NICE! plant of the season
Perennial: Spiderwort (Tradescantia species)
Photo: by Lon Turnbull
Description: Spiderwort, Tradescantia species,
is a genus of over 60 New World species that range from southern Canada
to northern Argentina. In North Texas, both (T. occidentalis)
and (T. ohioensis) Spiderwort species are found. Spiderwort
grows individually at first and establishes clumps. It grows one to two
feet tall with long, blade-like leaves. Spiderwort may go
dormant in the winter and over our long dry summers.
Spiderwort blooms prolifically in the spring and sometimes in
the fall with flowers that range from white, pink or purple to bright
blue. Flowers have three petals and six yellow
anthers. Spiderwort blooms early in the morning.
During the afternoon, the flowers usually close up in the heat, but on
cool and cloudy days, they may remain open all day. Each
flower lasts for only one day, but each spiderwort has many flowers,
assuring a long display in the garden bed.
Planting sites: Spiderwort can be planted in
full sun to partial or dappled shade. It grows well in most
types of soil, from acid to alkaline, from dry to damp. If
not given supplemental water, Spiderwort will go dormant during North
Texas summers. When flowering is finished, Spiderwort may be cut to the
ground. When the fall rains begin, Spiderwort will sprout new
foliage and may re-bloom.
Watering Instructions: Spiderwort should be
watered well immediately after planting and then every other week
during the first growing season if there is no rain. After
the first growing season, Spiderwort should survive with existing
rainfall because it is drought tolerant.
Comments: Although spiderwort goes dormant in
the summer, the foliage sprouts out in fall and stays green through our
mild winters when almost everything else is dormant. Native
Spiderwort is a welcome addition to garden beds. There are
many named cultivars available at your local nursery.
Look for the NICE! Plant of the Season signs and information sheets on
your next visit to a participating
North Texas nursery. Thank
you for using native plants in your landscapes.
Written by: Dr. Rebecca Dickstein, Professor of Biology, University of
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Last noted update by
Lon: March 19, 2009.