Tradescantia virginiana

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 2 Professionals
Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: spider lily
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Commelinaceae
Native Range: Eastern United States
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 1.50 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: Blue to violet-blue, rarely rose or white
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Clay Soil, Black Walnut

Noteworthy Characteristics

Tradescantia virginiana is a clump-forming herbaceous perennial which grows up to 3' tall. Violet-blue to purple, three-petaled flowers (.75-1.5" diameter) accented by contrasting yellow stamens open up, a few at a time, each for only one day, from terminal clusters (umbels) containing numerous flower buds. Flowers bloom in succession from late May into early July. Arching, iris-like, dark green leaves up to 1' long and 1 inch wide are folded lengthwise forming a groove. A Missouri native plant that is commonly found on open wooded slopes and moist shaded bluff ledges in the eastern part of the State.

Genus name honors John Tradescant (1570-1638) and his son John Tradescant (1608-1662), botanists and successive gardeners to Charles I of England.

Specific epithet means of Virginia.

When the stems of spiderworts are cut, a viscous stem secretion is released which becomes threadlike and silky upon hardening (like a spider's web), hence the common name.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Young shoots are susceptible to snail damage. Foliage sprawls in an unattractive manner by mid-summer.

Garden Uses

An interesting and long-blooming perennial for native plant gardens, woodland or shade gardens, wild gardens or naturalized areas. Also can be grown in borders, but mid-summer foliage decline is a potential disincentive for this placement.