It could not have survived out in the desert for forty years. Wandering Jew, Tradescantia fluminensis, would have desiccated before its first summer. Well watered gardens are a completely different situation. Wandering Jew can become invasive and mix with other more desirable ground covers, only to die back and turn dark brown through winter. It starts over the following spring.
The one or two inch long leaves and succulent stems are very tender, sort of like busy Lizzie (impatiens). Stems root wherever the swollen nodes touch moist soil. New plants are ridiculously easy to propagate by cuttings, or simply by scattering pruning scraps wherever new plants are desired, and sprinkling a bit of soil or compost over them. Because it is so tolerant of shade, wandering Jew is an easy cascading houseplant. A variegated cultivar has slightly larger leaves.