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Wandering Jew
by Diana Roberts
Category: Indoors
If you are just starting to grow your own house plants or even if you have been at it for many years, the wandering Jew is a beautiful, easy plant to grow and a must in many homes. The botanical name for the Wandering Jew is Tradescantia fluminensis and it is a native to southern Mexico. Another name given this plant is Inch Plant, supposedly named because of its ability to grow an inch per day. This plant is also a species of spiderwort.
Leaves
 
The Wandering Jew was a very popular plant in the 70ís & 80ís and then the popularity lagged. Now it is once again on the come-back. The pointed, elongated leaves are silver and dark green striped lengthwise with a purple underside to them (most commonly). The leaves sprout along trailing stems that can grow 24 inches or longer. The bloom of a Wandering Jew is a small white, pink or lavender three-petal flower, but it is the foliage which makes this a prized plant.
Pots
 
The Wandering Jew loves to grow fairly root bound, so donít be in a hurry to transplant it to a larger pot. When the time comes to transplant, this plant likes high humus and well-drained soil. Hanging baskets are a great way to display a lovely Wandering Jew. This plant likes medium light, so place your Wandering Jew in an east or west window but avoid direct sunlight. Be sure you rotate your plant many times a week to keep the growth even. Wandering Jews are not troubled by many pests, though you must watch out for aphids as it is possible for this plant to become infested under the right circumstances.
Water
 
The Wandering Jew likes normal watering but be sure to water thoroughly when you do. The soil can be left to dry out to about a half inch down but no more. Sometimes it is easier to gauge whether or not it needs watering by the weight of the pot. You will know for sure it needs watering if the foliage color fades a bit and droops. This plant likes fairly warm temperatures during the day, but a little cooler at night. They like average humidity, though they will tolerate a huge range of conditions.
Fertilizer
 
During the spring and summer, the Wandering Jew should be fertilized every two weeks but no more. Use a balanced fertilizer such as a 20-20-20. When watering, let the water run through this plant three times between fertilizing to leach the soil of excess fertilizer and keep the plant from burning. It is best to use a slow release fertilizer to avoid any problems.
Propagation
 
Wandering Jew plants are easily propagated with stem cuttings, each containing a node. Many times a Wandering Jew will drop pieces of their stem (they remind me of lizards who drop their tails when caught!) which can be placed in water to root. New plants can also be started by placing cuttings in moist soil or laying them on top of damp soil.
Cuttings
 
To keep your Wandering Jew bushy, it can be pinched back quite a bit. Take the cuttings and root them for new plants for yourself or to give away. Donít worry if parts of the plant fall to the floor where little children may put them in their mouths, as they are non-toxic and considered safe for human consumption.
Invasive
 
In some tropical parts of the world, the Wandering Jew is considered a noxious weed, because as its name implies, it wanders. If started outdoors in a warm climate, a Wandering Jew could grow so fast that it would smother out any young native plants. It is very invasive, but I donít believe we have anything to worry about in our cold climate. If you know of someone who owns a Wandering Jew, ask if you can take a cutting to start your own plant. Iím sure you will be very impressed with the ease of tending to this plant.
 
 

 
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