There are lots of different types of wandering jew plants, and they are all fun to grow. This comprehensive wandering jew plant care guide will show you everything you need to know about how to care for a wandering jew plant indoors or out.
Wandering jew plants are much loved for their unique bright colors, and their vining growth habit. They look gorgeous in hanging baskets, or set atop a pedestal where the tendrils can cascade down.
I love training mine to grow on the fancy obelisks that adorn my front step throughout the summer.
Information On Wandering Jews
Wandering jew plants add wonderful color to mixed containers, and add great pops of color to shady garden areas as well.
They’re commonly sold as annual filler plants and ground covers in cold climates. But they are actually tender perennials, and can be a bit invasive in warmer climates (a wandering jew vine will develop roots wherever the leaf joints touch the soil).
Wandering jew plants are not tolerant of the cold, and will die at the first hard freeze if left outdoors. But they can easily be brought indoors and grown as a houseplant through the winter.
Different Wandering Jew Varieties
When you think of a wandering jew plant, you might think about the classic variety with purple and silver variegated leaves (Tradescantia zebrina, aka “inch plant”).
But the wandering jew name actually refers to a whole variety of plants that fall under the scientific name of “Tradescantia”. Tradescantia wandering jew plants all require similar care, and they are all fairly easy care plants.
There are a whole bunch of different types of wandering jew plants, and they are all equally beautiful. There are plain green, variegated, purple, and even fuzzy leaf ones.
Whew, with all those options how will you ever decide which variety to grow (I guess you could just start a collection like me!).
Related Post: 17 Beautiful Purple Houseplants To Liven Up Your Home
Here are a few of the most common wandering jew plant varieties (take a look at the wandering jew plant pictures throughout this post to see what some of these varieties look like).
- Bolivian wandering jew (while this plant called “wandering jew”, it’s actually a different species)
- Bridal veil
- Red burgundy
- Purple fuzzy leaves
- Green fuzzy leaves
- White/green variegated
- Purple queen (aka: purple heart)
Wandering Jew Plant Care Outdoors
I find it much easier for long term wandering jew plant care to move my plants outside for the summer, where they thrive and grow huge!
As I mentioned in the intro paragraph, I grow my wandering jew plants outside on my shady front step every summer. I have two large containers with obelisks in them that are perfect.
As the wandering jew vines grow longer, I train them to climb the obelisks. By mid-summer they are absolutely gorgeous, and I get tons of compliments on them every year.
Growing Wandering Jew Indoors
Before frost hits in the fall, I bring my wandering jew plants into the house, and keep them growing indoors through the winter as houseplants.
Indoor wandering jew plant care can be a bit difficult, but given the right care, you can keep your plant growing year after year – which is totally worth it if you ask me.
The most important things to consider when growing wandering jew indoors are proper watering and humidity, and adequate light.
How To Water A Wandering Jew Plant
Wandering jews like to be watered regularly, and won’t tolerate their soil drying out too much.
Keep the soil evenly moist (but not soaking wet) at all times. Water the plant thoroughly, and allow the water to drain from the bottom of the pot.
Wandering jew plants will tolerate being overwatered once and a while, but it’s best to make sure not to allow the plant to sit in water for too long.
You can also water wandering jew plants from the bottom rather than the top, and that way they will soak up plenty of water.
To water from the bottom, simply fill the plant tray or cache pot with water and allow the plant to soak it up through the holes in the bottom of the pot.
If you struggle with giving your plant the right amount of water, I recommend getting a soil moisture gauge to help you out. You could also look into getting a plant watering device to help you water your wandering jew plant.
If you want, you could take wandering jew cuttings from a plant growing outdoors, and put them in a vase of water. They won’t grow in water forever, but if you keep the water fresh, they’ll grow in water for several weeks.
Wandering Jews Love Humidity
Another key for successful wandering jew plant care is humidity, and lots of it! When the humidity is too low for a wandering jew, the leaves will start to turn brown and die.
This is the biggest issue with growing them indoors during the winter months, when the air in our home is super dry. So, it’s very important to keep the humidity level as high as possible for your wandering jew plant indoors.
One easy way to increase the humidity level around your wandering jew plant is to run a humidifier near the plant.
To help you maintain the proper humidity level, keep an indoor humidity monitor near your plants.
Wandering Jew Light Requirements
Wandering jews are pretty picky about getting the right amount of light. They need a lot of light to maintain their bright color, but direct sunlight will burn their leaves (except for tradescantia purple queen, they love growing in full sun!).
If they don’t get enough light, their leaf colors will start to fade and look dull.
The ideal location for a wander jew plant indoors would be an east or west facing window. That way the plant will get plenty of natural light in the morning/evening, and bright indirect light for the rest of the day.
If you don’t have a spot with lots of natural light, then you’ll need to add a grow light.
If you choose to move your plant outside for the summer, make sure to keep it in the shade or a partial shade spot where it’s protected from the hot afternoon sun.
Best Type Of Potting Soil For Wandering Jew Plants
When it comes to soil, wandering jew plants aren’t picky, they will grow just fine in a general purpose potting soil.
But if you’re one of those people who tends to forget to water your plants (been there, done that!), or the soil is drying out too quickly, then mix some peat moss, coco coir, and/or vermiculite into the general purpose potting soil to help it retain moisture.
Fertilizing Wandering Jew Plants
Wandering jew plants don’t really need to be fertilized, but of course they will benefit from being fed once and a while.
They only need to be fertilized spring through summer, don’t fertilize them in the fall or winter. Winter growth on a wandering jew plant houseplant is usually very weak and leggy, so you really don’t want to encourage new growth during the winter.
As part of your wandering jew plant care routine, you can feed your plant monthly using a liquid fertilizer mixed at half strength.
I recommend using an organic plant fertilizer, rather than a chemical one. Wandering jew plants can be sensitive to chemical fertilizers.
Wandering Jew Plant Flowers
Fertilizing can also help encourage flowering. Wandering jew plant flowers are pretty small and insignificant, and not all varieties have the same flower.
A wandering jew flower can be anywhere from purple, to pink, to white, but it’s always fun to see them. And sometimes they will even flower during the winter, which is a welcome site to see!
Wandering Jew Plant Propagation
Wandering jew plants are super easy to propagate, simply stick cuttings in the dirt and they’ll grow. If you’ve never tried propagating plants before, wandering jew is the perfect plant to start with.
Take cuttings that are at least a few inches long and include a couple of leaf nodes. They root easily in moist soil, especially outdoors during the summer.
Dip the cut ends into rooting hormone, then stick them in the dirt. Don’t allow the soil to dry out, and keep the air around the cuttings humid to speed things up.
You could also root wandering jew cuttings using a propagation chamber if you’d rather not risk it, or if you’ve had a hard time propagating them other ways.
The great thing about using a propagation chamber is that it lowers the risk of shock after planting wandering jew cuttings.
Related Post: DIY Propagation Box For Rooting Cuttings
They are also easy to root in a vase of water. Just put the cut ends in water, and you’ll start to see new roots in a matter of days. I like to use a clear vase for this so I can see when the roots start to form.
The downfall of rooting wandering jew cuttings in water is that they can go into shock once you transplant them into soil again, which can be fatal for them.
Pest Control For Wandering Jew Houseplant
Houseplant pests aren’t usually an issue when growing wandering jew outdoors, but they can become a problem on plants indoors. Spider mites, aphids and soil gnats are the most common insect pests that tend to attack wandering jews.
Spider mites thrive in dry environments, and won’t survive if it’s too humid. So get rid of them by raising the humidity level around the plant.
To fight houseplant pests like spider mites and aphids, I recommend using neem oil on the plant, which is a natural pesticide.
I also like to use a mixture of 1 tsp mild liquid soap per 1 liter of water and spray it on the leaves of the plant to kill the bugs. Insecticidal soap or horticultural oil also work great to kill these buggers.
Soil gnats on the other hand live and bread in wet soil, which is why they can plague plants that need consistently moist soil, like wandering jews. They are usually just a nuisance though, and rarely do damage to a plant.
If you see soil gnats flying around your wandering jew houseplant, allow the soil to dry out a bit more between waterings. You can use a yellow sticky trap to help control the adult soil gnats.
Bugs can come in on plants that have been growing outside, so it’s best to debug plants before bringing them indoors in the fall as part of your normal wandering jew plant care routine.
Pruning Wandering Jew Plants
Wandering jews will tolerate heavy pruning, and it’s best to make pruning a part of your regular wandering jew plant care schedule.
To prune a wandering jew plant, pinch or trim off new growth as well as any thin, weak growth and dead leaves. You can also prune off the long tendrils if you prefer to keep the plant compact and thick.
Don’t forget to save the healthy cuttings to propagate and create new plants (see the wandering jew propagation section above for details).
Wandering jew plants are very delicate, and it’s easy to accidentally break the stems while pruning if you’re not careful.
Trimming wandering jew plants encourages new growth, so the best time to prune them is during the spring and summer months. You can prune off dead and dying growth at any time.
Troubleshooting Wandering Jew Plant Care Problems
It’s super easy to grow a wandering jew plant outside, especially when it’s humid. But growing them indoors is a whole different story.
Most of the problems you’ll have with indoor wandering jew plant care will be due to inadequate water, light and/or humidity.
- Weak leggy growth – Weak growth is common during the winter months. It’s a sign that the plant isn’t getting enough water, humidity, and/or light. Check the location of your wandering jew plant to ensure it’s getting the right amount of light, and also make sure the plant is getting enough moisture. See the lighting, watering and humidity sections above for more details.
- Leaves look dull and faded – Dull, faded leaves can be caused by too much light, not enough light, or a houseplant pest like spider mites or aphids. See the sections on lighting and houseplant pests above to help diagnose and fix the problem.
- Brown leaves – Brown leaves are also very common on wandering jew plants, especially during the winter. Wandering jew leaves turn brown when the plant isn’t getting enough moisture. See the watering and humidity sections above for more details. Also as the plant ages, it tends to start to die out in the middle. When this happens, it’s best to take cuttings and propagate them to refresh the plant. See the pruning section above for details.
Where To Buy Wandering Jew Plant
It’s easy to find all kinds of wandering jews during the spring, just look for different varieties of the wandering jew plant for sale in the annual plant section at any garden center.
If you’re wondering where to buy a wandering jew plant during the winter, you can almost always find them in the houseplant section at any garden center.
Heck, you can even find wandering jew for sale at big box stores, or you can even buy wandering jew plants online.
(Tip: When shopping at local stores, it’s usually cheaper to buy them as annual plants during the spring and summer than it is to buy wandering jew houseplants in the fall and winter!)
If you normally grow wandering jew plants outside during the summer, why not try bringing them indoors for the winter.
Once you get the hang of indoor wandering jew plant care, you’ll never have to pay for new plants in the spring. Heck, some people even grow them as houseplants year round!
If you struggle with taking care of plants during the long winter months, my Winter Houseplant Care eBook is perfect for you! It’s a comprehensive winter plant care guide that will show you exactly how to care for your favorite plants indoors during the winter, so you can keep them thriving all year long! Grab your copy today!
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Do you have a tradescantia plant? Share your wandering jew plant care tips in the comments below.