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There are many different varieties of houseplants that gardeners can choose from, and one stunning variety is the Zebrina. This plant, also known as the Tradescantia Zebrina or Wandering Jew, is a trailing plant with beautiful purple and silver leaves. It is easy to care for, and can be planted both indoors and outside.

When it comes to watering the Zebrina, it is important to supply enough water to keep the plant healthy, but not to overwater it. The roots should be kept slightly moist, and the soil should be allowed to dry out between waterings. Underwatering can cause the leaves to turn brown, while overwatering can lead to root rot.


The Tradescantia plant, also known by its common names small-leaf, boat lily or spider lily, is a colorful and low-maintenance houseplant that is native to the tropical habitats of South America. Its scientific name derives from John Tradescant the Younger, a 17th century English botanist who was an avid plant collector.

There are several varieties of Tradescantia plants, including Tradescantia virginiana, Tradescantia pallida, and Tradescantia navicularis. These plants are characterized by their fast growth, trailing foliage, and vibrant colors. Some popular cultivars include Tradescantia Fluminensis ‘Tricolor’ and Tradescantia Zebrina ‘Purple Heart’.

When it comes to caring for Tradescantia plants, here are some tips to ensure their well-being:

  1. Light requirements: Tradescantia plants prefer bright, indirect light. They can tolerate some shade but avoid placing them in direct sunlight as it can scorch their leaves.
  2. Temperature: These plants thrive in average room temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C). Avoid exposing them to extreme temperature fluctuations.
  3. Watering: Water your Tradescantia plant when the top inch of soil feels dry. Be careful not to overwater, as it can lead to root rot. Drain excess water from the saucer to prevent waterlogging.
  4. Fertilizing: Feed your Tradescantia plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks during the growing season (spring and summer). Follow the package instructions for proper dilution.
  5. Repotting: Tradescantia plants should be repotted every 1-2 years to provide fresh soil and ample space for growth. Choose a pot that is one size larger and use well-draining compost.
  6. Pruning: To maintain a compact and bushy shape, regularly trim back the trailing stems of your Tradescantia plant. This will also encourage new growth.
  7. Pests and troubleshooting: Tradescantia plants are relatively resistant to pests but can occasionally suffer from spider mites. If you notice webbing or distortion on the foliage, treat your plant with an appropriate insecticide or wipe the leaves with a mild soapy water solution.

Tradescantia plants can be displayed as hanging plants or in pots and baskets. Their trailing growth habit makes them ideal for hanging baskets and plant stands. They are also suitable for terrariums or as ground cover in outdoor gardens.

With their unique foliage and vibrant flowers, Tradescantia plants add a touch of beauty to any indoor space. Whether you choose the common varieties or opt for the more exotic cultivars such as Tradescantia flirty™, these plants are sure to delight any plant enthusiast. So why not give them a try and enjoy their easy care and captivating charm?


When it comes to taking care of indoor plants, there are a few basics that every plant parent should know. From understanding the characteristics of different plant species to knowing how to properly water and prune your plants, these fundamentals will help you keep your green friends thriving.

One common mistake that plant parents make is underwatering their plants. It is important to verify the moisture level of the soil before watering, as different plants have different water requirements. Some plants thrive in high humidity, while others prefer drier conditions. By understanding the specific needs of your plants, you can ensure that you are providing the right amount of water.

Another important aspect of plant care is the rate of growth. Some plants, like the Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Flirty™ Maid’ or the Tradescantia zebrina, can develop and spread quickly. These creeping plants are often used to cover ground or trail in hanging baskets. On the other hand, plants like the Tradescantia sillamontana or the Tradescantia albiflora ‘Nanouk’ have a slower growth rate and are perfect for smaller spaces.

Understanding the native habitats of your plants is also crucial. Some plants, like the Tradescantia virginiana or the Tradescantia navicularis, are native to the United States and prefer to be grown outside. Others, like the Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Heart’ or the Tradescantia chrysophylla, are native to tropical regions and will thrive indoors.

There are a few pests that can affect your Tradescantia plants, including the common spider mites and aphids. These pests can be kept at bay by regular pruning and wiping the leaves with a damp cloth. It is important to move infected plants away from healthy ones to prevent the pests from spreading.

When it comes to choosing a spot for your Tradescantia plants, they generally prefer bright, indirect light. They can tolerate some shade, but if placed in a dark corner, their growth may become stunted. Some popular varieties, like the Tradescantia ‘Andersoniana’ or the Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Heart’, have stunning flowers that bloom in the spring.

It is worth noting that while Tradescantia plants are generally safe to have around pets and children, some species, like the Tradescantia zebrina, have a toxic sap that can cause skin irritation or stomach discomfort if ingested. If you are concerned about plants that may be poisonous, it is always best to check with a veterinarian or consult a list of toxic plants.

To summarize, the basics of caring for Tradescantia plants include understanding their water and light requirements, pruning regularly to prevent pests, and knowing the specific needs of each species. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your Tradescantia plants thrive and bring beauty to your home or office space.

Botanical name

The botanical name for spiderwort is Tradescantia. It is a type of flowering plant that is commonly grown by humans both indoors and outdoors. Spiderwort plants always grow from the ground and typically reach a height of about 1-2 feet.

Spiderwort plants prefer temperatures between 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit and do well in areas where the soil is slightly moist. They can tolerate disturbed soil and are often found growing in gardens, pots, or hanging baskets.

When it comes to watering, spiderwort plants do not like to be underwatered or overwatered. It is important to water them regularly but avoid letting their roots sit in water for too long. A general guide is to water spiderwort plants every 1-2 weeks or whenever the top inch of soil feels dry.

Spiderwort flowers come in various types and shades, with some varieties producing blooms in pink, purple, blue, or white colors. One popular variety is the Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Tricolor’ with its variegated leaves in shades of green, white, and pink. Another popular variety is the Tradescantia zebrina, also known as the Wandering Jew plant, which has beautiful purple and green foliage.

Spiderwort plants are hardy and can be grown both indoors and outdoors. However, they are not tolerant of frost or extreme cold temperatures. They are also adaptable to different light conditions and can survive in both bright sunlight and partial shade.

Spiderwort plants are relatively easy to care for but may require occasional repotting. When repotting, gently remove the plant from its current container and thin out any overgrown or tangled roots. Place the plant in a larger pot with fresh compost and water it thoroughly.

The spiderwort plant belongs to the Commelinaceae family and is related to other plants such as the purple heart plant (Tradescantia pallida) and the dayflower (Commelina communis). It is often called the “Widow’s Tears” or “Widow’s Thrill” due to its drooping flowers. Another common name for spiderwort is “Inch Plant” due to the way its flowers close up in response to being touched or disturbed.

Spiderwort plants can be a decorative addition to any home or garden, with their beautiful foliage and vibrant flowers. They are also useful in attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies.

In summary, spiderwort plants, with their strappy grass-like leaves and unique flowers, are a popular choice among both indoor and outdoor gardeners. Whether you are a seasoned plant lover or a beginner, growing spiderwort can be a rewarding experience. By following these basic care tips and knowing the plant’s requirements, you can enjoy the beauty of spiderwort year-round.

Common names

The spider plant, scientifically known as Chlorophytum comosum, is a popular indoor plant commonly referred to by various common names. It is always in high demand due to its attractive foliage and easy care requirements.

During the fall, the spider plant produces small white flowers that eventually turn into baby spider plants, also known as plantlets. These plantlets can be left to grow on the mother plant or removed and planted separately.

The spider plant is native to tropical and southern Africa. It is most commonly found in habitats with indirect, bright light but can also tolerate lower light levels. The plant has long, strappy leaves that can come in various shades of green, white, or yellow. Some varieties, like the ‘Vittatum’ and ‘Variegatum’, have attractive pink stripes on the leaves.

The spider plant is a hardy plant that can grow in a wide range of temperatures. It is able to tolerate temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 degrees Celsius) and as high as 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius). This makes it suitable for indoor cultivation in most climate zones.

One of the key characteristics of the spider plant is its trailing habit. The plant’s long, arching leaves make it ideal for hanging baskets or as a cascading plant on shelves or plant stands. It is also easy to propagate, as the plant produces long, thin stems with clusters of small white flowers that eventually turn into plantlets.

When it comes to watering, the spider plant is relatively low-maintenance. It prefers slightly moist soil and should be watered whenever the top inch of soil feels dry. However, it is important not to overwater as this can cause root rot. Underwatering the plant slightly is better than overwatering. It is also important to use well-draining soil to prevent waterlogged roots.

In terms of repotting, it is recommended to repot the spider plant every 1-2 years to keep it healthy and promote growth. This can be done by transferring the plant to a slightly larger pot with fresh potting soil. Spider plants are also known for their air-purifying properties, making them particularly useful in indoor spaces.

Given its diverse foliage colors and attractive trailing habit, the spider plant goes by various common names. Some of the most commonly used names include the spider ivy, ribbon plant, St. Bernard’s lily, airplane plant, hen and chickens, and cat’s whiskers. Each name captures a different aspect of the plant’s unique characteristics and growing habit.

With its easy care requirements and beautiful foliage, the spider plant is a popular choice for both experienced and novice plant enthusiasts. Whether placed in a hanging basket, on a shelf, or as a tabletop plant, the spider plant adds a fresh touch of greenery to any indoor space.

5646nbspCobweb Spider Plant – This variety has thin, strappy leaves with white or yellow stripes, resembling cobwebs.

5456nbspPallida Spider Plant – Pallida is a smaller variety with narrow, arching leaves and white flowers.

5546nbspAndersoniana Spider Plant – This variety features wide, arching leaves with green and white stripes. It is known for its fast growth.

5746nbspBride’s Veil Spider Plant – Also known as the ‘Bride’s Veil’, this variety has strappy leaves that are silver-green in color.

5246nbspSilver Star Spider Plant – The ‘Silver Star’ variety has small-leaf clusters with white stripes, giving it a unique appearance.

5346nbspBlushing Spider Plant – The ‘Blushing Spider Plant’ has green leaves with pink hues on the edges.

These are just a few examples of the many spider plant varieties available. Each variety has its own unique characteristics and can add a touch of beauty to any indoor space.

Propagation of spider plants is relatively simple. The plantlets can be directly potted in soil or placed in water until roots develop. Once the roots have formed, the plantlets can be potted in well-draining soil. Over time, these plantlets will grow into new spider plants, creating a beautiful and lush display.

✿ Read More About Houseplants.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.