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How to Grow Purple Heart

Jennifer Lesser is a New Jersey-based freelance writer covering health/fitness, family/parenting, business, and lifestyle. She has over 16 years of experience writing for various outlets including Time Out NY and Parenting

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The Spruce / Heidi Kolsky

Purple heart (Tradescantia pallida) is aptly named, because its iconic purple stems grow beautiful blooms that range from violet to pink. However, despite its unique blooms, many gardeners choose this plant for its foliage, which is particularly vibrant. Both the stems and upper surfaces of the leaves appear to be deep royal purple but may also contain lighter shades of turquoise-gray that become darker as the foliage grows older. A plant will bloom with three-petaled pink flowers in small clusters throughout the warm season.

Considered an easy-to-grow evergreen perennial, the purple heart plant can add a pop of gorgeous purple color to your garden year after year. However, its aggressive root system helps it spread quickly as a ground cover. The plant is not considered invasive in the United States, but it is elsewhere in the world. It’s a member of the spiderwort family, which grows in both tropical and temperate regions and includes hundreds of species.

Widely commercialized as a house plant as well as for outdoor gardens, the T. pallida (sometimes also called T. purpurea) is long-jointed, sprawling, and an ideal ground cover plant for anyone who loves a purple garden. Let it naturally spring back to life after the frost, or plant in the spring for summer sprawl.

Botanical Name Tradescantia pallida
Common Name Purple heart
Plant Type Perennial
Mature Size N/A (vining plant)
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Lightweight, moist, well-drained
Soil pH 6-8
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color Purple
Hardiness Zones 7 to 10 (USDA)
Native Area Mexico
Toxicity Toxic to humans and pets

Purple Heart Care

Purple heart is often referred to as a “creeping perennial” due to the fact that it will spread out as it grows. Purple heart is considered to have a fairly fast rate of growth, especially when compared to other indoor plants. Its flowers will die off in the winter months.

Potential gardeners should be aware that purple heart flowers are known to form dense ground cover, which can prevent the germination and establishment of other plants. However, the plants can add a lush and tropical ground cover texture to any landscape. Downward trailing stems mean it will always stand out, even when planted as part of border fronts, wall plantings, and rock gardens.

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