Tradescantia zebrina
Common Name: inch plant 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Commelinaceae
Native Range: Southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras
Zone: 8 to 12
Height: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Lavender-purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-12. 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. Plants are easily propagated by stem cuttings. Plants may be pruned hard in very early spring if needed. Plants can be taken outside in summer.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Tradescantia zebrina is native to Mexico. It is a very popular trailing plant. Where winter hardy, it is commonly grown as a groundcover that roots at the nodes as stems spread along the ground. Foliage typically grows to 6” tall, but creeps to 2’ wide or more if allowed to do so. Where not winter hardy, it is commonly grown in hanging baskets or pots as a houseplant. Trailing stems cascade down from a hanging basket. Stems are clad with fleshy, pointed, stem-clasping, oval leaves (to 2.5” long) that are blue-green with two broad silvery longitudinal stripes above and solid purple underneath. Tiny, three-petaled, lavender-purple flowers appear sporadically throughout the year on plants grown in the native habitat, but flowers rarely appear on indoor plants. Leaf nodes along the stem are purportedly one inch apart, hence the common name. This plant is synonymous with Tradescantia pendula and Zebrina pendula. It is sometimes commonly called inch plant, although that name is usually reserved for Tradescantia fluminensis.

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 means zebra-striped.


Root rot and stem rot may occur if soils are kept too moist. Watch for aphids, mealybugs, scale, whiteflies and spider mites. Contact with plant sap may cause skin irritations.


Easy to grow. As a houseplant, grow in pots, hanging baskets or along shelves. Ground cover or bedding plant where it can be grown outdoors.