Tradescantia lilac (Tradescantia fluminensis) is one of the most beautiful indoor plants you can grow (and the competition is steep!). This striking plant also goes by other names including Purple Heart, Purple Queen, Spiderwort, and Wandering Jew Plant.
It’s not your standard green houseplant but instead features variegated leaves of white stripes, lilac, light green, and cream, which makes it all the more unique. This hanging plant is a fast grower and looks lovely when displayed in a macrame hanger!
Tradescantia lilac is an excellent starting point if you’re new to houseplants because it’s very low-maintenance. If you’re ready to get started with it, this post provides the essentials of tradescantia care.
How to Shop for Tradescantia Lilac
Before you bring a plant home from the garden nursery or select one online, you should be aware of a few things first before you spend any money.
As with all plants, it’s important to choose one that is healthy; you don’t want to buy a struggling plant that already has issues because that’ll set you up for failure from the start.
When shopping at your local garden center, take a good look at the plant and make sure the leaves and stem are healthy and there are no signs of pests or insects.
How do you make sure a plant is healthy? Simple! Read these tips below:
Inspect the leaves: The leaves should not be bruised, dehydrated, wrinkly, or soggy. These are signs that the plant has been either heavily overwatered or underwatered. Instead, choose a plant whose leaves feel firm and display rich color. You also want the plant to generally look bushy and full – not thinned out or scraggly. You don’t want a plant that has grown leggy.
The stem should likewise look healthy, not flimsy or thin but firm and sturdy.
The worst thing you can do when picking out a plant is to choose one that already has an insect infestation. Look for any evidence of pests like webs, gnats, and eggs on the surface and crevices of the leaves and stem.
These eggs usually show up as tiny clusters of white dots. If you see this, choose another plant.
Best Soil for Tradscantia Lilac
Now that you know how to pick out a healthy plant, let’s talk about the importance of soil, especially if you’re repotting.
Since this plant loves moisture, the best soil is one that will retain enough water. Luckily, any good houseplant potting mix or fresh potting soil will work. To ensure that the soil can retain water, you can add a handful of peat moss to the pot.
Stay away from fast-draining soils that are meant for other houseplants like succulents and cacti, as this type of soil is too fast-draining for the likes of tradescantia.
Also, you DO NOT need to repot your new houseplant. Your plant will hopefully have already been planted in fertile, quality soil before you even laid your eyes on it at the store.
If you’re going to repot, do so during the growing season in the spring and summer and never in the winter. You should repot tradescantia lilac if it has outgrown its current pot and has become rootbound, meaning there is not enough soil to adequately cover and nourish the roots or retain water.
When repotting, use a clean pot that is only about one or two inches larger than the plant’s current pot; this will keep the plant from entering into shock mode and help it easily adapt to its new home. Make sure to use fresh potting soil when repotting.
Sunlight and Temperature Needs of Tradescantia
Like most houseplants, tradescantia lilac prefers bright yet indirect sunlight. Full sun, especially during the late spring and summer months can actually scorch and dehydrate the plant, which is something you definitely want to avoid.
However, this plant needs plenty of bright light to retain its colorful leaves. If it gets too much shade, it’ll begin to lose its vibrancy.
If you don’t have access to a sunny window, you can use a grow light, which is easy to find at garden centers and online. (Just make sure to read the instructions carefully when setting it up).
As far as temperature goes, the optimal level inside your home should be between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit if you want to keep this plant happy! It won’t take well to low or high temperatures.
If you plan to keep your plant outdoors over the spring or summer, make sure to bring it indoors in the fall because you don’t want to risk exposing it to freezing temperatures.
The humidity level of your home is also very important as this houseplant appreciates a humid environment.
To increase humidity around your plant the easy way, create a simple pebble tray.
Here’s how: place pebbles on a plant saucer and then place your tradescantia pot on top of the saucer. When you want to encourage high humidity, pour some water into the pebble-filled saucer. That’s it! The water from the saucer will create moisture in the air around your plant.
How to Water Tradescantia Lilac
Tradescantia has somewhat strict water requirements in that it loves consistently moist soil but never soaking wet soil or a soggy pot.
Dry soil is something you’ll want to avoid, so make sure to check the soil regularly with your finger to feel for dryness.
If the soil is dry, it’s time to water generously until you see water seeping out of the pot’s drainage hole. Don’t let excess water collect at the bottom of the pot because this can drown the roots that are sitting at the bottom of the planter which can lead to root rot.
While tradescantia lilac is forgiving if you neglect its water needs for a few days, it won’t look very good if you let the soil go dry for an extended period of time. The leaves will begin to droop if it’s in need of water BUT they should perk right back up after a drink.
When you do water, do so generously to give the root system a good soak. Remember to water the rootball directly, not the leaves.
Also, the warmer the weather, the more you’ll need to water, especially since this unique plant will be in its active growing season and will need the extra water for vigorous growth, just like it’ll need enough light to retain its color.
How to Prune Tradescantia Plant
Since tradescantia grows as a vine and is often grown in a hanging basket, pruning is an important part of its care routine. When done correctly, pruning encourages new and healthy growth and helps the plant maintain its full, bushy appearance.
It’s an easy process, too, and it’s often referred to as “pinching”. All you need to do is use your fingers to pinch off the vine right under a leaf node.
After a few weeks, new growth will start to sprout out from the node, helping to create a fuller look.
If you notice your plant is thinning out, it might be because it’s diverting energy away from growing new leaves at the crown to growing longer vines.
Don’t worry about your plant when you’re pruning because tradescantia adapts well to pruning and you can also propagate what you cut! the rule of thumb when pruning houseplants is to never prune more than 1/4 of the plant or you’ll send it into shock.
Make sure to pull off any dead leaves in the process.
If you’re using scissors or pruners to cut, sterilize them first to prevent spreading any type of infection to your plant.
Fertilize Your Plant Biweekly
Fertilizing your plant will provide it with extra nutrients but make sure to only fertilize during the growing season. Between the spring and summer months, you can apply a liquid houseplant fertilizer biweekly to encourage healthy growth. We like to fertilize our plants at half strength.
As with any other plant, it’s important to first water the soil before you apply fertilizer. Applying fertilizer to dry soil can harm your plants because the solution can actually burn the roots!
We’ve covered all of the basics of tradescantia lilac care and hope you’ll find this indoor plant to be one of your new favorites!
Dealing with Pests and Insects
Bug infestations on houseplants can be a real headache, so it’s a good idea to quickly inspect your plant regularly for signs of pests. A good way to do this is before watering.
Take a quick look around the pot to see if you notice any flying gnats or white eggs underneath the leaves. Your plant can be susceptible to diseases such as powdery mildew, leaf-spot disease, botrytis, mealybug infestations, and thrips.
Check for a powdery film on the leaves or leaves that are turning white (powdery mildew) or turning brown and then shriveling up (botrytis).
The best way to prevent such diseases is to never overwater and always water the soil, NOT the leaves, which means no overhead watering or splashing all the vines with water! Good drainage is key to a healthy tradescantia.
Want to Add More Plants To Your Collection?
Houseplants can be so fun to shop and care for. If you don’t have an outdoor garden, houseplants make it so that you can flex your gardening muscles and create a beautiful indoor space all at the same time!
Always start with easy-to-care-for plants such as these below so you can set yourself up for success!