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3 Best Methods to Propagate Tradescantia

The flourishing Tradescantia is known to bring good fortune and heal infections, and they are pretty effortless to propagate if you know the tricks!

Generally, there are multiple methods of propagating Tradescantia, including stem cutting, root division and sowing seed. Tradescantia may take weeks to months to root and be ready for transplanting, depending on the propagation ways or environment. 

When done correctly, the cuttings will root within a week and flourish; otherwise may perish from severe stress.

So, if you don’t want to waste your labor when populating the Tradescantia plants, allow this article to be a guidebook.  

How to Propagate Tradescantia Effectively?

Tradescantia, also known as Wandering Jew or the Inch Plant, boasts around 85 different species, where most are hanging plants. 

They are fast growers, with an inch growing each week and reaching a maximum height of 30–60 cm (1–2 ft).

So, it is easy and quick to propagate Tradescantia plants. 

Early spring is the perfect time to propagate Tradescantia as it will root the quickest. However, you can also propagate Tradescantia throughout spring and summer. 

Collect equipment like pruning shears, Isopropyl alcohol, rooting hormone, succulent potting mix, a transparent vase, non-chlorinated water, and a seed starter tray for propagating Tradescantia. 

1. Propagation via Stem Cuttings

Propagating via stem cutting is the most effective and quickest method to multiply the Tradescantia plant.

Examine the mother plant for a set of healthy stems with multiple leaves to take and prepare the cuttings for propagation. 

Cut the stems just below the growth node and ensure to take cuttings from the top of the plant at least 2-3 inches long.

Now, you need to remove leaves from the bottom 2-3 of the cutting, with one or two leaves remaining at the top.

Dip the end of the cuttings in the rooting hormone, and now you are ready to propagate the cuttings. 

A. Propagation in Water 

The hydroponics method works best for rooting Tradescantia roots at the quickest time possible.

  • Take a clear glass or vase and add non-chlorinated water until half.
  • Submerge the cuttings into the water, so the cut-end remains inside the water with leaves remaining outside.
  • Place the glass or vase in a warm location with ample indirect sunlight.
  • Change the water every 4-5 days or when it starts to brown.
  • Wait for 2-3 weeks until the cutting generates at least 2-inch long feeder roots.
Rooting Tradescantia stem cutting in water
Rooting Tradescantia stem cutting in a water medium requires frequent changes of water.

The new feeder roots will grow within one week but allow another 2-3 weeks before you transplant it in a potting mix.

B. Propagation in Soil  

Start preparing a homemade potting mix using biochar, coco coir, perlite, and some green waste to promote the growth of cuttings and allow room to breathe.

  • Place the cuttings in a large bin and soak them in fresh or distilled water for a few minutes.
  • Once thoroughly soaked, take a handful of cuttings and squeeze them to exert as much water as possible.
  • Transfer the soaked mix to a small container, 2-3” in diameter, and break it up as it goes in.
  • Gently insert the stem cuttings into the soil so that only the top stem and leaves remain outside.
  • Set it aside in a warm location with indirect bright sunlight, but keep it away from the open window to prevent cold stress.
  • Water frequently to keep the soil slightly moist. It may take more than a month before you witness significant root growth.

Continue growing it in the same pot for a few months before deciding to transplant it into a fresh succulent potting mix.

2. Propagation via Root Divisions

Propagating Tradescantia via root division is a rarely approached method because separating the shallow roots tends to be complicated.

Almost every hanging or dwarf species boasts a shallow root network, including Tradescantia zebrina, Tradescantia ohiensis, Tradescantia pallida, and Tradescantia fluminensis.

Start with watering the pot a few hours before loosening the soil, then tilt it and gently shake and pull the plant catching by its base.

You can also shake the plant to loosen the excess soil or give it a quick splash of water.

  • Examine the root system to find dark, smelly, or mushy feeder roots. 
  • Using the sterilized pruning shear, cut the outside root attached to at least one of the stems. Some root ripping is expected, so do not worry.
Root division is a complex yet effective method to propagate Tradescantia plant
Root division is a complex yet effective method to propagate the Tradescantia plant.
  • Next, treat the cut end with pesticide and apply some rooting hormones to boost the feeder-root growth.
  • Prepare a succulent-heavy soil mix by adding vermiculite or peat moss, perlite, and coarse sand.
  • Add the mix in a shallow pot measuring 3-4” in diameter.
  • Use one pot per root cutting and avoid over-crowding for healthy growth.
  • Water the pot and set it aside in a warm location with indirect sunlight.
  • Ensure the temperature stays between 55-75°F and water every few days to keep the substrate well-moistened.

Do not worry if the plant does not look too happy for the beginning few weeks. Continue providing regular care to keep it stress-free.

3. Propagation via Seeds

Tradescantia will bear seeds if you allow them to flower, but indoor-grown flowers are less likely to deliver seeds due to a lack of pollination.

So, your best bet is to buy a fresh batch of Tradescantia seeds from the local nursery or Amazon store.

It is best to sow seeds in the ground in the spring when the last frost has passed. Otherwise, sow them indoors using the germination kit before moving them into a pot.

  • Stratify the seeds by mixing them with a slightly moistened, sterile, soil-less growing mix and putting them in a sealed plastic bag in a refrigerator.
  • Move the seeds to the freezer the next day and repeat this for one week, alternating between the fridge and the freezer.
  • Pour a fresh potting mix of compost, coir, and perlite into the germination tray and add one seed 0.32 cm deep per pod.
  • Water the tray to moisten the seeds and cover it using a clear plastic bag to lock in the moisture. Continue spraying the water every few days to moisten the seeds.
  • Carefully place the tray under artificial grow light, ensuring the temperature stays about 68°F.

If everything goes right, the seeds will sprout from 10 days to 6 weeks and become ready to be moved to a larger container.

Move the seedlings outdoors when they are 5 cm (2 inches) tall. Moreover, maintain a space of 30 cm (1 foot) between each seedling when transplanting into the garden.

Final Thought

Propagating Tradescantia is pretty simple when you have all the insights and ensure that vigorous growth will depend on regular care.

Place the plant in a brightly lit room with indirect sunlight, temperature between 50-80°F, humidity above 40%, and water once a week.

Some high-quality fertilizer applied every month in spring, and summer will do wonders to achieve full and lush foliage growth.

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