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 Weather Station

Products > Tradescantia 'Greenlee'
Tradescantia 'Greenlee' - Pale Puma Spiderwort

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Perennial
Family: Commelinaceae (Spiderworts)
Origin: Brazil (South America)
Evergreen: Yes
Red/Purple Foliage: Yes
Flower Color: Pinkish White
Bloomtime: Summer
Synonyms: [Tradescantia 'Pale Puma']
Height: <1 foot
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Cool Sun/Light Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Tradescantia Greenlee' (Pale Puma Spiderwort) - A compact slowly spreading evergreen perennial to 10 inches tall by about 2 feet wide with succulent herbaceous purple stems bearing clasping elliptic leaves that are narrowed at the base and tip that are olive green suffused with purple on the upper surface and bright purple below with long sliver hairs along the leaf margins and stems. The interesting new leaves emerge in seemingly opposite pairs that are folded upwards to form fuzzy cup-like wings. In bright light one may see violet-pink flowers in summer but this plant is more for foliage and seems reluctant to bloom much. Plant in light shade or part sun and water regularly to only occasionally - as with many in the genus these plants are surprisingly drought resistant because of the water stored in the succulent stems. The leaf color varies with amount of sun and water with the best color in the brightest light but this plant is useful for a semi-tropical look in dry shade as well but remains more green. Hardy and evergreen in near frost free gardens but will freeze back as temperatures go below 20-25 F. We received this plant just as Tradescantia sp. from garden designer and "Grassman" John Greenlee and originally listed it as a selection of the South American species, Tradescantia cerinthoides. Texas plantsman Scott Ogden tells us that likely John Greenlee got this plant from Barton Springs Nursery in Austin Texas and notes it is an old unnamed heirloom plant widespread in the Austin area. He believes it to be a hairless selection of Tradescantia sillamontana or a garden hybrid with Tradescantia pallida, both plants from the State of Monterey Mexico that exhibit drought tolerance not typically seen in the South American species. Though not as dark purple as the typical Tradescantia pallida often called Purple Heart, it does have similar purple coloration, particularly when grown the sun, and with its hairy leaf margins, also shows affinities to the Cobweb Spiderwort, Tradescantia sillamontana, which has hairs on all leaf surfaces and stems. Scott Odgen also notes that deer tend to leave this selection alone while eating most other Tradescantia varieties. It has also been sold in the past by Plant Delights nursery who called it 'Pale Puma' and noted that it had been a popular plant in the Texas Panhandle since at least the 1990s. The name of the genus honors the English naturalists and plant collectors John Tradescant (ca. 1570s 1638) or possibly his son John Tradescant the Younger (16081662). It was at one time believed that John Tradescant the Younger first brought the Virginia Spriderwort, Tradescantia virginiana, back to England in 1637 but some contend that the timeline suggests it more likely the plant was given to John Tradescant the elder and not collected by either Tradescants and the name for the genus was one proposed by Linnaeus.  The information on this webpage is based on research conducted about this plant in our nursery library, from online sources, as well as from observations made of it as it grows in the nursery in containers, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens where we have observed it growing. We will also incorporate comments received from others and welcome getting feedback from those who may have additional information, particularly if this information includes cultural information that would aid others in growing  Tradescantia 'Greenlee'.