Tradescantia Virginiana: Virginia Spiderwort Plant Care

Tradescantia Virginiana is a Tradescantia species that is famously known as the Virginia spiderwort.

It is a simple but profoundly beautiful clump-forming plant that grows great outdoors in your garden or landscaping.

Native to Texas and Southern Oklahoma, this plant blooms with violet-blue flowers with yellow stamens, and its bright green svelte leaves are a sight for sore eyes.

Tradescantia Virginiana is a hybrid between related species, Tradescantia Ohiensis (Ohio spiderwort) and Tradescantia Subaspera (Zigzag spiderwort).

Where Did Tradescantia Virginiana Get its Name?

You must be wondering how such a dainty prairie plant got such an indelicate name.

Unfortunately, no one knows for sure!

Some believe Virginia spiderwort got its name due to the angular leaf arrangement, similar to a squatting spider.

Others believe the name describes the spider web-type formation of sap excreted by the plant when attacked or cut.

Yet another speculation is the plant was used for the treatment of spider bites.

In contrast, the Latin name Tradescantia Virginiana has a rich royal history dating back to the 16th century.

It was named after John Tradescant, the gardener of King Charles I. It was John’s son, also John, who was an enthusiastic traveler and plant collector.

He brought numerous horticultural specimens, including the spiderwort, back to England on his expedition to Virginia.

Virginiana unmistakably refers to the place it was first discovered.

In Virginia, the genus grows as native plants along the edge of woodlands, roadsides, and meadows.

Key Features of Tradescantia Virginiana

Sun ExposureFull sun or part shade
Moisture RequirementsRegular watering- avoid overwatering
SoilMoist but well-drained
Soil pH LevelAcidic (pH level 5-6)
Life CyclePerennial
Bloom TimeMay, June, July ( Late Spring to Mid-Summer/ Early Fall)
Bloom ColorCrystal blue or purple; may also be pink or white
Bloom CharacteristicsAttracts birds, native bees, honey bees, and butterflies-Deer resistant
USDA Zones3-9
Maximum HeightApprox. 18-24 inches
PropagationBy division; also self-sows, but not highly prolific growth

Tradescantia Virginiana can grow up to two feet tall and is unbranched, with the exception of one or two small side stems near the inflorescence.

Despite the fact that the central stem is round and glabrous, long hairs may be found in the areas where the leaves wrap around the stems or a little below the leaves.

The leaves of the Virginia spiderwort are dark green or olive green in color and can grow up to a foot long and an inch wide.

In addition, the leaves are broadly linear in shape but are wider at the base and narrower at the tip. They frequently have a downward bend toward the middle.

Virginia Spiderwort Flowers

tradescantia-virginiana-flowers

The clump-forming herbaceous perennial plant has attractive purple-colored flowers that bloom their hearts out.

Surprisingly, each bloom lasts a day and liquefies by night. If you touch an open blossom, it will turn to crystal blue ink.

They are replaced by plenty of other ornamental flowers the very next day.

The lifecycle continues for at least a good eight weeks when the plant stops flowering.

Most gardeners pair them up with late-blooming perennials to have a colorful flower bed to Late Spring.

The plant’s glossy foliage features solid stems and bright green narrow leaves.

Since the flowers grow in small clusters and plants in unbranched clumps, they make a spectacular groundcover.

The Virginia spiderwort is ideally grown in flower beds, borders, and woodland areas.

How to Care for Virginia Spiderworts

Spiderworts are low-maintenance wild plants that can survive very tough conditions.

Here is a basic outline to help you grow the showy flowers on your lawns.

Growing Season

The bloom period starts in late Spring and extends to early Autumn.

So, an excellent time to plant the seeds will be early Spring, about 4-6 inches deep and 8 inches apart.

If you start the seeds indoors, create at least eight weeks before you plan to transplant them.

This is because germination can take as long as six weeks indoors. Once the summer sun begins to shine, plant your germinated seedlings in prepared beds.

Sunlight

sunlight-for-tradescantia-virginiana

The Virginia spiderwort thrives in shade gardens but will also survive in the full sun or partial shade if the soil is moist enough.

The plants can also be moved bare root to another position if the former one is not suitable.

Water

Once planted, water deeply once the roots are in place. During the growth period, it requires more water.

But keep a steady hand in winter and water sparingly when they go dormant.

If growing them in containers, ensure appropriate drainage at the bottom and keep the soil moist.

Soil

The plants are very forgiving of soil conditions and will thrive in most scenarios. However, they prefer fertile loamy soil or clay soil for the best growth.

Add compost or nutrient-rich fertilizer to support the development.

Pruning

maintenance-care-for-tradescantia-virginiana

Once you stop seeing new flower buds, it’s time to cut the plants back to the ground. This will pave the way for a second flowering round in Autumn.

Since the Virginia spiderwort is an aggressive grower, dividing the plant roots once every three years will prevent a full-blown war later.

Propagation

You can purchase a fully grown Virginia spiderwort from a local nursery or propagate it through divisions or cuttings during spring or autumn.

In addition, Tradescantia Virginiana can be propagated by seeds. One positive is that seeds will germinate rapidly.

FAQ

Where does Tradescantia Virginiana grow?

Also referred to as Spider Lily, Tradescantia Virginiana grows as native plants in eastern North America, specifically from Maine to Georgia, and follows west to Minnesota and Louisiana. This charming wildflower is indigenous to Blackland prairies, sand prairies, rocky open woods, and sandstone cliffs.

Is Spiderwort an Invasive plant?

Yes, spiderworts are somewhat invasive plants. They are aggressively growing hardy plants that can grow in unfavorable conditions and quickly choke off other plants. In addition, their ability to self propagate, fleshy root system, and attractiveness to pollinators can quickly become a nuisance. At the same time, the spiderwort can produce seeds through flowers that can develop both above and below the ground.

Is Tradescantia a perennial?

A low-maintenance bush, the Tradescantia is a hardy perennial. It can survive both harsh winters and aggressive pruning.

Can You Eat Spiderwort Plants?

Yes, you can eat the leaf, stem, flower, and seed of the Spiderwort plant. The young leaves and stems of the Spiderwort plant make a delicious addition to your salads and soups. They taste similar to green beans and can also be boiled and grilled like asparagus. If you fancy the deep purple flowers, add them fresh over your salads for a tasty treat. In reality, the seeds, although a little bitter, are edible when roasted and powdered. Word of caution: However, all Tradescantia species have needle-like crystals in their internal tissues. This can cause minor skin irritation for some people upon touching the plant. They may not be considered poisonous plants, but you should be careful while handling them.

Other Tradescantia Plants (Wandering Jew plants) to Consider

If you’re looking for a houseplant or some landscaping plants, there are other varieties of Tradescantia to consider. Wandering Jew plants are a great choice for indoors as houseplants or outdoors as groundcovers. Other types of Tradescantia plants to consider are listed below.

References

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