SETCREASEA PALLIDA (syn, S. purpurea)

This is a small genus, one species of which has become widely grown as a houseplant because of its amazing ability to withstand neglect. It is S. pallida from Mexico, usually sold as S. purpurea, and also sometimes wrongly labelled as Tradescautia purpurea. It is a rather straggly trailer with habit similar

to tradescantias, to which it is related. However, by frequent removal of the growing tips of the stems it can be encouraged to produce an abundance of more erect new growth and acquire a more bushy habit.

It is unfortunate that this species is prone to untidy behaviour, because its foliage is a delightful purplish colour, not common among houseplants. The leaves are elongated and spear-shaped. about 15cm (6in) long, and slightly hairy. The colour below may be more carmine in some specimens and the best and richest colouring is obtained in positions of good light, but not in direct sunlight.

The plants can be used in baskets and hanging containers. In these they need more care to prevent the basal leaves on the stems from deteriorating, and watering should not be neglected. During winter the plants will survive almost freezing if kept on the dry side. In such conditions all top growth may be lost, but recovery is rapid with the return of warmth. Plants have been discovered in houses that have been empty for many months, and have grown again after being watered. Plants raised from cuttings in greenhouses have also been used for summer carpet bedding. From summer to autumn small purplish flowers are produced but these tend to be rather insignificant and do not compare with the foliage.

Division is an easy way to propagate. Troubles are rare.

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