How to grow Tradescantia pallida in garden and pots

In nature we can find plants that really attract attention just by taking a look. And it is precisely that  Tradescantia pallida does not stand out for its flowering, height or cultivation, but precisely for the color of the entire plant. A perfect purple that makes Tradescantia a fantastic ornamental herb. 

We could consider this purple plant as an all-rounder that adapts to all types of environments, admits pruning, easy transplantation and on top of that it can be grown both in the garden and in pots.

However, its stems, being so thickened and fragile, tend to be better when grown as  a hanging plant. Its reproduction is very simple and it emits stems continuously when budding begins at the beginning of spring.

In this article we will tell you this and many more things about the characteristics of its cultivation and how to plant it anywhere in your garden or simply arrange it in pots on your terrace or balcony.


It is known in scientific slang Tradescantia purpúrea  but its popularity has led to several common names. The closest to its scientific name is Tradescantia purpúrea , although it is also known by simpler examples as tradescantia or purple hanging plant.

Its morphology stands out for having elongated and  pointed leaves , no more than 15 cm long. Small flowers with 3 petals and pinkish or whitish colors. The most striking aspect of Tradescantia pallida is that both the stems and leaves are deep purple or purple.

It is a low or creeping plant and is perfect for hanging as its stems can exceed 40 cm in length and are not supported by their own weight.



As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, Tradescantia pallida is considered a resistant plant . It can be grown in garden areas where there is a lot of light , although it tolerates semi-shade. It can be grown in full sun, although in midsummer it may slightly lose its bright purple color and damage its leaves.

It supports a wide temperature range and even low temperatures. The plant continues to develop as long as temperatures do not drop below 5 ºC, although its thermal range supports up to -2 ºC or -3 ºC without frost damage.

In areas that are not excessively warm, you should avoid planting it in humid or especially shady areas.

If it is grown in pots, we will place it outdoors, in an area with a good disposition to light.


The basis of the success of Tradescantia pallida is to ensure a moist substrate almost all year round, especially in the spring months. Therefore, it is essential to have a sufficiently draining base , but not to dry out the soil quickly.

It can be grown in both acidic and alkaline soils , and it does not usually have nutrient deficiency problems. If it is planted in the garden, it is greatly appreciated that the earth carries organic matter, since the emission of roots will multiply.


As we have commented, we need to keep a moist substrate or soil throughout its development, preventing the substrate from drying out between watering and watering. However, do not forget that it is a very resistant plant with a great capacity to reproduce and occupy spaces. It does not become invasive, but almost.

A water application recommendation can be the following:

  • Waterings in spring and summer:  3 to 4 waterings per week, keeping the substrate moist.
  • Irrigation in autumn and winter:  1 to 2 irrigations per week, keeping the substrate moist.

Regarding the form of irrigation, the best options are those that allow water to be supplied to the entire surface of the earth, as if it were a covering plant, such as exudate irrigation or sprinkler irrigation . On the other hand, there are droppers that cover a good wet bulb surface.

If cultivated Tradescantia is watered in pots , the volume of water to be supplied is usually between 1/4 or 1/5 of the volume of the container for each irrigation.


In general, Tradescantia pallida grows very fast and does not need continuous inputs of nutrients, but it is generously appreciated by increasing the volume of plants per surface area and producing thicker and longer stems.

Therefore, we recommend the application of organic matter at the end of autumn and the use of mineral fertilizers in early spring , coinciding with sprouting.

For this plant, it is ideal to apply liquid fertilizers for green plants (it does not matter that it is purple …), which usually have a higher concentration of nitrogen.


The reproduction of Tradescantia pallida is extremely easy, as it reproduces very well by cuttings . It is enough to select a healthy stem, remove the lower leaves and replant it in a moist substrate.

In a short time, this stem is capable of emitting new roots and growing as a totally independent plant. Therefore, it is very easy to obtain different plants from the same, and in addition to everything, it is considered a fast growing plant .

You can cut Tradescantia pallida practically all year round, as long as there are temperatures above 15ºC. However, the ideal time is to do it between spring and summer, protected from extremely hot temperatures (> 35 ºC).

What you do have to be careful is that its stems are practically hollow and, therefore, very fragile . When we handle them, if we make a small twist or bend on them, they break easily. Still, you can use them to plant them in new locations.


Although it is Tradescantia purpúrea it is a resistant plant, its fleshy leaves are a delight for caterpillars , which cause real havoc to the plant and, especially, to new shoots. For potted plants, these caterpillars are usually removed manually.

Another common problem in the spring and summer months is usually aphids, which can be treated with foliar applications on the plant with potassium soap .


The plant genus Tradescantia encompasses a large number of herbaceous and ornamental use species . All of them are easy to care for, so you should not miss the opportunity to grow them with the same schemes discussed above.

Some of these varieties of great ornamental use are the following:

  • Tradescantia Sillamontana:  very fleshy, green and hairy-looking leaves.
  • Tradescantia fluminensis:  fleshy stems, very green and tropical in appearance.
  • Tradescantia pallida: the one we have studied, purple in color and used as a hanging plant
  • Tradescantia multiflora: very lively and tropical-looking plant with green leaves and white flowers.
  • Tradescantia spathacea: elongated and pointed leaves, purple and green colors and native to Mexico.

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