Spiderwort or Spider Wort; does it matter when there’s something quite magical about early mornings in the garden?
The light is soft, the early birds are indeed looking for worms and greeting the rising sun with song, the breeze ruffles the longish grass in the field beyond my back lawn and everything seems right with the world.
This morning I wandered over to where I had planted some new perennials a few weeks ago and was delighted to see a single, shy blossom appearing on the spiderwort. This is particularly gratifying because this plant is one of the longest bloomers in the garden – carrying flowers from early June right through until fall if treated properly.
Tradescantia virginiana or spiderwort is the plant of choice today and I confess it has been on my collector list for several years now. It is a North American native plant named for John Tradescant senior (he died in 1638) a famous English gardener who received the species from Virginia sometime before 1629.
There is also the possibility that it was named after his son, John Tradescant junior, who was himself a notable gardener and who visited Virginia in the 1650’s.
Both men were head gardeners to King Charles I of England and both were very serious plant collectors, traveling around the world in search of new plants for the King’s garden.
Type: Herbaceous perennial.
Bloom: Blue, lilac, purple, pink, white flowers in late spring-early summer for about 8 weeks total.
Size: 24” W-36” H with ever enlarging clumps.
Light: Full sun to partial shade; in most climates will bloom better and be less lanky in sun.
Soil: Average well drained but tolerates most soils .
Fertilizer: Average soil provides all that is needed.
Hardiness: Zones 4-9.
Care: Cut back when foliage becomes unattractive to encourage another bloom.
Pests and Diseases: None of importance.
Propagation: By division in spring or autumn; self sows.
Companion plants: Grasses, daylilies, liriope, Siberian iris and hosta.
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