Tradescantia - Commelinaceae - How to care for and grow Tradescantia plants

Tradescantia - Commelinaceae - How to care for and grow Tradescantia plants



Note 1

ThereTradescantia it is a genus that has the particularity of having species characterized by rich foliage and very variegated and bright colors.






: Angiosperms


: Monocotyledons











: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The genre Tradescantia of the family of Commelinaceae includes numerous perennial herbaceous species, with a creeping habit, native to the tropical areas of central and South America and in Italy it is famously known as misery grass.

The characteristic of these plants is their prostrate and drooping posture. The stems are covered with a light down and the flowers, not very showy, of short duration on the plant and of little ornamental value, are gathered in definite inflorescences and formed by three petals generally triangular in shape and pink or white in color.


There are 60 species in the genus Tradescantiaamong which we remember:


There Tradescantia zebrina it is characterized by a creeping posture therefore particularly suitable for being raised in suspended baskets. The fleshy leaves are characteristic as they have two silver stripes (hence the name "zebrina" in remembrance of the zebra) which is found both in the green and variegated varieties while the lower page of the leaf is red.

Note 1

The flowers, produced from spring to summer, are small, pink and white (depending on the variety), formed by three triangular petals and of little ornamental value.

For some time she was called Zebrina pendula, and it was a separate genus of only four species which, however, were later incorporated into the genus Tradescantia.


There Tradescantia sillamontana it has a semi erect posture being able to grow erect up to 40 cm in height and then fall back.

Note 1

It is characterized by stems and branches with a fleshy consistency and covered with a thick silvery fur. The leaves, lanceolate, no more than 7 cm long, have a red underside and a dark green upper side and are covered with thick white hair. in summer producing small pink flowers.


There Tradescantia fluminensis native to Brazil and Argentina it is characterized by a drooping and disordered posture as the stems have the characteristic of changing direction at each node.It has fleshy stems with intense green leaves sometimes tending to blue on the upper page and with the lower page of color purple.

Note 1

In summer, small white flowers of short duration and of little ornamental value form at the top of the stems.

There are numerous varieties among which we remember theTradescantia fluminensis var. variedwith leaves streaked with white and often tinged with pink and variety Tradescantiafluminensis var. quicksilver with silver-streaked leaves.

It is what we commonly call misery grass.


There Tradescantia pallida native to Mexico, it is certainly one of the best known species, especially in Italy, which we find almost everywhere in hot areas, but tolerates the winter cold without major problems. It is characterized by succulent purple leaves and deep pink flowers.

Note 1


There Tradescantia multiflora it is characterized by leaves of a beautiful green color on the upper page that turns purple on the lower one.

Note 1

The flowers, which bloom during the summer, are white.


There Tradescantia spathacea native to Mexico, it has fleshy rhizomes and lanceolate leaves of a metallic dark green color on the upper page and purple on the lower page.

Note 1


The Tradescantia they are very easy plants to grow, as they do not require particular crop care and there are varieties on the market with such different and captivating colors that one cannot fail to have one of these plants at home.

The optimal cultivation temperatures must be, during the winter period, not lower than 10 ° C while they do not have big problems with the maximum temperatures.

They need a lot of light, which will guarantee the variegated coloring of the leaves, but not the direct rays of the sun.

It is a plant that loves the air therefore ensure good ventilation of the room paying attention to cold air currents that are not welcome.


From spring and throughout the summer it is necessary to water theTradescantia abundantly in order to keep the soil always humid (not soaked) while in the autumn-winter period it should be watered just enough to keep the soil just slightly moist, not letting the soil dry on the surface between one watering and another.

If the summer days are particularly hot, spray the plant with a nebulizer, your Tradescantia will thank you.


The repotting of the Tradescantia it is carried out every year, at the beginning of spring, in a slightly larger pot than the previous one and using a mixture formed by soil of leaves, garden soil and sand to favor the drainage of the watering water.

Be careful to place pieces of earthenware on the bottom of the pot to favor the draining of excess water and use terracotta pots as, compared to plastic ones, thanks to their porosity, they allow the earth to have gaseous exchanges.


Fertilization is done every 2 weeks by diluting a liquid fertilizer in the watering water and halving the doses compared to what is reported in the fertilizer package and only during the spring-summer period. During the other periods the fertilizations must be suspended.

It is advisable to use a fertilizer that in addition to having macroelements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) also has microelements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu) , zinc (Zn), boron (B), polybdenum (Mo), all important for a correct and balanced growth of the plant.


To have bushy-looking plants it is advisable to trim the vegetative apexes regularly. It is also advisable to eliminate the branches that develop excessively to favor a more harmonious development of the plant.

Always use clean and disinfected tools (possibly with a flame) to avoid infecting the tissues.


The flowering period is summer but the flowers of theTradescantia they last very short (days) and have little ornamental value.


The multiplication takes place by cuttings, rooted in earth or in water.


In spring - summer, cuttings about 10-13 cm long are taken, cut immediately under the node with an oblique cut as this allows for a greater surface for rooting and avoids the accumulation of water on this surface. Use a razor blade or a sharp knife to avoid fraying of the fabrics and make sure that the tool you use for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably over a flame) to avoid infecting the fabrics.

The lower leaves are then eliminated and the cut part is immersed in a rhizogenic powder to favor the rooting of the cuttings. At that point they settle in a compote formed by two parts of fertile soil and one of coarse sand by making holes with a pencil, it is generally advisable to 3-4 cuttings per pot, then taking care to gently compact the soil around the cuttings. The box or pot is placed in a shaded area at a temperature of around 21 ° C, keeping the soil always constantly humid.

Once the first shoots start to appear (usually after two weeks), it means that the cutting has taken root. At that point the cuttings are expected to grow stronger, once they are large enough, they are transplanted into the final pot, always in groups, and treated like adult plants.


It is also possible to root the Tradescantia in water. Take an apical cutting from the stem and place it in a glass or cup full of water. When the cutting has rooted, gently repot it in a small pot with the soil suitable for adult plants.


The leaves discolor, lose their varigature, and become small and twisted

If you notice this symptom in the leaves then it means that the plant is receiving pocaluce.
Remedies: move the plant to a much brighter position but away from direct sunlight.

Presence of small whitish insects on the plant

If you notice small light-colored mobile insects on the plant you are surely in the presence of aphids or as they are commonly called lice. Look at them with a magnifying glass and compare them with the photo on the side, they are unmistakable, you can't go wrong.

Remedies: treat the plant with specific pesticides readily available from a good nurseryman. These are generally systemic products, i.e. they enter the lymphatic circulation of the plant and are therefore absorbed during the nutrition of the insects.

Spots on the underside of the leaves

Spots on the underside of the leaves could mean that you are in presence of cochineal and in particular mealy cochineal. To be sure, it is advisable to use a magnifying glass and observe. Compare it with the photo on the side. They are features, you can't go wrong. Also if you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily.

Remedies: try to eliminate them using a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. In case of serious infestations, use specific pesticides available from a good nurseryman.


The name of the genusTradescantia it was dedicated to the English naturalists Tradescant, John the Elder and John the Younger.

1) Image by Forest & Kim Starr licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (CCBY 3.0)

Misery grass - Tradescantia albiflora - Cultivation and care

❀ Scientific name: Tradescantia albiflora

❀ Common name: Misery grass

❀ Family: Commelinaceae

❀ Country of origin: South America

It is one of the oldest, most widespread and easiest to grow among indoor plants. There are many varieties, in a wide range of colors the leaves, with a pointed oval shape, are almost always multicolored and, if green leaves appear, they must be cut.

Some varieties have small, fluffy purple-pink flowers. They are ideal plants for a hanging basket, very suitable also as a covering base in mixed compositions.

Tradescantia-fluminensis "title =" Tradescantia species

Tradescantia fluminensis - Tradescantia fluminensis "> Tradescantia species

Very widespread plant in Italy, especially as a houseplant, and in particular in the variegated forms of white, yellow or pink, native to Brazil this tradition has fleshy prostrate stems, and minute, lanceolate, succulent leaves, about 2-3 cm long, quite thick and shiny. The flowers are white, not very decorative and the flowering remains the least interesting part, compared to the beautiful foliage. These plants fear the cold, and therefore this one tradescantia does not survive the rigors of winter. It survives in any condition: even if it prefers humid areas, being a succulent plant, it can withstand a completely dry climate even for weeks. It can love well-lit areas, it survives and thrives without problems even in conditions of complete and dark shade. For these reasons it is the ideal plant for those who tend to forget to water, or for those who have placed their home only in a dark area of ​​the house. Due to its great adaptability, it is easy to see tradescantie very different from each other: those cultivated in the sun, with a soil that is always humid, have light and large leaves, and a rich vegetation, almost excessive, the plants cultivated in complete shade, with a drought climate. , on the other hand, they remain small and tend not to produce large quantities of foliage.

Misery, Misery grass, Tradescanzia - Tradescantia

About sixty species of perennial herbaceous plants are part of this genus, native to Central and South America, generally they have a prostrate or drooping posture and are cultivated as plants.


Schefflere are large shrubs or small trees of tropical origin, belonging to the Araliacee family, widely used in Italy as houseplants, due to their foliage m.

Corinocarp - Corynocarpus laevigata

The Corynocarpus laevigata or corinocarp is an evergreen plant native to New Zealand in nature is a small tree, which reaches 7-8 meters in height, keeps itself in a container.

Misery weed: how to grow it

The grass misery, as already mentioned, is extremely resistant and does not need a lot of care.

It survives a lack of water even for long periods, it survives poor soils, humid soils, scorching heat, but also the harsh climate and poorly lit places.

Terrain and location

Tradescantia prefers common ground even without any fertilizer. It grows luxuriantly in rich and peaty soil, not too humid or in a ground with peat and coarse-grained sand or perlite.


The ideal temperature for good growth of misery grass is around 15-20 degrees. It also adapts well to the winter cold. It prefers a bright location but without direct sunlight. If grown in the shade, it loses a little shine in the color of the leaves.

Pruning of misery grass

Poppy grass grows quickly, especially in full ground, and when it becomes bulky it can be pruned and the cut twigs are reused for cuttings that root quickly.

Plants grown outdoors should be pruned in November before winter in order to remove damaged leaves and twigs to favor their growth.

Watering the grass misery

It should be abundantly watered between March and October trying to keep the soil always humid.

  • In summer it should be watered at least twice a week to counteract the drought and the heat of the season. It is advisable to immerse the vase in a basin of water if the climate is particularly hot.
  • In winter it should be irrigated only when the soil appears really dry, avoiding water stagnation in the saucer.

It also survives in extreme conditions, for example in drought or always humid areas, or in full sun or shade, but the plant will certainly suffer and you will notice it as it will lose its leaves.

Fertilization of the grass misery

To fertilize the misery grass, add liquid fertilizer to the watering water every two weeks in the flowering period between spring-summer.


In America the grass misery is considered weed, because it grows too fast and is invasive.

Her reproduction happens for cutting, taken in spring or summer and to root it first it is put in water and when it is well rooted it moves to the ground.

The ideal period for planting is April.

  • in pots of 10-15 cm, filling the pot with lightly compacted soil.
  • in the open ground, making a butter wider than the plant to be covered with soil by adding organic substance. It is advisable to place gravel or spheres at the bottom of the hole expanded clay. The soil should be compacted lightly and watered.

Tips for the cultivation of Tradescantia


Tradescantia is highly regarded for its colors and ease of cultivation.

It is perfect to be grown in hanging baskets or in any case in pots placed in elevated positions so as to allow the light branches to fall downwards, like a waterfall.

Plants add hints of color to pots for growing plant mixes, but some species can add hints of light and brilliance to the shady corners of the garden.

In regions characterized by cold winters it is generally sold as a seasonal plant while, in areas characterized by warmer or temperate climates, they are considered as evergreen plants, sometimes even invasive.

From its light branches that touch the ground, roots develop easily, which in a short time generate new plants.

The different species differ from each other in the color of the flower and leaves.

Cultivation in pots

Tradescantia virginiana

Tradescantia is suitable for growing in pots. A 16cm diameter pot is suitable for a plant with 6-8 shoots. The hanging baskets dry first, therefore, in order to maintain a certain degree of humidity, the plant must be steamed daily.

Tradescantia also tolerates drafts and dry rooms in the apartment when heated in winter.

Repotting is done every 2-3 years, to produce many leaves it loves to stay tight. It has no particular needs with respect to the substrate: a good universal soil with a handful of sand or with a mixture consisting of half garden soil and half peat is sufficient. The drainage at the bottom of the pot must be excellent. It is better to use terracotta pots which, thanks to their porosity, favor gas exchanges. You have to put pieces of earthenware on the bottom of the vase to facilitate the drainage of excess water.

Cultivation in the open ground

The more rustic species (such as those of the T. andersoniana and T. virginiana group) can be grown in the open ground, where they are used for the composition of flower beds or along walkways in the shade. Grown outdoors, they prefer moist but well-drained soil.

Hedge plant

Some species of Misery Grass can reach up to 60 centimeters in height and have a bushy appearance, so they can be used to create borders or bushy flower beds.

Growing on the terrace

The ricandete appearance makes the Erba Miseria also suitable for decorating terraces and balconies where it can be grown in hanging baskets or in raised positions.


Most of the Tradescantia species do not tolerate the cold, therefore, for outdoor cultivation in the open ground it must be borne in mind that at the first frost or the first more intense cold, it will surely die if not sheltered in temperate interiors.

The ideal temperature for these Tradescantia species varies from 15 to 20 degrees, the plant can tolerate heat well and can withstand up to 7 ° C in winter. In the period from April to October, he prefers to be outdoors, in partial shade, even under a tree. During the other months it is preferable to place them in a cool room or on a landing.

However, there are varieties (in particular those deriving from the hybridizations of T. andersoniana and T. virginiana) that are resistant to freezing and are also suitable for outdoor cultivation throughout Italy.


Tradescantia prefers a light exposure without direct rays, but also resists the shade, where it loses its creasing and stretches considerably. When grown outdoors, it must be avoided to place it in a place subject to cold drafts because the plant does not tolerate low temperatures that could damage the leaves and stems. When grown indoors, it must be placed in a well-ventilated area of ​​the room.


Tradescantia grows well in all types of soil but, to ensure good plant growth, it is preferable to use a substrate with loam mixed with coarse sand to increase drainage.



Watering must be administered regularly and moderately, they must be abundant in spring and summer in order to keep the soil moist but not soaked. During the autumn-winter they must instead be reduced, it is necessary to wait for the soil to dry between one watering and the next.


Tradescantia spathacea

The multiplication takes place by division of the tufts in spring or by cuttings at any time of the year. The cuttings, which must be ten centimeters long, can be obtained in spring or summer, with an oblique cut made under the node of the stem.

After removing some leaves in the lower part of the stem, the cuttings can be placed in a pot filled with soil and sand or in a glass of water. When the plant has rooted it can be potted.

The multiplication by seed is not used much because, because it takes a very long time, and does not guarantee the success of the cultivation.


Spraying every two weeks by adding 6 drops of hormone stimulant for every liter of water is very useful. The fertilizations must be suspended in winter. The fertilizer must contain nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, boron and molybdenum.


If the branches are many and slender, the new shoots must be topped to thicken the plant. When the plant becomes bulky, it can be pruned.

Other care tips

If you notice that the leaves are darkening, drying out and falling off, it is possible that the plant does not have enough moisture or that the soil is too dry or that it has been exposed to direct sun, in which case it is necessary to water more frequently or change exposure.

With little light or total shade, the plant will slow down and the leaves will have a weakened and discolored appearance.

The fact that the plant produces only green shoots could be due to an excess of fertilizer or a lack of light.

Tradescantia - cultivation and care

We know better the Tradescantia an easy to care for, very resistant plant that grows in a short time

Tradescantia cerinthoides

Tradescantia is a genus of the Commelinaceae family, which includes annual and perennial herbaceous plants native to a large area of ​​the New World, ranging from southern Canada to northern Argentina and is also present in the Caribbean islands. Due to the ease of taking root it has been nicknamed "misery grass" and has become widely naturalized, indeed some species are included in the list of invasive plants.

The name tradescantia is linked to the surname of two English naturalists who studied botany, who were called John the old and John the young. This genus of plants was made known in Europe by John Tradescant the Younger (1608-1662), court gardener of Charles I of England who arrived in Virginia in 1637, one of the first territories colonized by the British in America.

General characteristics

It is a genus of plant belonging to the Commelinaceae family, a genus includes many perennial herbaceous species with a creeping habit.

The genus includes 75 species, those native to the warmer areas are usually creeping perennials, grown as house plants due to the beauty of the leaves, those native to North America are deciduous erect perennials grown as bedding plants. The flowers usually last a few hours: they open in the late morning and close in the evening, they have three petals and three sepals and are collected in terminal or axillary buds but since only one flower per top usually opens, flowering lasts a long time. The most common color is blue, although some species are white, pink, purple (more rarely yellow).

The stems of these plants are tender and thin, fleshy and gnarled, covered with very light and soft hairs, on which small-medium sized leaves are inserted, with an oval-lanceolate shape, generally pointed, of variable color depending on the variety. The flowers are gathered in inflorescences formed by three petals of various sizes and various colors that appear at the end of the stems in spring and in some cases are not particularly evident.

tradescantia pallida

Location and light

It loves bright places some species such as tradescantia pallida can be left in direct sunlight, the others better in areas sheltered from the sun, it does not tolerate low temperatures. Plants grown in pots need a place sheltered from the wind especially during the winter period.

Watering and humidity

Although it tolerates periods of prolonged drought quite well, it is advisable to water it regularly from spring until autumn. In winter, watering should be reduced as much as possible, intervening only when the soil is completely dry.


Although it grows well in any type of soil, it prefers the universal one mixed with a little sand.

Repotting is done when the plant has no more space available or the roots come out of the water drainage holes. The best time is early spring.

The plant propagates easily by cutting having a great facility to reproduce in a short time. The cutting can be done at any time of the year except in the coldest periods (December January). Surely the best time is in the spring - summer period.

tradescantia zebrina

Parasites and diseases

It is a plant quite resistant to attacks by animal parasites, it is rarely infested by cochineal but is sensitive to root rot and to the collar rot, fungal diseases both caused by water stagnation.

Cultivation of tradescancy

Cultivating tradescancy is really very simple: it is about one of the hardiest houseplants and least in need of care therefore also suitable for those who cannot say they have a green thumb. Also ideal as a gift, due to its great resistance, the plant only needs to be paid a little attention but it is really difficult to make it die.

Where to place the tradescanzia

This plant should be placed in a bright area: it needs a lot of light but it survives well even in shady areas. However, if you keep it in the shade, you risk losing the bright color of the leaves, so you should always reserve a rather bright spot for it.

But beware of direct sunlight: in summer you can also keep it on the balcony or in the garden but better opt for a shaded area because you risk that the sun is too intense and burns the leaves.

As for the temperature, the tradescanzia endures even the most intense heat while below 10 ° it is better to take it indoors: in winter it risks suffering from excessive cold.

Irrigation of the tradescanzia

This plant does not need excessive amounts of water: in summer it should be watered a couple of times a week, while in winter it is enough once. The important thing is that the ground is never completely dry, but don't worry too much about it: the tradescanzia, as we said, is really very resistant.

If you forget to water it, nothing happens: this plant can withstand even short periods of drought, without too many problems. Similarly, even exaggerated doses of water are well tolerated, so it is difficult to make it die from irrigation.

Which soil to use for the tradescanzia?

As far as soil is concerned, this plant does not need special soils: a universal soil is fine for the tradescanzia.

The important thing is to choose the right time for repotting, which cannot take place at any time of the year. The ideal month to repot your plant is April: with the beginning of spring. However, it should be noted that tradescancy can also take on quite important dimensions and cannot always be repotted easily. In this case, just fertilize the soil and keep it nice and moist.

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