Tradescantia x andersoniana is part of a complex series of garden hybrids usually sold under the name T. virginiana. The hybrids are most likely a cross between T. ohioensis x T. subspera x T. virginiana. All the hybrids have erect stems to 30 inches (0.8 m). There are many cultivars and flower colors; ‘Alba’ flowers white are white; ‘Caerulea’ flowers bright blue; ‘Carnea’ flowers pinkish; ‘Coccinea’ flowers reddish; ‘Hutchinsonii’, flowers pale blue; ‘Lilacina’ flowers pale lilac; ‘Major’ flowers double; ‘Nana’ of dwarf habit; ‘Purpurea’ flowers purple; ‘Rosea’ flowers rose pink; ‘Rubra’ flowers purplish-red; ‘Violacea’ flowers violet. These are the most common cultivars and there are probably many more. Most all of the hybrids are evergreen perennials that are very hardy in USDA zones 4-9.
Blooming: In zone 7, the plants bloom in mid to late spring. Pictured is the cultivar ‘purpurea’. Individual flower will measure up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) across. Flowers open in the morning and close in the evening. Very showy!
Culture: Tradescantia x andersoniana are very easy plants to grow. They will grow in full sun to full shade. They are not fussy about the soil. I have seen these plants grow in Oklahoma red clay and do very well. If grown in containers, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 1 part sand or perlite. Although the plants are very drought tolerant when planted in the landscape, in containers they should be watered and allowed to dry slightly before watering again. They are fertilized only once during the growing season. During the winter months, plants in the greenhouse are kept in cold rooms and only watered enough to keep the foliage from wilting. Whether used in the landscape or in containers, one must keep in mind that they can become very weedy if the seed heads are allowed to develop.
Propagation: Tradescantia x andersoniana is propagated by division of large clumps or by seed.
Tradescantia x andersoniana was featured as Plant of the Week April 22-28, 2005.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.