How to grow and care for Silvery Inch Plant Indoors

Houseplant, Silvery Inch Plant, Tradescantia zebrina

Botanical name: Tradescantia zebrina
Synonyms: Zebrina pendula, Tradescantia pendula
Family: Commelinaceae

Silvery Inch Plant bears glistened leaves which are multicolored above. The surface color is bluish-green, banded with silver and edged in purple. The leaves are ovate, pointed towards the tips and rounded to the base. The flowers are pink to purplish. Silvery Inch Plant is native to Mexico, Central America, Columbia and some Caribbean Islands. The plant has been naturalized in parts of Asia, Africa, Australia, South America and various oceanic islands. In its native habitat, the plant grows in thickets in the wetlands and rainforest, often on stones in shady and open areas or on riverbanks. Some common varieties of Silvery Inch Plant are Zebrina purpusii (Bronze Inch Plant) whose leaf surface is purplish-green with a purple underside. Zebrina pendula quadricolor is more showy with green, silver, pink and red leaf surface with a purple underside.

Other related species are Tradescantia fluminensis (Inch Plant) which is the more common of the hanging basket plants. Tradescantia pallida formely Setcreasea purpurea (Purple Heart Plant) which bears a rich-purple elongated leaves and pink flowers. Tradescantia spathacea (Boat Lily or Moses-in-the-Cradle) whose leaves are fleshy, sword-shaped, glossy green with purplish-red undersides.

How to Grow Silvery Inch Plant (Tradescantia zebrina)

Light

Silvery Inch Plant prefers bright indirect light. Keep it away from direct sunshine as it can lead to scorching of the leaves. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

Water

Water Silvery Inch Plant thoroughly during the growing season and maintain the soil moist at all times. Reduce watering in cold weather to keep the soil slightly moist as growth is minimal. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead in root-rot. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Average warmth with a minimum 130C is ideal for Silvery Inch Plant. Protect the plant from cold draughts.

Humidity

Silvery Inch Plant has no need for high humidity. Mist leaves occasionally or set pot on a wet pebble tray where the temperatures are too high to raise humidity.

Feeding

Feed Silvery Inch Plant with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer every 2 weeks during the growing period. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time may lead to fertilizer burn. Learn more on feeding houseplants.

Repotting

Repot Silvery Inch Plant during the growing season only when the plant has become pot-bound. Use a rich, free-draining soil and a pot one size larger. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole(s) to prevent waterlogging which can lead to root-rot.

Pruning

Pruning Silvery Inch Plant involves regular removal of dead foliage to maintain the plant neat and tidy. To control the height of the plant and encourage bushyness, pinch the growing tips. Cut back leggy stems at the beginning of the growing season to rejuvenate growth. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Silvery Inch Plant (Tradescantia zebrina)

Silvery Inch Plant is propagated during the growing period by divison or from stem-cuttings.

Propagation of Silvery Inch Plant by Division
Remove Silvery Inch Plant from its pot and carefully divide it into sections. Ensure each sections has adequate roots and at least one set of leaves. Pot up the sections in individual pots in free-draining soil. Place the set up in a cool shaded place and maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges. Allow the plant to be well established before transplanting.

Propagation of Silvery Inch Plant from Stem Cuttings
Stem cuttings root easily so there is no need for rooting hormone. Take a stem cutting from a healthy Silvery Inch of about 3-5 in. and ensure it bears at least two sets of leaves. Insert it in moist free-draining soil and place in a cool shaded place. Maintain the soil moist through out until new growth emerges. Allow the plant to be well established before transplanting.

Common Problems in Growing Silvery Inch Plant (Tradescantia zebrina)

  • Dull Leaves
  • Inadequate light is the cause of dull leaves in Silvery Inch Plant. Move the plant to a brighter spot, they prefer bright indirect light. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

  • Bare spindly growth
  • There are three cause of bare spindly growth in Silvery Inch Plant. One cause is too little light; move the plant to bright indirect light. Second cause is too little water; maintain the soil moist at all times and never allow the soil to dry out completely. The third cause is inadequate feeding; feed Silvery Inch every 2 weeks with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. However, all the stems become leggy with age; cut back to rejuvenate new growth or replace the plant.

  • Brown and shrivelled leaf tips
  • The cause of brown and shrivelled leaf tips in Silvery Inch Plant is too dry air especially where the temperatures are too high. Employ these techniques to raise humidity for Silvery Inch Plant.

  • Limp stems, yellow and spotted leaves
  • Underwatering is the cause of limp stems and yellow and spotted leaves in Silvery Inch Plant. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

  • Diseases
  • Common diseases in Silvery Inch Plant are Root-rot and Leaf Spot.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Silvery Inch Plant are Mealy Bugs, Aphids and Scale Insects. Isolate the affected plant and treat appropriately. Mist the leaves regularly to reduce infestation by these pests.

  • Invasion as a weed
  • Silvery Inch Plants 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 these plants in the ground and dispose only after complete destruction (even an inch of these plants will sprout if not completely destroyed).

Toxicity

Silvery Inch Plant (Tradescantia zebrina) is mildly toxic to humans and pets. If ingested the plant sap causes burning in the mouth, tongue and throat. The sap may also cause skin irritation in sensitive skin; always wear gloves when handling.

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