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Tradescantia (trad-ess-KANT-ee-uh)

Common Name:  Spiderwort

Light:  - Part sun to light shade

Soil:  Average to rich, moist but well-drained

Moisture:  Average to consistently moist

Blooms:  Summer

Zones:  3 - 7


Tradescantia 'Bilberry Ice'

Tradescantia 'Sweet Kate'

Tradescantia Description and Cultural Information

Tradescantia x andersonia, common spiderwort. 1 - 2'. Common spiderwort is actually a hybrid of many species, including T. virginiana. It has light-green, strap-like, grassy foliage and clusters of three petaled flowers. Each flower opens for just one morning but are followed by new flowers day after day. 'Snowcap' is a pure white variety. 'Bilberry Ice' is a bicolor with lavender splashed white flowers. 'Purple Profusion' is a long blooming purple with gold stamens. 'Bluestone' is a good, upright blue. 'In the Navy' is a light blue with a dark eye. 'Sweet Kate', aka 'Blue and Gold', has chartreuse to golden yellow leaves with bluish-purple flowers that stand out in stark contrast over the light colored foliage. There are many other colors as well, in many shades of purple, blue, white, or even pink, and cross-pollinated seedlings will emerge in a wide array of colors.

Tradescantia ohiensis, Ohio spiderwort. 2 - 3'. This spiderwort has blue-green, narrow leaves and blue, rose, or white flowers. Unique in that it prefers dry soil and more sun than other spiderwort.

Tradescantia virginiana, Virginia spiderwort. 2 - 3'. This species is very similar to common spiderwort but with foliage that is more lanky with a greater tendency to flop over. Flowers are in shades of blue to purple.

How to Grow:  For best performance, plant spiderwort in humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil in light sun to light shade. Plants will grow in average, dry soil but go dormant right after flowering. Some plants spread to form large colonies, and they often self-seed athough many hybrids are selected to be more clump forming. Divide them in spring or after they've gone dormant in the fall. T. ohiensis prefers a sunny location.

Landscape uses:  Use spiderwort as a background plant in the shade garden where it can be enjoyed best from a distance. Under plant it with groundcovers like Ajuga or lily-of-the-valley so the area won't be bare if they go dormant. Combine it with hostas, ferns, and bleeding hearts. T. ohiensis is a great meadow plant and does well with daisies, daylilies, and coneflowers.

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