Image by Quinn Dombrowski
By Jackie Rhoades
Years ago, before raising plants for profit became a business, every housewife knew how to grow wandering jew houseplants. Gardeners would share cuttings from their wandering jew houseplant (Tradescantia pallid) with neighbors and friends and, like the Jews from long ago, the wandering jew houseplant would travel from place to place.
Basic Wandering Jew Plant Care
Wandering jew plant care requires bright, indirect light. If the light is too dim, the leaf markings will fade. Keep the soil slightly moist, but don’t water directly into the crown, as this will cause an unsightly rot in your wandering jew plant. Care should be taken, particularly in winter, that the plant doesn’t become too dry. Mist wandering jew plants frequently. Feed your plant monthly with a half-strength liquid fertilizer.
An important part of growing wandering jew plants is pinching back the long, vining tendrils. Pinch back about a fourth of the plant to encourage branching and increase fullness.
One of the main reasons for asking “How do I care for my wandering jew?’ is the short life of the plant. Wandering jew houseplants do not age well. No matter how well your wandering jew plant care is, they lose their leaves at the base while the long legs keep growing. Don’t be surprised if your wandering jew plants need to be renewed once a year or so.
How to Grow Wandering Jew Plants from Cuttings
There are three ways to restart or grow a wandering jew houseplant.
The first is, to me, is the most efficient. Cut off a dozen long legs and bury the cut ends in fresh potting soil. Keep the soil moist and within a few weeks, you’ll see new growth. Always make sure your soil is fresh, as the salt build up in old soil is lethal to wandering jew houseplants.
Even though these plants hate soggy feet in their pots, they love rooting in water. A dozen shoots placed in a glass of water in a sunny window will produce roots in no time.
The last way to re-root your wandering jew plant is to lay your cuttings right on top of the moist soil. Make sure each ‘joint’ makes contact with the soil. Roots will form at each joint and from each a new wandering jew houseplant will grow.