Also called inch plant or spiderwort, wandering jew is a plant in the Commelinaceae family. It originated from Mexico and grows to a height of up to around 6 feet. Wandering jew has green or purple heart-shaped leaves with veins running from the base to the tip.
Depending on the variety of the plant, the leaves are either variegated or solid and mostly have a silver shimmer on them. These plants have either white or violet blooms that are usually small with three petals.
When wandering jew is planted outside, it can be quite invasive because it spreads very fast and requires minimum care to spread. If it grows on a farm, it is considered a weed that is very hard to get rid of. However, those properties make it a perfect plant for an indoor climber plant.
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Types Of Wandering Jew
The name wandering jew does not necessarily refer to one plant but three different plants in the Tradescantia genus. These are;
This is the classic wandering jew that has dark-green leaves and white flowers with three petals.
The name of this plant comes from zebra because its leaves have stripes like those of a zebra. Each half of the leaves of the plant has a creamy white stripe, and the edges of the leaves are tipped in silver. The leaves are normally purple or green.
This is also a common type of wandering Jew plant. It has deep purple leaves and purplish pink flowers.
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Wandering jew is an easy plant to take care of, and as long as you maintain it well, you can have it for a lot of years. There are some requirements you have to provide for the plant to grow healthy and remain that way for a long time, including;
Just like all other plants, wandering jew needs light for it to grow healthy. However, you have to ensure that the light is not too bright or too dim. Wandering jews love bright but indirect light. The more the light, the more flowers your plant produces.
If the light is too dim, the bright colors on your plant's leaves will start fading, while direct sunlight could scorch the leaves.
To ensure that it gets the right amount of light, place the plant near a window that receives around 8 hours of light daily. Also, rotate the plant regularly to ensure that it gets enough light on all its sides.
Inch plants can do well in simple potting soil, which you can get from the store. However, the best soil is that with organic matter, and you can mix that yourself. The main thing you have to do is ensure that the soil is well-drained.
Wandering jews do not like very dry soil, but they also don’t do well with a lot of water. To properly mix your soil, get the following;
Wandering jews do not like a lot of water as that could cause root rot, and neither do they love dry soil. Before watering, check to see that that the soil is partially dry by sinking your finger into the soil.
If the first few inches are dry, water the plant again. Water the plant weekly during the dry months of summer and less frequently in winter and fall. Do not water it directly into the crown because that could cause rot.
During the growing season, fertilize your basic inch at least two times monthly using a water-soluble fertilizer. Dilute the fertilizer to 50% strength to keep it from a nutrient burn on the leaves. You could also apply a slow-release fertilizer into the soil yearly.
Temperature and Humidity
All the types of wandering jew do well at temperatures ranging from 65-75 degrees F but could also thrive in warmer temperatures. These plants do not do well in temperatures below 50 degrees F because their leaves may discolor.
Basic inch plants thrive the best in above-average humidity conditions. Therefore, they are perfect plants to have in high humid areas like your kitchen or bathroom. You could also use a humidifier or mist the plants regularly if you have them in another room of the house.
Low humidity makes the leaves of the plant brown and dry on the edges and tips.
Wandering jew is a plant that grows very fast, and if left untamed, it could grow to an undesirable size. To keep the size of your plant in check, cut its stems back often, trimming them back to the nearest joint. Pruning also encourages the plant to grow fuller and wider.
To prevent legginess of your plant, pinch back its stems periodically by around 25%.
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Propagating Wandering Jew
If you want to grow several plants, you do not have to keep buying new ones, as you can grow them from the stem cutting of the parent plant. Propagating a wandering jew is simple and fast, and you do not need a rooting hormone to encourage growth.
Propagating in Soil
To propagate wandering jew in soil, cut a stem from the parent plant using a sterilized blade, make the cut under leaf nodes, and try to make them around 45 degrees. Also, the cutting should be around 4-6 inches long.
Remove all the bottom leaves from your stem cuttings and fill a pot with well-drained potting soil. Water the soil and make holes in the soil of about 2 inches deep and stick the stem one stem cutting per hole. Pat down the soil around each propagation to hold it in place.
The size of your container determines how many propagations you can have. Keep the soil moist, and after a few weeks, you will see new growth.
When propagating in the soil, you do not have to stick the propagations in the soil. You could lay your stem cuttings on moist soil and ensure that the joints of the stem cuttings are all touching the soil.
After a few weeks, you will notice new roots at every joint in the stem cutting, from which new plants will emerge.
The soil in which you plant your propagations should be fresh because if there is any salt build-up, it could cause the plant to die.
Propagating in Water
Get 4-6 inch stem cuttings from the parent plant and remove all the bottom leaves. Immerse the cutting in water, and see to it that the lowest leaf node is under the water. You will see new roots on the stem cutting after around one week.
After around two weeks under the water, remove the propagations and plant them in well-drained potting soil and take care of them as usual.
In any method of propagating, place your plants near a good source of enough light.
Just like in planting other plants, you might face some problems with the wandering jew like pests and diseases.
Aphids and spider mites are some of the most common pests you will deal with if you have a wandering jew plant. Spider mites love dry and warm areas with still air. To get rid of them, ensure that the area around your plant is constantly humid and has fresh flowing air.
You can do that by placing it near an open window and misting it or using a humidifier. You could also try removing the spider mites using organic pesticides like Neem oil that don’t harm the plant. If the infestation is rapid, get rid of the infected parts of the plant.
Aphids could sack all the sup on your plant, which causes it to wither and later dry. To get rid of aphids, just cut off the affected part of the plant.
Root rot is one of the most common diseases in wandering jew, resulting from too much water in the soil. To stop the disease, avoid watering it too much and mix sand in your potting soil.
Also, ensure that your planting container has a few holes in it to let out the excess water.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you try propagating your wandering jew and they keep rotting, especially at the cutting site, that is probably a fungal infection. Try sterilizing your blade before cutting.
Place your plant near a window that receives an adequate amount of light, and monitor how it behaves. If it starts to lose its color, move it to a brighter place or to a window that receives more light.
If the leaves become scorched, move them to a shaded area or another window with lower light.
The sap from the wandering jew could irritate the skin of your pet. When planting it, place it in a place hard for your pets to reach, like a hanging basket. It could also irritate the digestive system of your pest if consumed.
Yes. However, it depends on the region. It is easier in USDA growing zones 9-11, but outside those zones, it could be hard as the plant could become very invasive and hard to control.