Tradescantia zebrina

Tradescantia zebrina

The Mexican Tradescantia species are good groundcover plants. They are sophisticated cousins of the weed which plagues most Sydney gardens, Tradescantia fluminensis - better known as wandering Jew - but they are generally not invasive like that horrible one. Tradescantia zebrina (ht 20 cm) is striped in silver and green and has purple undersides, and is more keen than some of the other coloured cultivars to take over your garden than the others, so I confine it to dry shady spots where little else will grow.

Tradescantia zebrina in a hanging basket, The Potting Shed Café, Alexandria, Sydney

It can be effective wandering through clumps of bromeliads to fill in any gaps. It needs minimal water. It does provide an excellent foliage contrast to other plants. When it 'wanders' too far, pull up all the bits you don't want, leaving just a small piece: like its scary cousin, it will quickly regrow! It also makes a good subject for a hanging basket if you are too frightened to let it loose in your garden.