10 Major Varieties of Wandering Jew (With Pictures)

Tradescantia is a creeping, succulent, multi-branching perennial herb that can form a dense ground cover and root freely at nodes. Alternate, lanceolate shaped leaves have parallel veins that are either green or tinged with purple. Leaves are also somewhat pubescent. Leaf blades arise from short, closed sheaths and are 2 inches long and 0.75 inches wide. Some are glabrous or have ciliate margins. Flowers are white, in small clusters at stem tips. Fruits are small, 3-parted capsules containing black, pitted seeds.

Tradescantia will invade disturbed areas, natural forests, riparian zones, urban areas, hammocks, and wetlands. The growth habit of wandering Jew is such that it will form a dense groundcover and smother the native groundcover and seedlings. Once established, Tradescantia is difficult to control.

Plants in the genus Tradescantia have until recently been commonly known as ‘Wandering Jew’. This name is no longer used by the horticultural world due to its historical use in supporting antisemitic stereotypes.

  1. Tradescantia palladia
  2. Tradescantia flumenisis
  3. Tradescantia zebrina
  4. Tradescantia blossfeldiana
  5. Tradescantia spathacea
  6. Tradescantia virginiana
  7. Tradescantia Sillamontana
  8. Tradescantia longipes
  9. Tradescantia navicularis
  10. Tradescantia Nanouk
  11. Tradescantia hirsuticaulis
  12. Tradescantia subaspera
  13. Tradescantia ohiensis

Tradescantia palladia

Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Heart’ is a tender perennial commonly used as a houseplant or an annual. Dark purple, lance-shaped leaves up to 7” long are produced alternately on fleshy stems. The fleshy leaves are covered with pale hairs and form a sheath around the stem. The stems are quite fragile, and break off easily if brushed or kicked too hard. In colder areas it will die back to the ground in winter, but comes back from the roots in spring. The rambling plants get about a foot high but can spread much wider. From midsummer through fall, and sporadically at other times, relatively inconspicuous pink or pale purple flowers with bright yellow stamens are produced at the ends of the stems.

Tradescantia flumenisis

Tradescantia flumenisis is trailing perennial with succulent stems, rooting readily at nodes. Forms a carpet up to 50cm thick. Alternate leaves 3-6 cm long, ovate-elliptic, shining and loosely clasping the stem. Leaves are typically dark green, but can have longitudinal stripes and/or purplish bases, these forms typically revert to green. The flowers are in clusters, are star-shaped and have 3 delicate white petals that are 10mm long.

Also Read: Different Types of Ground Covers

Tradescantia zebrina

Tradescantia zebrina, formerly known as Zebrina pendula, is a species of creeping plant in the Tradescantia genus. This creeping plant makes a good groundcover 6-12” high. It has succulent stems with ovate to lanceolate leaves clasping the stem. The upper leaf surface is green to purple with two wide, silvery-white stripes, while the lower leaf surface is a uniform deep magenta. If you look closely you can see the fine hairs along the leaf margins and may note that the surfaces seem to sparkle in bright light. In low light conditions, stems lose lower leaves and the leaves lose much of their coloring. The stems will branch or root at the nodes and ascend at the flowering tips. The stems break easily at the nodes.

Tradescantia Blossfeldiana

Tradescantia Blossfeldiana is an evergreen, clump-forming perennial. It has a short stem that bears a rosette of fleshy, lance-shaped glossy green leaves with purple undersides. Flowers have 3 triangular petals, and are blue, purple, rose-pink or white.It can grow in a range of soil and pH conditions, however, prefers well-drained acidic, loamy soils.  Pinching the tips back will promote a more bushy habit.  It can take on a trailing habit if the tips are not pinched. This wandering Jew species can be found in moist prairies, fertile woodlands, open woods, meadows, hillsides, stony bluffs, stream banks, and along roadsides. 

Tradescantia spathacea

Tradescantia spathacea, the oyster plant, boatlily or Moses-in-the-cradle is a clump-forming evergreen widely cultivated in tropical areas because of its attractive foliage. It typically grows as a 6-12 feet tall with rosette consisting of narrow, spirally arranged, linear-lanceolate, stiffly-ascending, sword-shaped, dark green leaves with purple undersides. This Plant spreads to form a dense ground cover over time. White flowers in axillary cymes are enclosed by long-lasting, boat-shaped, purple bracts, hence the common name of Moses-in-a-basket. Flowers bloom throughout the year. Flowers are followed by fruit. This plant is easily grown indoors in pots or containers.

Also Read: Different Types of Pothos

Tradescantia virginiana

Tradescantia Virginians plant is up to 2½ feet tall and unbranched, except for 1 or 2 small side stems near the inflorescence. The central stem is round and glabrous, although scattered long hairs may occur where the leaves wrap around the stems, or a little below. The leaves are dark green or olive green, up to 12 inch long and 1 inch across, with parallel venation and smooth margins. They are linear to broadly linear, but wider at the base and narrowing to a pointed tip. In spring the 3-petaled flowers appear and last for a day but new ones are produced daily in terminal clusters. Flower colors range from blue to purple to pink. Once they have finished blooming cut back the stems. The foliage may die back in the heat of the summer but returns in late summer to fall and often reblooms. The plants spread by underground stolons forming clumps and grow 2-3 feet tall by 1 foot wide.

Tradescantia sillamontana

Tradescantia sillamontana commonly known by the names Cobweb Spiderwort and White Velvet is a low-growing plant with an upright habit. It grows between 12 and 18 inches in height. The leaves are a dull olive to gray-green color, sometimes blushed purple but the leaves and new stems are so heavily covered with cobwebby silver-white hairs that the plant appears quite silver. In summer appear the single magenta flowers with three petals that are crowded into the terminal leaf axils. It makes a wonderful garden plant as an accent, small scale groundcover or a container specimen and is compatible with succulents and other dry growing plants and with a little shade is also a pretty interesting hanging basket plant.

Tradescantia longipes

Tradescantia longipes, commonly known as the wild crocus, is a spring blooming species. This tradescantia can be trailing or tufted perennials with usually fleshy, evergreen foliage and distinctive, 3-petalled flowers, often pink-or purple-tinged.The plant typically prefers habitat of wooded slopes on rocky hillsides. While most other members of the genus Tradescantia have stems reaching at least a few inches above the soil, the flowering shoots of Tradescantia longipes are borne essentially at ground level.

Also Read: Different Types of Cosmos Flowers

Tradescantia Nanouk

Tradescantia Nanouk, also known as Fantasy Venice, is a newer cultivar that was created by cross-pollinating seedlings from tradescantia albiflora. This designer plant was created in a lab in 2012 in the Netherlands. Those who developed it hoped to create a tradescantia variety that was more compact, with beautiful flowers, and—of course—the stunning variegated colors. The tradescantia nanouk is known for this gorgeous variegation. The foliage on the plants are a mix of light green, light purple, and cream. The purple is much more of a purple than the pinkish color on the leaves of the fluminensis tricolour and callisia repens. While it’s the new it’s not a difficult plant. In fact, it’s one of the easiest houseplants to care for, which makes it a great choice for beginners.

Tradescantia ohiensis

Tradescantia ohiensis is a clump-forming spiderwort with purple to rose-blue, 3-petaled flowers. It can be found growing in meadows, along roads and woodland margins. Each flower blooms for a single day, typically opening in the morning. Its grass-like leaves are long with a lengthwise fold or groove. It can be grown in shade, however, the blooms will not be as profuse as when placed in full sun.  Will also grow in a variety of soils, but will be at its best when located in moist, sandy soil.

Tradescantia subaspera

Tradescantia subaspera can be a perennial herb, houseplant or interiorscape plant.  The leaves are alternate and clasp at the base.  They are simple, long and grass-like. Secondary stems and leaves can occasionally develop from the axils of the primary leaves.  The fuzzy leaves have prominent parallel veins, looking similar to the leaf of a corn stalk. Growing in the wild, its natural habitats include deciduous woodlands and borders, along ravines, bases of bluffs and along shady streams. Its common name, Zigzag Spiderwort, come from the appearance of its stem. The stem makes slight direction changes at the leaf nodes in the half of the plant.  Wideleaf Spiderwort has wider leaves than most of those in this species.

Further References

  1. Facts About Wandering Jew: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wandering_Jew
  2. Growing Inch Plant: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/wandering-jew/growing-wandering-jew-plants.htm
  3. Wandering Jew: https://www.britannica.com/topic/wandering-Jew