Spider plants are wonderful garden perennials. They have grassy, dark green foliage and clusters of three-petaled flowers throughout the summer. Most spiderworts bloom in shades of blue and purple, though there are white and pink cultivars available, as well. Spiderwort flowers close in the afternoon, especially in hot-weather areas, leaving a grassy mound of foliage until the next morning when new flowers open.
- Common name: Spiderwort
- Botanical name: Tradescantia Andersoniana Group
- Zones: 4 to 9
- Size: To 2 feet tall
- From: Areas of North America
- Family: Commelinaceae (spiderwort family)
- Sun: Full sun to partial shade.
- Soil: Moist, but well-drained soil is best. While the plants adapt to a wide range of soil conditions, they appreciate lots of organic matter in the soil.
- Moisture: They'll survive drought if not watered, but the foliage will turn brown and dry.
- Mulch: A layer of mulch around the base of the plant will help keep weeds at bay. Mulch also helps conserve moisture and keeps soil temperatures consistent.
- Pruning: Cut the plants back in autumn after they freeze or in spring before they begin to grow.
- Fertilizer: In average soil, they don't require fertilization.
- Division: Dig out a section with roots and plant that section elsewhere in the garden in spring (division is possible any time of the year; however, spring is easiest on the plant).
- Slugs/Snails: Slugs and snails tend to eat at night, chewing up leaves. They leave slick, slimy trails behind the next morning. To deter them, try surrounding plants with a ring of horticultural grade diatomaceous earth or laying down a slug bait. Some people have found success with laying copper strips around plants, but this does not seem to work for everyone. If slugs are not particularly numerous, set out shallow containers of stale beer at ground level. Slugs, attracted to the beer, crawl into it and drown.
- If spiderworts are exposed to drought, the foliage will turn brown and dry. Cutting the brown foliage back to about 6 inches tall will encourage a new surge of growth.
- Spiderworts have a tendency to spread, especially in very rich soils, so some gardeners consider them a pest. Plant spiderworts where they have plenty of room to grow.
- Tradescantia ‘Bilberry Ice': Bears bicolored blue and white flowers on 2-foot plants; blooms all summer. Zones 4 to 9.
- Tradescantia ‘China Blue': Bears blue flowers all summer on 2-foot plants. Zones 4 to 9.
- Tradescantia ‘Concord Grape': Bears large violet-purple flowers on 2-foot plants. Zones 4 to 9.
- Tradescantia ‘Hawaiian Punch': Bears rosy-violet blooms all summer on 2-foot plants. Zones 4 to 9.
- Tradescantia ‘Innocence': Bears ivory-white flowers on 2-foot plants; blooms all summer. Zones 4 to 9.
- Tradescantia ‘Isis': Bears bright blue blooms on 2-foot plants through the summer. Zones 4 to 9.
- Tradescantia ‘Osprey': Bears white blooms blushed with pale blue on 2-foot plants; blooms through the summer. Zones 4 to 9.
- Tradescantia ‘Purple Profusion': Bears lots of deep-purple flowers on 2-foot plants during the summer. Zones 4 to 9.
- Tradescantia ‘Red Cloud': Bears pinkish-red flowers on 2-foot plants; blooms in summer. Zones 4 to 9.
- Tradescantia ‘Snowcap': Dwarf cultivar grows to 18 inches tall and bears white flowers most of the summer. Zones 4 to 9.
- Tradescantia ‘Sweet Kate': Bears deep blue flowers on 2-foot plants with golden-green foliage; blooms all summer. Zones 4 to 9.
- Tradescantia ‘Valour': Bears violet-red blooms on 2-foot plants all summer long. Zones 4 to 9.
- Tradescantia ‘Zwanenburg Blue': Bears bluish flowers on 2-foot plants; blooms all summer. Zones 4 to 9.