Close up of EC-Trade-2011 inch plant reverted with flower the same as the rest of the plant

How I became aware of this reverted phenomenon taking place

A few weeks ago I began to notice that one of the stems on my sweetness / EC-trade-2011 tradescantia was looking darker than the rest. I actually became aware when the house plant started flowering which I posted about here. At first, I thought nothing of it. But then over the next couple of weeks, it began to grow with greener and darker leaves. And with much less pink variegation on them too. In fact, each leaf only really had one stripe of colour down them.

You can see the reverted stem of the sweetness / EC-Trade-2011 tradescantia in the centre of the photo here. It’s much greener than the rest and once you see it, it’s hard to un-see.

How I knew the sweetness / EC-trade-2011 tradescantia had reverted

Within the last day or two, I reached out to the internet and to friends who I could ask about this strange stem taking hold of my plant. It is entirely on its own, as no other part of the plant has begun to change colour or shape in any way. And it wasn’t long before I was given the answer that I was looking for.

I had briefly read about tradescantia reverting, but this was mainly in the quadricolor cultivar. So I didn’t really think it was possible in other wandering jews. But now I have my eyes wide open and this is just one reason I love these plants. Every day really is like a new day learning more about these incredible houseplants. And so it was true, my sweetness / EC-trade-2011 had reverted. To be honest with you, my first thought was, ‘This is so cool’. It is something I hadn’t seen or expected to see, and it really did make my day. Sad as it sounds, I couldn’t wait to tell you all and blog about it as soon as I had an hour or so free.

Let’s get technical on reverting tradescantia

So how do you know if your tradescantia is reverting? And what does that mean for your house plant? These were just a couple of my questions. So here’s the low down:

A change in colour (usually greener) than the rest of your houseplant

When a tradescantia begins to go reverted, in this case, the sweetness / EC-Trade-2011 the leaves will tend to get greener. This is because the coloured pigment in the leaf’s cells becomes unstable. The colour starts to disappear and the green natural pigment takes over the whole leaf. This can be a gradual change or something that happens relatively quickly. In the case of my sweetness, lower down the stem has perfectly coloured pink leaves, but gradually the colour lessened as the stem grew.

Variegated house plants are the result of either a natural anomaly or engineered breeding. But if the leaf’s cells become unstable or unbalanced then this phenomenon can take place at any time. It isn’t a clear indicator that there is necessarily anything wrong with the plant, but rather the leaf is doing what it feels it needs to, to survive.

The speed of growth of this new stem

Highly variegated tradescantia are more prone to the reverting process happening. And the more variegated the inch plant, the slower the plant tends to grow. This is because of the lack of chlorophyll in the leaves which the plant needs to produce energy. So this means that when one part of the plant (sweetness / EC-Trade-2011) goes reverted, it will likely grow faster than the rest of the plant. In the case of my tradescantia, this was certainly the case. As of yesterday, it stood taller than the majority of the spiderwort, hence why I needed answers.

Taller stem that is reverted down to additional chlorophyll
The taller stem that is reverted down to additional chlorophyll

Why does this happen to some tradescantia?

There is somewhat of a difference of opinion when it comes to the why. Some studies suggest that the variegated tradescantia lacks the sunlight needed to remain variegated. And so reverts back to its greener original form as simply a coping mechanism. This I can understand if it was to be the case as logically it makes sense. But then why only one stem out of the entire plant? This throws more questions out there instead of answers.

So there is another theory. That it is simply a random act of the house plant. It doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with your plant. That it isn’t being looked after the way that it should be. But the leaf’s cells can become unstable occasionally and this is the end result that we are left with. There is sometimes no way to stop it from happening, as it’s simply a chance of whether it will ever revert or not.

Can the reverted part of the plant be re-reverted?

This depends on which tradescantia has reverted, and in the case of sweetness/ EC-Trade-2011, more than likely not. Once the coloured pigment has left the leaf, every leaf from then on will produce the same or greener leaf until there is no colour left at all. I have noticed that on my EC-Trade-2011 inch plant in question, each leaf has gotten greener. And the new leaf which is forming has no white stripe or hint of colour at all. So my guess is that there’s no coming back for this one.

However, I am not one to quite give up. So I will be keeping an eye on it to see what happens, and if a miracle of colour does come back then I will be sure to update you all.

Now with the tradescantia quadricolor this is a different story. But I will save that for another day when I might come across it myself. Although let’s just say that there is hope for the quadricolor.

What can you do with the reverted sweetness / EC-trade-2011 tradescantia houseplant?

This is entirely down to personal choice. For some people, a fully green reverted tradescantia houseplant doesn’t really stand out as one that you’ll want to keep. But for some of us, myself included, who love the story, science and memory behind the plant, it is one that has to be kept. For now at least.

So what better way to keep an eye on it than to snip it from the rest of the plant? Then give it a new home in its own plant pot and soil and watch to see what happens. This is what I have done. A little down to the fear of the reverted gene spreading to the rest of the sweetness / EC-Trade-2011. But a little for the trial of seeing what happens.

I have taken three cuttings from the same stem which has reverted to see how it grows. The bottom cutting is still variegated sweetness. The middle has much less variegation but some is still left in there. And the top cutting has all but lost its colour altogether and is mostly green. So now I can check the growth at these three different points to see what will become of the plant. And to be fair, I’m quite excited to see the results for myself. And in turn, you’ll find out too what happens.

Thank you for visiting Tradescantia Family UK
Reverted Sweetness / EC-Trade-2011 Tradescantia

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