Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Pixie’

Family: Commelinaceae

Countries: Mexico, North America

Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Pixie’ is a very pretty form of Tradescantia with attractive, small, oval-shaped leaves in shades of greyish-green that take on a strong purple tint when the plants are grown in bright, south-facing rooms.  This Tradescantia has an upright growing habit but will develop trailing growth as the plants’ age and their stems lengthen.  The foliage has a light covering of soft, downy hairs.  I admire this Tradescantia’s tints of purple and the deeper tones of purple on the plant’s leaf sheaths.  I’ve not seen Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Pixie’ in bloom, but I’m told that it has purple flowers.

Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Pixie’ thrives in the warm conditions inside our homes.  This plant flourishes when it’s grown in a place where the plant will enjoy bright, but indirect light.  Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Pixie’ plants have a shorter growing habit and a more contained form when the plants are raised in rooms with good quality lighting; plants grown in shade tend to develop a more sprawling habit.  If your room is very shaded, try moving your Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Pixie’ closer to the window.  If your room is dimly lit with very low light levels, consider growing a green-leaved Tradescantia instead.  Whereas if you have a particularly bright room, you could grow your plant in a position that’s a little further away from the window.  Usually, Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Pixie’ will flourish in bright rooms but these plants prefer to grow away from intense, direct sunshine.

I water Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Pixie’  when my plant’s compost has dried out; then I will water my plant, and then I’ll wait again until the compost is dry before watering again.  Compost can appear dry at a glance, but actually the compost around the plant’s roots (which is what matters) can contain all the moisture the plant needs.  If you’re unsure whether to water or not, poke a finger into the compost or tip your plant out of the pot and inspect the growing media.  These plants have no desire to sit in wet compost at any time of year, but this is especially true over the autumn and winter months when the stems are more susceptible to rot.  I prefer to water Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Pixie’ and indeed all of my Tradescantias and houseplants with rainwater I collect from my roof.  I bottle up the water and bring it indoors for a few days, as this gives the rainwater time to warm up before I use it to irrigate my plants.

I potted my Tradescantia pallida ‘Purple Pixie’ cutting (the plant pictured above) into a 8cm pot filled with a peat-free mix of 2-3 parts of coir, 1 part sand, 1 part SylvaGrow John Innes Number 3, 1 part perlite, 1 part fine bark.  This sounds like a very precise recipe but don’t assume that this is the definite compost mix you need to succeed with Tradescantia.  I chose this mix, through my experience of growing Tradescantia and because I was making use of left over bits and pieces.  Then, I listed my compost recipe here for you in the hope that it will help or inspire you to grow Tradescantia.  Tradescantias flourish in peat-free compost and they also grow very well indeed in moss.  I frequently discover Tradescantia seedlings germinating in the moss I grow inside my terrariums.

My experience with Tradescantia is that these are tender plants that are killed by cold temperatures.  Ensure your plants are positioned away from exterior doors and windows that are likely to be opened in wintertime.  Minimum night-time, winter temperatures should not drop below 13C (55F).

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