Plant Profile: Spiderwort (Tradescantia)
Spiderwort (Tradescantia) is a genus of about 70 perennial plants that can be found growing in the wild in wooded areas and fields. The plant produces 3-petaled flowers with contrasting yellow stamens and long, thin sword-like leaves. The most common spiderwort plants have bright blue flowers, but there are varieties that are white, pink and purple. The flowers will bloom from early spring to late summer. Like daylilies, the petals will only be open for one day, but the clusters of buds will open in succession for continuous colour throughout the season. Each plant can produce up to 20 or more flowers per stem.
Interesting Facts about Spiderwort:
the common name spiderwort may refer to the many spider web-like hairs that covers the sepals and buds, especially when covered with dew or to the plant's sap, which resembles a spider's silk
the name Tradescantia, is named after John Tradescant, a gardener for King Charles I of England
some spiderwort plants can cause allergic reactions for cats and dogs, causing red, itchy skin
the stems, leaves and flowers are edible; it can be eaten raw or cooked
Spiderworts amongst the easiest plants to grow; they can be grown in all soil conditions, in full sun or partial shade. However, it does best in moist, acidic soils. It grows quickly in clumps that can reach 1-3 feet high. Due to its vigorous growth patterns, the spiderwort is considered an invasive weed in some areas. It is also known to sometimes self seed and spread in ideal growing conditions.
However, some gardeners use them as borders in gardens or as container plants. Divide crowded clumps to keep plants in control. In the fall, after the flowering period, the foliage should be cut back to encourage new growth.