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How to Care for a Setcreasea Plant

The setcreasea plant, commonly known as purple heart or wandering Jew (Setcreasea pallida), bears vivid purple foliage and pale purple tri-petaled flowers. While this plant grows as a ground cover in subtropical climates, it works well as a container or hanging basket plant in other areas. Purple heart plant is native to the Southern United States and Mexico. This plant has few pests or diseases to concern gardeners and adds an attractive splash of color to indoor and outdoor gardens.

Plant your purple heart in a container unless you live in USDA zones 8b to 11. Fill a pot with drainage holes halfway with dirt, then remove your purple heart from its plastic container. Break apart the plant's root ball and place it in the container so it sits at the same depth as it did in its plastic container. Top off the pot with soil to plant your purple heart. Place the container in either full sun or part shade.

If growing purple heart in the ground, dig a hole twice the size of the container and plant your purple heart in the hole in the same manner as container planting, in either full sun or part shade. Space plants 18 to 24 inches apart if planting in the ground.

Water your newly planted purple heart until the ground or the container soil becomes saturated and the soil compresses around the plant's roots.

Continue to water your purple heart whenever the soil becomes dry to the touch. To test its consistency, stick your finger down into the soil of the ground or the pot. If the soil beneath the surface feels moist or clings to your finger, delay watering. When the soil feels crumbly and doesn't cling to your fingers, water the plant until the soil again becomes saturated.

Prune back the plant whenever its tendrils get too long. Place the clippings in a container of water to propagate new plants. When the cuttings develop white roots, plant them in a new container using the same planting technique as earlier. If you don't want to propagate new plants, dispose of the cuttings in the garbage or compost bin.

Move container purple heart plants indoors for the winter if you live below USDA zone 8b. Place the container in a draft-free room where the plant receives ample light.

Avoid pruning outdoor plants after frost. As Desert Tropicals notes, they generally survive and thrive after light frosts. If you notice parts of your plant produce no new growth, trim back long tendrils to remove frost-damaged tips. The plant will bear new growth.


Purple heart plants are vigorous, aggressive growers and do not need fertilizer to thrive.


If planted outdoors in a garden bed this plant can take over the bed, so plant with care or prune vigorously.

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