Tradescantia fluminensis

Common Name: small-leaf spiderwort 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Commelinaceae
Native Range: Southeastern Brazil
Zone: 9 to 12
Height: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers freely
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-12. In St. Louis, it is easily grown as a houseplant. It is noted for its ease of culture and tolerance for wide range of growing conditions. Use a peaty, soil-based potting mix. Best in filtered sun. Will grow in direct sun with some afternoon protection. Also grows in shade. Plants like a consistently moist but well-drained soil during the growing season, with reduced watering from fall to late winter. Pinch stems as needed to encourage dense foliage growth. Easily propagated by stem cuttings. Stem cuttings may also be used to create new potted plants. Plants may be pruned hard in very early spring if needed. Plants can be taken outside in summer.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Tradescantia fluminensis, commonly called inch plant, is native from Brazil to northern Argentina. It is an evergreen trailing plant that will root at the nodes as it goes along the ground forming an attractive, albeit somewhat invasive, groundcover. It is a rapid grower. It is easily grown indoors in pots or baskets. Oval, fleshy, stem-clasping, pointed, green leaves (to 2.5” long) with purplish undersides. Foliage typically grows to 6” tall, but may creep to 2’ wide or more if allowed to do so. In hanging baskets, stems will cascade downward. Tiny, three-petaled, white flowers appear throughout the year in its native habitat, but flowers infrequently appear on indoor plants. Leaf nodes along the stem are purportedly one inch apart, hence the common name. This plant is also commonly called wandering Jew.

Genus name honors John Tradescant (1570-1638) and his son John Tradescant (1608-1662), botanists and successive gardeners to Charles I of England.

Specific epithet comes from Latin flumen meaning river in probably reference to the January River in Brazil along which this species is native.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Rot may occur if soils are kept too moist. Watch for mealybugs, scale, whiteflies and spider mites. For more information see: Problems Common to Many Indoor Plants

Garden Uses

As a houseplant, grow in hanging baskets or along shelves. Ground cover or rock garden where it can be grown outdoors.