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Tradescantia spathacea

Previously known as:

  • Rhoeo spathacea
This plant has medium severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

A tropical sculptural herbaceous perennial plant that works well in containers but must be brought inside during cold winters.  Works well as a houseplant.  Desired for its unusual inflorescence and attractive foliage. Look for the purple underside of the leaf and the unusual bract-enclosed flowers to distinguish this plant from bromeliads.

Plant in a peat-based potting soil and give it plenty of bright light. If kept outdoors in the summer provide it with afternoon shade. Allow the top 1-2 inches to dry out between waterings and cut back on the water during the winter months. 

Quick ID

  • Linear leaves with purple undersides are arranged radially
  • Flowers are axillary, white, inside pair of boat-shaped bracts

In zones 9 and higher, it will form a dense mat groundcover over time, has escaped gardens to naturalize and shows invasive tendencies.

Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Vittata'
    Variegated leaves
Tags:
#tropical#evergreen#container plant#showy leaves#colorful leaves#interiorscape#low maintenance#winter interest#houseplants#fantz
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Vittata'
    Variegated leaves
Tags:
#tropical#evergreen#container plant#showy leaves#colorful leaves#interiorscape#low maintenance#winter interest#houseplants#fantz
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Tradescantia
    Species:
    spathacea
    Family:
    Commelinaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    S. Mexico to Guatemala
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Houseplant
    Poisonous
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • 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:
    Loam (Silt)
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Three-seeded capsule
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Summer
    Winter
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    2-3 rays/petals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Inflorescence consists of axillary, boat-shaped, waxy pair of purple bracts with several flowers inside the 'boat', scarcely exerted, ca 1-2 inches; peduncles are 1-2 inches. Flowers are white, <1 inch, with 3 equal petals.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Variegated
    Leaf Feel:
    Rough
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are alternate, radially arranged in a crowded apical rosette; simple, flat, linear-lanceolate, acute leaves, base sessile with a closed sheath and entire margin; green or variegated green and cream above, purple beneath, rough and stiff texture, 7-14 in x 1-2 in.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Stems are short, stout, simple, and succulent.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Problems:
    Contact Dermatitis
    Poisonous to Humans
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Medium
    Poison Symptoms:
    TOXIC ONLY IF LARGE QUANTITIES EATEN. CAUSES SEVERE PAIN IN THE MOUTH IF EATEN! SKIN IRRITATION MINOR, OR LASTING ONLY FOR A FEW MINUTES. Stinging and itching following contact of cell sap with skin or eyes; ingestion causes irritation of the lips, mouth, tongue, and throat, also abdominal pain.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Unidentified
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Sap/Juice