The Wandering Jew plant, also known as the Inch plant, has been a trendsetter in the world of plant swapping long before indoor gardening became popular. Its stunning foliage and ease of care make it a favorite among plant enthusiasts. Its variegated leaves, a captivating blend of purple, green, and silver, add a burst of vibrancy to any environment.
The name “Wandering Jews” refers to three distinct plant species: Tradescantia zebrina, Tradescantia pallida, and Tradescantia fluminensis. Tradescantia zebrina is the most widely grown of the three and boasts the most strikingly colourful leaves. The same conditions must be met by all three for healthy development.
This beauty hails from Mexico, Central America, and Colombia.
Why is it Called So?
It stems from its vigorous growth habit, seemingly “wandering” and cascading elegantly.
Preferred for foliage or flowers?
Embraced for lush foliage rather than flowers, this resilient plant is suitable for indoor and outdoor settings. The unique characteristic of the Wandering Jew Plant is its beautifully variegated, elongated leaves that display a striking combination of purple, green, and silver shades.
Where to Grow?- Indoor or Outdoors?
The trailing growth habit of this plant makes it ideal for hanging baskets or cascading over shelves, adding a touch of natural beauty to any indoor or outdoor space.
They grow fast and can take up a lot of space if they are not properly handled. Every leaf node on their trailing stems, which can reach a length of 6 feet, produces a new sprout. The plant can stretch out and take on a lush, bushy appearance thanks to this growth pattern.
Because they can escape cultivation and occupy natural habitats, Wandering Jew plants are crucial to note that when cultivated outdoors, they are regarded as invasive in some areas. Nonetheless, they are readily confined in their pots when cultivated as houseplants.
Is it Suitable for First-time Plant Owners?
With its low-maintenance requirements and eye-catching appearance, the Wandering Jew Plant has gained popularity among both experienced plant enthusiasts and beginners. Its adaptability and resilience make it a suitable choice for first-time plant owners looking to enhance their home decor with a touch of nature.
Let’s explore its origin, characteristics, and care tips for plant enthusiasts, whether seasoned or novice.
The Wandering Jew Plant features a well-developed root system that helps anchor the plant and absorb nutrients from the soil. The roots are typically fibrous in nature and grow in a spreading manner, enabling the plant to establish a stable foundation for optimal growth.
The stem of the Wandering Jew Plant is thin and trailing, allowing it to gracefully cascade down from its container or climbing surface. The stems are fleshy and succulent, providing the plant with the ability to store water and nutrients.
One of the most distinctive features of the Wandering Jew Plant is its vibrant foliage. The leaves are elongated and lance-shaped, measuring around two to three inches in length. The upper surface of the leaf showcases a stunning mix of purple hues, while the underside displays a contrasting silver shade. The leaves are covered with fine hairs, imparting a velvety texture that adds to their allure.
Although the primary appeal of the Wandering Jew Plant lies in its foliage, it occasionally produces small, three-petaled flowers. These flowers bloom in clusters and can range in color from pink to purple, adding a touch of delicate beauty to the plant. However, it’s worth noting that the flowers are not the main focus, and they may not appear frequently in indoor settings.
It produces oval-shaped seed capsules that contain tiny, brownish seeds. While the plant’s fruiting abilities are not its main attraction, they serve as a reminder of the plant’s reproductive capabilities.
|zebrina, pallida, fluminensi
USDA Growing Zone
The USDA Hardiness Zone system is a universal guideline used to determine the climatic conditions suitable for various plant species. The Wandering Jew Plant thrives in zones 9-12, encompassing regions with average annual minimum temperatures ranging from 20 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 to 15 degrees Celsius).
If you reside in these zones, the Wandering Jew Plant can be grown both outdoors and indoors. However, if you reside in zones outside of this range, you can still enjoy its beauty by cultivating it as a houseplant in containers.
The Wandering Jew Plant possesses several special features that make it an attractive choice for plant enthusiasts. Here are a few notable ones:
- Variegated Foliage: The striking coloration of the leaves, with its mix of purple, green, and silver, adds a touch of vibrancy and visual appeal to any space.
- Trailing Growth Habit: The cascading nature of the Wandering Jew Plant makes it an excellent choice for hanging baskets, shelves, or even as ground cover in outdoor gardens.
- Low Maintenance: This plant is well-known for its ability to thrive with minimal care. It can tolerate slight neglect and adapt to various environmental conditions, making it an ideal choice for plant beginners or busy individuals.
- Air-Purifying Abilities: Like many other houseplants, the Wandering Jew Plant actively removes toxins from the air, enhancing the overall indoor air quality. Its presence can contribute to a healthier living environment.
Is Wandering Jew Plant Poisonous?
While the Wandering Jew Plant is undoubtedly beautiful, it is essential to be aware of its potential toxicity to humans and pets. The plant contains mildly toxic compounds when ingested. The most common symptoms of toxicity include gastrointestinal discomfort, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Furthermore, the sap of the Wandering Jew Plant can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. It is advisable to wear gloves while handling the plant and to wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
If accidental ingestion occurs or if you notice severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing or skin rashes, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention. In households with pets, it is recommended to keep the plant out of their reach to prevent any accidental consumption.
Wandering Jew Plant vs Purple Heart
The Wandering Jew Plant is often confused with another popular plant known as Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida). While both plants belong to the same genus and share similar characteristics, it’s essential to distinguish between the two.
The Wandering Jew Plant (Tradescantia zebrina) is known for its elongated, lance-shaped leaves with striking variegation of purple, green, and silver shades. It has a trailing growth habit and is ideal for hanging baskets or cascading over shelves.
Purple Heart (Tradescantia pallida), on the other hand, features more elongated leaves with a solid, intense purple coloration. It is also a trailing plant that can be used similarly for decorative purposes.
Overall, the primary distinction is in the coloration and pattern of the leaves. While the Wandering Jew Plant showcases a unique mix of colors, Purple Heart stands out with its deep purple hue.
Types of Wandering Jew Plant
The genus Tradescantia has a wide range of plants with unique traits.
1. Tradescantia pallida ,’ Purple Heart,’
A fragile perennial that is frequently used as an annual or houseplant, is one noteworthy species. It has thin stems with lance-shaped, dark purple leaves that are occasionally accompanied by tiny pink or pale purple blooms.
2. Tradescantia fluminensis,
A trailing perennial has succulent stems that easily root at nodes to create a dense carpet. It has star-shaped clusters of delicate white flowers, and its leaves are usually dark green with occasional stripes.
3. Tradescantia zebrina
Formerly called Zebrina pendula, is a creeping plant with succulent stems. It makes an excellent ground cover with its green to purple leaves that are striped with silvery white. In low light, this species tends to lose colour, and its stems break readily at the nodes.
4. Tradescantia Blossfeldiana
An evergreen perennial forms clumps and has glossy green leaves along with colourful blooms that have three triangle-shaped petals.
5. Tradescantia spathacea
Commonly called an oyster plant or Moses-in-the-cradle, is an evergreen that forms clumps. Its leaves are sword-shaped and grouped in a spiral pattern, and its purple bracts, which surround white flowers, have the shape of boats.
6. Tradescantia virginiana
Has 3-petaled blooms in terminal clusters and linear to broadly linear dark green leaves that grow up to 2½ feet tall. It may rebloom following summer dieback and is propagated by subterranean stolons.
7. Tradescantia sillamontana or, Cobweb Spiderwort
A low-growing plant whose leaves and stems are covered with silver-white hairs. In July, it produces pink blooms.
8. Tradescantia subaspera
Sometimes called Zigzag Spiderwort, has leaves that resemble grass and a zigzag stem, whereas Tradescantia ohiensis is a clump-forming spiderwort with purple to rose-blue blooms.
A variety of looks and growth patterns are offered by these Tradescantia cultivars, which make them appropriate for a range of environments, from groundcovers in gardens to houseplants.
General Overview of Wandering Jew Plant
|Inch plant, Flowering inch plant
|Is it rare?
|Generally not considered as rare.
|Worldwide, live naturally in subtropical regions of North and South America.
|Suitable for both Indoors and Outdoors.
|Hanging baskets, cascading over shelves
|Invasive features lead to higher space occupancy.
|Upto 6 feet
|Several inches, determined by the spread of trailing vines.
|Invasive features leading to higher space occupancy.
|Suitable for beginners
|Yes, suitable for beginners as well.
Wandering Jew Plant Care
|Bright, Indirect light. North or east facing window being best for Indoors.
|Mixture of peat moss, perlite, and regular potting soil works well.
|Keeping the soil evenly moist is the best. Avoid Overwatering and Underwatering.
|70% RH is ideal.
|Water soluble fertilizer at an interval of 2-4 weeks during growing season.
|Potting and Repotting
|Repot if the plant outgrows its container or the soil becomes compacted. Use fresh succulent mix.
|Training and Pruning
|Prune to maintain shape and control size. Trim leggy or damaged stems.
The Wandering Jew Plant thrives in bright, indirect light. While direct sunlight can scorch its leaves, it still requires a sufficient amount of light to maintain its vibrant colors. Place the plant near a north or east-facing window where it can receive an ample amount of bright but indirect sunlight throughout the day.
The Wandering Jew Plant prefers a warm and humid environment, with temperatures ranging between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit (18-27 degrees Celsius). Avoid exposing the plant to cold drafts or temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius) as it can cause damage to the foliage.
The ideal soil for the Wandering Jew Plant should be well-draining and rich in organic matter. A mixture of peat moss, perlite, and regular potting soil works well to provide the necessary drainage while retaining moisture. Aim for a slightly acidic to neutral pH level, between 6.0 and 7.0, to encourage optimal growth.
Check the top inch of soil before watering and only water when it feels dry to the touch. Water thoroughly, allowing excess water to drain out of the pot.
Methods of watering
Misting: Use a spray bottle to mist the leaves occasionally, especially during dry seasons or in environments with low humidity. This helps to mimic the plant’s natural habitat and prevents the leaves from becoming too dry
Pebble Tray Method: You can create a pebble tray by placing a saucer filled with water and pebbles underneath the pot. As the water evaporates, it increases the humidity around the plant.
Humidifier: Using a humidifier in the vicinity can provide a consistent humidity level.
The Wandering Jew Plant appreciates moderate to high humidity levels. In environments with low humidity, such as heated indoor spaces, consider using a humidifier or placing a tray of water near the plant to increase moisture levels. This helps prevent the leaves from drying out and ensures optimal growth.
To promote healthy growth, fertilize the Wandering Jew Plant every two to four weeks during the growing season, which typically spans from spring to early fall.
Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength.
Apply the fertilizer directly to the soil, taking care to avoid contact with the leaves.
During the dormant period in winter, reduce the frequency of fertilization to once a month or suspend it altogether. This allows the plant to rest and prepare for the next growing season.
Potting and Repotting
Frequency: Repot when the plant outgrows its current container or if the soil becomes compacted. When repotting, gently loosen the root ball and place the plant in the new pot. Fill the remaining space with fresh potting mix, ensuring that the roots are adequately covered. Avoid pressing the soil too firmly, as it can impede proper drainage.
Mix: Use a fresh cactus mix or succulent mix while repotting.
Training and Pruning
The Wandering Jew Plant tends to grow long and trailing stems. To maintain a more compact and bushier appearance, it is essential to prune and train the plant regularly. Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to remove any leggy or damaged stems. Cutting above a node helps promote new growth and encourages a fuller appearance.
Additionally, you can propagate the pruned cuttings to create new plants. Simply place the cuttings in water or moist soil, and they will quickly develop roots, ready for planting.
Wandering Jew Plant Care Indoors
When growing the Wandering Jew Plant indoors, it is crucial to provide optimal growing conditions. Here are a few essential tips:
- Position the plant near a north or east-facing window to receive bright, indirect light.
- Monitor the humidity levels and consider using a humidifier or placing a tray of water near the plant to increase moisture.
- Keep the plant away from cold drafts or temperature extremes, as it prefers warm temperatures.
- Regularly dust the leaves to prevent any blockage of pores and ensure optimal photosynthesis.
- Rotate the plant every few weeks to promote even growth and prevent it from leaning towards the light source.
With proper care and attention, the Wandering Jew Plant can thrive in indoor settings, adding a touch of natural beauty to your living space.
Wandering Jew Plant Care Outdoors
The Wandering Jew Plant can also be grown outdoors in suitable climates. Here are some guidelines to follow when caring for it outdoors:
- Choose a location that receives bright, filtered light. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves.
- Ensure the soil is well-draining and rich in organic matter. Adding compost or organic fertilizers can help improve soil quality.
- Water the plant regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Adjust the watering frequency based on weather conditions and rainfall.
- Protect the plant from excessive rainfall and fluctuations in temperature. Consider placing it under the cover of a tree or using a canopy during heavy rains.
- Monitor for pests and diseases regularly. Inspect the leaves for any signs of infestation or damage and take appropriate measures.
By following these guidelines, you can successfully cultivate the Wandering Jew Plant outdoors, allowing it to thrive and showcase its beauty in a natural setting.
Wandering Jew Plant Propagation
Step 1: Pick a mature, healthy stem that has a few leaves at least.
Step 2: Cut slightly below a leaf node with pruning shears or clean, sharp scissors.
Step 3: Cut off the lowest leaves so that the stem is naked for a few inches.
Once the cutting is prepared, you have two options for propagation:
1. Water Propagation: Place the cutting in a glass or vase filled with water, ensuring that only the bare stem is submerged. Position the container in a bright, indirect light location, and change the water every few days to prevent stagnation. After a few weeks, roots will start to develop, indicating that it is ready for transplanting into soil.
2. Soil Propagation: Dip the cut end of the stem in a rooting hormone powder, if desired, to promote root development. Plant the cutting in a well-draining potting mix, making sure that at least two nodes are buried in the soil. Mist the soil lightly to provide moisture, and cover the pot with a plastic bag or use a propagator to create a mini greenhouse effect. Place the pot in bright, indirect light and maintain moderate humidity. After a couple of weeks, roots should begin to form.
Ideal season: When the plant is actively developing, which is in the spring or early summer.
Step 1: Select a disease-free, healthy rootstock and scion.
Step 2: On the scion and rootstock, cut diagonally.
Step 3: Use grafting tape or a similar substance to bind the two pieces together.
Step 4: Until the grafted plant develops, keep it in a humid atmosphere.
Ideal season: Late spring or early summer.
C. Seed Propagation
Step 1: Gather seeds from established Wandering Jew plants.
Step 2: Lightly cover the seeds after sowing them in a soil mixture that drains properly.
Step 3: Keep the temperature and moisture levels constant.
Step 4: When seedlings reach a sufficient size, transplant them.
Ideal Season: Spring.
The vendor, the size and health of the plant, and other factors affect the price. Larger, more mature specimens may cost between $20 and $30, whereas a tiny potted Wandering Jew plant typically costs between $10 and $15.
Locations for Purchases
Visit plant nurseries in your area. They frequently stock a range of succulents.
2. Internet-Based Plant Stores
Examine internet markets and plant stores. Numerous vendors give a large selection of succulents along with delivery choices.
3. Online shopping portals
Look through well-known online stores like Amazon and Etsy or specific websites that offer plants. Verify the seller’s reputation for high-quality plants and excellent ratings.
4. Plant exhibits
Go to farmers’ markets, and plant exhibits in your area. These may be great sources for unusual succulents.
Overwatering: Causes root rot, and yellowing leaves.
Underwatering: Leads to wilting and dry, crispy leaves.
Spider Mites: Visible webbing, stippled leaves.
Aphids: Clusters of tiny, soft-bodied insects on leaves.
Fungal Infections: Brown spots, wilting, and leaf drop.
Maintain proper watering practices.
Regularly inspect and isolate new plants.
Provide adequate ventilation.
Pros and Cons
|Toxic to human and pets
|Prone to overwatering
|Invasive in outdoor settings
1. What kills wandering jew plants?
Overwatering and insufficient light can lead to demise. The plant is also vulnerable to fungal diseases that can result in brown patches, wilting, and leaf loss, as well as pests like aphids and spider mites.
2. What does the wandering jew plant symbolize?
The Wandering Jew plant is deeply embedded in Christian folklore, particularly associated with the concept of eternal wandering. It also implies a connection to the Jewish people, symbolizing their historical exile and forced wandering.
Some see it as evidence of the Jewish people’s tenacity and will in their pursuit of wisdom and enlightenment.
3. How to revive a dying wandering jew plant?
Adjust watering and light, prune dead parts, and repot if necessary.
4. How to trim wandering jew plants?
To trim a wandering jew plant, use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to remove any leggy or damaged stems. Cutting above a node helps promote new growth and encourages a fuller appearance.
5. Who named the wandering jew plant?
The wandering jew plant is named after John Tradescant the Elder, an English gardener and botanist who introduced the plant to England in the early 17th century.
6. How long do wandering jew plants live?
As far as the longevity of Wandering Jews goes, they often don’t get older than 2 to 3 years.
In conclusion, the Wandering Jew plant emerges as not just a botanical marvel, but a testament to the timeless allure of indoor gardening. Whether adorning indoor spaces with its trailing vines or cascading over outdoor gardens, the Wandering Jew plant thrives with minimal maintenance, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a touch of nature in their homes.
As we delve into its characteristics and growing habits we embark on a journey that celebrates not only the beauty of this plant but also the joy it brings to those who welcome it into their homes.