Saturday, May 8, 2010

Go Native: Plant Spiderwort

My recent visit with Janet, The Queen of Seaford was rewarding not only personally, but plant-wise, too! Among the plants that Janet shared with me was Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana), a native perennial that is proving to be a winner in my Virginia garden.

The flowers on my plants are blue, but this eastern US native comes in purple, rose and white, as well.  Each 3-petaled flower closes at night, and lasts just a couple of days, with new flowers appearing daily.

Janet gave me a large clump that I have divided into 8 plants, each of which have developed many blooms. The plants will spread through underground 'stolons' and can be divided every few years.

Virginia spiderwort is a vigorous plant which some might even call invasive because they will self-sow and even root from stalks that have fallen to the ground.  I have planted mine around the perimeter of my woodsy backyard, outside of the stone-bordered beds, just because I don't want it to take over the garden.

Janet also gave me a smaller clump of a yellow foliaged variety of Spiderwort called 'Sweet Kate' (Below, right front corner). It will behave much the same as it's darker-foliaged relative.

I have the space for it to fill out and don't mind if it spreads around the outside of the yard along the fenced-in area.

The plants may flower again, later in the summer or fall if I remember to remove the stems after they finish flowering this spring. Virginia spiderwort will do well in zones 3 through 9.

Today I am thankful for space in my garden (and heart) to always add 'just one more plant' (and friend;-)

Words and photos ©Thanks For Today, by Jan Huston Doble


  1. What a pretty plant. Gotta love those friends who share plants. I love your kneeling angel too.

  2. It'll be interesting to see when they fill in the space. I do like that photo of the honeysuckle in your header.

  3. Spiderwort grows wild all over my property. It's so pretty, though, that my husband mows around it when he is out there taming the wilder parts of our plot.

    LOL! Come down here, and I'll let you dig up as much as you want--I have plenty to spare.

  4. I have some of this same Virginia Spiderwort that I dug from my daughter's back yard before she moved last summer. It has probably quadrupled in size over the last year, and it's beautiful. I'll be dividing it soon.

  5. One of my favorites. I've had the yellow variety before and it's a great plant - you'll be splitting it before you know it.

  6. I absolutely adore spiderwort! Think I'll plant that in the new bed I'm making - thanks for the post!

  7. Very pretty. I have one of my own I just recently did a post one. They are so easy care.

  8. I love spiderwort, they are a pretty plant. I have one like yours, though I have been eyeing up some with green and white foliage with rose colored flowers.

  9. I love natives and have spiderwort also. At present there is a little patch blooming in a larger patch of artemesia that is quite attractive.

  10. Jan,

    I just did a post with three of my spiderwort (tradescantia). I enjoy them very much and glad you have taken to them as well.

  11. I love spiderwort. I have a couple of T. virginiana cultivars that are vigorous but not overpowering by any means. As long as it rains they bloom the entire growing season.

  12. I just now saw this wonderful plant over at Randy and Meg's ( I love the cute flowers and its blue shades! Good luck with the plants!

  13. Hi Jan. That is just the right place for the Spiderwort and it looks so pretty in the woodsy bed.It has pretty blue blooms. I do not think I have saw yellow before so I will be looking forward to seeing its blooms. Have a wonderful day.

  14. Every year when they bloom you'll have a nice memory of your visit with Janet. :)

  15. Jan, I'm so happy to see you discover these beautiful natives, and sharing them with us all. Of course I've never seen most east coast natives before, so it's a special treat to enjoy your beautiful photos.

  16. Spiderwort is such a nice plant. It looks great in your garden and you'll always think of Janet when you see it. A special gift indeed!

  17. Jan, This is a favorite plant of mine. Here in Maine, it's cool enough that they often continue to bloom all season long. Mostly, I've planted the somewhat better behaved hybrids -- but they self-sow, too, and each generation of seedlings reverts more and more to the species in color and habit. This year, for the first time, I have o many seedlings that I'm treating them like weeds. -Jean

  18. There is nothing better than a "passalong" plant! Gardeners are so generous, aren't they? It's wonderful you have something from Janets garden growing and flourishing in yours now. Very beautiful.

  19. I keep hearing the nice thing about this plant, but did not see them for sale here. It is supposed to be very suitable for Florida weather, maybe because I live in zone 10?

    Very pretty flowers! Enjoy!

  20. I rented a place in downtown Richmond, where my across the street neighbor had NOTHING but Tradescantia growing in his small yard. It was beautiful in bloom, a little ratty by July and bare in winter.

    It was very generous of Janet to part with the gold 'Sweet Kate' which is my fav.

  21. 4 years ago when we moved into our home and inherited the perennial garden, we inherited some spiderwort as well... it does tend to take over and it seems like nothing could stop it - kinda like some peppermint I've got. All this time later I'm still finding it in the oddest of places. I'm beginning to think the only sure things in life are death, taxes, and spiderwort! ... oh and peppermint too! ;)

  22. Hi Jan, it's a very pretty plant, love the true blue color.

  23. I have the same little blue Spiderwort. I love it's sweet little blossoms. I didn't realize it came in so many colors. Thanks for the info.

  24. Hello there Jan

    I really like these plants - I'd forgotten this year about them so I must see where my white one is with lavender markings. I used to grow the Sweet Kate one but it never came back after a few winters. The blue is quite an intense blue isn't it and you've got so many blooms on each of those little clumps. You've got the perfect location for it there.

  25. Jan, how lovely and very timely as mine have just started to bloom. Mine was a pass along from a cousin and this is the first time it has bloomed. I love the true blue color. The other colors sound interesting and i will have to watch for them. I think yours will do very well where you have them planted.

  26. I love spiderwort, always forget it's native. A bonus!

  27. I don't know what variety of Spiderwort we have here, but it behaves very badly. I understand they have some hybrid versions that are a little better. Down here it grows EVERYWHERE from the birds. It sure is the prettiest shade of blue.

  28. Thank you all for stopping by and commenting...sorry I am just now leaving this message back to you!

    Sherlock St, thank you;-) Gardening friends are wonderful. I think the angel gives the otherwise 'dull' area some extra 'life';-)

    Helen, thanks for visiting;-) I wonder how long it will take them to fill up the area! The honeysuckle photo is from my post right before this one; it's Coral Red Honeysuckle.

    Hi Deborah, thank you for the offer! If I'm in your area I'll look you up! Glad to hear it grows so freely (and that I have an area where I don't mind that it does!!)

    Hi Ginny, glad to hear you liked it enough to dig it up and even keep dividing it. I hope it spreads here as well as it has for you--just so it doesn't 'take over' my yard and gardens I will love it.

    Hi Heather, I will divide the Sweet Kate when she gets just a bit bigger because I'd love to have more of her, too! Glad you've enjoyed her in your garden:-)

    Debbie, I'm glad you love spiderwort so much! I am sure it's gorgeous and if you add more to your beds they will be stunning;-) It's such a 'carefree' plant.

    Hi Tammy, I'm so glad I've learned about this fun, carefree plant! Thanks for letting us know you've done a post about it, as well;-)

    Cinj, I bet that rose-colored bloom with the green/white variegated foliage is beautiful! I would love to find some of that;-) If you add some, take photos!

    Hi Donna, I'm so happy you stopped by! I'll bet your patch of spiderwort with artemesia is just lovely:-)

    Randy, after you left your comment I read your post. These are very cool plants! I'm so glad I've been introduced to them!

    Hi sweetbay, I'm glad you are enjoying spiderwort, too. So far, we've had some cool, damp weather so they are thriving--and they have lots of mulch and shady branches above so they won't dry out--hopefully they'll be happy here!

    Hi Chandramouli, glad you stopped by. I guess everyone is posting about this plant since this is about the time it starts blooming in our area. Thanks for visiting;-)

    Thanks so much, Lona...I think it's the perfect spot for it too;-) Sweet Kate's bloom looks pretty much like the other blue blooms; perhaps just a tiny bit lighter blue but it didn't look much different in the photos. So glad you like it;-)

    Hi Racquel, I will think of Janet when these plants are blooming throughout the season, and yes, especially when they first start blooming each year. I wish you could have met w/us too. We will have to get together soon;-)

    Glad you've enjoyed the 'east coast' native spiderwort, Town Mouse;-) I have gradually been adding natives for the past year or so. I'm adding even more this year, especially after going to a native plant sale recently! I like the fact that they adapt well & fit in naturally w/the environment;-)

  29. Hi Tina, thank you for your nice comment...I think the spiderwort looks great in the garden too;-)

    Hi Jean, thank you for stopping by--so sorry I haven't gotten back with you before now. Wow, you must really have a LOT of seedlings this year! I guess they LOVE Maine weather;-) I can understand why they start acting like weeds once they begin 'taking over'. Hope you can keep them under control!

    Hi Kathleen, pass-a-long plants are terrific, with always a special memory attached;-)

    Ami, I don't know enough about spiderwort yet to know why you don't see it where you are. Perhaps because it isn't usually sold at a 'typical' garden center--since it's a native, often you need to go to native plant sales to find it. Also, your hot zone might make it somewhat difficult for it if it doesn't get enough water...Perhaps you could do a little 'Google research' to get more info? ;-)

    Hi Les, I can imagine the spiderwort would look scraggly with so much of it taking over that yard. I hope the Sweet Kate will thrive here since it may not have those tendencies quite as much;-)

    Jackie, you are so funny;-) Death, taxes and spiderwort! Hmm, I will hope it won't take over more than I can handle for that would not be good for the rest of my yard;-) I know what you mean about peppermint! However, I had that planted here a few yrs ago, and it didn't take perhaps the spiderwort will be the same in this environment!

    Marnie, it is a lovely 'true blue' color. I'm a blue fan and it's a perfect shade;-)

    Hi Jenny, glad you like to grow spiderwort, too! I didn't know it came in the other colors either, until I did a tiny bit of research for this post. I'd love to add some pink!

    Rosie, your white with lavendar markings sounds just lovely! Yes, there are a lot of blooms on each of my plants, and they just continue to come out, day after day. I'd like to find one like yours!

    Hi Beckie, I'm glad you enjoy spiderwort too, and that yours are blooming! I'm sure it's wonderful to see the lovely shade of blue after a dull winter;-) I hope you can locate some of the other shades, as well!

    Monica, yes, since it's a native, it's even more wonderful--I agree! Glad you love it too;-)

    Hi Randy, it is a beautiful shade of blue. I can see how it could begin to get 'out of hand' in some locations! Hopefully that won't be the case here. It has plenty of room to spread out where I've planted it, so hopefully it won't creep too far outside of the boundaries I've set for it. Ha! Do plants EVER follow 'our' orders??!! They usually will do what THEY want to do, so, time will tell...;-)

  30. I have "accidental" Virginia Spider Wort (VSW). We had a bird feeder hanging from a tree and evidently the birds deposited a number of these seeds. The following spring, up came a ton of VSW. I didn't like their location though, so my brother-in-law dug them up and planted them in my beds surrounding the house, which worked beautifully! I don't have to do any maintenance with them at all. They flower heavily and bloom twice a year. I'm in Mobile, Alabama (on the coast). I saw today that they're beginning to bloom again here. I love them and am so thankful the birds brought them to me, even though we had to move that bird feeder. lol!


Thanks so much for visiting and taking the time to comment! Please enjoy your TODAY and all of the gifts in YOUR garden of life!


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