How To Grow and Care for Siderasis Fuscata

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Siderasis fuscata (sy-DEE-ra-sis FUS-kah-tuh) is a member of the Commelinaceae family of inch plants hailing from Rio de Janeiro in the southeastern portion of Brazil. Fuscara is also found on Indonesia’s Java Island, where it has been naturalized. 

Siderasis fuscata - Bears Ears
Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

This herbaceous perennial is also known as:  

  • Tradescantia hirsutissima Pohl ex Seub.
  • Tradescantia fuscata Lodd.
  • Siderasis fuscata Lodd.
  • Siderasis acaulis Raf. 

Its common names are:

  • Brown Spiderwort
  • Bears Ears 

Siderasis Fuscata Care

Size & Growth

Brown Spiderwort is a compact, low-growing plant that typically attains a height and spread of 6”-8”. Its small size makes Siderasis fuscata a great choice as a houseplant or office plant.

The plants’ common name, Bears Ears, is because the thickly furred succulent leaves have brown hairs. The leaves on the topside are dark green with a central white stripe. The underside is purple. 

Flowering & Fragrance

Bears Ears produces pretty, bluish-purple, three-petaled flowers that look a bit like African Violet blooms in the summertime. The blossoms emerge from the center of leafy rosettes. They are quite attractive to pollinators. 

Light & Temperature

Brown Spiderwort is a forest floor plant that prefers low to medium light and needs protection from direct sunlight. To avoid burning the leaves, place the plant well away from sunny windows and/or diffuse the bright light by placing a sheer curtain on the window. 

This tropical plant likes consistently warm temperatures ranging from 70° to 85°F. It should be protected against very hot or cold drafts. 

Siderasis fuscata is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 10a and higher. 

Watering & Feeding

Bears Ears likes slightly moist soil and consistently moderate humidity levels. Allow the top several inches of the soil mix to become almost dry and then water thoroughly. Make use of a pebble tray or humidifier to provide the right humidity level if your setting is very dry. 

Use a balanced liquid houseplant fertilizer monthly during the spring and summer. Do not feed in the autumn or the winter. 

Soil & Transplanting

Brown Spiderwort does well in moist, well-draining soil. A 50-50 combination of good quality potting soil and peat moss or coco coir works well. 

Repot every couple of years in the springtime. Then, just move the plant up to the next size pot. If desired, you can divide the plant into several individual plants at this time. 

Grooming & Maintenance

Bears Ears may go dormant during cooler months, and leaves may die back. This phenomenon may also occur after blooming is complete. Deadhead blooms and trim away dead or damaged leaves as needed.

Related: Growing The Dwarf Bolivian Wandering Jew

How To Propagate Siderasis Fuscata

Brown Spiderwort is easy to propagate through cuttings or division. Both methods of propagation are most successful if performed in the spring. 

Siderasis Fuscata Pests or Diseases

If well cared for, this plant is relatively trouble-free. However, it may be subject to root and stem rot and invasion by sucking insects if overwatered. 

Under watered plants tend to attract mealybugs.

Excessive exposure to sunlight will cause scorched, bleached foliage. 

Is the plant considered toxic or poisonous to people, kids, pets?

While this plant is not listed as toxic, it is also not considered edible. So keep it out of the reach of kids and pets for their protection and the plants’. 

Is the Siderasis Plant Considered Invasive?

While Brown Spiderwort is not considered invasive, remember it is related to Tradescantia. In addition, many members of the Commelinaceae family are considered invasive in tropical and semi-tropical settings. 

This plant spreads by division and propagates easily from cuttings. It would not take much under the right conditions for fuscata to become a pest plant. If you live in a semi-tropical or tropical area and have planted Siderasis fuscata in the landscape, watch it closely and do not allow unwanted spread. 

Suggested Siderasis Fuscata Uses 

This easy-to-grow, compact plant does very well under fluorescent lighting, so it makes a lovely desktop plant. Siderasis does very well in low-light, humid settings, such as bathrooms and kitchens. 

It is a perfect choice as a terrarium plant year-round, and it can be kept outdoors as a container plant year-round in tropical and semi-tropical settings. 

Brown Spiderwort is also an excellent choice as a bedding plant, border plant, or ground cover when planted annually in cooler settings or as a perennial in conducive warmer environments.

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