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Producing small, perfect, jewel-tone flowers, these beauties open over several weeks. Spiderworts bloom freely, but seldom produce the "wow" factor of some perennials. Group them for the best impact. Provide leafy neighbors to camouflage fading foliage. Warm-climate types make dense groundcovers in Southern gardens.
Part Sun, Sun
Under 6 inches to 3 feet
8-36 inches wide, depending on variety
more varieties for Spiderwort
'Bilberry Ice' spiderwort
Tradescantia 'Bilberry Ice' offers white blooms with a lavender-purple blush at the center. It blooms in early summer and grows 2 feet tall. Zones 4-9
Tradescantia 'Innocence' bears pure white flowers in early to midsummer. It grows 2 feet tall and wide. Zones 4-9
Tradescantia x andersoniana has broadly grassy leaves that clasp the fleshy stems. Clusters of buds top the stems opening sequentially to jewel-tone flowers, each lasting only a day. It grows 3 feet tall. Zones 5-9
'Sweet Kate' spiderwort
Tradescantia 'Sweet Kate' has bright yellow foliage that emerges in late spring. The brilliant purple flowers are dramatic against the leaves. It grows to 15 inches tall. Zones 4-8
plant Spiderwort with
One of the longest bloomers in the garden, coreopsis produces (usually) sunny yellow daisylike flowers that attract butterflies. Coreopsis, depending on the variety, also bears golden-yellow, pale yellow, pink, or bicolor flowers. It will bloom from early to midsummer or longer as long as it's deadheaded.
Lady's mantle looks great in the garden and in a vase. Its scalloped leaves catch rain or drewdrops, making them look dusted with jewels. The chartreuse flowers appear in playful, frothy clusters above the foliage. Lady's mantle is ideal for softening the edge of a shaded path or creating a groundcover in dappled shade.
Also known as red valerian for its rosy pink flowers, Jupiter's beard is one of the longest-blooming perennials in the garden, provided you remove spent flower heads. Deadheading not only prolongs bloom, it also prevents self seeding. In some regions, Jupiter's beard has escaped from gardens and become a nonnative wildflower.
These vigorous growers are beautiful additions to the garden. They vary from tall, stately plants suitable for borders to others that can be planted as creeping groundcovers. Flowers, too, vary from tight spikes of 1/2 inch to 1-inch cups carried alone or in whorls. Humus-rich, moisture-retentive soil is recommended; some varieties enjoy wet soil and ample water. Several sorts may become invasive and need to be corralled.Note: These are not the invasive purple loosestrife, which has been banned in many parts of the United States.