Tradescantia zebrina ‘Superba’

Family: Commelinaceae

Countries: Central America, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, South America

Tradescantia zebrina ‘Superba’ are attractive trailing plants with handsome purple and silver variegated foliage.  Each leaf displays wide bands of silver either side of a central purple stripe and every leaf is enhanced with a fine purple outline.  NB: The purple colouration is more subtle when plants are grown in softer lighting, as you see in the leaves of the plant at the top of this page.  Tradescantia zebrina ‘Superba’ is a great choice of plant to grow indoors in rooms with bright and direct sunshine.  Plants will flourish in areas that are light and bright; they’ll thrive when grown inside conservatories and rooms with skylights and glass ceilings that provide high quality sunlight.

A word of warning: these plants do not want to sit in wet compost; Tradescantia zebrina ‘Superba’ can easily be killed by overwatering.  Tradescantia zebrina ‘Superba’ are drought-tolerant plants that only need watering when their compost is about to dry out.  In spring and summertime, check your plant’s compost before you water – don’t water Tradescantia zebrina ‘Superba’ plants if you can feel moisture in the compost.  If you’re unsure whether or not to irrigate your plants, try leaving it a couple of days and then look again at Tradescantia zebrina ‘Superba’ and reassess the situation.  When it comes to watering, these plants will require smaller quantities of water on fewer occasions during autumn and wintertime and more frequent watering during their periods of active growth in spring and summertime.

Cultivate Tradescantia zebrina ‘Superba’ plants in containers with a number of holes at the base to allow water to run over your plant’s roots and escape out of the bottom of the pot when watering.  Having holes in the base of the pots also enables more air to reach the plant’s roots.  I find that free-draining, peat-free compost or moss is the best growing media for Tradescantia.  Cuttings can be taken at almost any time of year, but spring is a wonderful time to propagate Tradescantia zebrina ‘Superba’ and this is an ideal time to re-pot plants.

There’s no need to mist Tradescantia zebrina ‘Superba’.  These plants prefer to have dry leaves, so they don’t want to be misted or sprayed with water.

Tradescantia zebrina ‘Superba’ grow up to around 20cm (8inches) tall but these are mostly trailing plants with pendant stems that cascade beautifully below the plant.  Tradescantia zebrina ‘Superba’ plants are suited to growing in containers positioned on high-level shelves where their foliage can cascade down the shelves and create a lovely feature.  Another option is to plant Tradescantia in hanging baskets where their attractive stems and foliage can hang down and be admired.

Tradescantia zebrina ‘Superba’ are tender plants that will be killed by cold temperatures and frosts.  It’s worth evaluating your houseplants at the end of summer to ensure your tender plants are positioned away from exterior doors and far away from any windows that might be opened in wintertime.  Avoid growing Tradescantia zebrina ‘Superba’ in cold or draughty areas.  Minimum temperature 15C (60F).

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