In its native habitats of Louisiana, Florida, and Eastern Mexico, Tradescantia pallida (Purple heart) is a low-growing, woody, semi-evergreen shrub growing up to two feet in height, forming a dense groundcover. Its ornamental foliage is deep purple in full sun and dark green in semi-shade. Its slight pink flowers are small but abundant, with each blooming only for one morning.
Under ideal growing conditions and regular watering with full sun, Tradescantia pallida is a fast-growing, easy-care perennial, suitable for USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11. It does best in light to moderate soils with plenty of organic material, with protection from harsh winds and salt spray.
Although Purple heart does not require much maintenance, it does need some special care when planted in colder regions or in pots. In areas which are too cold for Purple heart to thrive, gardeners should take the extra step of mulching and wrapping the plant to protect it from frost during the winter months. It should also be kept well-watered year-round and provided with regular fertilization in pots since the soil may quickly become depleted of nutrients.
All in all, Tradescantia pallida is an attractive and ruggedly tough addition to any garden, making itself at home in hot and humid climates, as well as chilly coastal regions. This hardy, low-maintenance plant can create a stunning statement and bring a splash of color to any landscape.