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Tradescantia albiflora 'Nanouk,' a variegated purple and green vining tropical plant, for sale at Tula Plants & Design. Tradescantia albiflora 'Nanouk,' a variegated purple and green vining tropical plant, for sale at Tula Plants & Design.

Tradescantia albiflora ‘Nanouk’

Botanical Name — Tradescantia albiflora ‘Nanouk’

Common Name — Tradescantia Nanouk, Fantasy Venice

Plant Family — Commelinaceae

 

Background

Tradescantia albiflora ‘Nanouk’ is a low growing trailing perennial known for its striking purple green variegation and violet leaf undersides. A nursery cultivar, it was patented by the breeder in the Netherlands in 2012. It was bred in a program aiming to create a hardier Tradescantia with showier blooms. A mixed success, the blooms on this plant are understated and white, but they’re still quite lovely.

 

Take One Home

 

Growth Requirements

 

Sun

  • Nanouk prefers plenty of bright, indirect light to maintain its variegation. Some direct sun is great, but make sure to protect from strong afternoon sun. Leaves will turn more green in low light conditions. Long spaces between the leaves is another indication that your purple heart needs more sun.
  • An ideal spot is right in front of an east-facing window or a few feet back from a south or west-facing window.

 

Temperature/ Humidity

  • Does well in temperatures between 65°F and 80°F but can tolerate a minimum of 50°F in the winter. Keep away from drafts from doorways /windows and away from cooling or heating vents.
  • It likes high humidity, but this is not essential. Nanouks will do fine in a normal household environment. Dry air can cause brown leaf tips.

 

Water

  • Allow the top 1” of soil to dry out in between waterings and then water thoroughly. Cut back on watering in the winter. If you notice limp and or wilted stems prune to the soil level. This can indicate root rot.
  • These are drought-tolerant tropical plants. It’s better to underwater than overwater them.

 

Soil/Roots

  • Moist, but well draining, well aerated soil.
  • Likes a peat moss based potting mix, such as African violet potting mix.

 

Flowering

  • Blooms small white 3-petaled flowers with yellow stamens in the leaf axil (between the leaf and stem) from midsummer through fall.

 

Fertilization

  • Fertilize with a balanced houseplant fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer. Fertilize during the growing season only; suspend fertilization during the fall and winter.

 

Propagation

  • Nanouks propagate reliably from stem cuttings. Use a clean sharp knife to remove a healthy branch. Also remove leaves at the base of the cutting; leaves that are buried in soil or submerged in water can encourage rot.
  • Let the sap on the cutting dry for about an hour, then brush with rooting hormone. Place in moist soil and keep in a warm environment while the plant reroots. During this period, keep the soil consistently moist.

 

Health

 

Diseases

  • No serious insect problems or susceptibilities.
  • Watch out for common pests: scale and mealy bugs.
  • Overwatering can cause rot.

 

Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)

  • To keep your Tradescantia albiflora compact, prune off new stem tips which will promote new growth.
  • Should be repotted every one to two years or when you see the roots starting to grow through the drainage holes. Choose a planter 1 to 2” larger than the current one.
  • Handle this plant with care since the stems are delicate and will break off easily.

 

Toxicity

  • The sap from the leaves or stems may cause skin redness and irritation in some people. There usually isn’t a toxic reaction to consuming the leaves but will cause digestive trouble for cats and dogs. Keep away from pets to be on the safe side.