The Purple Heart plant (Tradescantia pallida) is an interesting and unique plant originating from Mexico. As the name suggests, the pretty purple coloring characterizes the plant. Due to their hardiness and appealing nature, these plants are quite popular to use as a feature in a hanging pot.
Purple Heart plants have several benefits, the most common being the ability to remove air pollutants. These plants are often described as ornamental plants, using their deep purple color as attractive features in the garden or home. They are also hardy plants that grow easily.
Purple Heart plants (Tradescantia pallida) are an excellent option if you require an appealing plant and a plant that doesn’t need much care. If that’s not convincing enough, then you may want to consider them because of their environmental function as well as traditional medicinal properties.
All About Purple Heart Plants
The Purple Heart plant, scientifically known as tradescantia pallida, goes by many names. It is also referred to as the purple queen, wandering jew, or setcreasea pallida. Purple heart plants are low-growing, perennial plants in the family Commelinaceae.
This particular species was already found in the 1800s by a plant collector called Edward Palmer. It is said that the name Purple Heart most likely originates from the military medal of the same name. The Purple Heart medal is a medal given to those killed or wounded while serving in military activities.
The leaves of the purple heart plant have a royal purple color that is slender oval-shaped. The leaves are also characterized by a sharp apex, making the plant quite recognizable. The stems are long and have the appearance of vines. Small pinkish-purple flowers appear during the summer months.
They can grow to 1 and 1 ½ feet in height and width. Widely used in both tropical and subtropical areas, Purple Heart plants are prevalently grown as house-hanging and ground-trailing plants.
5 Purple Heart Plant Benefits
There are five main benefits of purple heart plants. These various benefits range from health properties to the easy-growing aspects of the plants.
1. Air Purifying Qualities
Purple Heart plants can be used for their practical ability to remove pollutant toxins from the air. Exposure to poor indoor air quality is generally harmful to human health, and some indoor pollutants can cause acute illness and even chronic diseases.
A study on various plants’ efficiency to remove volatile indoor organic pollutants found that Purple Heart plants have a superior ability to remove 4 out of 5 of these pollutants. The Purple Heart plant was compared to various other houseplants in the research.
Purple Heart plants were also found to absorb heavy metal toxins from the soil in the Amazon rain forest. Through these investigations, Purple Heart plants became known for phytoremediation, which allows plants to remove harmful compounds in the environment.
This function of Purple Heart plants is essentially a tremendous potential health benefit. Having a Purple Heart plant in your home is a natural way to try and remove the impurities in the air surrounding you.
2. Easy To Grow
It is straightforward to grow these plants yourself. All you need is to take a cutting from a part of the plant, plant it in some soil, and water it. Alternatively, you can put the cutting in water until roots develop before planting it in the ground.
Interestingly, they should be planted to grow in full sun, giving them the best purple color. If they are grown predominantly in the shade, they could be greener rather than purple.
Another benefit of having purple heart plants is that they grow easily without a lot of water but can also endure a lot of water. This makes them an excellent plant for those who forget to water their plants or tend to overwater.
3. Extremely Hardy Plants
Having plants that grow in your home that do not perish quickly is a significant advantage. Fortunately, purple heart plants are one of those plants. They can either be planted in the garden or be used as house plants.
Purple heart plants can grow in different soil types and are usually resistant to most bugs and pests. Although this sounds like an indestructible plant, there are some disadvantages. Scale insects or mealybugs could be a problem but are not common.
A factor to be careful of is that the plant’s hardiness can also be a disadvantage. If used on the ground, they can be pretty invasive and need a watchful eye to not grow out of control. These plants grow so well that it has been placed on the do not grow list in Florida.
4. Aesthetically Pleasing
Purple Heart plants have often been used as ornamental plants, mainly due to their deep purple color. This holds whether planted in the garden among other plants or situated in the house in a pot.
They can either be low growing on the ground or in hanging pots. They add a pop of color wherever they are planted. The color is particularly striking in contrast to gold and yellow-green and pairs well with pink and burgundy variations.
There are some tips for plant color combinations to get the most out of these attractive plants. These include growing light green asparagus ferns, pink petunias, or light purple to red-orange sage.
5. Medicinal Properties
Other than cleaning the air from impurities, purple heart plants have some traditional health benefits. It is believed that the plant can improve blood circulation. The plant has also been used for its anti-inflammatory properties and as an antioxidant and anti-toxic supplement.
Some communities have traditionally used the plant in Malaysia to treat sore eyes. The methanol extract from the leaves is believed to be antibacterial.
The medicinal and therapeutic properties of plants tend to involve ongoing research. However, many communities add significant value to the traditional worth of Purple Heart plants.
Effect Of Purple Heart Plants On Dogs And Cats
The juice from the leaves or stems can result in skin irritation once in contact with animals. The juice in the plant can also cause digestive issues, especially for cats. Although this is not too common, it is essential to be aware of it.
Skin irritation is the most noticeable symptom to look out for in your pets. Cats and dogs tend to scratch frequently in the groin, stomach, and under-chin areas. If you have pets that get this allergic reaction, it may be a good idea to enjoy your Purple Heart plants in hanging pots instead of in the garden.