How to Grow and Care for Tradescantia Fluminensis (Small-leaf Spiderwort)

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Tradescantia Fluminensis, commonly known as Small-leaf Spiderwort, is a beautiful trailing plant that belongs to the Commelinaceae family. It is native to the Americas, including Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean.

This plant features small, lance-shaped leaves that are typically green with a hint of purple on the undersides. The leaves are arranged alternately along the stems, giving the plant a dense and lush appearance.

The fleshy stems are soft and hairless and typically green in color. One notable characteristic is their ability to root at any node that comes into contact with the ground, allowing the plant to spread and form new plants along its trailing stems.

Although its rapid growth has earned it weed status in many countries, it is perfect for anyone looking to add a little green to their home without too much fuss. And if you like a pop of color, there are also variegated cultivars with pale pink coloration!

Size and Growth Habit

Small-leaf Spiderwort is a vining species that can grow up to several feet in length. It has a trailing growth habit, making it an excellent choice for hanging containers or as a ground cover in gardens.

It is important to note that Tradescantia Fluminensis has the potential to become invasive in certain regions where it can be grown outdoors. Its ability to root at each node and spread along the ground can lead to its rapid colonization and displacement of native plants.

Small-leaf Spiderwort is primarily grown as an indoor houseplant, but it can also be cultivated outdoors in suitable climates. It is often used to add a touch of greenery and beauty to homes, offices, and gardens. Additionally, it is known for its air-purifying properties, helping to improve indoor air quality.

Flowers and Bloom Time

Although it is primarily grown for its attractive foliage rather than its flowers, Tradescantia Fluminensis also produces delicate white, purple, or pink flowers, adding to its overall charm.

Tradescantia Fluminensis can bloom throughout the year in its native habitat or when grown outdoors. However, when grown as an indoor plant, it may flower infrequently. The frequency of blooming can also vary depending on the specific conditions in which the plant is grown, such as light intensity, temperature, and plant maturity.

Tradescantia Fluminensis Care Requirements

Tradescantia fluminensis is a versatile plant that thrives in both indoor and outdoor settings. Its appealing appearance and low-maintenance nature make it a popular choice. Here are some care tips to ensure the health of your plant.

Light

Although Tradescantia fluminensis will tolerate shaded areas, it thrives in bright but indirect sunlight. Place it near a window that receives at least eight hours of sunlight a day, but avoid direct rays that can scorch the leaves. The scorching afternoon sun might be a bit much; The ideal is a little sun in the morning or late afternoon.

The variegated cultivars of Tradescantia fluminensis are especially fond of bright locations. They lose their beautiful coloration and return to green when they are deprived of light.

If you can’t find a good location near a window, you can always consider supplementing with artificial light

Watering

This plant prefers consistently moist soil but never wet. Water it weekly during the summer and reduce watering frequency in the fall and winter. Before watering, check the soil’s moisture level by inserting your finger a few inches down in the pot. If it feels dry, it’s time to water the plant.

When it is thirsty, its leaves will be limp, but they will replenish themselves when they receive a sip of water. That being said, this is a very easy plant to grow that won’t mind being forgotten or overwatered from time to time, as long as it doesn’t become a habit.

Temperature and Humidity

Small-leaf Spiderwort thrives in temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid exposing it to sustained temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, as it can damage the leaves.

This plant appreciates above-average humidity levels, so consider placing it in a humid area of your home or misting it regularly. However, as long as the place where you are going to place it provides it with the lighting it needs, there is no need to worry about its location.

Also, if your Tradescantia is not exposed to frost, you probably won’t have any problems. This makes it a great option for the coldest parts of the house.

Soil

Tradescantia fluminensis is not picky when it comes to the substrate and grows well in ordinary potting soil provided it drains well. But if you want better growth, use a high-quality potting mix specifically formulated for indoor plants.

This type of mix usually contains a combination of organic matter, such as peat moss or coconut coir, and other components like perlite or vermiculitewhich allows excess water to drain away, keeping the roots healthy and preventing waterlogged conditions

You can also easily improve ordinary potting soil by mixing a little perlite into regular potting soil.

Avoid over-watering, as the roots can develop rot if the soil remains too wet. Although the fluminensis needs moist soil to thrive, it does not appreciate excess water. Also, make sure the pot you use has a drainage hole so excess water can drain out easily.

Fertilizer

Tradescantia fluminensis doesn’t require frequent fertilization. However, while fresh potting soil provides the necessary nutrients for the plant, fertilizing it can promote healthy growth and vibrant foliage. If desired, use a water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half-strength every two months during the growing season (typically spring and summer).

Make sure to mix the fertilizer according to the instructions on the packaging. If you are fertilizing for the first time, it is important to dilute the fertilizer to half the recommended strength to avoid burning the plant’s roots

Avoid overfeeding, as it can burn the plant and cause the leaves to lose their variegation. If you prefer organic options, you can use compost or organic liquid fertilizers. These can provide the necessary nutrients while at the same time being gentle on the plant.

Propagation

Plants in the Tradescantia genus are known for being incredibly easy to propagate. This, combined with its fast growth, has made this plant an invasive weed that is difficult to overcome in some regions.

Tradescantia fluminensis can be easily propagated through stem cuttings and division. Here’s how to propagate via cuttings:

  1. Cut a piece of the stem with at least one leaf and place it cutting-side down in fresh potting soil. Alternatively, you can place the cutting in a jar of water until roots emerge and are approximately 2 inches long, then transplant it into well-draining soil.
  2. Water the cutting regularly, and within a few weeks, you should notice roots forming.
  3. Once the cutting has established roots, repot it into its permanent container.

Of course, you can also pop the cutting into some moist soil and water as you normally would. It will take root and you will have your new plant!

Repotting

Tradescantia fluminensisis is not at all picky about pot size and can thrive in the same cramped pot for years. If you eventually want to transplant yours, spring is a good time to do so.

It should be repotted after it doubles in size or once a year, whichever comes first. Use fresh potting soil during repotting to provide the plant with the necessary nutrients .

Common Problems

  1. Yellow Leaves: Yellow leaves can be a normal part of the plant’s life cycle. However, if brand new leaves are turning yellow or all the leaves change color at once, it may indicate overwatering and root rot. Ensure the soil is well-draining and adjust your watering routine accordingly.
  2. Pests: Spiderwort plants can be susceptible to aphids and spider mites. If you notice signs of infestation, separate the affected plant from others and treat it with a mild insecticide or horticultural oil like neem oil.

Is Tradescantia fluminensis toxic to dogs and cats?

The ASPCA classifies Tradescantia fluminensis as mildly toxic to dogs and cats, causing dermatitis. Placing this plant away from pets is probably a good idea.

Please note that if you do not wear gloves when handling your Tradescantia fluminensis, you may notice slight irritation on the skin of your hands. However, it is nothing serious and should go away on its own.

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