Tradescantia virginiana, Spiderwort

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

This showy native, whose genus name honors naturalist John Tradescant, grows in scattered pockets throughout the eastern half of the United States.* Its common name may derive from several characteristics: its crouching spider-like leaf arrangement, web-like flower filaments or web-like sap secretions from cut stems. The Virginia Native Plant Society honored Spiderwort as Wildflower of the Year in 2008.

Print Version:Tradescantia virginiana, Spiderwort
Tradescantia virginiana, Spiderwort Perennial Height: 1–3 feet Spread: 1–11⁄2 feet Bloom Color: Deep blue-purple, rose, or rarely white Characteristics Erect, clump-forming herbaceous perennial Long, narrow, arching medium green leaves Showy, 3-petaled flowers in tight clusters at the top of slender, branched stems, open, several at a time, May to July; each flower lasts up to a day Self-seeds; vigorous spreader in optimal conditions Attributes Tolerates clay & poor soils, Black Walnut; no serious pests or diseases; deer seldom severely damage Ethnobotanic uses; leaves or sap may irritate when touched Attracts bumble bees Growing and Maintenance Tips Excellent Replacement for Soil Requirements: Well-drained, loamy, acidic Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade, Shade Water Requirements: Moist Flower petals melt into jelly-like substance in afternoon sun After blooming period, remove stems directly to promote fall rebloom and cut back foliage to tidy appearance and reduce mid-summer sprawl Divide overcrowded clumps *It is native in DC, uncommon in the DE Piedmont and widely scattered in PA with concentrations in Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. In VA, it is frequent in the mountains, infrequent in the Piedmont (although it is found in Fairfax and Loudoun counties) and inner Coastal Plain, and rare in the outer Coastal Plain. Use in woodland gardens or naturalized Hardiness: USDA Zones 4–9 Excellent Replacement for Commelina species - Dayflower Iris sibrica - Siberian Iris Murdannia keisak - Marsh Dewflower
Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets