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Tradescantia zebrina

Tradescantia Zebrina is a popular trailing plant that sports sharp leaves that range in color from green to purple (depending on light exposure). If you look closely, it also has fine hairs that are seen along the stems and leaves. Another interesting feature of the Tradescantia Zebrina is that it appears to shimmer in bright light. Being that it grows fairly quickly and ferociously, Tradescantia may require some management and upkeep to ensure that your Tradescantia is looking its best. 

plant overview


Native to South America and the Carribean

plant family


Other common names

Common names include zebrina pendula (botanical name), inch plant, spiderwort, and tradescantia pendula.

other varieties

Tradescantia come in a number of colors and varieties, ranging from white and green, pastel pink, and various shades of purple. A few of those includeTradescantia fluminensis, Tradescantia blossfeldiana, Tradescantia sillamontana, Tradescantia spathacea, Tradescantia virginiana, Tradescantia longipes, Tradescantia mollipila, Tradescantia pallida (“Purple Heart”), and Tradescantia Callisia.


Can be mildly toxic to pets and humans if consumed. 

growing your tradescantia zebrina in water

replacing water

For healthy plants, we recommend that you add water to the glass every 1 - 2 weeks (or if you see that water levels have lowered) to replenish the water that evaporated or absorbed from the plants. Then, replace the water every 2-4 weeks.

Most tap water works great but distilled or filtered waters are recommended if available. 


Tradescantia's bright colors tend to fade when not receiving sufficient nutrients. We recommend adding 1 to 2 drops of nutrients to your tradescantia each month to support growth. 


Tradescantia prefers bright, indirect light but grows well in partial direct light as well. In lower light settings, expect your tradescantia to be a bit more leggy as the plant stretches for brighter light. 

On the other hand, Tradescantia one of the few that thrive in direct sunlight! The more sun it gets, the more the color starts to pop


Ideal temperatures are between 65 and 85 degrees but will continue to grow in somewhat warmer temperatures as well. 


Tradescantia has no special humidity requirements. 

Leaf care & pruning

  • Cleaning the leaves will promote better light absorption for photosynthesis, simply use a damp towel or cloth and wipe them down
  • Any leaves that stay submerged in water for too long will often turn brown and rot. It's recommended to remove these as soon as you see them. 
  • Yellowing or browned leaves can be removed at the base of the plant, immediately above the root cluster with either your fingers or using a sharp, sterile knife.
  • This plant grows aggressively, so be sure to use clean scissors to cut the stems back to a joint. This would encourage the plant to grow wider and bushier.
  • Regularly pinch back the stems by at least 25% 

Propagation tips

Tradescantia tend to be an easy plant to propagate in water. Simply submerge a node in water with at least 3 leaves above it, and then place it in a warm space with good indirect sunlight. Nodes can easily be identified by finding any point at which a leaf is growing. Simply remove the leaves and your node is ready to grow roots. 

See the video below for a full step-by-step walkthrough! 

care videos

Propagating Tradescantia

Common issues & care info

Variegation on the leaves begins to fade

Identification: A lack of colored stripes on the leaves and/or dulling of color

Cause: Not enough Light

How to treat:Try moving your plant around a bit. Generally closer to windows is a good start, but also testing other walls and spaces helps. 

Fading of color in the leaves

Identification: deep purples begin to fade in new leaf growth

Cause: insufficient nutrients

How to treat:track down a liquid nutrient solution that you can add to your water and begin adding drops once or twice a month

Leaves begin turning brown or dying

Identification: Dead or browning leaves

Cause:If the leaves are older (closer to the roots), this may be natural and part of the natural plant growth. Newer leaves growing in brown is likely a lack of oxygen in the water. Additionally, leaves which end up submerged in water will turn brown. 

How to treat:For all of the scenarios above, removing the dying leaves is the first step. Then, if the issue is a lack of oxygen in the water, simply replace the water for the plant and then continue on a 2 week to monthly water replacement schedule. 

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