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Spiderwort Care Made Simple: Essential Tips for Thriving Plants

Another excellent wildflower for your garden is the spiderwort (Tradescantia). These unique flowers bring a special touch to your landscape

HealtheStudio Editor 2 weeks ago 0 4

Another excellent wildflower for your garden is the spiderwort (Tradescantia). These unique flowers bring a special touch to your landscape and are very easy to grow and care for.

 

But how did such a lovely plant get its unusual name? Some say it’s because the flowers hang down like spiders, while others believe it was once used to treat spider bites. Whatever the reason, spiderwort is a fantastic addition to any garden.

What Is Spiderwort?

Spiderwort is a wildflower that grows back every year. It’s part of the Tradescantia family and is also called inch plant and spider lily. The name “spiderwort” comes from the way its leaves look, which some people think resembles a spider.

 

Spiderwort usually has bright purple or blue flowers, but you might also see pink, white, or red ones. The flowers bloom from late spring to early summer and have bright yellow centers. These flowers bloom during the day and close at night. During the day, they attract butterflies and other pollinators.

4 Common Types of Spiderwort

Here are some common types of this pretty houseplant:

 

‘Sweet Kate’: This type has bright yellow leaves and is very popular. It doesn’t spread too much and has purple flowers that bloom through late summer.

Ohio Spiderwort: This native plant can grow up to three feet tall and likes sandy, loamy soil. Its flowers are indigo to purple.

Virginia Spiderwort: Found in the eastern U.S., this plant is similar in size to Ohio spiderwort and attracts butterflies and bumblebees. Its flowers can be lavender or white and bloom from early spring to mid-summer.

‘Purple Heart’: This type has deep purple stems and leaves. It’s good for ground cover in gardens and also makes a great houseplant.

How to Grow and Care for Spiderwort Plants

Spiderwort plants are perfect for beginner gardeners and grow best in USDA zones 3 to 9. They are easy to grow but can spread a lot and become invasive in some places.

 

Choose the Right Soil: Spiderwort grows well in most soils but prefers slightly acidic soil. Outdoors, plant them in moist, well-draining soil. Indoors, use a large container with the same kind of soil and plant them up to six inches deep.

Find a Sunny Spot: Place your spiderwort where it gets both full sun and some shade.

Space Them Out: Leave about a foot or more between each plant to prevent them from getting tangled and to ensure good air flow, which helps stop mold and mildew.

Water Weekly in Summer: In the summer, water your spiderwort once a week. In fall and winter, water less often and check the soil moisture to see if it needs watering. 

Ensure the soil stays damp, but avoid saturating it.

Fertilize Sparingly: Spiderwort plants don’t need much fertilizer. Feeding them every two months is enough, though some gardeners don’t use any fertilizer at all.

Prune Often: Regular pruning helps keep them under control and stops them from taking over your garden.

Handle Pests Naturally: Spiderwort is usually resistant to pests, but slugs and snails can be an issue. Remove them by hand to keep your plants healthy.

Divide Over Time: After a few years, you might need to divide your spiderwort to keep it from overgrowing. Cutting and transplanting helps the plants stay healthy and stops them from becoming invasive.

Spiderwort Care

Both beginner and experienced gardeners love spiderwort for its continuous blooms and easy care. This grassy plant grows in clumps, making it perfect for garden edges, pathways, or adding early spring color to flower beds. Spiderwort thrives in moist but well-draining soil and is easygoing, growing well in both sunny and partially shady spots. It adapts to various soil conditions and pH levels.

 

Deadheading may be needed to encourage more blooms.

As a native wildflower, spiderwort is resistant to serious pests and diseases.

Light

Spiderwort isn’t picky about sunlight. It prefers partial shade but can grow in almost any light condition as long as it gets a few hours of sunlight each day. More sunlight can lead to more frequent blooms, so choose a sunnier spot if you want a showier plant.

Soil

Spiderwort grows well in almost any soil as long as it is moist and well-draining. It thrives in slightly acidic, humusy soil with a pH of 6.8 to 7.2. Plant in the spring, 4 to 6 inches deep, with about a foot between each plant to allow room for growth.

Water

While drought-tolerant, spiderwort prefers moist soil and should be watered every few days, especially during hot summer months. Natural summer rain is usually sufficient.

Temperature and Humidity

Spiderwort adapts to a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels, thriving from early spring to late summer. It does well in humid climates but doesn’t need extra humidity.

Fertilizer

Outdoor spiderwort plants need little fertilizer. A single application in early spring is usually enough. Follow the product label instructions for the amount. For extra nutrients, add compost to the soil during the summer.

How to Grow Spiderwort From Seed

Spiderwort plants can easily spread by self-seeding. If you want more plants, just skip trimming them in midsummer and let them go to seed. Growing them from seeds can be tricky because some types need a cold, wet period to start growing, and others take more than 30 days to sprout.

Remember, unless you buy seeds from a seed company, the seeds you collect might not grow into plants that look like the parent plant. This can lead to unexpected results. It’s usually easier to divide existing plants to get more spiderwort.

Potting and Repotting

Some spiderwort types, like Tradescantia pallida and T. zebrina, can be grown in containers as houseplants. However, types like T. ohiensis, T. virginiana, and T. subaspera grow best in a garden because they grow quickly and spread out.

Overwintering

Spiderwort is hardy to USDA zone 4 and doesn’t need special care in winter.

How to Get Spiderwort to Bloom

Spiderwort blooms a lot, especially in its first year. The more sun it gets, the more it will bloom. If it stops blooming, cut it back by one-third, as suggested in the Pruning section.

FAQ

Are spiderworts invasive?

Yes, spiderwort plants can spread quickly by dropping seeds. To control them, trim the plants back after they finish flowering so they don’t make seeds.

Where does the name “spiderwort” come from?

When you cut the stem of the plant, it releases a liquid that turns into thin threads like a spider web.

Do deer eat spiderwort?

Spiderwort is usually not eaten by deer, but if deer are very hungry, they might eat it.

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