You have most likely seen this plant in the Palm Springs area, either as ground cover or in raised planters or pots.

Tradescantia pallida is known as a “purple heart” or “purple queen.” Native to Mexico, the queen is easy to grow, even in our desert climate—especially in mostly shaded areas.

This groundcover grows 12 to 18 inches tall. Once established, it is drought-tolerant, needing water every few days. If you have some planted, and it is leggy or struggling, it most likely is not receiving enough water. The plant is great in a shade garden, or in morning sun near a pool or fountain. It will become more dense with an occasional pruning.

With its dramatic burgundy foliage and cute pink flowers in the late spring through fall, the purple queen is a terrific companion plant when paired with other deep-green plants, gray-leafed plants or contrasting pinks or yellows. In our frost-free gardens, it can also be used to fill beds on sheltered locations or be mixed into tropical plantings to add purple foliage color. It is a great choice for hanging baskets or pots as the rapid growth will trail off the sides of the container nicely.

For minimalist modern gardens, purple queen will add a nice pop of color and interest without interrupting the simplicity of the garden design.

This Week in Your Desert Potted Garden: Cut Back Your Roses

  • Remove the top third of your roses and dead canes.
  • Selectively prune your climbers; do a lesser cut-back.
  • Clean up all the dead/fallen leaves and debris.
  • This applies to all hybrid teas, minis and floribundas.

Marylee Pangman is the Desert’s Potted Garden Expert. Marylee is available for digital consultations, and you can always email her with comments and questions at potteddesert@gmail.com. Follow The Potted Desert on Facebook. Below: A raised planter with the queen and her court (lady slipper).