Ask a Question forum: What to do with this Tradescantia?

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North Central TX (Zone 8a)
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tx_flower_child
Jan 12, 2018 12:15 AM CST
I have a good friend who has Tradescantia growing all around her house. A few months ago she put some cuttings in a plastic pot and said, 'Here!' So I just plopped the whole thing in a bigger container and let it sit outside. A few weeks ago when we were due for our annual ice storm, I brought it inside. The other day I thought it might like some water. Since I preferred to water it outside, I picked up the plant in its original pot and got quite a surprise.

Not sure which Tradescantia it is. She has a variety of them, mostly intermingled.

Thumb of 2018-01-12/tx_flower_child/00617d

Here's what it looks like when I take the original plant/pot out of the bigger container. It's got some interesting roots and not much soil. Hope y'all can see them from the pictures. I know there's a lot of stuff blocking the view.

Thumb of 2018-01-12/tx_flower_child/1a5ece


Thumb of 2018-01-12/tx_flower_child/aa9af2

So what I want to know is what to do. Should I re-pot so that the roots are covered by soil? If so, can I cut the roots shorter? Of course that would detach them from the soil that they're growing in. When you look at the first picture, the plant seems happy as is. That's what perplexes me.

Next spring I'll probably plant this in the ground and use it as a summer groundcover. I really don't need a houseplant.

Thanks for any advice.
Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids Tropicals Region: Mexico
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lauriebasler
Jan 12, 2018 12:30 AM CST
They are one of those plants that gets long and leggy unless it gets rejuvenated by being cut back a few times a year. The cuttings root easily like coleus. It will appreciate a bigger pot, but probably is not necessary. Even though it is not beautiful it's not sick. I grow mine indoors in winter, and by the time spring gets here, it's pretty sad looking. It is reborn again outside and become lovely again in no time. Your plant will love love it outside and be a lovely dark purple with little pink flowers all summer long.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Jan 12, 2018 12:40 AM CST
Right. I know it's not sick and will be happy whenever spring gets here. Should I just let it be for now? I really hate the thought of putting it in a bigger pot.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Jan 12, 2018 11:16 AM CST
Cut off all the stuff growing from the drain holes. Pull the rootball out of the pot and If there is a little room, add an inch of soil to the bottom of the pot and then put the rootball back in. Result: same pot, more soil for the roots.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL 🌵🌷⚘🌹🌻 (Zone 8b)
Houseplants Organic Gardener Composter Region: Gulf Coast Miniature Gardening Native Plants and Wildflowers
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purpleinopp
Jan 12, 2018 2:02 PM CST
It looks like this one to me:
Purple Queen (Tradescantia pallida)

If you're just waiting until you put it in the ground in a couple months, it should be fine the way it is unless it's drying too quickly for your schedule. Looks like it is making the most of its' condition. :+)

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The less I interfere, the more balance mother nature provides.
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North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Jan 12, 2018 9:40 PM CST
I do have a number of cuttings that are rooting or planted in small pots. They all were broken off the main plant and they're doing well. I was quite surprised when I saw the big roots growing in that tiny island of dirt. So good. I have two choices. Can trim and repot or let it be. Think I'll dwell on what to do for awhile.

I tend to agree that it's most likely to be Purple Queen (Tradescantia pallida).
Thank you both for your advice.
Name: Laurie b
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids Tropicals Region: Mexico
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lauriebasler
Jan 12, 2018 11:59 PM CST
No need to repot if you don't want to, It will make it.
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Jan 13, 2018 5:20 PM CST
I think it's (Tradescantia pallida) also. Mine that I have in a container looks awful during the winter months. I pretty much ignore it and cut it back severely when I take it back out in spring. It comes back after doing that - along with a good soaking. I put those trimmings in the ground on an east facing wall 4 years ago. While the above ground growth gets frozen back each winter, it has returned and then some from the roots. I just leave it buried under the natural oak leaf cover until spring, when I more or less try to uncover it. It's really looking pretty nice after a few years. There are some variegated airplane plants in there too. They've made a nice combo and done a really good job of surviving the cold dips in winter. I think you might be a bit warmer than I am in the winter months, so if you do plant it in the ground you may be able to carry it over year to year without bringing it in. Although it probably wouldn't hurt to salvage a couple in case the winter turned killer.
Donald
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Jan 13, 2018 11:42 PM CST
My friend literally has it growing all around her house. The house is on a hill with a pretty good slope for being in the city. This past summer she and her husband decided they needed a small, covered patio. Or as they call it, a 'catio'. (They have 5 cats, at least 3 of which were born under the house.) So she's potted up a lot of the tradescantia in pottery from Mexico and has it on the catio. Plus it grows down the hill which is their front yard. She kept wanting to give me cuttings and for a long time I escaped without any. Did an 'oops! I forgot.' Finally she brings me a bucket full of cuttings. So I'm trying to keep it alive inside until it's warm enough to plant outside as a groundcover. I have lots of places that could use groundcover. But in the meantime it is very annoying the way it keeps breaking off all the time. And then I feel compelled to root every piece that breaks off. Heck. I've even had some cuttings break when I'm changing the teaspoon or so of water that they''re in. (I'm such an ingrate.)
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Jan 14, 2018 6:54 AM CST
I think that ability to break easily is a form of procreation for the plant. It often forms a new plant if the conditions are favorable. Tends to be a Tradescantia family characteristic.
Donald
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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tx_flower_child
Jan 14, 2018 1:12 PM CST
Why am I not surprised?

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