How to Grow Tradescantia Plants

Guide to Growing Spiderwort, Wandering Jew, and Trinity flower

Tradescantia are grown in the garden as hardy or half hardy perennials.

They range in height from 30 to 90 cm (1 to 3 feet).

Many Tradescantia plant species have attractive foliage. This may be variegated or a lovely plummy purple colour.


Plants bloom in the summer, and with a little effort can be encouraged to bloom a second time in the autumn.

Tradescantia ohiensis
Tradescantia ohiensis - Common Spiderwort by wackybadger.

Some Tradescantia species carry beautiful tri-petalled flowers; these may be purple, blue, or white.

Common names for Tradescantia include Spiderwort, Wandering Jew and Trinity flower.

Commonly Grown Tradescantia Species Photographs and Plant Identification

Tradescantia zebrina

Tradescantia zebrina syn. Tradescantia zebrina

Tradescantia zebrina
Tradescantia zebrina (Wandering Jew / Silver Inch Plant), photograph by Dick Culbert; CC.

Tradescantia pallida

Tradescantia pallida
Tradescantia pallida (Purple Heart / Purple Secretia / Purple Queen), photograph by Forest and Kim Starr; CC.

Tradescantia fluminensis

Tradescantia fluminensis
Tradescantia fluminensis (Wandering Trad / Wandering Jew / Small-leaf Spiderwort), picture by Forest and Kim Starr; CC.

Tradescantia Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Spiderwort, Wandering Jew, Trinity flower, Purple queen, Wild Crocus.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial. Half-hardy perennial.
  • Height: 12 to 36 inches (30—90 cm).
  • Native: Americas.
  • Growing Region: Zones 4 to 10.

  • Flowers: : Summer. Will repeat blooms in autumn if treated right.
  • Flower Details: Bright blue, pink, purple, white. Three petals. Six anthers. Flat.
  • Foliage: Monocot. Herbaceous. Alternate. Blade-like. Variegated. Plum, green.
  • Sow Outside: Cover seed. Start of spring - before the last light frost, or towards the end of autumn.
  • Sow Inside: Germination time: one to six weeks. Temperature: 70°F (21°C). Seven or eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors following the last frost. Space at 12 to 18 inches (30—45 cm).
  • Requirements and care: Partial shade, or full sun in cooler areas. Good drainage. Acidic soil pH 5 to 6. Fertile, moist soil. Regular watering. Deadhead to promote a second bloom. Tidy dead leaves and flowers. To maintain vigor, divide plants every three years. Propagate: by dividing in the spring in cooler areas or the autumn in warmer areas. Self-seeds freely.
  • Family: Commelinaceae.
  • Closely Related Species: Dayflower, Spiderwort.
  • Miscellaneous: Genus is named after the English naturalists John Tradescant the elder and the younger. May cause allergies in pets. Can grow aggressively in rich soils.
  • How to Grow Spiderwort and Other Tradescantia

    The seeds of Tradescantia plants such as Trinity flower, Wandering jew, and Spiderwort can be sown outdoors in either autumn or in early spring. The seeds should be lightly covered once sown.

    Depending upon their size, Tradescantia should be spaced from 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 inches) apart.

    Ideally the soil that they grow in will be moist, rich, well drained, and acidic (pH 5 to 6).

    The plants do best in a partially shaded area, but will tolerate sunny areas as long as the soil is kept moist.

    If starting plants indoors, then sow about seven weeks in advance. It should take from 10 days to 6 weeks for Tradescantia seeds to germinate at a temperature of about 20 degrees centigrade (68°F). Transplant them outdoors about a week after the last frost of spring.

    Caring for Tradescantia Plants

    It is easy to care for Tradescantia species. They like a moist soil so water regularly.

    Cutting back once they have flowered should result in a second bloom in the autumn.

    To maintain vigorous growth, plants should be divided every three years. Cut back dead foliage.

    If you require more plants then they can be propagated by division in the spring.

    I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Tradescantia plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Crocus, Globularia, Arctotis, and Setcreasea plants.