Tradescantia zebrina ‘purple passion’


Commelina zebrina
Cyanotis zebrina


Tradescantia zebrina is native to Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Nicaragua and Panamá. The ‘purple passion’ form originates from nursery.


Tradescantia zebrina ‘purple passion’ is a perennial succulent belonging to the Commelinaceae botanical family. The stem is slender and erect when young and has a falling habit in age and for this reason is perfect to decorate your house with hanging baskets. The leaves are sessile, flat, elliptical with a pointed tip. The leaves are wonderful colored with a large purple green stripe in the center and two silver green stripes on the side. The edges of the leaves are violet. The greyish pruina covering the plant, gives the leaves attractive colors and stunning hues. The plant can reach up to 50 cm in height but is usually smaller in size. Blooming occurs during the spring on plants grown in their native habitat. The flowers are small, pink white borne at the apex of the stalks. The fruits are capsules and the tiny seeds are gray brown.


The plant has a slow growth rate but it easy to cultivate. The best sun-exposure is in bright place but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The minimum temperatures that the plant can withstand are 10° C, below this temperature it begins to suffer so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The perfect soil is a well-drained soil that let the water to drain away and avoid root rot. To achieve this feature, you can mix the pumice soil, clay and soil. Using a perforating pot, you can drain excess water. Watering is very important for this species and should be done well: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. About fertilization, for this plant is sufficient to fertilize moderately during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for succulents and stop fertilizing during the winter. You should repot the plant every 2 years in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.


Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.


The genus was named after John Tradescant, who was the court gardener to Charles I of England, who brought Tradescantia from America and introduced this plant to Europeans.

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