A Spiderwort By Any Other Name …
Yes, it has an ugly name, but Ohio Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) has much to offer in a cottage-style garden, especially if the gardener likes blue flowers, as I do. This plant is native to the eastern half of the USA as well as southern Ontario.
Ohio Spiderwort is much better behaved than the more commonly grown Virginia Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana). It forms large clumps, but does not spread by runners. It is also a much taller plant, growing to three or even four feet. Some people say it self-sows aggressively, but that hasn’t been my experience.
The clusters of three-petaled flowers bloom from May into July. Each flower blooms for just one day and usually closes in the afternoon, though they may stay open all day if it’s cloudy. The flowers are a favorite of bumblebees and other pollinators.
The grass-like leaves are a dark bluish green. T. ohiensis likes full sun best, but tolerates part shade, and is adaptable as to soils. It is pretty much disease free, definitely a lower maintenance plant.
I have a large clump of Ohio Spiderwort growing in my parkway garden. I enjoy it, but it is having a floppiness problem. I tried one of those hoops that are used with peonies. Unfortunately the stems were too tall and flopped after the rain, then stayed at about a 30 degree angle.
So I’m trying to think of some new companion plants that will help hold up the Spiderwort. Since this is a raised bed with well drained soil, I’m considering Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Blue Spire’, a medium height cultivar of Russian Sage.
As for the common name, there doesn’t seem to be a generally accepted explanation. Some say that it was once used to treat spider bites, others that the flowers themselves look like spiders, though I don’t see the resemblance. Also it should be remembered that wort is a Middle English word for plant, and has nothing to do with warts.
This post is written as part of Wildflower Wednesday hosted by Gail at Clay and Limestone. This month Wildflower Wednesday actually falls on a Monday on account of Thanksgiving. Anyway, check out her blog for more wonderful wildflowers.
Do you grow any Spiderworts? Any good companion plants to recommend?