperature drops below 50 because the cold may damage or discolour its foliage.
Water & Humidity
For this plant, it’s important to keep a soil that’s equally moist- it doesn’t want to be soaking or too dry for too long.
Water it when the soil is dry to at least ½ inches deep.
Pour sufficient water until you see it dripping from the bottom-allow it to drip out.
When it comes to humidity, in comparison to other tropicals that are grown indoors, this one isn’t as demanding; however, it still needs humidity to thrive.
You can help it get it by misting it regularly or through a tray with pebbles and water if you’re not growing it in a hanger.
Another great option is a bright bathroom or a humidifier.
The plant can grow happy in an ordinary potting soil, but it prefers a well-draining one. A great solution is to use a blend of potting soil and some sand.
This plant requires little feeding. Use a liquid fertilizer and apply it once per month from spring to autumn.
Avoid more frequent feeding because this may cause the foliage to lose its beautiful variegation.
Even if you decide not to repot it, this plant won’t die.
However, it will still benefit from repotting. You can do it once every year.
Go with a one size bigger pot and appropriate new fresh soil mix.
The good news about sharing this plant is that it’s so easy. Just cut a one-inch stem with at least one leaf on it and plant it in soil.
You needn’t use a rooting hormone. Just water it regularly and the plant will root within several weeks.
Best Wandering Jew Species
As the name itself suggests, this is a variety with leaves that are similar to zebra stripes. The middle of each of the leaves is creamy white and the outer edges are silver.
This is a unique and one of the most popular varieties-its foliage is deep purple and its flowers are purplish-pink.
This is a classic wandering jew- it has beautiful deep green foliage that’s an awesome contrast to the bright and white flowers with three petals.
This plant grows aggressively and thus, it can get leggy and its lower stems may become bare.
So, pruning is recommendable-cut the stems back to the joint to help it grow wider and bushier.
Some people deal with irritated skin when handling cuttings because of the sap; so, to prevent this from happening to you, wear gardening gloves.
Trouble Shooting- Common Issues
Problem: root rot
Cause: Overwatering or soil too rich in organic material.
Solution: Reduce the watering to when at least ½ inch of the soil is dry and mix a handful of perlite or sand with the potting soil.
Problem: leaves are losing color & becoming dull
Cause: Lack of light.
Solution: Move it in an area that’s brighter, but not directly exposed to the sun.
Problem: leaves are falling
Cause: Low light.
Solution: To get the best foliage color from this plant and to make sure it’s happy; place it in the brightest area in your home, without direct sun.
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