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Wandering Jew


By balcony


I uploaded a few days ago some photos of Tradescantia Zebrina or Wandering Jew.

There are six 5" pots & one 6" pot of them on top of our fridge/freezer in the kitchen. I’ve had them there for the last 8 years. They are not the same plants as most years I have to replace a couple of them – that’s how they got to being so many! – every year. As I hate to throw away plant material that could be rooted & turned into new plants I take cuttings of these plants every year. But the reason for this blog is not this necessarily but because today I noticed that one of the long trailing stems had died back. As this is something I have found happens very often with this plant I’m not worried but what amazes me is how the stems can go on living for weeks after it has died at the soil level in the pot. The stems slowly dry out & the leaves shrivel up but it can be weeks before they are noticed. Evidence this photo that I took this morning of a couple of the stems I pulled off after finding that they were dying:

I think you can see how the stems have partially dried out yet the stems are still alive & show no difference from the stems that haven’t died back. In this photo, in case it doesn’t show up very well in this blog, the end of the stems furthest away look much thinner than those closer up. That is because they have dried up.

It always amazes me that they can survive for such prolonged periods of time before they dry out to the tips!

I cut the live portions off & put them in a vase of water. In a couple of weeks they will be rooted & can join the other pots on top of the fridge! Though I may have to stack the pots!

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This may be natures way of multiplying.The stems wither and the tips fall to the ground when they are mature enough to take root in the surrounding soil.
Do they come from an area which has very damp soil ?
They do look very lush on the fridge/freezer :))

26 Aug, 2009


I've got to grow these again...when I was first married I always had these all over the house.

26 Aug, 2009


I would imagine that in their native habitat they were a ground cover plant, probably in a forest setting. They can root at every leaf node which makes them very easy to propagate. They can with stand long periods of dryness but rot rather quickly if the compost is too moist.

26 Aug, 2009


I've just looked up this in my RHS A-Z Gardening Encyclopaedia & it does say they originate in woodland but also from scrub as well as disturbed soil. They are fro the Americas. It appears that there are frost hardy species as well as tender ones.

I've always known of hardy species that can grow in the garden but they are tufted types not trailing. I've seen them but have never grown them.

The T.Zebrina I grow in the kitchen I don't remember if they have ever flowered but I've grown plenty of other varieties in Spain & they have produced 3 petalled flowers.

26 Aug, 2009


I think they look stunning in that position. Can you open the fridge door without them trying to climb in?

26 Aug, 2009


I have one of these and it's gon like the ones in your photo. I'll have to take cuttings.
I've noticed sometimes tiny mauve flowers come on it.
I still think of it as Zebrina pendula which I saw it named in a book many years ago.

27 Aug, 2009


WF, yes I can open the fridge door as the plants only grow down the one side that isn't against a wall. Mind you some of the stems do try to get in through the door & I have to push them back. On the odd occasion a stem will fall down over the door & my wife catches it in the door. Sometimes it squashes the stem other times I get to rescue it before that happens.

27 Aug, 2009

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