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How to care for Purple Heart Tradescantia Pallida

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How to care for Purple Heart Tradescantia Pallida

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Purple Heart plant or also known as Tradescantia Pallida (purple secretia), is an easy-to-grow evergreen perennial that can add striking color and contrast to just any living space.

Furthermore, since this succulent has an aggressive root system that helps it spread quickly, it is a great plant for cascading over pots, walls, groundcover, or even in hanging baskets, and as well as for mixed plantings in large containers due to its rich color.

Not convinced yet? Read on to learn more!


Description

Purple Heart features some fleshy dark purple, lance-shaped leaves that can reach up to 7-inches long covered with pale hairs, which are produced alternately on quite fragile stems. And is capable of blooming 1/2-inches wide of 3 petaled pink or pale purple flowers with bright yellow stamens at the ends of the stems from midsummer to fall.


Care Guide

1. Watering Demands

Due to its ability to survive long periods of drought, watering Purple Heart requires no effort at all! However, it is still best not to let this succulent sit in dry conditions for too long, especially if you want it to develop some strong, thick stems and leaves.

In general, whether you are growing your purple heart indoors or outdoors, thoroughly water it at least once every 7 to 10 days, especially during its blooming season in the Summer months. In the cold winter season, Purple Heart will enter its dormancy period, so make sure to give it just enough water to keep it healthy. Once every 3 weeks should do the job.

Water Purple Heart Tradescantia Pallida
Watering Purple Heart requires no effort at all

 

One way to tell whether it's time to give your Purple Heart a good drink of water or not is to check if the top 1 to 2-inches of the soil is already dry to the touch or not. If it is, then it's time to give it a thorough watering. Otherwise, don't water. To do this, you can either use a moisture stick to check or simply stick your index finger into the soil.


2. Sunlight Needs

When it comes to light exposure, Purple Heart would need a good amount of sunlight to thrive and stay healthy. Though it can tolerate low lighting conditions, this will result in its leaves being green rather than purple.

So for the best result of color development, grow your Purple Heart outdoors during the warmer months of Spring and Summer. Ideally, in a partially shaded spot, where it won't get more than 1 or 2 hours of direct afternoon sunlight a day, especially in the hottest part of the day in Summer to prevent its leaves from scorching.

Care for Purple Heart Tradescantia Pallida
Purple Heart would need a good amount of sunlight to thrive and stay healthy.
Photo credit: ARTESIAWELLS

 

Purple Heart is a great indoor houseplant as well. However, if you want to maintain its iconic purple-colored leaves and stems, you need to find a spot to display this plant where it can get as much light as possible (at least 8 hours of bright indirect sunlight or filtered light a day), like near an east, west, or south-facing windowsill.

One trick to help you determine whether your Purple Heart is getting the light it needs per day or not is through its leaves. How? Just like any other succulents, lack of sunlight can lead the Purple Heart to stretch and have long spaces between its leaves. Once you see this happen, quickly move this plant to a different spot where it can get more sunlight or consider using a grow light to supplement its lighting needs per day.


3. Ideal Temperature

Purple Heart can be grown outdoors all-year-round in USDA hardiness zones 7 to 11 or in areas where the temperature is between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, this succulent cannot survive freezing temperatures during the winters, especially in northern climates. So if you are located in a zone where the temperature tends to hit below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10°C), it is best to grow this succulent in a pot or container where you can easily carry it indoors.


4. Pot and Soil Requirement

If you choose to grow your Purple Heart in pots or containers, make sure to use one that has drainage holes on the bottom, and fill it with soil that offers adequate water retention and as well as good drainage. You can either use a regular garden soil mixed with organic substance, such as peat moss, perlite, or compost to improve its quality, or a ready-made succulent or cactus soil mix.

Care for Purple Heart Tradescantia Pallida
If you choose to grow your Purple Heart in pots or containers, make sure to use one that has drainage holes on the bottom

 

You can also grow your Purple Heart in a pot or container without drainage holes. However, this would require you to give the plant more attention to prevent any problems, like root rot. You can check out our “How to grow and care for succulents in no-drainage pot” article to learn more.



Propagating Purple Heart

Propagating Purple Heart is easy. You can either propagate it from seeds or through stem cuttings. However, since seeds are rarely available, most gardeners usually propagate this succulent through cuttings.

Care for Purple Heart Tradescantia Pallida
You can either propagate Purple Heart from seeds or through stem cuttings

 

You can follow 5 simple steps below to do this:

Step 1: In Spring or early Summer, cut a few healthy stems just below a segment node from the mother plant (about 4 to 6-inches or 10 to 15 cm long) using a clean, sharp knife or a pair of scissors.

Step 2: Remove the lower leaves from the cuttings and plant them directly into a container filled with moistened potting mix. You can plant more than one cutting as long as they don’t overlap.

Step 3: Wrap the pot or container in a clear plastic bag that you can secure with elastic rubber. This should reduce the need for you to water it, as the plastic will keep the moisture in.

Step 4: Place your cuttings in a bright spot away from direct sunlight until it roots.

Step 5: Once new growth starts to appear on the stems (which would usually take about 1 month), you can now remove the plastic from the pot.


When and How to Repot?

Purple Heart won't require frequent repotting, as this plant doesn't grow that large. In fact, you will only need to do it at least once a year during its growing season in the Spring months or as soon as you notice its roots are starting to push through the drainage holes at the bottom.

Care for Purple Heart Tradescantia Pallida
Repot once a year during its growing season in the Spring months.
Photo by Craig Lapsley

 

To repot your Purple Heart, simply follow the steps below:

Step 1: Clean the new pot thoroughly. Choose one that has drainage holes at the bottom (this will help prevent soggy soil) and is about 1 to 2-inches bigger than its old pot to give the plant more space to grow.

Step 2: Make sure that the soil is at hand. Preferably a porous and well-draining one, like a cactus or succulent soil mix.

Step 3: Carefully remove the plant from the old pot. Do this by using your fingers to indent the pot towards the inside. Then turn the pot over to take out your Purple Heart. Just make sure to hold the plant gently so it doesn’t fall and break during the process.

Step 4: Pour the soil into the new pot until it covers the bottom. Grind it with your hands and lightly shake the pot up and down to remove air pockets.

Step 5: Position the plant in the center of the pot and hold it steady. Use your other hand to add more soil until the roots are fully covered. While doing this, make sure to occasionally shake it left and right gently to remove any trapped air.

Step 6: Once done, lightly tap on top of the soil to level it before displaying your Purple Heart to its chosen location.


Common Pests & Diseases

Purple Heart is known to be a tough plant. It can only attract caterpillars and snails when grown outdoors, but this can easily be prevented by placing a protective barrier around it using a layer of gravel, wood chips, or diatomaceous earth.

 

See more about How To Care For Sempervivum Red Lion

HOW TO CARE FOR SEMPERVIVUM RED LION

For Types of Succulents Careguide. Read more information here.

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