Plant Journal: Tradescantia zebrina
Today, I am going to talk about one of the fastest grower in my plant collection, the Tradescantia zebrina 'Pink Joy'. The pink joy variety that I got from my local garden center seems new and the name is tagged "Unchecked" from the RHS website. It might be a new variety a grower started selling that hasn't been registered yet. Below is the picture of my plant when I got it from the garden center.
It was in a 2cm pot and the leaves were growing out. After taking this picture, I checked the soil and found that it is pot bound.
I repotted it and put it in a bigger pot. I got it last June 2020, and since then I think, I have repotted it twice because it outgrew its pot. That is how fast this plant could grow.
This was taken after the first repot in June.
Both pictures above were taken in August 2020 after the second repot to an 8cm pot.
The Tradescantia are very easy to grow plants, both indoors and outdoors. It can tolerate various growing conditions. They have interesting foliage with green, violet, pink or white lines on top and a violet underside. The colours depend on the varieties. Some varieties are more green and white while others, like my zebrina, is mostly violet. It also flowers and can be propagated in various ways.
Below are some fun facts about the plant.
Tradescatia is also known as the ‘Wandering Jew’ or ‘Inch plant’ because it can grow everywhere and wander as long as an inch of it survives.
It can be invasive if planted outside. Be careful when planting this plant in your backyard or garden because it is very hard to control. Growing it in a pot gives you more control and prevent invasive threats.
It is mildly toxic to pets and humans. Contact with the sap causes skin irritation to both humans and pets. Here is a link about some garden plants that are toxic to your pets. There are some tradescantia species on this list.
I hope you enjoyed some of the facts I found online about this plant. Now, I would like to talk about how I grew my tradescantia and some of the problems and propagation tips, I’ve done or encountered.
As I’ve mentioned above, growing this plant is not a hassle because it can tolerate any growing condition.
Growing medium. It can tolerate most growing media but I used a houseplant potting mix with perlite, to keep the soil well-draining and not waterlogged. It is mainly to prevent infestation of pests such as fungus gnats (which I have recently been dealing with). It also promotes healthy root systems.
Watering. The plant can tolerate drought and overwatering to some extent. But what I do with mine is I always keep the soil moist by spraying and I give mine a good drink every week. I used to water it 2/week but since it was inside and its not as sunny, I decreased my watering to weekly but I spray water when the top of the soil is dry.
Light. Some varieties needs more light that others but mine is happy with the indirect bright light it is getting in my living room.
Humidity. It is not fussy about humidity, but I have noticed that when it is exposed to cold air (open window in Dublin) the leaves of my tradescantia turned brown in the tips and was crisp. I will discuss this further in the Problem section of this blog. Also, try to prevent frosty temperature. Overwintering inside the house is advised.
Feeding. It is probably not needed specially if the plant is outside in the garden but in containers, it might need the extra nutrients. I feed mine once a month. I’d probably stop that cause it is growing fast. I use Phostrogen, just because it’s what I have. I mix a pinch in 1L of lukewarm water.
Pruning. You can cut of flower stems once the flower dies. I haven’t tried growing my tradescantia outside, I probably won’t due to its invasive tendencies, therefore I don’t have a clue of when and how frequent it should be pruned when planted out. If you have an idea, type it in the comment section.
Based on growers online, this plant can be propagated easily. By stem cutting into soil/water or by division. And like most plants, it can be grown from seeds.
Unfortunately, I haven’t tried propagating my plant. I might next growing season, so stay tuned. This blog would be updated.
This plant is not a fussy grower at all, but since I have been keeping the soil moist due to some problems with humidity in my apartment, I have encountered 2 problems so far, since I got my plant last June.
1.Brown and crisp leaf tips.
I blame the humidity problem in my apartment because the wind here can get cold when we open the window. The solution I came up with was to spray clean water maybe 2-3/week. It did improve but it resulted to another problem.
2. Fungus gnats
Fungus gnats are the relative of fruit flies. They kinda look like them as well but some mature fungus gnats can be a bit bigger and darker in colour. They thrive in moist soil and they lay eggs. They really don’t damage the plant that much but they are a nuisance because they multiply very quick but they also has a short life span. I ussually see them near my vegetables but since I started collecting tropical plants, it increased they’re breeding pots, therefore more fungus gnats.
Due to the humidity problem in my place, I have been spraying water on my plants and applying moss as a mulch to keep them moist and humid. I instantly saw an increase in fungus gnats on my plants since I started doing this.
To solve the issue, I tried sprinkiling cinnamon powder on the moss mulch and I also mixed the cinnamon in the soil. I also tried neem oil recently because the cinnamon powder, I think is not enough. I mixed a teaspoon of cold pressed neem oil in 1L of warm water and used it to water my plants. I also tried to keep the soil a bit drier in between watering to kill the larvae and eggs. I also put neem oil in my humidifier and mist the gnats away.
For the mature gnats, I tried catching them with my own hands and slap them to death. (lol) Some would use yellow sticky paper to trap them.
I would say, the neem oil was very effective (I used it on my veggies, as well) and I did not see any damage on my plants and a noticeable decrease in the gnats.
This is a constant battle tho, they might be back. I will keep this blog updated with anything I have learned with regards to growing this plant.
Tradescantia is a very interesting and very easy to grow plant and I think a beginner gardener or plant enthusiast can start with it.
If there is anything you wish to share or add on any of this blog's sections, you can send me an email or write down a comment.