How to Care for Wandering Jew?
The Tradescantia spp. which is commonly also referred to as the Wandering Jew Plant or the Inch Plant, is a fast-growing, vining plant with oval-shaped leaves that are often striped.
The undersides of the leaves are purple, and the top of the leaves have a silvery shine to them. The overall effect is a plant that adds both color and pattern to your houseplant collection.
As you’ll see in my plant recommendations below, taking care of the Inch plant is also a breeze. A bit of attention and care goes a long way with the Wandering Jew Plant.
Size & Growth
In optimal light and with optimal care, the Tradescantia can grow up to 6 feet in length if it isn’t pinched back.
However, regular pruning is recommended to help the plant grow bushier. If left to its own devices, the plant will eventually turn leggy.
When pinched back, the plant puts out shoots just below where it was pinched, resulting in a healthier, more compact, and bushy growth.
You can grow the inch plant in a hanging basket or in a pot placed on a shelf for a better display.
The Inch plant grows best and produces the most flowers when exposed to bright, indirect light. The brighter the light, the better the plant development.
When deprived of light, the Wandering Jew plant will ‘wander’ towards the light, which will often result in a misshapen, leggy plant that loses its appeal.
Make sure all sides of the plant are equally exposed to indirect or filtered light. In low light conditions, the plant will not only show signs of etiolation, but it will also lose its specific stripes or variegation.
Strong direct light should also be avoided because of the potential damage to the foliage.
The Inch plant doesn’t enjoy wet soil, so you should be careful with its watering regimen. When watering, you can water deeply, but make sure to allow the potting mix to partially dry before you water again.
Also, don’t water directly on the crown, water the soil around the plant to avoid rotting. Water should be kept off the leaves as well.
Don’t allow the soil to completely dry out because the leaves will wilt. In winter, reduce watering since the plant goes into a resting period, using fewer resources.
Although the plant will grow in all-purpose potting soil rich in organic matter, it’s best to provide a balance between good drainage and optimal water retention.
If the soil drains too fast, the potting mix might dry too soon, and your Wandering Jew plant will become dehydrated. If the potting mix retains too much water, there’s a risk of rotting.
To get the best of both worlds, take an all-purpose potting soil and work in a bit of coarse sand or perlite, humus or peat, and organic compost for a balanced mix.
The resulting mix will retain just the right amount of moisture without creating a soggy mix that’s prone to compaction and waterlogging.
Temperature & Humidity
The recommended temperature range for the Tradescantia spp. Is situated between 55 °F and 80 °F. If temperatures fall below 50 °F, the plant will have trouble surviving.
Therefore, don’t expose the plant to frost or very cold temperatures. Even cold drafts or a cold window sill can become problematic, so avoid those too.
The humidity requirements of the plant are average, so it will enjoy average indoor humidity between 40 and 60 percent.
If the air gets too dry, there’s a risk of spider mites overrunning your plant. Misting the plant or increasing humidity levels will fend off unwanted pests.
Because of its rapid growth, the Inch plant will benefit from nutrients added to their soil, especially that potting mixes can quickly become depleted of nutrients.
You can either add a slow-release fertilizer to the potting mix in spring or you can use a water-soluble liquid fertilizer twice a month, but only if you dilute it to half strength.
Although this plant can benefit from regular feeding, there’s no need to add too much fertilizer. Excess fertilizer can cause foliage burn, so don’t be overzealous with the fertilizing.
Potting & Repotting
I’ve already discussed how the Wandering Jew plant can be beautifully displayed in a hanging basket.
Over time, if growing conditions are optimal, the plant will become too big for its current pot, and it needs a bigger pot.
Repot in early spring, just before the new growth period kicks off and use a pot with a diameter that’s at most 2 inches bigger.
When repotting, add fresh potting mix to the new pot and remove most of the old mix, especially if you’ve been regularly fertilizing your plant.
With time, minerals from the fertilizer can build up in the potting mix and detrimentally affect the plant’s development.
How to Propagate Wandering Jew?
Propagating the Wandering Jew plant is just as easy as growing it. Simply harvest cuttings that are about 3-4 inches in size and place the cut end in water.
The cuttings will readily root in water in about 7 days or less. Replace the water every 2-3 days and wait for the roots to become large enough to transplant the cutting in a pot.
You can also root in moist potting mix, which has the advantage of not requiring transplanting after rooting.
Either way, the Inch plant will quickly take to its new environment, especially if it’s offered conditions optimal for growing — lots of indirect light, warmth, good quality potting mix, and correct watering.
There are several Tradescantia varieties that take well to indoor growing conditions. If you’re a fan of striped or variegated plants, there are two varieties worth mentioning.
The Tradescantia zebrina has silver-green stripes and purple undersides, while the Tradescantia fluminensis sports variegated foliage.
As far as vining plants are considered, the Inch plant is one of the more popular houseplants because of its adaptability to indoor growing and low requirements.
Don’t forget that this plant enjoys bright light and benefits from occasional pruning for a fuller, bushier growth.