Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ (Wandering Jew)

Common Name: “Wandering Jew”; “Inch Plant”; “Small-Leaf Spiderwort”

Note: Several plants have the common name “Wandering Jew”. Check out this post, Common Name Confusion, to see the record set straight.

Scientific Classification:
Order: Commelinales
Family: Commelinaceae
Sub-Family: Commelinoideae
Genus: Tradescantia
Species: T. fluminensis
Cultivar: ‘Variegata’

Native To: South America

Growing Specs: Woodland perennial weed. It is considered a noxious weed in many parts of the world and is rather invasive if planted in the ground.

  • Appearance: Long trailing vines with green and white striped leaves. The stems are branched and form adventitious roots. The leaves are somewhat fleshy and vary in size, with an average length and width of 1.5″ and .75″, respectively. They are broad, lanceolate in form, and pointy. Leaf nodes are about an inch apart on the stem, hence the common name.
  • Flowering: White clusters of flowers with three petals appear in summer. Flowering is rare for indoor plants.
  • Hardiness: Even though this plant is from the tropics, it is cold hardy to 20 degrees F!

adventitious root


1. a root that arises from any point other than the radicle or the root axis

Care Requirements: It needs bright indirect light, but be careful of exposing it to direct sun, as too much sun can burn the leaves. It likes regular waterings. Keep it relatively moist but never soggy. Be sure to plant it in well-draining potting mix. Tradescantias are suceptible to vine overgrowth and lankiness, so the lower growth will need to be cut back regularly in order for the plant to maintain its fullness. Check out my post, Trimming to Promote Growth, for details! It is not fussy about humidity.

Propagation: Propagation is easily done by stem cuttings. Just snip off a piece of the long vine at any point below a node, and stick it in a glass of water. It will form very thin white roots. Plant the cutting when the roots wrap around the sides of the propagation vessel, about 2-3 months. For more information about propagating Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’, check out this post.

Toxicity: Poisonous to humans and pets if ingested. Check out my Pet Safety Guide for more information.

Xylem Rising’s Observations: Extremely fast growing! This plant is nicknamed Wandering Jew for a reason – he sure does like to wander! The foliage is trailing in nature, and it will quickly outgrow the pot if left unpruned. In my Trimming to Promote Growth post, I bring you alongside in my journey of trimming and propagating this plant in order to encourage fullness. I recommend you check it out!

Sometimes certain stems of the plant will produce leaves that are all green in color, reverting back to the primary form, Tradescantia fluminensis. This is a genetic anomaly, resulting from unstable changes in the leaf’s cells. If you catch this happening, clip off the all-green growth to help prevent the new growth from losing its variegation.



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All photo rights belong to Cristie R. Kiley. Please ask permission before taking.

2 Comments on “Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ (Wandering Jew)

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