Tradescantia (Andersoniana Group) 'Sweet Kate'
Common Name: spiderwort 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Commelinaceae
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to July
Bloom Description: Purplish-blue
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Wet Soil


Easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prefers moist, acidic, humusy soils. Tolerant of wet, boggy soils. Deadhead each flower cluster after all buds in the cluster have opened to extend the bloom period. As the heat of the summer sets in, foliage tends to decline considerably and flowering slows down or stops entirely, at which point plants should be cut back hard. Cutting back plants almost to the ground will promote both new foliage growth and an additional late summer to fall bloom. Divide clumps when they become overcrowded.

‘Sweet Kate’ usually develops best yellow foliage color in full sun.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Tradescantia, commonly called spiderworts, is a genus of about 65 species of herbaceous perennials from North, Central and South America. They are grown for their showy, three-petaled flowers and attractive foliage. The Andersoniana Group of hybrid spiderworts are some of the most common perennial spiderworts seen in cultivation. They are hybrids of various species including T. virginiana, T. subaspera and T. ohiensis. Cultivars in this group are sometimes given the hybrid name designation Tradescantia × andersoniana.

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

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

‘Sweet Kate’ is a compact, clump-forming, hybrid spiderwort that is noted for its unique yellow foliage. It typically grows to 12” tall. Three-petaled, purplish-blue flowers (to 1.5” diameter) accented by contrasting yellow stamens are borne in terminal clusters (umbels) atop stiff stems. Numerous flower buds form in each cluster, but individual flowers open up only a few at a time, each for only one day, blooming in succession from May into summer. Arching, iris-like, bright yellow leaves are folded lengthwise forming a groove. Some nurseries are listing ‘Sweet Kate’ as being synonymous with T. ‘Blue and Gold’, however the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) currently lists them as separate cultivars.


No serious insect or disease problems. Young shoots are susceptible to damage from snails and caterpillars. Spiderwort foliage often sprawls in an unattractive manner by mid-summer.

General foliage decline is reportedly less severe with this cultivar, however.


Borders, open woodland gardens, wild gardens, naturalized areas, rain gardens, or moist areas along streams or ponds.

Compact spiderwort with a long bloom.