How to care
for your Tradescantia
Tradescantia, named after John Tradescant, a famous 17th century plant-hunter who’s job would make any Millennial green with envy, is also known by its many other names: Spiderwort, Spider-Lily, Cradle-Lily, Oyster-Plant and Flowering Inch Plant. Originally native to the Americas – founded in wooded areas all the way from Canada down to Northern Argentina – they were brought back to Europe as ornamental plants. Today, you might spot some in a neighbour's yard who, if not in the know, might consider it a weed. A beautiful weed! Ideal for beginners, Tradescantias make for beautiful and easy-to-care houseplants with long stems that look even better when tucked into a hanging basket. You’ll encounter a variety of Tradescantia varieties that run the rainbow pride flag gamut: pink, purple, red, green, white, yellow and blue.
Tradescantia Fluminensis ‘Small-leaf spiderwort’
Tradescantia Chrysophylla 'Baby Bunny Bellies'
Tradescantia Cerinthoides ‘Blossfeldiana’
Tradescantia Spathacea ‘Oyster plant’
Tradescantia Pallida ‘Purple queen’
Tradescantia Fluminensis 'Lavender'
Care Level : Beginner, Expert or Somewhere in the middle.
Tradescantias are exceptional plants for beginners since they’re very low maintenance, pretty to look at, and can grow quickly and upwards of 30-60cm if placed in the right conditions.
Tradescantias prefer bright, indirect light. If there’s a spot near a window that gets 8 full hours of bright, indirect light (like behind a curtain) then that’s where it should stake out and call home. The beautiful variegated leaves Tradescantias are known for fade if it doesn’t get enough indirect light during the day.
Tradescantias like to live in moist soil, so do your best to keep it from drying out completely. Do the stick and/or finger test – drive your finger into the top two inches of the soil to determine if it’s wet or dry. If it’s the latter, water. In terms of frequency, we recommend watering it once a week in the summer and less frequently in the winter.
Tradescantias prefer above average humidity. They’re generally found doing well in people’s bathrooms or kitchens. You’re welcome to mist them, pair them with a humidifier, or keep them on top of a tray of pebbles submerged in water. If you’re taking a long hot shower, Tradescantias would appreciate the invite to hang out in the steam. If their leaves start to brown or get crispy, that’s a sign you need to dial the humidity up.
Tradescantias thrive in 18 to 24°C conditions and can generally tolerate warmer conditions above 24°C. If you place them in colder temperatures, you’ll start to see their leaves deal with discoloration and damage – signs its screaming for help. Loudly, might we add.
Tradescantias are toxic to pets. See ‘ya later, Mittens.
Other fun facts:
- Tradescantia flowers are early-risers – they operate on a successful CEO-like schedule by blooming in the morning, then wilting into a jelly-like substance like billionaire’s tears.
- The name Spiderwort came from its spider silk-like and web-like hairs that cover the sepals and buds that are evident when covered in dew or its own plant sap; thankfully, they look nothing like spiders so no one needs to be standing on a chair freaking out.
- Spiderwort looks as good as it tastes – sort-of – if you like the taste of asparagus. Its stems, leaves and flowers are edible raw or cooked – some fancy places dress their salads with its flowers or serve them candied for a sweet treat.
- Its leaves are mucilaginous, meaning the “juice” can be soothing. History shows that the plant has been turned into a paste to rub onto insect bites to relieve pian and itching; its roots were used as a poultice to treat cancer; and a tea was made from the plant as a laxative to treat bellyaches – you can basically add “Dr.” and “ND” to your business card upon the purchase of Tradescantia.
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