Zebrina pendula ‘Quadricolor’ Wandering Jew

Zebrina, though native to Central America, has been an extremely popular house plant for many years.

Zebrina pendula (Tradescantia zebrina) is distributed throughout the whole of Central America, where it grows in damp forests alongside streams and rivers as well as on rocky mountain slopes up to elevations of 2,000 m (6,600 ft). It is a creeping plant with reddish stem and leaves that are more or less smooth, coloured purple on the underside and with two silvery stripes above. The flowers are small, whitish, the petals deep pink on the reverse. This species has been cultivated since 1840. More widely grown, however, is the cultivar ‘Quadricolor’ with leaves that are even more decorative although the silvery stripes are often not noticeable.

Because this genus comprises only three species we can get to know them all, for the other two are also often encountered in cultivation.

Zebrina flocculosa has a very apt name for the plant is covered with soft white wool-like tufts (floc-cose). The leaves are entirely green. Sometimes it goes under the name of Tradescantia commeliniifolia among florists. Z. purpusii greatly resembles the species but is more robust and without the silvery stripes on the underside of the leaves. The foliage is more reddish. Also occasionally encountered in cultivation is Z. purpusii minor with shortly ovate leaves, densely covered with raised hairs, but smaller than in the species.

Zebrinas are grown chiefly in hanging containers but they also do well in water. Propagation is by cuttings.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
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