How to Grow Purple Heart Plant (Tradescantia pallida)


purple heart plant container

By Jennifer Poindexter

Purple heart is a beautiful plant that draws the eye. It’s hard to miss the unique foliage and sweet blooms.

If you’d like to grow a plant that adds a pop of both beauty and color, don’t overlook this option. Don’t fret if you’re unsure of where to start in the growing process.

I’m going to share the information you might need for growing this plant around your home or garden.

If you’re interested in growing the purple heart plant, here’s what you should know:

What You’ll Learn:

  • The distinct features of the purple heart plant and why it stands out.
  • Essential growing conditions required for the plant’s optimum growth.
  • Tips and steps for planting and propagating purple heart effectively.
  • Caring routines, including watering, humidity provision, and pruning.
  • Potential pests and diseases that might impact the purple heart plant and their remedies.

Growing Conditions for Purple Heart

The purple heart plant is one that’s hard to miss due to its purple stems and clustered blooms that come in various shades of pink and purple.

This is a fast-growing plant and the foliage should become darker as the plant matures. Purple heart is a perennial evergreen that remains hardy in planting zones seven through ten.

However, it may also be enjoyed as an annual in lower planting zones or as a houseplant in any region. Purple heart is frequently enjoyed as a groundcover when grown outdoors.

Before we discuss where to grow this plant, there are some things to consider. If you utilize it as ground cover, the purple heart plant can inhibit the growth of other nearby plants due to how dense it grows.

Plus, it’s a toxic plant to both people and pets. Take this into consideration when deciding where to grow a purple heart plant.

When picking an ideal growing location, select an area that receives full to partial sunlight. Keep in mind, the more sun this plant receives, the darker the foliage becomes.

Be mindful as you introduce the plant to more sunlight as there’s a risk the foliage can burn. You should also provide evenly damp, well-draining soil.

Aside from these specifications, understand that a purple heart plant will only grow to be between 12- and 18-inches tall. Ensure it has enough room to thrive in the assigned growing location.

You now know what to look for and consider when selecting an ideal growing area for the purple heart plant.

How to Plant Purple Heart

The best way to grow the purple heart plant is by purchasing a mature plant and utilizing its cuttings to propagate more plants.

If you purchase a plant and would like to move it to a different growing location, you should decide if the plant is growing indoors or outdoors.

When planting it outdoors, find an area which meets all the specifications shared above, amend the soil prior to planting, and dig a hole deep enough to support the root system.

Place the plant in the hole and backfill it with soil. Press firmly around the plant’s base and water it deeply to help the roots become established.

If you’d like to grow purple heart indoors, select a growing container that comfortably accommodates the plant’s root system.

Fill the container 1/3 with quality potting soil. Place the plant in the container and fill it the rest of the way with soil.

Press firmly around the base of the plant to ensure no air can reach the roots. Water it deeply and provide the right growing conditions to encourage your plant to thrive.

Once your plant is mature and productive, you may utilize cuttings to propagate new plants. These cuttings should be approximately four-inches long. Use a sharp pair of scissors to remove them from the plant.

You may root cuttings in water or in soil. We’ll discuss how you may do both. Should you choose to root your cuttings in water, begin by filling a glass jar with water partially.

Place the cutting in the jar. It should sit in the water, but you don’t want the entire cutting submerged. Then, place the jar in a sunny location.

You may need to change the water every few days. In approximately three weeks, the cutting should develop roots.

Should you choose to root your cutting in soil, you won’t place it in the water. Instead, you’ll dip the cutting in rooting hormone and plant it.

The following steps will be the same whether you chose to root in water or soil. When the cutting is ready, fill a container with well-draining soil.

Dig a hole deep enough to support the cutting. Place the cutting (whether rooted in water or only dipped in rooting hormone) in the hole.

Backfill the hole with soil and press firmly around the cutting to ensure it’s supported. Water the cutting and place a plastic bag over the container.

This creates a greenhouse effect which should help retain moisture and heat. Ensure the soil doesn’t dry over the next month.

The cutting should become established in the container. Once this occurs, either move the new plant to a permanent growing location, a larger container, or you may continue growing it in the current container if it’s large enough.

If you’re moving your purple heart plant outdoors, ensure you harden it off and slowly introduce it to more light to avoid shock and the foliage being burned.

Provide adequate care to this plant, and it should thrive. Pick the growing method which works best for you and start your journey with a purple heart plant.

propagating purple heart plant

Caring for Purple Heart

Caring for the purple heart plant isn’t overly complicated. You need to supply water, humidity, proper pruning, have a plan for the winter, and understand the plant’s fertilizing needs.

To begin, let’s discuss watering. Purple heart plants are considered drought-tolerant, but they thrive when provided consistent water.

Therefore, it’s wise to practice the deep watering method. Apply water to the plant for longer periods of time, fewer days of the week.

This not only waters the plant’s roots, it also saturates the ground around the plant. As the days progress, and the plant needs more water, it’ll dig its roots deeper into the ground creating a deeper root system.

Deeper root systems are thought to be a sign of healthier plants. The next thing you should supply the purple heart plant with is humidity.

If the plant grows outdoors, it should naturally occur during warmer portions of the year. If it’s an indoor plant, you can provide humidity by keeping it in naturally humid areas of the home such as a kitchen or bathroom.

You may also fill a tray with pebbles and pour water over them. Then place the container inside the tray. You don’t want the water to reach the bottom of the plant’s growing container.

However, having the tray of water beneath the planter could add more humidity around your plant. It’s also important to mention that the purple heart plant doesn’t tolerate frost, so if you’re growing your plant outdoors be sure to protect it from the elements.

One way of doing this is having a plan for overwintering. If your plant is growing indoors, it should be fine as long as you supply water to it as needed.

You’ll know when your plant needs more water by testing the soil. Insert your finger into the dirt next to your plant.

If it’s dry to your second knuckle, it’s time to water the plant deeply again. If you live in one of the hardiness zones shared above, you can allow frost to hit your plant.

Then cut the foliage back and leave it be until the plant remerges the next growing season.

Purple heart plants don’t need fertilizer. Yet, if you feel better about supplying some added nutrients, ensure you dilute it by 50% before applying and follow all package instructions.

Finally, ensure you prune your purple heart plant. It should only be pruned during the warmer seasons of the year. Since this plant grows quickly, it tends to become leggy. Pruning can help with this.

These are the few things you must do to provide adequate care to your purple heart plant. Hopefully, these tips will help you have a beautiful purple heart plant throughout the years.

Garden Pests and Diseases Which Might Impact Purple Heart

The last thing we must discuss about growing a purple heart plant is how to protect it from the dangers which lurk inside or outside of your home.

Plants can develop issues with pests and diseases no matter where they grow. Stay alert to these potential threats.

The most common pests to impact purple heart plants are snails, aphids, scales, mealybugs, and caterpillars.

You may treat all of these issues with an insecticide. However, there are alternative methods to treating some of these issues.

Snails and caterpillars may be handpicked. You may also sprinkle your plants with coffee grounds at the base and diatomaceous earth on the foliage as this creates a difficult terrain for snails, and the caffeine from coffee serves as a deterrent.

Aphids may be treated by spraying the plant forcefully with soapy water. Scales may be treated by wiping the plant down with a cloth that’s dipped in rubbing alcohol.

The most common disease to impact this plant is root rot. You may avoid this issue by planting in an area that has well-draining soil and plenty of light.

Should your plant develop this issue, it’s difficult to treat, so avoiding it is the best plan of action.

The other issues you may spot with purple heart plants are yellow or brown leaves. If you see yellow leaves, it means you’re overwatering. If your plant develops brown leaves it means there isn’t enough humidity.

Take these points into consideration when considering how to best protect your purple heart plants while they’re growing in your home or garden.

You now know where to start your gardening journey when growing a purple heart plant. This plant could be a subtle way of adding charm to a barren location around your home.

By ensuring you provide the right growing conditions, adequate care, and protection, it should produce the beauty you desire for your landscape or inside your home.

Key Takeaways:

  • Purple heart plants have unique purple stems and blooms in shades of pink and purple, making them an attractive choice for gardens and homes.
  • They thrive best in zones seven through ten but can also be grown as annuals or houseplants in other zones.
  • Purple heart can serve as a ground cover, but due to its dense growth, it may inhibit the growth of other nearby plants.
  • Providing adequate sunlight is crucial; however, be cautious not to burn the foliage with excessive light.
  • Propagation can be done using cuttings, either in water or soil.
  • Deep watering is recommended for healthier growth, and the plant requires consistent humidity.
  • Purple heart plants don’t need fertilization but respond well to occasional pruning.
  • Common pests include snails, aphids, and caterpillars, and the main disease to be wary of is root rot.
  • Correct watering and humidity levels can prevent yellow or brown leaf development.

Purple Heart Plant – Quick Growing Reference Chart

Aspect Details
Botanical Name Tradescantia pallida (often known as Purple Heart)
Zones 7-10 (can be grown as an annual in lower zones or a houseplant anywhere)
Sunlight Full to partial (foliage gets darker with more sunlight)
Height 12-18 inches
Soil Type Evenly damp, well-draining soil
Watering Deep watering method (less frequent, but longer durations)
Humidity High (naturally occurs outdoors; use pebbles tray for indoor humidity)
Frost Tolerance Doesn’t tolerate frost; protect or overwinter
Fertilization Not necessary, but if desired, dilute by 50%
Pruning During warmer seasons to avoid legginess
Propagation Using cuttings, either root in water or soil
Pests Snails, aphids, scales, mealybugs, caterpillars
Diseases Mainly root rot; avoid by ensuring well-draining soil and ample sunlight
Special Considerations Toxic to humans and pets; can inhibit growth of other plants as ground cover

More About Purple Heart

https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/articles/purple-heart-tradescantia-pallida/

https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/tradescantia-pallida-purple-heart/

https://sites.berry.edu/cborer/inventory/purple-heart/

The post How to Grow Purple Heart Plant (Tradescantia pallida) appeared first on Gardening Channel.

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