Purple Heart Plant Care

As the name implies, the purple heart plants have striking purple foliage that gives rise to beautiful violet-pink blooms. The lance-shaped leaves are anchored by stems that also have a deep royal blue appearance- certainly giving a pleasant touch to just about any garden.

Purple heart is formerly known as Setcreasea pallida in 1911. But, the botanical classification was later on changed to genus Tradescantia by D.R. Hunt of the Royal Botanic Garden Kew in 1975. 

Scientific Name: Tradescantia pallida

Common Name: Purple Heart

Similar to: T. zebrina ‘Burgundy’

Native to: Mexico

Shape: Features purple lance-shaped leaves with a shade of green in the center

Maximum Size: A mature plant grows from 1 to 1/2 feet tall

Watering Requirements: Low

Light Requirements: Prefers bright sunlight

Preferred Humidity: Ideally thrives at an average humidity of 40 to 50 %

Preferred Temperature:  Grows optimum at average to warm room temperatures of 18-27 °C (65-80 °F)

Soil or Potting Medium: A moist potting mix with good drainage

Fertilizer: Common all-purpose fertilizers

Propagation Method: Mainly propagated by stem cutting

Toxicity:  No known serious toxicity, but the foliage may be irritating to animals and the sap may cause complications when ingested

Vulnerable to: Caterpillars, snails, and aphids, but more or less tolerant to some diseases.

Plant Care Basics

purple heart plant

Curious about how you can better take care of Tradescantia pallida? Sit back for a while and let Plantly guide you through the steps for its proper cultivation and needs. Enjoy!

Type of Soil for an Optimum Growth

An adequate soil moist, a porous structure, and a pH between 6-8 is ideal for optimum growth. Most commercial potting mixes allow the plant to grow favorably, but the inclusion of perlite, peat moss, and some compost goes a long way. Generally, a soil structure with good drainage is a must-have when growing purple hearts.

The Right Amount of Light

plant lighting requirement

Allowing them to grow under full sun ensure vibrant purple leaves and stem. As outdoor plants, they are suitable for a growing condition receiving an ample amount of light. However, you need to make sure that the direct sunlight isn’t too much that it causes foliage burn. We certainly don’t want that!

When grown as a house plant, you can place the purple heart in a spot receiving as much light but this hardy perennial can also tolerate partial shade.

The Best Time to Water

The purple heart, also known as purple queen, is a well considered a drought-tolerant species. So, you’ve guessed it right, they’re not a fan of overwatering!

Wait until the top layer of the soil dries at an inch, but do not allow them to sit unwatered for a longer period of time. However, when tending to younger plants, bear in mind that they need more watering. This also applies during the blooming season.

The Ideal Temperature

This tough plant can thrive in a wide range of temperatures, but it would be best to have them settled in a normal temperature ranging from 60 to 70 °F during the day, and 50 to 55 °F at night. Exposure to extreme heat must be avoided especially if the purple heart plants will be placed in outdoor gardens.

Known as a hardy perennial, purple heart tradescantia flaunts their adorable foliage in a garden year-round and even if they are grown indoors, either in a small decorative container or hanging baskets.

Maintaining a Good Level of Humidity

As indoor plants, purple hearts can benefit from an average humidity of 40 to 50 %, as dry air makes the leaves appear limp and affects new growth. Yet consider it a relief that a humid environment is easily maintained with the use of a humidifier or by simply placing them on a spot with bright light and a fair level of air moisture – such as in the bathroom or kitchen. Phew!

plant humidifier

Is Fertilizer Needed?

Tradescantia pallida generally don’t require the use of fertilizer. But if you want to give them extra TLC, water-soluble or liquid fertilizer is a go-to as it promotes healthier plants.


The growing season is a critical period for a purple heart plant, and one can never go wrong in supplementing it with enough nutrients so it can thrive and proliferate well.

Ways of Propagation

This creeping perennial is easily propagated by cuttings. Having an aggressive root system, one can easily shove down the cuttings to any moist potting mix, and it would eventually develop roots. Wood chips incorporated in the soil are a good propagation media.

Cuttings may also be placed in water until roots growing are observed, and this can be hastened by the use of a rooting hormone. The plant is also propagated from seed but this usually takes time and is often unavailable.

The Most Suitable Growth Zone

Purple hearts are quite hardy in temperate regions. While frost may hamper the top growth, the plants can easily resprout from the roots, usually in the early spring. This plant from the spiderwort family, especially those situated in the north, may become a bit winter hardy and thus survives in USDA hardiness zones between 7 to 10.

usda hardiness zone

When’s the Best Time for Potting and Pruning?

In time, the trailing stems of this plant need some trimming here and there to maintain their compact growth. As they tend to form into dense groundcovers, regular trimming gives room for new growth. Be sure to use sharp scissors to cut plants beginning from the top half of their overgrowth.

purple heart pruning

Purple hearts do not need frequent repotting given their relatively fair size. This, among other characteristics, makes them great indoor plants.

Purple Heart Plant Varieties and Similar Plants

Genus tradescantia offers a wide variation of foliage patterns and flowers. You’ll be amazed to see how these other plants have their own unique share of the spectacle attributed to their species. Here are some of the most common varieties to marvel at:

T. zebrina ‘Burgundy’

Able to show off different kinds of colors in different lighting and growth stages, this variety certainly deserves our attention with its pronounced stripes and Fuschia undersides. This incredibly attractive plant prefers bright indirect light and a little dryness in between watering.

T. fluminensis ‘Lavender’

Reverted green stems with white to purple variegated leaves are a known characteristic of this plant. When grown indoors, be sure to provide bright filtered light. Unlike most tradescantia species, these plants prefer not to dry out in between watering. Avoid prolonging a dry soil condition, and the plant will surely thank you with its fresh vibrant foliages.

T. albiflora albovitatta 

This easy-to-grow plant has large blue- green leaves with distinct white stripes and edges. Easy to pot with sufficient drainage holes, it thrives from full sun to partial shade. Grows at about 6-8 inches tall, they can be used as ground cover and may spread up to 2 feet.

Purple Heart Plant Diseases & Pests

Purple hearts are quite hardy in nature, but some insects may threaten them such as scales, aphids, and mealybugs. Vibrant and healthy foliage may also attract some borers and chewing insects like caterpillars, but they can be easily controlled either by hand or by using natural insect repellents.

You may also want to pay attention to the surroundings of your purple hearts, as some symptoms may be relative to their growing condition. For example, brown leaf tips may be caused by dry air.

Frequently Asked Questions

Purple hearts are not only aesthetically pleasing but are also said to be effective in removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air. Such attribute certainly makes them beneficial houseplants.

The tradescantia pallida having light to deep royal purple colors not only gives off an elegant vibe but also invites seemingly calm energy. The plant is said to amplify inner strength, incite devotion, elicit creativity, and peace.

Purple hearts are not deadly poisonous but if ingested may still cause some complications. Contact must be avoided as the sap contains a substance that is mildly toxic to cats and dogs. Keep the plant out of reach of children and pets.

Decided to have this adorable plant in your space? Check out Purple hearts here in Plantly and find the best deals for your plant needs! Message us directly for more details.

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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