Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ (Small-Leaved Spiderwort, ETC.)

Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ (Small-Leaved Spiderwort) after I brought it home from Wagler’s Greenhouse on 9-13-18, #507-16.

Small-Leaf Spiderwort, Inch Plant, River Spiderwort, Wandering Gypsy, Wandering Jew, Wandering Trad, Wandering Willie

Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’

trad-es-KAN-tee-ah  floo-min-EN-sis

Synonyms of Tradescantia fluminensis (5) (Updated on 12-15-22 from Plants of the World Online): Tradescantia albiflora Kunth (1843), Tradescantia albovittata Pynaert (1886), Tradescantia fluminensis f. albovittata (Pynaert) Voss (1895), Tradescantia fluminensis f. aureovittata Voss (1895), Tradescantia laekenensis L.H.Bailey & E.Z.Bailey (1930)(nom. nud.)

Tradescantia fluminensis Vell. is the accepted scientific name for this species of Tradescantia. It was named and described as such by José Mariano da Conceição Velozo in Florae Fluminensis in 1829.

The genus, Tradescantia Ruppius ex L., was named by Heinrich Bernhard Ruppius but later described by Carl von Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753. Some of his writings were published after his death by Albrecht von Haller and Carl von Linnaeus. The genus Ruppia was named after him.

As of 12-15-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 85 species in the Tradescantia genus. It is a member of the plant family Commelinaceae with 39 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.

Species of Tradescantia have a native range from South America through Canada. Tradescantia fluminensis is a native of parts of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay in South America but it is widely grown in many parts of the world.


Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ (Small-Leaved Spiderwort) on 9-13-18, #507-17.

I found this pot of Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ at Wagler’s Greenhouse on 9-13-18 so I decided would bring it home. It was unlabeled but it didn’t take long to find out its scientific name. Even though basically all “trailing” Tradescantia species are commonly referred to as Wandering Jew, the “official” common name of this species is Small-Leaved Spiderwort. I had been calling it an Inch Plant, but “officially” that common name belongs to Tradescantia zebrina… 

Tradescantia fluminensis is a perennial ground cover in its native habitat and makes a great plant for hanging baskets. It has fleshy stems that easily root from the leaf nodes.

Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ (Small-Leaved Spiderwort) on 9-13-18, #507-18.

I gave the Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ a trimming and arranged the cuttings in a circle in the pot. I use Miracle Grow Potting Soil for all my “ordinary” plants.

Family: Commelinaceae.
Origin: Native to parts of Paraguay, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay in South America.
Zones: USDA Zones 10a-11 (30 to 40° F/-1.1 to 4.5° C).
Size: 24-36”.
Light: Light to full shade.
Soil: Well-draining.
Water: Average.

It prefers growing in light to full shade and doesn’t grow well in full sun. They prefer consistently moist soil but are forgiving if neglected on occasion because they store water in their fleshy stems. I get behind watering quite often… 

Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ (Small-Leaved Spiderwort) on 10-10-18, #519-67.

I grow all my Tradescantia on the front porch where they receive what I would assume is light shade. Most of the plants on the front porch get a small amount of direct sun during the afternoon.


Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ (Small-Leaved Spiderwort) on 4-20-19, #560-40.

While most of the Tradescantia flower later in the summer, I was surprised to see the Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ with flowers on April 20 in 2019. I had just put the plants outside…

Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ Small-Leaved Spiderwort) on 6-16-19, #591-43.

Tradescantia normally grow pretty fast and can become quite “stemmy”. You can easily give it a good trimming and put the cuttings in potting soil to grow more…

Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ (Small-Leaved Spiderwort) on 6-22-19, #593-46.

The Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ continued to flower off and on throughout the summer…

Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ (Small-Leaved Spiderwort) on 10-11-19, #639-93.

By the time October 11 in 2019 came around, the plant was looking great. I had to move the plants inside because an “F” was in the forecast…

Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ (Small-Leaved Spiderwort) on 10-11-19, #639-94.

I put most of the Tradescantia in a cool front bedroom and kind of limit their water or they start growing weird and reaching for light. They stay don’t grow as much if you limit their water. Come spring when I move the plants outside, I give them a good trimming so they will regrow and look their best.

I was fairly busy over the summer of 2020 with the garden so I didn’t get many plant photos taken.


Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ (Small-Leaved Spiderwort) on 8-20-21, #828-9.

The Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’ survived the summer still with a little neglect.

This plant died over the 2021-2022 winter and I haven’t brought another one home yet.

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant. If you notice I made an error, please let me know. Of course, you can always send me an email at


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