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Tradescantia Nanouk Care and Propagation Guide

I’m sharing everything you need to know about tradescantia nanouk care and propagation, including where it came from, how to get it, and how to help it thrive!

Everything you need to know about tradescantia nanouk care!

Today we’re talking about the tradescantia nanouk, a stunning mint green and pinky-purple trailing plant that is somewhat new to the houseplant scene. I got my first nanouk several years ago.

And at the time, it was so hard to find that the nursery I got it from had a buying limit on it of 2 per customer per week! I really do appreciate nurseries that do that for trendy plants, though. Otherwise, poachers just buy them all to sell online at a steep markup.

Now the plant is easier to find, but it still isn’t super common. I see it pop up for reasonable prices in nurseries around me and online. And I scored a huge hanging basket of it in 2021 for cheap.

Tradescantia Nanouk plant in a hanging basket
Tradescantia Nanouk Care and Propagation

Tradescantia nanouk care overview

  • Appreciated for its stunning mint green and purple/pink variegation and full, bushy growth that can be enhanced through pruning.
  • Tradescantia Nanouk originated from a cross-pollination of Tradescantia albiflora in the Netherlands.
  • Thrives in bright indirect sunlight, which is crucial for maintaining its variegated leaves; the plant may become leggy if the light is insufficient.
  • Overwatering is a concern; soil should dry out between waterings; prefers well-draining soil to prevent root rot.
  • Does well in typical household humidity and temperature ranges but appreciates extra humidity; cannot withstand cold outdoor temperatures.
  • Fertilization is not often necessary, especially if the potting mix already includes slow-release nutrients.
  • Propagate by division or through stem cuttings in water, soil, or a light moss mixture.

What is a tradescantia nanouk?

So what is it? Well, it’s actually closely related to what many consider to be one of the easiest houseplants to care for—tradescantia zebrina, aka wandering dude! Tradescantia is the genus that both of these plants belong to.

This genus is native parts of Canada all the way down to parts of South America. They were introduced in Europe in the 17th century, so they’ve been houseplant staples for a while. Some varieties have even been naturalized on parts of almost all continents. 

Fans of tradescantia will recognize that the shape and size of tradescantia nanouk looks a lot like tradescantia pallida (purple heart), which is a vivid, deep purple.

Beautiful Tradescantia Nanouk

Where was this plant created?

Nanouk was created by cross-pollinating seedlings from tradescantia albiflora. This designer plant was created in a lab in 2012 in the Netherlands. Those who developed it hoped to create a tradescantia variety that was more compact, with beautiful flowers, and—of course—the stunning variegated colors. 

The nanouk is known for this gorgeous variegation. The foliage on the plants are a mix of light green, light purple/pink, and cream. To me, nanouk is special because its colors are somehow both pastel and vivid.

This plant was bred to be very full, and while it trails once the stems are long enough, it also had a bit of an upright spreading habit. If you want to further increase the plant’s bushiness, you can prune the ends of the stems to encourage more branching growth.

Tradescantia Nanouk plant in a hanging basket
Large hanging basket in late spring
Tradescantia Nanouk plant in a hanging basket
The same hanging basket in late summer!

How much light does a nanouk need?

As with most plants—and especially highly variegated plants—light is a big part of keeping this plant happy. It enjoys bright indirect sunlight. Or even full light. But if you do expose the plant to full sun, make sure you do so gradually so it doesn’t cause shock and burn the leaves.

If your plant isn’t getting enough light, it will become leggy, meaning the stems stretch out, creating more space between the leaves. It’s literally reaching to find more light. The leaves will also be a bit smaller with much more green and much less variegation. 

I have brought my nanouk plants outdoors for summer each year, keeping it in a lightly shaded spot under my deck that gets some direct morning sun.

While these plants lightly won’t flower inside unless you have great light and the plant is super happy, flowering outside is likely. For me, flowering isn’t the main reason for loving this plant. The leaf variegation is. But look at these cuties!

tradescantia nanouk flower

How often should I water it?

When it comes to watering, it’s crucial to understand your environment. For example, in my Maryland garden, the summer heat intensifies the need for daily watering, but this varies. Indoors, the nanouk should be fine with water once a week.

The biggest thing you have to worry about is actually overwatering. You should allow the top few inches of soil to dry out completely before watering the plant again. Allow the water to drain freely out a drainage hole, and then return the plant to its home!

You can also bottom-water this plant when it’s indoors. To bottom-water, ensure the plant is in a pot with a drainage hole. Then fill a tray with some water and set the pot in it for about 10 or 15 minutes. The soil will pull water up into its roots. This will also prevent water from sitting in the deep folds of the foliage. 

Tradescantia Nanouk Care and Propagation

Humidity and temperature needs

Tradescantias in general are very tolerant of regular indoor humidity levels. However, I’ve found that they often appreciate a bit more humidity. While they don’t necessarily need a humidifier like our dramatic and difficult friends calatheas do, they appreciate a misting with a water bottle every now and then. 

Nanouks are happy in all normal household temperatures, meaning between about 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not a hardy plant for outdoors in most areas, though. If you live in USDA hardiness zones 10, 11, or 12, you can probably keep it outdoors all year. For us? No way, sadly.

Soil, fertilizer, and potting

As I mentioned in the watering section, nanouks do not like to be in water-logged soil. That means that they thrive in good drainage. Any indoor potting mix should be fine, but if your soil is too compacted or heavy, you can mix some coco coir or fine moss, perlite, or both in to lighten things up.

This plant does not typically need fertilizer. In fact, many potting soils come with slow-release fertilizers in them, so make sure to check if yours does. Otherwise, if you choose to fertilize your plant with a houseplant fertilizer or something similar, it might over-fertilize it. Which plants don’t like.

Tradescantia Nanouk Care and Propagation

Tradescantia nanouk care and propagation

Tradescantia nanouk is a prolific grower, meaning that you might need to prune or repot it frequently. When doing so, why not propagate a few pieces? Tradescantia nanouk is incredibly easy to propagate. It’s very similar to tradescantia zebrina (wandering dude). Here’s how you can do it. 

Tradescantia nanouk propagation by division

When you buy a tradescantia nanouk, you’ll often notice that it has a few distinctly different stems in the soil. Even smaller ones. Mine had quite a few stems, so I split it! To do this, you literally just carefully take the plant out of its pot and gently divide it at the roots. Don’t worry if you have to do a bit of root ripping. 

Then plant each in separate small pots using well-draining soil. Some plants suffer a bit of shock after being separated and repotted, so don’t worry if it doesn’t look too happy with you for the next week or two.

Tradescantia nanouk propagation by stem

You can also propagate tradescantia nanouk by stem clippings. This is a great approach to take if you are pruning your nanouk or if you accidentally knock a branch off.

To propagate a nanouk stem cutting in water, take a cutting that is a few inches long and remove the leaves from the bottom. Pop in a glass of water, ensuring that the top foliage isn’t submerged. After a few weeks, you’ll have a good set of branch new roots and will be able to plant it!

To propagate nanouk stems directly in soil and skip the rooting-in-water step, take the same type of cutting. Remove the bottom leaves. Then plant the cuttings in a well-draining soil. Water a bit more than you would a regular plant to help keep the soil slightly moist.

This promotes root growth. Once you can gently tug on the cuttings and are met with some resistance, pull back on your water. The new roots have grown!

large tradescantia nanouk plant on a patio

Pest issues

Back to watering—I know I keep harping on it, but it’s so important for all houseplants! Overwatering can lead to fungal issues and gnat infestations. If you have ever battled a gnat infestation, you know how annoying it is. Overwatering can also lead to root rot. 

I also mentioned that this plant doesn’t necessarily need humidity but will benefit from having some. I saw that for most leafy house plants because dry indoor air can be a breeding ground for spider mites. Spider mites love dry, warm conditions, so misting with cool water helps to maintain an unappealing environment that also helps the plant. 

Spider mites can very quickly destroy a plant. And usually when you notice their tell-tale fine webbing on the leaves, it’s too late. See this article about how to get rid of spider mites for more tips and pics.

In conclusion…

Have I convinced you to get a nanouk yet? I love this plant so much that I chose it as mother’s day presents for both my mom and grandmother! And it’s pretty easy to care for. I hope this guide helps to jumpstart your nanouk care routine!

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Here is a link to the Dropbox folder with the guide!

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