Spiderwort

Spiderwort
Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
spiderwort
Credit: Greg Ryan
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spiderwort

Spiderwort

While a name like spiderwort may not sound like something you'd want around, this resilient perennial should have a home in everyone’s garden. With slender, graceful foliage and bright jewel-tone blossoms, spiderworts are easy to use in any garden design. These plants may not have the showiest blooms, but they certainly make up for it with quantity.

genus name
  • Tradescantia
light
  • Part Sun
  • Shade
  • Sun
plant type
height
  • Under 6 inches
  • 6 to 12 inches
  • 1 to 3 feet
width
  • 8 to 36 inches wide, depending on variety
flower color
foliage color
season features
problem solvers
special features
zones
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
propagation

Colorful Combinations

With their simple foliage and small flowers, spiderworts are great companions to many other plants. The flowers of spiderwort are comprised of three petals, which are borne at the tips of foliage stems, and often in clusters. Usually just a few blooms in each cluster are open at once, and all of the blooms are only open for a single day. Luckily, there are generally many buds per stalk, and the bloomtime can last up to three months.

Spiderwort Care Must-Knows

Spiderworts are pretty simple plants that do not need a lot of special care. Native to the Western Hemisphere, there are a large variety of spiderworts on the market. With tropical and perennial options, there are many different spiderworts to choose from. Luckily, general care of these plants is fairly universal.

Spiderworts aren't too picky when it comes to exposure. Many varieties are just as happy in part shade as they are in full sun, and most do appreciate some shade from the hot afternoon sun. There are even some species that will do just fine in full shade.

Most spiderworts prefer to be planted in well-drained soil that stays somewhat moist. Some species can handle drought much better than others and can even do fine in consistently drier soils. In very dry soils, especially in the summer, plants may go dormant, which can commonly happen in southern climates with hot summers. Foliage is generally the first thing to decline, becoming yellowed and limp. When this happens, plants can be cut back to the ground. Come fall and cooler temperatures, many species of spiderwort will happily begin again, sending up new shoots and sometimes new blooms.

Potential Problems

Despite the ease of growth with spiderworts, there are a few things to note when you are planting them. Spiderworts are susceptible to leaf spot diseases, and once they begin to get it, plants start to decline. Luckily, this generally will not kill the plants, and as long as foliage is removed, the next re-sprouting should be clean. Spiderworts also tend to be aggressive seeders, which in some garden settings may become a nuisance. These seedlings can easily be removed, and by deadheading spent blooms, you can prevent aggressive seeding.

More Varieties of Spiderwort

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'Bilberry Ice' spiderwort
Credit: Jay Wilde

'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

'Sweet Kate' spiderwort
Credit: Greg Scheidemann

'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

'Innocence' spiderwort
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

'Innocence' spiderwort

Tradescantia 'Innocence' bears pure white flowers in early to midsummer. It grows 2 feet tall and wide. Zones 4-9

spiderwort
Credit: Greg Ryan

Spiderwort

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

Spiderwort Companion Plants

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