Tradescantia Nanouk

OFFICIAL NAME

Tradescantia albiflora 'Nanouk'

ALSO KNOWN AS

Spiderwort, Inch Plant, Fantasy Venice, Wandering Jew (or Dude)

ORIGINS & CLIMATE

Caribbean, Central & South America | Tropical

ABOUT THE
PLANT

A striking plant whose colors and patterns bring a dash of delight to any plant fam. The pretty leaves stack up on an upright stem that will eventually cascade over the planter. The shock of bright, almost neon, magenta on the underside of each leaf gets us every time!

HOW MANY GREEN THUMBS?

moderate, bright indirect, goldilocks, mid-size, clusters, cascading, shelf, hanging, flowering, tropical, variegation, patterns, color

HMP PLANT PICK

Tradescantia Nanouk

The basics

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. Take extra care in winter to avoid overwatering.

Water

Preferred Light

Bright, indirect light is ideal for this Tradescantia. Susceptible to leaf burn in long stretches of direct light. Can tolerate lower light conditions, but be sure to adjust watering and expect the plant to take on an elongated, sparse look. In addition, the color and variegation may begin to fade.

Light

Humidity Needs

Can adapt to average room humidity, but will thrive in higher humidity, especially in the summer or hot, dry conditions (like near a heater). Your Tradescantia Nanouk will also appreciate occasional misting to help remove dust from their leaves and keep brown tips at bay.

Humidity

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but generally prefers the warmer side and may complain when exposed to cold drafts or dry heat from vents.

Temperature

Toxic or Not?

Tradescantia leaves are mildly toxic to pets and humans. Ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting.

Toxicity

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow trailing vines to around 1 or 2 ft long (when mature and with enough light)!

Size

Overall Look

Tightly packed leaves stack up along an upright stem in pleasantly full clusters. As the stems grow longer, they will eventually tumble over the edge of the planter in a vine-like fashion. Will look best in a hanging planter or on a high shelf to display those gorgeous leaves.

Format

Leaf Look

A show-stopping leaf with stripes in various colors ranging pale pink to green with some white and purple in there as well. Plus, bonus color! The underside of each almond-shaped leaf is a shockingly bright magenta.

Leaf Shape

Pro Tip

The pooling or accumulation of water in the crevasses between leaves can quickly lead to rot. Do your best to water at the soil level rather than directly over the plant.

Pro Tip

Did You Know?

While primarily prized for their foliage, you may be lucky enough to spot blooms on your Tradescantia Nanouk. Small star-shaped pink and white flowers may appear from mid-summer to early fall.

Fun Fact

Water

|

Allow top inches of soil to dry between waterings.

Water Needs

Always water thoroughly, but allow the top inch or two to dry out completely before watering again. Take extra care in winter to avoid overwatering.

Light

|

Bright, indirect light.

Preferred Light

Bright, indirect light is ideal for this Tradescantia. Susceptible to leaf burn in long stretches of direct light. Can tolerate lower light conditions, but be sure to adjust watering and expect the plant to take on an elongated, sparse look. In addition, the color and variegation may begin to fade.

Humidity

|

Extra humidity appreciated in drier spaces.

Humidity Needs

Can adapt to average room humidity, but will thrive in higher humidity, especially in the summer or hot, dry conditions (like near a heater). Your Tradescantia Nanouk will also appreciate occasional misting to help remove dust from their leaves and keep brown tips at bay.

Temperature

|

Can adapt, but doesn't like sudden change.

Ambient Temperature

Adaptable to average indoor temperatures, but generally prefers the warmer side and may complain when exposed to cold drafts or dry heat from vents.

Toxicity

|

Mildly toxic to humans and pets if ingested.

Toxic or Not?

Tradescantia leaves are mildly toxic to pets and humans. Ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting.

Size

|

An in-betweener. Not too big, not too small.

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow trailing vines to around 1 or 2 ft long (when mature and with enough light)!

Format

|

Low bushy clusters of densely packed stems.

Overall Look

Tightly packed leaves stack up along an upright stem in pleasantly full clusters. As the stems grow longer, they will eventually tumble over the edge of the planter in a vine-like fashion. Will look best in a hanging planter or on a high shelf to display those gorgeous leaves.

Leaf Shape

|

Vibrant colors and striations on petite almond-shaped leaves.

Leaf Look

A show-stopping leaf with stripes in various colors ranging pale pink to green with some white and purple in there as well. Plus, bonus color! The underside of each almond-shaped leaf is a shockingly bright magenta.

Pro Tip

|

Avoid getting water in-between the leaves.

Pro Tip

The pooling or accumulation of water in the crevasses between leaves can quickly lead to rot. Do your best to water at the soil level rather than directly over the plant.

Fun Fact

|

Look out for blooms!

Did You Know?

While primarily prized for their foliage, you may be lucky enough to spot blooms on your Tradescantia Nanouk. Small star-shaped pink and white flowers may appear from mid-summer to early fall.

Beyond The Basics

Soil & Potting

Thrives in a rich, very well-draining potting mix—you can use a good quality potting mix labeled for indoor plants or make your own mix. You can try a 1:1:1:0.5 mix of potting mix, orchid bark, perlite, and activated charcoal. Ensure the pot has the appropriate drainage and don't forget to pour out any excess water collected in the drainage tray or cachepot.

Repotting

Try to repot every 2-3 years in the spring, especially when tending to a younger plant. Increase the pot size by about 2 inches each time or until you're satisfied with the size. It's still important to repot at this stage, but it'll be an exercise of refreshing to soil, keeping the pot size the same, and possibly doing some root trimming to restrict the plant's growth. More on repotting here.

Feeding

If you're not already planning to repot, you can fertilize during the spring and summer months. Once to every two months should be plenty. No fertilizer is necessary during the winter when plant growth naturally slows down. You can try a balanced liquid or water-soluble fertilizer—always diluted more than the recommended strength. Try something with more potassium (K) if you're specifically looking to see blooms. More on using fertilizer here.

Grooming

Can be prone to legginess (or straggly, elongated growth). Regular pruning of the new growth (up to a third of the whole plant) will promote a fuller, bushier appearance. New leaves will emerge from the cut stem. Plus, you can use these stem cuttings to propagate! In addition, it's always good practice to regularly remove yellowed or dying leaves and any fallen plant debris. Ensure your scissors or pruners are sanitized to avoid spreading disease or pests.

Propagation

You can propagate a Tradescantia Nanouk with a vine cutting. Select a healthy looking vine and cut a section with at least a few sets of leaves. Make the cut just below the last leaf. Remove the lower leaves to ensure a clear stem before rooting. This cutting will grow roots directly in water or you can root directly in a moistened potting mix. Try to press only the cut stem into the soil, allowing the remaining leaves to stay exposed with good air circulation to avoid rotting. In either case, once the roots are a few inches long and you've spotting some new growth, you can properly pot up the whole plant! More on propagation techniques here.

Variants

TrOUBlESHOOTING

Why are the leaf patterns on my Tradescantia Nanouk fading?

Symptom

Leaf variegation and pattern are fading away, giving your plant a washed out appearance.

Cause

This is usually a sign that your plant is getting too much light. In a worst case scenario, the leaves may begin to burn or bleach completely.

Solution

You may be pushing the limits on how much direct sun your plant can handle. Try moving it out of reach of those direct rays of sun or moving to a spot that receives only minimal direct sun in the mornings or evenings.

More on lighting here.
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Why are the leaves on my Tradescantia Nanouk wilting and yellowing?

Symptom

Multiple leaves are wilting and turning yellow—particularly the older, lower leaves. You may also notice stunted growth and mushy stems.

Cause

The most likely culprit is overwatering and initial signs of root rot. When a plant's roots sit in waterlogged soil for too long, a fungal infection can quickly take over, causing the roots to rot (turning brown and mushy).

Solution

First, ensure that your plant has appropriate drainage (both in terms of well-draining soil and plenty of drainage holes in the plant's container).

If you think you've caught the overwatering early on, you can simply let the plant dry out more than you have been. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering again. Continue monitoring and only water when needed. You may also try using chopsticks (or something similar) to poke holes in the soil to help the roots get more oxygen. And finally, you can try to "wick" the excess moisture out of the soil by placing the whole pot (with drainage holes) in a tray or container with dry soil. This new layer of dry soil should soak up some of the excess moisture from the waterlogged areas around your plant's roots.

However, if you suspect a serious case of root rot, you'll definitely need to take a peak at the roots by removing the plant entirely from their container. If there are any black and mushy roots, trim them back completely before repotting with fresh soil in a new or sterilized container.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why are the leaf tips on my Tradescantia Nanouk browning?

Symptom

Leaves turning brown just on the edges or tips. These edges may gradually change from yellow to brown, crispy, and possibly a bit curled.

Cause

Browning just on the edges of tips is usually a reaction to low humidity. Since many of our houseplants have tropical origins, they also thrive in humid conditions. Our average indoor humidity is usually adequate, but some plants are simply more sensitive to changes in humidity than others. You may notice this more acutely when conditions are particularly dry—like when you turn on the heater in winter.

Solution

Try to accommodate your plant's needs by locating them in more naturally humid places, like the bathroom or kitchen, or grouping a bunch of humidity-loving plants together. But the only way to truly guarantee increased humidity is to get a humidifier!

Once you've addressed the problem: If the brown tips bother you, you can trim them back. Do your best to follow the shape of the leaf to help them look natural. Also, try to cut just short of the discolored edge so it doesn’t expand.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why are the leaves on my Tradescantia Nanouk curling inward/outward?

Symptom

Leaf edges curling, either inward or outward. Usually accompanied by some discoloration.

Cause

Leaves curling inward is often a sign of dehydration from either too much light or not enough water. Leaves curling outward is more likely a sign of not enough light or too much water.

Solution

The key is a well tuned balance between the amount of light and your frequency of watering. Instead of going by a set schedule, check-in with your plant to see if they need the water or not. You'll want to allow around half the soil to dry out completely before watering again. While this may be on a consistent schedule for some months, as the seasons change, so will the amount of light and therefore your watering schedule must shift.

More on watering here.
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