Name: Tinantia pringlei aka Mexican Speck
Type of Plant: Perennial groundcover for part-sun to light shade. Mexican speck is in the tradescantia family and is hardy in Zones 6-10.
Why I Love This Plant: It’s amazing that a plant that is from Mexico makes a great groundcover in the Northeast United States. I love the speckled, dark foliage that gives it one of its common names, Mexican Speck. I – and the bees – love the small lavender flowers that are on the plant from July until hard frost in October. And I love that this plant is maintenance free in my garden.
Since the foliage is dark, this is a good contrast plant in part-sun to dappled shade. It is beautiful near the yellow Japanese forest grass, (Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’ or ‘Aureola’) and it’s the perfect fill-in ground cover. I’ve found that it does very well in well-drained areas, be they sandy loam or rocky areas.
A Word to the Wise: I hesitated to feature this plant because it can be hard to find. Plant Delights used to carry it, but not anymore. I wish some growers would decide to propagate and grow this, since it’s a great plant that more people should have in their garden.
The variety I have in my garden is Tinantia pringlei coll #A1M-77. Another common name is spotted widow’s tears or just widow’s tears.
Mexican speck gently self-seeds where it is happy, and this makes it a great plant to grow around and under large hosta, ferns and the previously mentioned Japanese forest grass.