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Tradescantia pallida 'Purple Heart' is often confused with:
Tradescantia fluminensis Form
Tradescantia spathacea Leaves
Tradescantia zebrina Tradescantia zebrina
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Lantana camara Lantana camara flower
Petunia x hybrida Petunia x hybrida
Salvia rosmarinus Rosmarinus officinalis
Tradescantia pallida 'Purple Heart' has some common insect problems:
Aphids on Ornamental Landscape Plants
Mealybugs
Black Vine Weevil

Tradescantia pallida 'Purple Heart'

Previously known as:

  • Setcreasea pallida
  • Setcreasea purpurea
Phonetic Spelling
trad-es-KAN-tee-uh PAL-lid-duh
Description

‘Purple Heart’ is a tender perennial in the spiderwort family (Commelinaceae) commonly used as a houseplant or an annual. The plant species is from Mexico, where it is grown as a ground cover. The genus name honors the gardeners who served Charles I of England, John Tradescant and his son with the same last name.   

Although generally an annual, this plant may come back in protected areas or in mild winters. To plant outdoors find a location with full sun to partial shade and well-drained, high organic matter soil that stays evenly moist. Full sun will result in the best color development. Plants placed in a shady location will tend to have a more greenish tint. Pinch back to encourage bushiness. ‘Purple Heart’ grows up to 1 to 2 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide. The available space to plant can be less than 12 inches up to 3 feet. This plant tolerates salt, drought and dry soil and is resistant to deer. Propagate by stem cuttings.   

‘Purple Heart’ features trailing purple stems with violet-purple leaves and pink flowers that appear in the summer. Each flower lasts only one day. It is desired for its colorful and distinguishing purple foliage, stems and fast growth.

Grow it outdoors as a decorative ground cover or bedding plant that will survive longer than most bedding plants. Use it in a rock, drought-tolerant, cottage or children’s garden. It works well as a mass planting on slopes or in borders, containers or hanging baskets. It is also commonly grown indoors in a hanging basket or in interiorscapes as a ground cover. 

Quick ID Hints:

  • Leaf front and back and stems are purple.
  • Flowers are at the ends of stems and are usually pink.

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems:  Aphids and vine weevil are attracted, as well as scales and mealybugs. Outdoor plants can be munched on by caterpillars, slugs and snails. Protect from strong winds that can damage the stems. It has a tendency to become invasive in beds.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Sun and Shade Demonstration Garden, Buncombe County Colorful Borders West Side Foundation Planting in Cabarrus County
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#houseplant#drought tolerant#low growing#semi-evergreen#easy to grow#salt tolerant#interiorscape#low maintenance#interesting leaves#year-round interest#hanging baskets#ncemgva2018#edging#herbaceous#tender perennials#deer resistant#trailing#ornamentals#herbaceous perennial#groundcover#easy to propagate#rock garden#fantz#partial shade tolerant#container plant#annual#buncombe county sun and shade garden#accent
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#houseplant#drought tolerant#low growing#semi-evergreen#easy to grow#salt tolerant#interiorscape#low maintenance#interesting leaves#year-round interest#hanging baskets#ncemgva2018#edging#herbaceous#tender perennials#deer resistant#trailing#ornamentals#herbaceous perennial#groundcover#easy to propagate#rock garden#fantz#partial shade tolerant#container plant#annual#buncombe county sun and shade garden#accent
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Tradescantia
    Species:
    pallida
    Family:
    Commelinaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Mexico
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Buffer
    Colorful
    Easy to Grow
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This plant is somewhat resistant to damage by deer and is moderately salt and drought tolerant.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Ground Cover
    Houseplant
    Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    2-3 rays/petals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Flowers are bright pink or pink with a white midline (rarely white), terminal, about 1 inch, with 3 equal petals and 3 sepals, subtended by a pair of ovate-acuminate bracts, 7 cm; peduncles 6-11 cm.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Slippery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Oblong
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are alternate, simple, and oblong-elliptic to oblong-lanceolate. They are acute, blade sessile with a closed sheath, margins in rolled to give trough-shape, reddish-purple above and below.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The thick, fleshy, but fragile stems are ascending, decumbent or trailing, purple, rooting at nodes.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Hanging Baskets
    Houseplants
    Patio
    Slope/Bank
    Vertical Spaces
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Diseases
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Salt