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Scientific: Callisia repens (Synonyms: Tradescantia callisia, Hapalanthus repens, Spironema robbinsii)
Common: creeping inchplant, Bolivian jew, turtle vine
Family: Commelinaceae
Origin: Southeastern US (Texas, Florida), West Indies (Guadeloupe and Martinique) south into Argentina.

invasive Alert: Creeping inchplant has naturalized in Hong Kong and has become invasive in western Australia. Cuba, and China.

Pronounciation: Cal-lis-EE-a RE-pens

Hardiness zones
13 (with ample protection)-24, as a summer annual or indoor plant everywhere
USDA 9 (with ample protection)-11, as a summer annual or indoor plant everywhere

Landscape Use: In shaded landscape situations makes a wonderful small scale accent ground cover, shaded entryway plantings, indoor atriums, hanging baskets, containers, raised planter beds.

Form & Character: Low, creeping, matting, tropical, delicate, vulnerable.

Growth Habit: Herbaceous perennial, somewhat succulent, prostrate to only 4- to 12-inches tall, slowly matting to trailing with eventual spread to 2-feet wide, stems form adventitious roots.

Foliage/Texture: Green to purple foliage, ovate, sessile, distinctly cupped and sheathed, alternate with pronounced changing orientation with each new leaf, internodal stem length often lacking, foliage contains calcium oxalates (an irritant); medium coarse texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Hermaphrodite pair of small flowers, cyme configuation, consisting of three white sepals and up to six stamens with smooth filaments; fruit are an elongated capsule, horticulturally insignificant.

Seasonal Color: White flowers during late summer and autumn are rarely seen outdoors in Phoenix because plants are grown in the shade.

Temperature: Frost and chilling injury when temperatures fall below 40oF, but will quickly recovers as weather warms.

Light: In Phoenix, full shade is required.

Soil: Well drained and organically amended is best.

Watering: Regular water, except during winter.

Pruning: Head back lightly only occassionally to control spread as needed.

Propagation: Easy by stem cuttings.

Disease and Pests: Spiders mites, especially outdoors during summer. To mitigate, wash off with a moderate pressure stream of water.

Herbivory alert: Javelina and rabbits will literally devour creeping inchplant making it impossible to grow and appreciate in parts of the Phoenix metro where these horticultural demons roam, pillage, and reek havoc.

Additional comments: In Phoenix outdoor landscapes, creeping inchplant is a seldom seen, delicate herbaceous plant that requires ample protection to be successfully grown. This generally consists of full shade in close proximity to buildings (radiational heating during colder winter nights). In colder more temperate climates, it is grown as a summer annual or indoor plant. It is somwehat similar in appearance to many Tradescantia species.

There are several cultivated varieties of different leaf colors and plant vigor that are mostly used for hanging patio and indoor baskets including:

  • 'Pink Lady'
  • 'Gold'
  • 'Variegata'
  • 'Bianca'
  • Pink Panther'