How to Grow and Care for Small-leaf Spiderwort (Tradescantia fluminensis) Indoors


Small-leaf Spiderwort, Tradescantia fluminensis

Botanical name: Tradescantia fluminensis
Synonmy name: Tradescantia albiflora
Family: Commelinaceae
Common names: Small-leaf Spiderwort, Wandering Trad, Inch Plant, River Spiderwort, Wandering Willie

Description

Small-leaf Spiderwort (Tradescantia fluminensis) also called Wandering Trad, Inch Plant, River Spiderwort or Wandering Willie is one of the most popular of the hanging Tradescantia plants which is fast growing and is easy to grow even for a beginner.

The leaves, about 2-4 in. long, tightly clasp the creeping or trailing stems of the Wandering Trad. The undersides of leaves are pale purple (mauve) and it produces pale purple sap.

River Spiderworts are perfect for a hanging basket, a pedestal or a top a table or shelf where the stems can beautifully cascade downwards.

Flower

Wandering Willie may occasionally flower indoors but the blooms are generally insignificant. The flowers are white with three petals.

Origin

Tradescantia fluminensis is native to the New World from southern Canada to northern Argentina, including West Indies where it occurs individually or in clumps in wooded areas or open fields.

Invasiveness as a weed

Small-leaf Spiderworts are invasive and noxious weeds in many places. They successfully grow anywhere and will smoother ground level plants and prevent the natural regeneration of taller species.

Avoid planting River Spiderworts in the ground and dispose only after complete destruction as even an inch of these plants will sprout if not completely destroyed.

Varieties

Tradescantia fluminensis has many varieties like variegata with cream striped leaves, Quicksilver with white striped leaves and tricolor whose leaves are striped with cream and purple, among others.

Where to Buy

Beautiful Small-leaf Spiderworts are readily available online at Etsy. Buy Tradescantia fluminensis (Small-leaf Spiderwort) online from Etsy.

Small-leaf Spiderwort, Tradescantia fluminensis

Tradescantia fluminensis Care Indoors

Small-leaf Spiderwort (Tradescantia fluminensis) thrives in bright, indirect light away from direct sunlight, average warmth and consistently moist, fertile, well-drained soil coupled with fortnightly feeding during the growing season. It has no need for high humidity.

Tradescantia fluminensis requires pruning to keep it neat, to reduce pest and disease infestations, to control growth and to rejuvenate growth. Repotting is necessary when it becomes extremely pot-bound. Continue reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.

Light Requirements

Small-leaf Spiderwort grows best in bright indirect light. It can also grow under a grow light where the natural lighting is not sufficient.

Keep Tradescantia fluminensis away from direct sunshine as it can lead to scorching of the leaves.

Regularly rotate the pot to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides for even growth.

Watering

Water Small-leaf Spiderwort thoroughly during the growing season and maintain the soil moist at all times.

Cut down on watering in the cold period to keep the soil slightly moist as growth is minimal at this time but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of the plant.


Temperature

Average warmth with a minimum 130C is ideal for Small-leaf Spiderwort. Room temperature that is comfortable for you is ideal for this plant.

Keep the Wandering Willie away from draughts as they can cause sudden changes in temperature which can result in leaf drop and reduced growth.

Humidity

Small-leaf Spiderwort has no need for high humidity. Average room humidity is ideal for this plant.

However, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier where the temperatures are too high to raise humidity.

Fertilizer (Feeding)

Feed Tradescantia fluminensis with a balanced, liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks during the growing period to promote a lush growth.

Withhold feeding during the cold season as the growth is minimal and feeding at this time may lead to fertilizer burn.

Repotting

Repot Small-leaf Spiderwort during the growing season only when the plant has become extremely pot-bound as it grows best when root-bound.

Use a pot one size larger than the current one and free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter.

Make sure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of the plant.

Soil

The best soil for Small-leaf Spiderwort should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.

Most multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal. Buy quality Potting Mix for Wandering Trad online from Etsy.

Pruning

Pruning Small-leaf Spiderwort involves regular removal of dead foliage to maintain the plant neat as well as discourage pest and disease infestations.

To control the growth and encourage bushyness, pinch the growing tips. Cut back leggy stems at the beginning of the growing season to rejuvenate growth.

Propagation

Small-leaf Spiderwort (Tradescantia fluminensis) can be propagated during the growing period by plants divison or from stem-cuttings.

How to propagate Small-leaf Spiderwort by plant division

Water the Small-leaf Spiderwort thoroughly at least 1 day before to make it easier to divide and also hasten establishment. A well hydrated plant suffers less shock and takes a shorter time to take root.

Take the plant out of its pot and carefully divide it into sections. Ensure each sections has adequate roots and at least one set of leaves.

Select a 6 or 8 in. pot and ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to rotting.

Fill the pot with loose, free-draining soil and make a hole in the center of the pot. Ensure that the hole is slightly wider than the root base of the section.

Place the section in the previously made hole and lightly firm the soil around the base while taking care not to bury it too deep; maintain the section at the same soil level it was in the previous pot.

Water the soil thoroughly and place the set up in a well-lit, warm place until the new Wandering Trad is well established after which you can begin routine care.

How to propagate Small-leaf Spiderwort from stem cuttings

The stem cuttings root easily so there is no need for rooting hormone. Take a stem cutting from a healthy Small-leaf Spiderwort of about 4-6 in. and ensure it bears at least two sets of leaves.

Allow some time for the formation of a protective callus tissue over the cuts of the cuttings to prevent rotting.

Fill a rooting container with loose, free-draining soil to a depth of about 4 in. Lightly moisten the soil.

With a pencil or similar object make a hole that is wider than the diameter of the cutting. Carefully insert the cutting in the hole made previously to a depth of about 3 in.

Place the set up in a warm, well-lit place and maintain the soil moist through out until new growth emerges.

Allow the new Wandering Trad to be well established before transplanting to individual pots after which you can begin routine care.

Small-leaf Spiderwort Care, Tradescantia fluminensis Care

Tradescantia fluminensis Problems Indoors

Small-leaf Spiderwort (Tradescantia fluminensis) problems indoors are caused by cultural faults. The problems include loss of leaf color, leggy growth, shrivelled leaf tips, yellow leaves, pests and diseases among others. Read on for more on these problems, their remedies and solutions.

Brown and shrivelled leaf tips

Brown and shrivelled leaf tips in Small-leaf Spiderwort are due to too dry air especially where the temperatures are too high.

Set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity. Check out techniques on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Loss of leaf color

Loss of leaf color in Small-leaf Spiderwort is caused by inadequate light (too little light).

Move the Wandering Trad to a brighter spot, as it grows best in bright, indirect light away from direct sunshine or instal a grow light if you do not have adequate light in your home.

Leggy growth (elongated stems)

There are three possible causes of leggy growth in Small-leaf Spiderwort. One possible cause is too little light.

Move the Wandering Willie to a brighter spot as it needs bright, indirect light to thrive or instal a grow light if the natural lighting is not adequate.

The second cause of leggy growth in Small-leaf Spiderwort is underwatering resulting in too little moisture in the soil and thus the plant does not get enough water and nutrients necessary for growth.

Water the Wandering Trad liberally during the growing season and maintain the soil moist at all times. Decrease watering in the cold season but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

The third cause of leggy growth in Small-leaf Spiderwort is inadequate feeding (underfeeding). Feed it once a month with a balanced, liquid fertilizer to promote healthy growth.

Limp stems, yellow leaves

Limp stems and yellow leaves in Small-leaf Spiderwort are due to underwatering. Maintain the soil moist at all times and never allow the soil to dry out completely.

Diseases

Common diseases in Small-leaf Spiderwort are root-rot disease and leaf spot disease. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to the other houseplants and treat the plant appropriately for the disease.

Pests

Common pests in Small-leaf Spiderwort are Scale Insects, Mealy Bugs and Aphids. Isolate the affected plant and treat appropriately. Mist the leaves regularly to reduce infestation by these pests. Read on how to identify and get rid of pests in houseplants.

Is Small-leaf Spiderwort toxic?

Small-leaf Spiderwort (Tradescantia fluminensis) is mildly toxic to humans and pets.

If ingested, the plant sap can cause burning in the mouth, tongue and throat. The sap may also cause skin irritation in sensitive skin; always wear gloves when handling the Wandering Trad.

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