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Tradescantia (Spiderwort, Wandering Jew) on balcony & in kitchen


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Tradescantia (Spiderwort, Wandering Jew) on balcony & in kitchen

I have a number of Tradescantia (Spiderwort, Wandering Jew) plants on our balcony & in our kitchen, not to mention one that has been in our living room for many years now.

I have T.zebrina & T.fluminensis. The first one I have had for as long as we have lived in this flat (16 years now) & have had many plants growing on top of the fridge in the kitchen which have trailed down its side.

I have just noticed that in the caption on this photo the “2” has become separated from “1st”! The caption should read “21st June 2017”!

Just last year I planted up one pot with cuttings of T.fluminensis. It joined the other 4 or 5 pots of T.zebrina on top of the fridge but really hasn’t done as well as the others.

T.fluminensis has small deep green shiny leaves with a purple underside, outside it produces lots of tiny, white flowers. T.zebrina has greyish stripes on silver-green leaves with a purple reverse to them.

T.zebrina has never flowered for me since growing it in the UK. When I used to grow it in Spain it never failed to produce delightful magenta-pink flowers. T. fluminensis has never flowered indoors for me (I never grew this one in Spain, only T.zebrina (I’ve just discovered that the variegated green/white form is also T.fluminensis but Variegata!)

The green one, T.fluminensis, came to me by accident. My daughter had bought me a Venus Flytrap plant for my birthday. On her way to our place she also bought a bottle of cologne water. Unbeknown to her at the time, while she was on the bus to here, the cap on the bottle came off! The poor plant got soaked in cologne water! In spite of what I tried to do to try to save it the poor plant died after a few days. On the day I went to throw it away I noticed a small green leaf at the base of the dead Venus Flytrap. Thinking that the plant might be recovering I decided not to throw it away but await developments. Within a couple of weeks, it was pretty obvious that the plant that was growing was NOT the Venus Flytrap recovering but a green leafed trailing plant!!!

That’s the story of how T.fluminensis came to end up in my hands!

As T.fluminensis flowers out on the balcony but not indoors I thought I would experiment with T.zebrina by growing it out on the balcony alongside T.fluminensis. I put pots of cuttings on the shelving on the balcony in a place I knew would get full sunshine (whenever there might be any during our notoriously fickle UK summers), in the hope I might see some flowers after 16 years. To my disappointment, neither of the two pots of plants produced any flowers!!! When I grew T.zebrina in Spain, indoors, never outdoors, it never ceased to flower!

Just today I put the two plants you see in the photos above both together in a bigger pot & took it into the kitchen.

Then I took out a pot of T.zebrina that wasn’t doing at all well & put this pot in its place. Seeing the plants that have been on the balcony all summer alongside those that have never been outside of the kitchen shows up a great deal of difference: the ones I put up today have much thicker leaves, they are darker & have bigger leaves. As you might expect the distance between leaves is shorter as well.

Finally, I took the T.fluminensis from the balcony into the kitchen & put it on top of the cupboard nearest the window so it will get plenty of light.

Since being back in the UK I haven’t grown any of the T.fluminensis ‘Variegata’ (White & green striped leaves) but I used to have lots of it in Spain. It used to produce lots of lovely 3 petalled flowers all summer long!

Nor do I have any plants of T.pallida, a purple leafed form with thick purple leaves & bright pink flowers. The stems are rather hairy (if memory serves me!)

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Reminds me of my mother, who, when aged 14. I selected a Tradescantia to buy at a display, remarked " That doesnt mind being neglected, YOU could manage that !"

13 Oct, 2017


Well the plants are doing well.

Aren't Tradescantia plants supposed to be excellent to keep in a study, or near a PC, to help expose low radiation levels? (Have I got that right?)

13 Oct, 2017


Thanks for your comments & for reading my blog!

Diane, its truly an amazing plant - a stem can die at soil level but unless you can see it you wouldn't know for weeks afterwards, as the stem just gradually dies back very slowly.

I once took a photo of several stems that had just done that & called them "Zombie" stems! Later I cut the living ends off, rooted them & they grew perfectly well later!

They were stems of T.zebrina but I've done the same with T.fluminensis. (minus the photo bit! LOL!) I don't know if the same could be done with T.fluminensis 'Variegata' or with T.pallida.

Eirlys, I know they say some plants are good for that purpose amongst them I believe that 'Peace Plant' is good for that but I have never heard that Tradescantia was also good for that use!

You might do a search on the internet for plants that are good for reducing levels of radiation from PC monitors. Though I don't think the modern computer suffer from radiation leakage nowadays. Anyway lots of screens today are made from materials that no longer give off any radiation.

13 Oct, 2017


I am feeding my Peace plant every 4 weeks hoping to coax it with kindness into making a flower next Spring.
As my mother would have said, it gets neglected.

14 Oct, 2017


Hopefully, it will flower next year!

16 Oct, 2017


My T zebrina often produces flowers. I put some outside and some in a perspex shelter. I wonder why yours won't do it. I used to have a few types of Tradescantias but only the zebrina one now. They are nice plants to grow.

19 Oct, 2017


Strange, isn't it, Hywel? I must have a "strain" that doesn't produce flowers!!! ?

19 Oct, 2017


I keep them dry. Maybe that's the reason they flower.

19 Oct, 2017


Mine are also kept pretty dry but used to be fed during the summer with tomato fertilizer but this year I have tried feeding my plants with general fertilizer & they have all responded much better!

I've practically used the tomato fertilizer just for my tomatoes this year!

20 Oct, 2017


It's usually got a high potassium content and that's what makes plants flower. Maybe too much potassium isn't good for most things. I might try a general fertiliser next year too.

I took some cuttings of my T zebrina several weeks ago, and put them in water to root, but I forgot about them. When I checked recently to see how they were doing, the water had all evaporated but the cuttings had rooted and had not wilted at all. They were bone dry so had been without water for a while I think. I was surprised to see them looking so good. I think that proves they are quite drought resistant.

20 Oct, 2017


They most certainly are, Hywel! In fact, they tolerate so well going without water that they could easily die as we forget to water them! What they can't stand in being in waterlogged compost! If you wanted to kill them just leave them sitting in a saucer of water for a few days! Yet, on the other hand, they will root within a few days in a glass of water!!!

23 Oct, 2017

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