Tradescantia 

(tra-dess-can’ tee-ah)

Common name: Spiderwort

Family: Commelinaceae, Spiderwort

Height x width: 18-24" x 18-24"

Growth rate, habit: moderate to fast; irregular upright clumps, spreading

Foliage: alternate, linear-lanceolate, to 1" wide and 15" long, may be purplish, fleshy

Flowers: generally blue to purple, but may also be pink or white or red; open for a day, with many opening over a 4-6 week period; flower parts in 3’s; 1-3" across; early to mid-summer (photos courtesy Missouri Botanical Gardens plantfinder)

Hardiness: zones 4-9

Soil: well-drained, tolerate wet to boggy but may flower less

Light: full sun, flowers less in part shade and less vigorous

Pests and Problems: botrytis blight or several insects, but seldom a problem

Landscape habit, uses: borders, moist areas, edges of woodlands

Other interest: native to Americas, named for famous 17th century English botanist Tradescant who first obtained the plants from Virginia, hence the scientific name; may also be called "dayflower" due to blooms open for a day

Other culture: in warm climates, plants decline after bloom in summer heat, cut back then and they usually reappear with new fall foliage and often bloom; in the north, cut back as well after flowering to keep plants from flopping and becoming straggly, and likewise they will return with fall growth and often bloom; divide every 2-3 years to rejuvenate; many consider these plants too aggressive spreaders for garden beds

Propagation: division in spring or fall, about 3 years to bloom from seed

Species: of the several temperate species, many native to the central U.S., only virginiana is commonly seen and is the one described above; the specific epithet x andersoniana is often erroneously applied to cultivars of this species and to the species itself; most cultivars are hybrids and are generally listed under Andersoniana group; related tropical species are found as indoor plants

Cultivars: those are often more commonly seen in U.S. commerce with those marked * more common, and are generally hybrids found listed under virginiana
 
Cultivar flowers other
‘Bluestone’ mid-blue  
‘Carmine Glow’ carmine  
‘Concord Grape’ purple relatively new
‘Innocence’ creamy white, large  
‘Iris Pritchard’ white, violet tint  
‘Isis’ blue, 3" across good blue cv.
‘J.C. Weguelin’ blue, 2.5" across vigorous
‘Joy’ purple new, domed habit
‘Leonora’ violet-blue 18" tall
‘Little Doll’ light blue, 4-6 weeks compact
‘Osprey’ white, large blue stamens  
‘Pauline’ lilac, 2-2.5" wide  
‘Purple Dome’ purple 2’ tall
‘Purple Profusion’ purple narrow leaves, compact, new
*‘Red Cloud’ rosy red 2’ tall
‘Rubra’ red  
*’Snowcap’ white, 2.5-3" wide  
var. caerulea plena dark blue, double  
*’Zwanenburg Blue’ deep blue, 3" wide  


©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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