Saturday, January 11, 2014

How to grow a Wandering Jew

I recently visited my wonderful mother-in-law for a few days and this is her plant: the rich, purple and silvery-green wandering jew.  It was just about ready to bloom, as you can see if you look closely at the center of the lower picture.  My visit was not long enough to wait for its bloom to open up.  It will be small and a beautiful deep fuschia color. 

The wandering jew has been used as a houseplant for over a century.  My grandmother would tell me how beautiful her florist-owning parent's greenhouses looked to her with an abundance of wandering jew growing along the floor of it.  That was around the year, 1900!.

Botanically known as Zebrina pendula 'Discolor', it is a Mexican native.  It is quite hardy if it is kept in a sunny window.  It is usually sold as a hanging plant and does need grooming from time to time to keep it looking full and lush.  Some of the vines should be cut back an inch to 4 inches (about 4-10cm) or more, including some from the top of the plant,  every few months or so to keep it looking full and lush. They may accumulate some brown, dead leaves throughout and these are best removed.

Care Instructions--
  • As much direct sun as you can give them
  • In a 8" or 10" (about 20-25cm) diameter pot they should be watered with about a quart of water when dry about an 1" (about 4cm) below the soil line.  They prefer to dry out somewhat.
  • Prune some of the vines every few months for maximum fullness
  • Fertilize regularly for most robust growth.
  • Cuttings can be propagated in water or put directly in a pot full of fresh soil.  Keep the soil slightly on the moist side for a month or so, while the new cuttings are rooting. 

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