What is Tradescantia?
The Tradescantia genus is beautiful, convenient and flexible. If you're often away from home (or just forgetful!), these houseplants are a dream as they like breaks between waterings, and will flourish when they're next given a soaking.
The Tradescantia Zebrina, one of our favourites, has flowing tendrils that'll look fantastic in a hanging pot or flowing down a bookcase.
The Tradescantia Zebrina genus can be found right across the Americas, in woodlands and open fields. They’re ‘scramblers,’ which means they grow long weak shoots around other ‘host’ plants for survival.
Tradescantia Zebrina ‘Violet’ is a fond favourite, with their soft purple and green teardrop leaves, which grow in abundance along trailing stems. But Tradescantia Zebrina fluminensis, with pink variegation in place of the zebrina’s regular purple/green pattern, comes in at a close second. Both plants have defined fractal patterns, which help relax the mind.
In this blog, we explain why we love this plant family, and why we've decided to use the name 'Wandering Dude,' in favour of the anti-semitic name 'Wandering Jew.'
The History Behind The Name ‘Wandering Jew’
Previously, Bloombox Club titled Tradescantia Zebrina with their common name: 'Wandering Jew.'
We assumed the name referred to the Israelites, sentenced to 'wander' through the desert in search of the promised land until the last member of the original generation (Moses) dies.
But further research revealed ‘Wandering Jew’ to be connected to an apocryphal myth, one that has been used to justify anti-Semitism since at least the 13th century.
The story goes that one of the men who taunted Jesus on his way to be crucified was cursed to walk the Earth until the Second Coming. In the context of the observable Jewish diaspora; the displacement of Jewish peoples from the Southern Levant in ancient times, and subsequent statelessness from anti-Semitic regimes, we are profoundly uncomfortable with using this moniker.
Then What Should We Call It?
Although Tradescantia has other common names, including Spiderwort and Inch Plant, 'Wandering Jew' seems to be the only one that's stuck.
Bloomboxclub spoke to different plant communities about this quandary, and we think we've found a good alternative. The plant was given its name due to its hyper-adaptability and tendency to spread easily and quickly.
Well, all of these qualities apply to the 'Wandering Dude:' the guy who gets around despite infrequent attention, and isn't fussy about where he ends up! We believe that this is a better title, but if any wandering dudes are offended by the comparison, please get in touch!
Tradescantia Zebrina Care & Growth Guide
Since the 'Wandering Dude' hails from Mexico, you can guess that this plant prefers warmer climates. But, the tradescantia zebrina has the ability to withstand different temperatures. Just avoid exposing this plant to frost because there may be no recovery from that.
The 'Wandering Dude' likes moist or slightly moist soil. You can let the soil dry out between waterings with some frequent mistings (especially during winter).
Once your Tradescantia Zebrina starts growing, you might need to do some pruning. You can cut long vines that have missing leaves or those that just getting too long.
We love this beautifully-patterned trailing plant at Bloombox Club. Tradescantia plants are survivors. They can be pushed right to the brink of desolation and then, with some emergency TLC, be brought back to full health within days. They’re a great reminder that life fluctuates and things can get better.
Varieties & Similar Plants
Let’s get into Bloombox Club’s fave 'Wandering Dude' variant, the Tradescantia Zebrina 'Violet'! Its colourful foliage features hues of silver, purple and green. Beautiful, sturdy, and a super-fast grower, it’s easy to see why we love it so much!
The Tradescantia Zebrina gets its name because it has leaves that look like the stripes of the zebra! It grows tall and can often be used as ground cover for outdoor gardens.
One of the prettier variants of the ‘Wandering Dude’ is the Tradescantia Blossfeldiana. You can find them blooming blue, purple, white, or rose-pink flowers with proper care.
If you’re looking for other indoor plants other than ‘Wandering Jew’ variants, check out our list! ‘Wandering Jews’ make excellent indoor plants, and there are lots of others you can get to build your very own indoor oasis!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Meaning Of The Name Wandering Jew?
The name ‘Wandering Jew’ is from a myth. It was the name given to the man (a Jew) who taunted Jesus on the way to crucifixion.
What Is The New Name For A Wandering Jew?
We have opted to call it the ‘Wandering Dude’ plant. You can also call it by its other name, such as Tradescantia Zebrina, Tradescantia Blossfeldiana, Tradescantia Sillamontana or Tradescantia Spathacea, to name a few.
Is Moses In The Cradle The Same As Wandering Jew?
No, they’re not! With such similar Biblical names, you might think that they’re the same plant, but no! They do belong in the same family, Commelinaceae. Moses in the Cradle can alos be referred to by its other names, such as boat lily, cradle lily, or oyster plant.
Where Does Tradescantia Zebrina's Name Come From?
When you look at this plant, it’s easy to see how it got its name - its zebra-like leaves! The Tradescantia Zebrina also features leaf nodes along its stem are about one inch apart. It is one of the more popular types of the ‘Wandering Jew’ or, in our case, the ‘Wandering Dude’ plant.
Is Tradescantia Zebrina An Indoor Plant?
They are and they make terrific indoor plants. They can be hung from a hanging pot or planted in any pot of your choice. They are beautiful, but known to be quite sturdy and not at all needy, so they’re great plants to have at home.