Shirley Bovshow shows how to care for purple houseplants that add a dramatic touch to indoor gardens.


Multiply Tradescantia plants by taking cuttings and rooting them in water or soil.

For best results, keep water propagated plants in water indefinitely and soil-cultivated plants in soil.


1. Take a healthy 3 or 4-inch stem and remove the bottom leaves

2. Keep at least 1 leaf at the tip so that the plant can photosynthesize and harness energy from the sun.

3. Submerge the cutting in water, making sure that 1 or 2 nodes are underwater. This is where new roots will form.

4. Place the glass in a room out of direct sunlight and change the water every other day.

5. You will see new roots emerge within a week and continue growing throughout the next weeks.

6. Once the plant begins to outgrow its space, transfer your “water plant” into a larger vessel.


1. Take a healthy 3 or 4-inch stem and remove the bottom leaves

2. Keep at least one leaf for photosynthesis.

3. Use a chopstick or your finger to make a hole in the pre-moistened potting soil

4. Place the cutting in the hole, deep enough to cover 1 or 2 nodes.

5. Place a storage baggy over the plant to function as a greenhouse

6. Check the soil humidity if you don’t see condensation on the bag.

7. Water the soil as needed but do not saturate it.

8. In 3 weeks, gently tug at the cutting, if it resists, the cutting as formed roots!

9. Congratulations, you have a new Tradescantia plant!


1. Place the Tradescantia plant in a bright room for vibrant purple leaves. The plant will survive in lower light rooms but the purple color will fade and revert to green leaves.

2. Room temperatures should be between 50 and 75 degrees

3. Tradescantias thrive in high humidity. If you have dry air, use a humidifier or place the plants on a saucer filled with pebbles and water. As the water in the saucer evaporates, it creates ambient humidity around the plant.

4. Tradescantias need well-draining soil with a slightly acidic ph level.

5. When it’s time to repot your plant, use a Camellia/Azalea potting mix.

6. Fertilizer is not necessary, but if you want to optimize the health of your Tradescantia, feed it with general plant food once a month in the spring and summer.

7. Be gentle with the Tradescantia plants. Stems on the Tradescantia fall easily when the plant is bumped or moved.

8. Don’t waste these fallen stems! Replant them as cuttings and start a new plant!

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