The Wandering Jew has been a popular houseplant for generations.
It is an attractive container plant with a trailing habit that produces small, bright flowers, and can also be used as a low-maintenance ground cover if it is protected from frost.
The handsome leaves have long stripes and gentle gradations of color from purple to pale green, and it blooms in pretty, compact, odorless flowers.
What Is The Plant’s Origin?
The Wandering Jew is native to South America and Mexico , but has been naturalized in warm climates around the world.
Where Did The Name Come From?
There are a variety of stories about how this plant came to be called the Wandering Jew.
Some ascribe it to how easily it propagates from cuttings, so it gets passed easily from person to person. Others say that it’s because the plant tends to angle slightly at every leaf joint, growing in a crooked pattern.
What Is The Plant Related To?
The Wandering Jew is a subspecies of spiderwort.
How Many Species Are There?
Tradescantia has 70 species  of herbaceous wildflowers, but the ones most commonly cultivated as houseplants are varieties of Tradescantia zebrina and Tradescantia pallida.
The Tradescantia zebrina Wandering Jew varietal has a sap that may irritate the skin and cause mild dermatitis, so handle it with caution.
Related Reading: Caring For Spider Plants
What Is The Botanical Name?
The botanical name is Tradescantia zebrina.
What Are The Common Names?
The Wandering Jew is also known as the inch plant.
Growing a Wandering Jew
Size and Growth
A Wandering Jew has long trailing foliage that can reach 2-4 feet in length or more.
Flowering and Fragrance
In most species of Wandering Jew, the flowers are fairly insignificant, and the plant is preferred for its foliage.
Wandering Jews seem to bloom almost at random, at almost any time of year, and the small pops of brighter pink, purple, or white flowers are attractive. They do not have any scent.
Light and Temperature
To grow a Wandering Jew indoors, place it in a spot where it receives bright, indirect sunlight.
To grow a Wandering Jew outdoors, as a ground cover or accent plant in rock gardens, plant it in indirect sunlight, in rich soil with good drainage.
In zones below USDA zone 9, it may die over winter, because it can only survive short freezes. However, it is easy to propagate from cuttings and spend winter
Watering and Feeding
It enjoys being lightly moist, and misted often, but does not want to sit in wet soil. A Wandering Jew is healthier when underwatered than when overwatered.
It does not need to be fertilized, but some find that occasional feeding helps to promote flowering.
Soil and Transplanting
Wandering Jews are not fussy about soil, but will grow better when given good drainage.
Maintenance and Grooming
The long, vining tendrils can and should be pinched or trimmed often, to encourage fullness and prevent overgrowth.
How To Propagate A Wandering Jew
In many climates, the Wandering Jew is an invasive plant species due to how readily it spreads and propagates.
When planted outdoors, stem nodules will readily develop new roots when resting on damp soil, and a Wandering Jew easily spreads along the ground with little intervention.
To propagate a Wandering Jew yourself, you can simply trim some of the longer legs, bury the ends in a pot of fresh soil, and keep the soil moist. Within a few weeks, the plant will take root and grow.
Caring For A Wandering Jew
To keep a Wandering Jew thriving indoors or out, ensure that it has adequate light.
Low light will not kill the
The Wandering Jew is not a plant that maintains its attractiveness year after year.
Even if it survives winter cold, or is happy in a pot indoors,
To delay this inevitability, pinch, trim, or prune it often, but accept that you may simply need to take cuttings and start over again every year or two.
Pests, Diseases, Or Problems Of Wandering Jew
As with so many plants, a Wandering Jew likes moisture but not being soggy. Overwatering contributes to a lot of plant pests and diseases, including:
It is common for older foliage in a Wandering Jew to yellow, dry out, and fall off, which can sometimes mask the symptoms of root rot. If the stems seem weak, or the whole plant seems to be browning and aging, it is likely a symptom of root rot.
With most plants, you would attempt to salvage them from root rot by digging up the plant, trimming and discarding any diseased roots, and re-planting in soil with better drainage.
The Wandering Jew roots so easily that it’s often simpler to just salvage cuttings from the stems and start over in a new pot with better drainage.
To prevent root rot, do not water a Wandering Jew at the crown, but water it at the soil, and prevent overwatering.
If you are growing a Wandering Jew indoors and notice a lot of small, black flies that resemble gnats or fruit flies around your plant, you likely have fungus gnats.
While these gnats are harmless, they spread easily from plant to plant, can be annoying, and reduce the appeal of your houseplants.
Fungus gnat larvae live on the surface of your growing medium, feeding on superficial roots, leaves, and decaying plant matter. The best way to eliminate fungus gnats is to allow the soil to dry thoroughly (or at least below the top 3 inches of soil) between watering.
It may also be necessary to simply repot your wandering jew, as many kinds of potting soil lose their ability to drain water efficiently over time. 
Tips, Tricks And Suggestions
A great way to keep a Wandering Jew healthy and happy is to place it outdoors in indirect light in the summer. Trim it in springtime to encourage new growth, and it will grow very large over the course of spring and summer months outdoors. Then bring it indoors for the winter to protect it from the cold.
Indoor winter air can be very dry, so use a pebble tray or humidifier to increase humidity around the plant.
Best Ways To Use The Wandering Jew
The best way to use the Wandering Jew is to take advantage of the rich foliage colors and trailing habit of the plant. Its sporadic flowers are pretty, but the cascading foliage is truly the show piece of this plant.
Place it in a hanging container and pair it with a contrasting plant with a more vertical habit, like a snake plant or a begonia, for a lot of visual interest, or place it on a pedestal.
Another great use for the Wandering Jew is to plant it outdoors in a rock garden or atop a rocky slope, so that it can trail along and soften hard edges. It cannot withstand foot traffic, but will thrive relatively unattended in borders and plantings with poor or shallow soil.
When buying a Wandering Jew plant, always look at the leaves. If the leaves appear dull or seem to be changing color, it could mean they are overwatered or don’t have enough sunlight.
What Are The Most Popular Wandering Jew Varieties?
Some of the most popular Wandering Jew plants are:
Tradescantia pallida, the Purple Heart. This Wandering Jew has deep purple leaves edged with violet. The charming flowers are a light purple color.
Tradescantia pallida, “Variegata.” This Wandering Jew has pale creamy leaves with vivid green stripes, and bright white flowers.
Wandering Jew is so easily propagated and low maintenance that, in many parts of the world, it is considered an invasive species. As a gorgeous houseplant or handsome ground cover, it is a long-time favorite, and a single specimen can yield generations of thriving plants.
-  https://weeds.brisbane.qld.gov.au/weeds/wandering-jew
-  https://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/science-and-technical/SRIR56.pdf
-  http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/insects/fungus-gnats-as-houseplant-and-indoor-pests-5-584/