Field notes — July 23, 2021

String of turtles, Irena

Irena with a too-small cache pot
  • Soil: moist; pot is heavy (last watered 3 days ago)
  • Light: 713 FC at 10 a.m., from the office window
  • Longest strand: 17 cm; that is 4 cm growth since purchase just over a month ago!
  • Number of strands: 12 notable strands (including branches), with more branching; up from 9!
  • Largest leaf: 12 mm wide (no change)
  • New growth: Yes! So many new little strands branching and little nodules that I think leaves will form from where strands have grown
  • Signs of pests: none
  • Signs of care issues: none!
  • Other care: Irena now lives with other succulents on the window ledge of my home office

Tradescantia fluminensis, Lorraine

New spot at the window; likely temporary location
  • Soil: dry; watered today; last watered 12 days ago
  • Light: moved from 5 FC at 10 a.m. on dining room plant shelf to 65 FC dining room window today
  • Longest strand: 7 cm from soil to base of leaves; 1.5 cm growth since June 27
  • Signs of pests: none
  • Signs of care issues: none new

Variegated wire vine, Anita

  • Soil: dry; watered today; last watered 7 days ago
  • Signs of pests: none
  • Signs of care issues: several leaves dropped; I think it may need more frequent watering. I should probably use filtered water too; I used tap water for convenience

Good to meet you, Tradescantia number 2

I think I was told that this little guy is Tradescantia spathacea, but it seems images online include a purple-red underside that this one does not have. So let’s see! More likely Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Quicksilver’?

  • Binomial name: Tradescantia fluminensis ‘Quicksilver’
  • Given name: Lorraine
  • Native to: Southern Mexico to Guatemala
  • Bought: June 16, 2021 at Plant & Curio
  • Grown in: Canada
  • Original pot: none; bought as a cutting with a couple roots; allowed to continue rooting for nearly two more weeks
  • Current pot: 3 inch square plastic
  • Soil: moist
  • Longest stem: 5.5 cm from soil to base of leaves
  • Number of stems: 2
  • New growth: little leaves at end of each stem
  • Signs of care issues: browning on tip of one leaf, some spots on an older leaf (likely due to transport; the leaves are very delicate); I cut off some very brown tips in the earlier week


  • Light: bright indirect; low light will result in more green than purple
  • Humidity: moderate, 40%
  • Temperature: 18 to 27 degrees Celsius is ideal; minimum of 13 degrees Celsius; keep away from drafts and fluctuation of temperature


  • Preference: lightly moist, occasionally dry; allow the top two inches to dry out; reduce watering in winter; too little water is better than too much

Soil, fertilization, and pots

  • Soil type: peat-based, loamy, good drainage; good-quality all-purpose mix
  • Fertilization: every 4 weeks with balanced, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer
  • Repotting: every couple years when plant is crowded, move up one size


  • Mature size: 15 to 30 cm high, 30 to 60 cm wide
  • Neat stuff: most Tradescantia grows downwards, but this one grows upwards
  • Common problems:
    Lack of humidity (signs: brown leaf tips)
    Spider mites (signs: webbing between leaves; pale, spotted, curled leaves; cut off affected areas and treat with insecticidal soap)
    Aphids (signs: sticky residue on leaves, especially new growth; isolate plant)
    Over-watering (signs: soft, limp stems; may cause root rot)
  • Propagation:
    Division: in spring; remove rooted offshoots from mother
    Stem cutting: cut with sterilized tool, root in soil or water

Research sources: North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant ToolboxGuide to HouseplantsHouseplant Central