Tradescantia zebrina (Inch Plant, ETC.)

Tradescantia zebrina (Inch Plant, ETC.) after I brought it home from Wagler’s Greenhouse on 9-13-18, #507-19.

Inch plant, Wandering Jew, ETC.

Tradescantia zebrina var. zebrina

trad-es-KAN-tee-uh  zeb-REE-nuh

Synonyms of Tradescantia zebrina (2)(Updated on 12-15-22 from Plants of the World Online): Commelina zebrina (Bosse) André (1866), Cyanotis zebrina (Bosse) Nees (1851)
Synonyms of Tradescantia zebrina var. zebrina (9) (Updated on 12-15-22 from POWO): Cyanotis vittata Lindl. (1850), Cyanotis vittata vittata J.Dix (1860), Tradescantia argentea Rollison (1857), Tradescantia pendula (Schnizl.) D.R.Hunt (1981), Tradescantia tricolor C.B.Clarke (1881), Zebrina pendula Schnizl. (1849), Zebrina pendula f. quadricolor Voss (1895), Zebrina pendula var. quadricolor (Voss) L.H.Bailey (1902), Zebrina purpusii G.Brückn. (1927)

Tradescantia zebrina Bosse is the accepted scientific name for this species of Tradescantia. It was named and described as such by Julius Friedrich Wilhelm Bosse in the second edition of Vollständiges Handbuch der Blumengärtnerei in 1849.

Accepted Infraspecific Names: Tradescantia zebrina var. flocculosa (G.Brückn.) D.R.Hunt, Tradescantia zebrina var. mollipila D.R.Hunt, Tradescantia zebrina var. zebrina (type specimen). When a species is given a variety or subspecies name, a “type specimen” name is created that is the closest to the original species. 

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 zebrina is a native of Columbia in South America up through Mexico but it is widely grown in many parts of the world.


Tradescantia zebrina (Inch Plant, Etc.) on 9-13-18, #507-20.

I brought this Tradescantia zebrina home from Wagler’s Greenhouse on 9-13-18 along with the Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Variegata’. Although basically any “trailing” Tradescantia is commonly referred to as Wandering Jew, “offically” T. zebrina is the Inch Plant and T. fluminensis is the Small-Leaved Spiderwort.

Tradescantia zebrina (Inch Plant, Etc.) on 9-13-18, #507-21.

Tradescantia zebrina have purplish and silvery green variegated leaves with purple undersides (some somewhat streaked).

Tradescantia zebrina (Inch Plant, Etc.) on 10-10-18, #519-76.

Tradescantia are fast growers and by October 10 in 2019 they were looking GREAT. I had to bring the potted plants inside for the winter and I always take their photos as I bring them inside.


Tradescantia zebrina (Inch Plant, Etc.) on 6-12-19, #587-4.

We made it through the first winter with flying colors and it was already flowering when I took the above photo on June 12. Some Tradescantia species flower later in the summer.

Tradescantia zebrina (Inch Plant, Etc.) on 6-13-19, #588-8.

Family: Commelinaceae.
Origin: Columbia in South America up through all of Mexico.
Zones: USDA Zones 9a-11 (20 to 40° F/-6.6 to 4.5° C).
Size: 36-48”.
Light: Light to part shade.
Soil: Well-draining soil.
Water: Average. Likes consistently moist soil, but it is forgiving… 

Tradescantia zebrina (Inch Plant, Etc.) on 7-15-19, #601-15.

LIGHT: Although information online says Tradescantia grows well in full sun to part shade, I grow mine in light to part shade on the front porch. They receive direct sun for only a short period of time. Too much sun will cause the leaves to burn and growth may also be a little weird.

Tradescantia zebrina (Inch Plant, Etc.) on 7-15-19, #601-16.

Some of the undersides of the leaves are all purple while some are streaked.

Tradescantia zebrina (Inch Plant, ETC.) on 10-11-19, #639-100.

SOIL: Here in west-central Missouri in the United States, I grow the Tradescantia in pots. I use Miracle Grow or Schultz Potting soil because I can get it in large bags and it contains timed-release fertilizer. Several Tradescantia species grow as a groundcover where they root at their leaf nodes. Not all Tradescantia grow like this, as some grow as upright plants such as Tradescantia ohiensis which are wildflowers and commonly known as Spiderworts… Well, Tradescantia is considered the spiderwort family…

Tradescantia zebrina (Inch Plant, ETC.) on 10-11-19, #639-101.

WATER: Tradescantia prefers consistently moist soil during the summer, but often they dry out before I have time to water. In the house during the winter months, I keep them in a cool bedroom and water only maybe once or twice a month. If you water too often during the winter in lower light, they will become “stemmy” and stretch for light. Watering them less frequently helps them to stay more compact while inside. If you keep them in a warmer room during the winter, they need brighter light… I have also kept Tradescantia in the basement, where they went dormant, and they returned again in the spring. I only did that a couple of times, but I wouldn’t want to push it…

Tradescantia zebrina (Inch Plant, ETC.) on 10-11-19, #639-103.

I had to bring the potted plants back inside for the winter on October 11 in 2019 because an “F” was in the forecast.

When moving the Tradescantia back outside in the spring, I usually cut them back so they send out new growth. Spring is also the best time to put your Tradescantia in new soil. 


Well, this plant bit the dust and I haven’t brought home a new one 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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