Spiderworts have See more pictures of perennial flowers.

Spiderworts can be compared to daylilies and dayflowers -- each blossom lasts only one day. The common name refers to the many glistening hairs on the sepals and the buds. They resemble a spider's nest of webs, especially when covered with dew ("wort" is an old English word for plant).

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Description of spiderwort: Spiderworts are weak-stemmed plants that grow up to 1 foot long. They produce a watery juice and have folded, straplike leaves. The 3-petaled flowers, opening at dawn and fading by mid-afternoon, are surrounded by many buds. Spiderwort ease of care: Easy.

How to grow spiderwort: Spiderworts want a good, well-drained garden soil in full sun or partial shade. In dry summers, they will need extra water. In too-rich soil, they grow quickly and tumble about. Even the newest types can become floppy by midsummer -- so when flowering is through, cut the plants to the ground, and they will often flower again.

Propagating spiderwort: By division in spring or by seed.

Uses for spiderwort: Although fine in the sunny border, the newer spiderworts are best in areas of open shade, especially under tall trees.

Spiderwort related species: Tradescantia virginiana is the original species and is still found in many old country gardens. The flowers are usually 1 inch wide, violet-purple, and often very floppy.

Spiderwort related varieties: 'Red Cloud' has deep rose-red flowers; 'Zwanenberg' has very large, blue flowers; 'Snow Cap' is pure white; and 'Valor' is a deep red-purple. All grow to a height of 20 inches. 'Sweet Kate' has yellow leaves and deep blue flowers. 'Concorde Grape' is deep violet blue.

Scientific name for spiderwort: Tradescantia x Andersoniana

If you love the spiderwort's heliotropic flowers but don't have an outdoor garden, consider growing it as a house plant. We'll show you how in the next section.

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House Plant: Spiderwort

Spiderwort comes in many varieties, some with smooth leaves, others with hairy ones. All have trailing stems. Many are striped in white or white and pink. All have stalkless, pointed leaves. Some varieties produce white to bright pink flowers.

Spiderworts tend to lose their lower leaves as they age and should be pruned regularly or started from cuttings. Fast-growing, they can be grown from cutting to adult plant in only a few months.


Spiderwort Quick Facts:

Scientific Name: Tradescantia sp.

Common Names: Spiderwort, Inch Plant, Wandering Jew

Light Requirement for Spiderwort: Bright Light to Filtered Light

Water Requirement for Spiderwort: Evenly Moist

Humidity for Spiderwort: Average Home

Temperature for Spiderwort: House

Fertilizer for Spiderwort: Balanced

Potting Mix for Spiderwort: All-Purpose

Propagation of Spiderwort: Layering, Stem Cuttings

Decorative Use for Spiderwort: Hanging Basket, Table

Care Rating for Spiderwort: Very Easy

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Larry Hodgson is a full time garden writer working out of Quebec City in the heart of French Canada where he grows well over 3,000 species and varieties. His book credits include Making the Most of Shade, The Garden Lovers Guide to Canada, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, Houseplants for Dummies, and Ortho’s Complete Guide to Houseplants, as well as other titles in English and French. He’s the winner of the Perennial Plant Association’s 2006 Garden Media Award.