The Tradescantia is a trailing plant known by common names such as Wandering Jew (more on that later), Wandering Dude, Spiderwort, and inch plant.You can grow Tradescantia as a houseplant, but it has some specific needs and requires a bit more maintenance than most houseplants.
Indoor Tradescantia plant care
Tradescantias are native to the Americas from southern Canada to South America. They like bright, indirect light, moist soil and high humidity.
There are about 70 different Tradescantia cultivars, the most common being the green leafed, silver-streaked Tradescantia Zebrina and the purple Zebrina Burgundy. There are pink and purple variegated Tradescantias such as Tradescantia fluminensis tricolor, quadricolor, Tradescantia bubblegum and Tradescantia nanouk (read on to find out why the latter is so special).
All the different varieties of Transcendia plants grow very quickly. If you can give your plant the right care, it may start blooming, producing small pink or purple flowers that only last a day. Name of the wandering Jewish plant So let’s talk about it. Why is the Tradescantia commonly referred to as the wandering Jew? There are a few different stories going around.
It is said that the Tradescantia got its common name Wandering Jew because it grows in a wandering manner. It spreads quickly, with the stem sections all growing and wandering in slightly different directions.
Others say it was because propagated cuttings of the plant were passed down to friends and family, like wanderers traveling the world.
But that only explains the wandering part. The Tradescantia could have simply been called the migratory plant. Why the Jewish part?
I wasn’t there when the name was first used, but the explanation most commonly heard is that of an old Christian myth about a Jew who was said to have had a bad attitude and mocked Jesus just before the crucifixion. It is said that Jesus responded by condemning him to wander the earth until the Second Coming.
In recent years, the name Wandering Jew has been used less frequently. Wandering dude and the official name Tradescantia are becoming more common.
Tradescantia Nanouk is the simplest of all Tradescantias
Overall, the Tradescantia nanouk is the easiest Tradescantia to care for.
Unlike the other Tradescantia varieties, the Nanouk is not native to the tropical and subtropical regions of America.
Instead, Tradescantia Nanouk was cultivated in the Netherlands and patented in 2017 for its light purple-pink, green and grey-green variegated leaves (similar to but not identical to Tradescantia tricolor).
Nanouk has shorter, thicker stems and stronger, less delicate leaves, making it easier to water. And the Tradescantia nanouk was specifically bred to have “good indoor performance”. In other words, easy to care for indoors and able to survive in your home.
Variegated varieties such as Tradescantia Zebrina, Tricolor or Nanouk can lose their pink colourfulness and turn green for various reasons.
The pink coloring often fades when the plant is grown in insufficient light. It can also happen when it’s too hot or too cold for the plant to grow its colorful leaves.
If the plant doesn’t have the right conditions, it will grow solid green leaves again as it tries to conserve its energy. Growing these beautiful colorful specimens takes a lot of energy that it just doesn’t have.