Growing Wandering Jew Outside: How To Plant Wandering Jew Outdoors


By: Amy Grant

The wandering jew plant (Tradescantia pallid) is truly one of the easiest plants to grow and is often sold throughout North America as a houseplant due to its adaptability. The wandering jew plant has small pink flowers that flower sporadically through the year and contrast nicely against its purple foliage, making it a lovely container specimen either indoors or out.

Did I say outdoors? So can wandering jew survive outdoors? Yes, indeed, provided you live in USDA zone 9. Wandering jews like warm temperatures and fairly high humidity. As its name implies, growing wandering jew has a well, wandering or trailing habit. In USDA zone 9, growing wandering jew makes an excellent ground cover, especially under taller specimen plants or around the base of trees.

How to Plant a Wandering Jew Outdoors

Now that we have ascertained that wandering jew is not just a pretty houseplant, the question remains, “How to plant a wandering jew outdoors?” Just as wandering jew grows quickly and easily as a hanging houseplant, it will soon cover a large area of outdoor landscape as well.

Wandering jew plant should be planted in shade to partial sun (indirect sunlight) either in hanging baskets or in the ground in the spring. You may either use a start from the local nursery or a cutting from an existing wandering jew plant.

Wandering jew will do best in rich soil with good drainage. Cover the roots of the start or cutting and the bottom 3 to 5 inches (8-13 cm.) of stem with soil, taking care as the plant breaks very easily. You may need to remove some of the leaves to get a good few inches of stem to plant.

Caring for Wandering Jew

Keep wandering jew moist but not wet; it’s better to underwater than overwater. Don’t worry, wandering jew plants can survive very dry conditions. But don’t forget it all together!

When caring for wandering jew, liquid fertilizer should be applied weekly to foster a good rooting system.

You may pinch the stems to encourage bushier (and healthier) growth and then use the cuttings to create new plants, or “fluff up” a spindly hanging plant. Either put the cuttings in with the hanging jew to root, or place in water and allow to root and then plant.

When wandering jew is planted outdoors, it will die back if frost or freezing temperatures arise. However, it will be sure to return in the spring provided the freeze was of short duration and temperatures warm quickly again.

Provided you live in an area of sufficient humidity and heat, there is no doubt that you will be enjoying the fast and easy growing wandering jew for years to come.

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How to Revive a Wandering Jew Plant

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The wandering Jew plant (Tradescantia palladia) is a popular houseplant due to its easy care regimen and number of colorful varieties. If you have brown spots on a wandering Jew or a wandering Jew growing upwards, you can likely revive it in a fairly straightforward manner. It should be kept indoors unless you live in USDA plant hardiness zone 9, explains [Gardening Know How.](https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/wandering-jew/growing-wandering-jew-outdoors.htm#:

:text=The%20wandering%20jew%20plant%20(Tradescantia,houseplant%20due%20to%20its%20adaptability.&text=In%20USDA%20zone%209%2C%20growing,around%20the%20base%20of%20trees.) You should also be familiar with general care basics for this plant if you intend to cultivate one at home.


The Varieties of Wandering Jew Plants

The wandering Jew refers to three different plants in the Tradescantia genus. The three varieties are the zebrina, fluminensis, and the pallida.

Tradescantia Zebrina

The zebrina is the most common of the three species, and it features dark-green foliage that contrasts against the brilliant-white three-petal flowers the plant produces.

As you can imagine, the plant also gets part of its name from the zebra-like foliage. The center of the leaf id has a creamy-white color, and the outer trimming of the leaves has a silver lining.

Tradescantia Fluminensis

This wandering Jew species features white flowers, and it’s a trendy indoor plant around the world. The species originates from the southeastern region of Brazil. It’s an evergreen perennial plant that flowers all-year-round and lasts for many years if the owner takes care of it correctly.

The oval-shaped foliage of the Fluminensis is green in color and has a glossy look. The leaves attach to fleshy stems, and the stem nodes quickly put roots down into the soil, allowing for the rapid spread and growth of the plant in ideal growing conditions.

When the plant flowers, it produces a set of flowers with three white petals. The flowers don’t bear any seeds, and they might also emerge in clusters. There are various sub-species of this plant as well, and some types, such as variegate, feature different leaf colors, such as yellow or cream streaks in the leaves.

The plant does best in USDA zones 9 to 12, as it loves the additional humidity in these regions as well. The wandering Jew doesn’t do well in colder climates, so stick to planting in the southern states.

The wandering Jew also prefers full sunlight during the day, and you’ll need to feed it a reasonable amount of water throughout the week. The plant doesn’t enjoy being dry for long periods.

Tradescantia Pallida

This variety originates in Mexico, and it’s the most attractive of the three Tradescantia genus. This wandering Jew produces long, pointy leaves that can reach lengths of 7-inches. The leaf will eventually turn a purple color, but the tips might remain red or green during the color transition.

There are visible segmentations on the stem of this wandering Jew, and it’s for this reason that many countries classify this plant as invasive.

The segments break easily, but they root readily, evolving into two plants with little care. Fortunately, for fans of the plant, it also makes it easy to grow the plants for cuttings as well.

Tradescantia pallida don’t like the cold, and it will die back in colder environments in the Northern states, especially if it grows outside. This wandering Jew produces small flowers that bloom in colors of pink, lavender, and white. The flowers feature three petals, and while they aren’t show-stopping, then do add a beautiful aesthetic to the plant.


What is the best way to "winter" a Wandering Jew plant?

I have a cat also .I have a beautiful wandering jew

I agree with Laura's answer. I wouldn't try to force it to go dormant indoors. Treat it like a houseplant and be sure it gets adequate light. It WILL likely get a little leggy (longer distance between smaller leaves) compared to how it grew outside but it can be trimmed back a bit when it goes outside next year.


How to Care for a Setcreasea Plant

The setcreasea plant, commonly known as purple heart or wandering Jew (Setcreasea pallida), bears vivid purple foliage and pale purple tri-petaled flowers. While this plant grows as a ground cover in subtropical climates, it works well as a container or hanging basket plant in other areas. Purple heart plant is native to the Southern United States and Mexico. This plant has few pests or diseases to concern gardeners and adds an attractive splash of color to indoor and outdoor gardens.

Plant your purple heart in a container unless you live in USDA zones 8b to 11. Fill a pot with drainage holes halfway with dirt, then remove your purple heart from its plastic container. Break apart the plant's root ball and place it in the container so it sits at the same depth as it did in its plastic container. Top off the pot with soil to plant your purple heart. Place the container in either full sun or part shade.

  • The setcreasea plant, commonly known as purple heart or wandering Jew (Setcreasea pallida), bears vivid purple foliage and pale purple tri-petaled flowers.
  • Break apart the plant's root ball and place it in the container so it sits at the same depth as it did in its plastic container.

If growing purple heart in the ground, dig a hole twice the size of the container and plant your purple heart in the hole in the same manner as container planting, in either full sun or part shade. Space plants 18 to 24 inches apart if planting in the ground.

Water your newly planted purple heart until the ground or the container soil becomes saturated and the soil compresses around the plant's roots.

Continue to water your purple heart whenever the soil becomes dry to the touch. To test its consistency, stick your finger down into the soil of the ground or the pot. If the soil beneath the surface feels moist or clings to your finger, delay watering. When the soil feels crumbly and doesn't cling to your fingers, water the plant until the soil again becomes saturated.

  • If growing purple heart in the ground, dig a hole twice the size of the container and plant your purple heart in the hole in the same manner as container planting, in either full sun or part shade.

Prune back the plant whenever its tendrils get too long. Place the clippings in a container of water to propagate new plants. When the cuttings develop white roots, plant them in a new container using the same planting technique as earlier. If you don't want to propagate new plants, dispose of the cuttings in the garbage or compost bin.

Move container purple heart plants indoors for the winter if you live below USDA zone 8b. Place the container in a draft-free room where the plant receives ample light.

Avoid pruning outdoor plants after frost. As Desert Tropicals notes, they generally survive and thrive after light frosts. If you notice parts of your plant produce no new growth, trim back long tendrils to remove frost-damaged tips. The plant will bear new growth.

  • Prune back the plant whenever its tendrils get too long.
  • If you notice parts of your plant produce no new growth, trim back long tendrils to remove frost-damaged tips.

Purple heart plants are vigorous, aggressive growers and do not need fertilizer to thrive.

If planted outdoors in a garden bed this plant can take over the bed, so plant with care or prune vigorously.


Common Questions and Problems

Don’t see your Tradescantia problem listed? Leave a comment with your question below. There is a large community of plant parents with skills and knowledge who might be able to help. And I pop in from time to time to share all my plant tips. Let’s talk plants!

Why are the Leaves Dull and Faded?

What happened to cause the leaves to look dull and faded? Usually, it has to do with the light your plant is getting. Maybe it is getting too much light, but most likely it is getting not enough light.

Easy Fix: The lovely foliage will fade when it is not receiving enough light. So move your plant to a spot where it gets some more natural light.

Leggy growth

Long leggy stem parts ruin the look of your otherwise full and lush plant. The easy fix is to pinch off the leggy growth. But that is just the short term solution .

You need to figure out what causes the weak growth in the first place. This often happens during the winter months. It usually is a sign that your plant isn’t getting enough humidity, and or light.

Easy Fix: Darker days and central heating make it hard for your plant to thrive. Move your plant to a spot where it can get more light, and mist or put it on a pebble tray to up the humidity.

Why is the variegation disappearing from the leaves?

This is very sad. You found a gorgeous variegated plant, brought it home, and now the leaves are reverting to mostly green.

Your variegated plant needs lots of bright light. If not, it can lose that lovely variegation.

Easy Fix: Start by pruning the affected leaves and move your plant to a spot with more light.

Are Tradescantia Plants Toxic to Pets?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. They are mildly toxic. If your pet eats from the plant, it may cause minor skin irritations.

It is very rare for pets to get seriously hurt from eating houseplants. Nonetheless, it is always important to research and find out what type of plant you are bringing home.

Stay safe and keep your plant out of your pets reach.

Read more on the risks of toxic plants and your pets and if there is reason to worry or not.

Where to buy Tradescantia Plants?

The easiest way is to get wandering cuttings from someone you know who already has a thriving plant.

Otherwise, check out your local plant nursery or garden center. You can often find nice-sized wandering jew plants for sale in the hanging plants section.

If you can’t get to a plant shop, there are some great plant growers selling a variety of Tradescantia plants online on Amazon and on Etsy.


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.

We recommend using an organic plant fertilizer, rather than a chemical one. Wandering jew plants can be sensitive to chemical fertilizers.

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 sight to see!


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