Caring for Your Tradescantia Plants and Putting Them in Terrariums

Genus Tradescantia
Popular Varieties 



Purple Heart

Purple Flame



Soil Normal potting mix - wet, but well drained
Light Bright, indirect light to promite bright colours
Water Regularly - keep soil moist. Mist leaves too.



Tradescantia Purple Heart

Tradescantias come in the most beautful array of colours, making them a very popular choice for house plants and terrariums alike.

I mainly work with 2 different types of tradescantia; compact varities with just a few stems such as the purple heart, purple flame, and nanouks; and crawling vine varities like albiflora and zebrina.

The compact varities are great for open terrariums and make real stand-out pieces. The crawling varieties can be used in terrariums too, but you may wish to get one with an opening to let the plant trail out of. The vines are most commonly used in hanging pots and with good reason - they look amazing!

Albiflora Tricolour in Hanging Pot

If you notice your leaves browning this is usually a sign that your plant is being scorched. Move it somewhere with less direct light, and take up a misting routine. If your plant is losing it's vivid colouts then try mvoing it to somewhere a little brighter.



Trandescantia are quite forgiving plants, but to get the best out of them be sure to keep them moist and in bright, indrect light. This will promote, healthy and brightly coloured leaf growth.

These plants LOVE moisture. Avoid letting them dry out, but also don't have them sit in water. Water them until water drains from the bottom, and mist leaves regularly. To create ambient humidity you can place the plant ontop of a bowl of stones, with a little water in the bottom. The plant should be atop the water, but not in it.


If you're anything like me you won't like to cut your plants back, but tradescantias really do benefit from doing so. Even with the best of care they do tend to get leggy. Pruning them back regularly will keep keep your plant full and bushy for longer. This is especially true for the vine varieties.


Some bad news for you... Even the best of plants will start to get leggy and brown after a year or two. The good news is that they're super easy to propagate! There are 3 ways you can turn your aging plant into dozens of plant babies.

  1. Cut a stem, place it in soil, and keep moist. New growth should start to appear within a couple of weeks.
  2. Cut a stem and place in water. Once you'e got some good roots go ahead and plant it up.
  3. Place a long length ontop soil. Roots will take from multiple nodes on the soil. Great option if you're wanting a big plant, quickly.

Tradescantia nanouk

Tradescantias in Terrariums

So, on paper tradescantias are a good candidates for terrariums - they love moisture and humidity and aren't too fussy about their soil. The problem with opting to put a tradescantia in your terrarium is that they're quick growers and get leggy. This kind of rukes them out for a closed piece where you're operating through a small opening.

If you're setting up an open terrarium, however you can still make things work for you and your tradescantia. Position your plant somewhere close to the opening, where you can prune and mist it easily. Avoid placing with plants that don't like wet leaves, such as polka dot plants and begonias. 

Keep trailing varities at the opening and let them grow out of the vessel. You can place the compact varities a little further back, but in either case be prepared to replace your plant in a couple of years. Alternatively, you can keep refreshing the plant over small intervals by laying down new cuttings and trimming back leggy growths.

Like with much of terrarium keeping you may find there is some trial and error involved, but I'd say it's totally worth it (especially if you like a challenge anyway), These gorgeous plants can bring some, often much needed, colour to your terrarium and provide plenty of reward for your efforts.

Good luck, and always... Happy Planting!

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