I have no idea what kind of plant this is, but I must bring it home with me.
My wandering jew plant was a drunken post-brunch purchase. It was too big, beautiful, and purple not to buy from a local florist on the tipsy walk home. It was already mature and looked bushy in its white hanging planter. I already knew exactly which hook it was going to live on in my apartment.
I didn’t know the name of the plant before I purchased and, evidently, neither did the florist. When I prompted her about the species, she said, “I don’t remember the name, but I remember it’s $40.” A reasonable price for such a mature plant, albeit suspicious to know the sales price without knowing what type of plant she was selling. Clearly she thought it didn’t matter to me because she knew I would probably buy it anyway (I did.)
If you were a good enough salesperson/con artist, you certainly could up-charge for a number of things when the consumer is oblivious about that market. I should use this technique while working:
After a long, hot New York City summer in it’s pre-determined hook near my balcony window, my purple plant was beginning to grow out of control; the vines were bending wildly up and out of the same white hanger in which it was purchased.
Up until this point, I had never looked up the name of this plant, and took care of it using the florist’s original instructions: water once a week or less, plenty of sunlight. That worked marvelously for Ding (the name I bestowed upon it after its “Welcome Home!” mini ceremony.)
Now, however, Ding needing maintenance had become too much. I had to know what type of plant this was and how to trim it so I could keep it in its original hanger without it becoming too large for its pot, letting the roots get tangled, and then strangle poor Ding with his own tendrils.
I believe that the well-being of my houseplants directly affects my own life. Almost like omens or predictions. I wouldn’t let Ding die due to neglect or laziness. It was time to *gasp* educate myself for fun.
I typed “purple vine plant” into Google at found that “Wandering Jew” was the most similar to Ding. I had never heard it before, though I’d seen this plant for sale at every bodega, grocery store, and florist in any direction from my apartment. I didn’t even know that the alternative name was a “Purple Heart.” I don’t know a lot of things, apparently lol. That probably has something to do with never leaving the house… or smoking too. Or both?
I was very intrigued by the name Wandering Jew, as I am quite interested in Judaism as a faith in philosophical & historical context. I tend to romanticize the ideals of many religions and spiritualities in this way. The fact that the florist “didn’t remember” the name could have been a ruse to save herself from the shame of the auspicious plant name.
I personally thought the name was beautiful and obscure — I mean, I call myself Miss Moody Lilac. But such a name could be considered loaded if rooted in anti-Semitism. Evidently, the plant is not named after Moses (as some would guess,) but according to this article on Jewniverse, another version of the Wandering Jew name comes from a 13th century story in which a Jew scoffed at Jesus on his way to the cross, which was later popularized in the 17th century through a pamphleteer. (**note to self, look that word up!)
It’s not my intention to be anti-Semitic if I call this plant by its given name, and I like to think it of it as a positive. Remember Tolkein: “Not all those who wander are lost.” I’m sorry this plant’s given name maybe be discomforting to some, but you give words their power. Let’s empower our Wandering Jew (plants) by taking care of them and reinforcing the ethereal idea of an arduous pilgrimage to salvation. I am on one of those journeys myself.
The next thing I learned about WJ care was that you could force the plant to split into two branches by pinching the end leaf off a vine, as close to the node as possible.
This reminded me that when I was hanging one of my Devil’s Ivy saplings, I tore off the end leaf on a vine by accident. When it regrew and split into two branches, I thought it was a miraculous act of god and that I must have some wood nymph magick. No. It’s just a thing that happens to plants and pretty much everyone in the world already knows about it.
After successfully trying this pinching experiment with Ding after about two weeks, further research informed me that propagating Wandering Jew is relatively easy.
It wasn’t easy trying to trim the vines with my kitten, Cookie, attacking the branches opposite of me, but I made it work. The sap in the branches of this plant can irritate a cat’s stomach, and you need to take care of your familiar! I used a spray bottle and lightly misted the air just in front of my kitty, which did an excellent job of keeping her away without the trauma of a shocking stream spray.
I put more soil on the naked-looking crown of Ding because it felt like the right thing to do after giving it an ugly haircut.
My Family Photo!
Ding is back in his normal spot with his branches all trimmed. Nothing hurt but its pride! I guess this is not technically a “Family Photo” à la r/IndoorGardening, but these are (most) of my common area plants.
Now I kind of feel like I should have put those kawaii Meitu stickers on all of my photos…
Now the longest Devil’s Ivy vine needs to be propagated as well. The parent of this Devil’s Ivy lives in my bedroom and is about 3 years old. I named it Freddy, after Freddie Mercury, because I was definitely on a Queen kick at the time.
It was at this time when I started dating a new person I asked, “Who is the best band in the world?” to test our compatibility. None of them said Queen, and none of those people became my partner. Coincidence?
I’ve propagated Devil’s Ivy saplings many times before directly in soil. Now the babies are taking over my apartment. I sometimes even give them to friends and family as a gift.
You must remove the leaves of your wandering Jew before submerging them in water. The leaves are always so waxy and furry and rich with green and purple (money-drawing colors) that I can never immediately throw them away… But I also have no idea what to do with them.
Unfortunately, I broke my favorite Halloween (or year-round, in my case) decoration! I told myself I could super glue it, but I didn’t have any and I also knew that I would procrastinate until I just didn’t. So I decided to give it a cute farewell instead.
I did keep some spare leaves to put in my wealth corner (more on that at another time)
It’s not a sacrifice… It was already broken. I decided this silly picture was worth more than the $4 I paid for the toy. This photo will last forever and we will always remember our candy skull cat. I said thank you and sent it on its way (to the garbage, with most of the leaves!)
Progress Update! (10/3/2019)
These babies should be ready to re-pot in a few days. Stay tuned!