I Love Tinantia pringlei aka Mexican Speck

Jan 12, 2024 | Love This!

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.

This part of my garden gets 3 to 4 hours of sun in the late afternoon. The Tinantia pringlei filled in here after I planted a small clump of it. Along with some compost-enriched soil, this area is filled with rocks behind a stone wall. You can see that the amount of rocks don’t bother the Mexican speck at all.

The colorful foliage and long-flowering time make Tinantia pringlei a great front-of-the-shade-garden plant.

The small lavender flowers on this Tinantia are visited by the bees for the four months that the plant is in bloom.

This particular variety of Tinantia pringlei is coll #A1M-77 – I got it from Plant Delights years ago. Unfortunately they have stopped selling it. I wish that another grower would start to offer this to the public. You can see how nice it is in a shady garden.




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