About sixty species of perennial herbaceous plants, originating in Central and South America, are part of this genus; in general they have a prostrate or hanging habit and are cultivated as houseplants. Tradescantia plants develop slightly fleshy stems, which bear long oval or lanceolate leaves, which are also fleshy, of various colors, green-bluish, but also variegated with white, yellow or pink.
In late spring and in summer at the apex of the stems of tradescanzia small flowers formed of three sepals, pink or lilac, sometimes even white. These are very widespread plants, usually grown in hanging baskets; the name of misery grass it seems to derive from the fact that these plants are very easy to cultivate, and can survive even with very little nourishment. Among the most cultivated we remember T. fluminensis, with variegated leaves; T. pallida has very light flowers and characteristic purple leaves.
The specimens of Tradescantia prefer bright locations, but away from the direct rays of the sun; most species fear the cold, and are therefore grown in apartments, with minimum temperatures above 8-10 ° C; some species of tradescantia can withstand the cold, and are used as ground cover in shaded or semi-shaded flower beds.
In the case of specimens of misery grass when grown outdoors, it can happen that during very cold winters the plants completely whiten, to begin a spring again; the misery grass develops rapidly, the specimens grown in the open ground can also become weeds.
They are plants that do not tolerate air currents, therefore, if grown in apartments, they should be placed in a bright but sheltered place.
From March to October watering when the soil is well dry, these plants can easily withstand periods of drought even if they prefer a soil with a good degree of humidity, but without excess water that can lead to harmful root rot. On warmer days it is advisable to proceed with water vaporization at room temperature on the leaves.
During the cold months thin out the waterings. During the vegetative period, fertilize every 40-45 days.
The multiplication of the tradescanzia takes place by cutting, or by dividing the clumps; the hanging branches of tradescantia often produce roots, in touching the growing substrate, but also aerial: small portions of stem already rooted can be detached from the mother plant, to give rise to new plants in a fairly short time.
The misery grass spreads very easily, becoming, in some cases, a weed.
To have the ideal substrate for the cultivation of tradescanzia, use a good balanced soil, mixed with sand or lapillus, to increase drainage.
The plant is repotted in spring, with an annual intervention to allow the best development of the roots.
Misery, Wretched Grass, Tradescancy - Tradescantia: Pests and Diseases
It is a rather resistant plant; it is rarely attacked by scale insects and green aphids. If you notice the presence of scale insects you can manually intervene using a cloth with alcohol to pass on the affected leaves. To eliminate aphids, there are systemic insecticide products that allow good results to be obtained. It is also possible to intervene with natural nettle-based preparations to be sprayed on the affected specimens.