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Products > Tradescantia pallida 'Purple Heart'
Tradescantia pallida 'Purple Heart' - Purple Spiderwort
Image of Tradescantia pallida 'Purple Heart'
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Perennial
Family: Commelinaceae (Spiderworts)
Origin: Mexico (North America)
Flower Color: Purple
Bloomtime: Summer
Synonyms: [T. p. 'Purpurea', Setcreasea p. 'Purple Heart']
Height: 1 foot
Width: 2-4 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Tradescantia pallida 'Purple Heart' (Purple Spiderwort) - This popular trailing house plant is also a pretty durable groundcover or accent plant to about 18 inches tall in the garden. It has 2 to 5+ inch long, narrow pointed purple leaves arranged alternately along thick herbaceous segmented stems. The leaves are covered in soft pale hairs the their bases form a sheath around the stems. The three petaled purple-pink flowers with yellow stamens arise among the leaves near the tips of the branches primarily in summer but can often be seen at other times in frost free gardens. Plant in light shade or part sun in most any soil type and water regularly to occasionally - surprising drought tolerant for such a tropical looking plant. The leaf color varies with amount of sun and water with the best color in the brightest light. Hardy and evergreen in frost free gardens but will freeze back in colder locations - root hardy to 10F or less - some claim it will grow as a perennial in USDA Zone 6, where mulching to protect the crown is advantageous. This attractive and unusual colored plant makes a great hanging pot specimen or as a creeping groundcover with bold color for the sun or shade garden. Some consider this plant from eastern Mexico to be invasive, but we have never seen it get out of hand and it has behaved quite well in our garden for over 25 years. The stems are a bit fragile so break it brushed against or walked on but the plant grows rapidly and so covers up damage in short order. Though not particularly dangerous, the juices of this plant have a skin irritant that can cause a rash or blisters and has been used in the past to cosmetically redden a person's cheeks. This plant is native to a wide area of Mexico from Tamaulipas east to Veracruz and south to the Yucatan peninsula. The name Tradescantia honors John Tradescant the elder (1570s-1638), an 17th century English naturalist, who was a collector and traveler and the gardener to the Earl of Salisbury and who traveled to Virginia in 1617. The species name pallida is from the Latin word 'pallidus' meaning "pallid" or "pale" in reference to the pale flowers of the species compared to other Tradescantia. This plant was originally described as Setcreasea pallida in 1911 by the American botanist Joseph Nelson Rose, famous for his work in Mexico on the Cactaceae. The cultivar name 'Purpurea' is a synonym and it also goes by the common names Purple Secretia and Purple Queen. 

This information about Tradescantia pallida 'Purple Heart' displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.