Are Spiderworts Worth It?

Ohio Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) is another blue bloom of June. The flowers are very attractive (I love all blue flowers), at least while they’re open.


The thing is, they only stay open in the cool of the morning. It’s like they’re only a part-time flower. Around the time most of us take a morning coffee break, it’s quittin’ time for the Spiderworts.

DSC_0735There are other flowers that bloom only in the morning. Morning Glories (Ipomoea tricolor), for example. But Morning Glory flowers are showy and gorgeous, while Spiderwort flowers are understated even if attractive. Also, I’ve found that Morning Glories often bloom into the early afternoon, at least later in the season.


There are also flowers that bloom only in the evening, of course. This seems a bit more acceptable from the point of view of the gardener. In the mornings we are rushing off to work, but in summer evenings we are more likely to have time to peruse the garden.

unnamed (2)Ohio Spiderworts are tall and rather leggy, but I think all Spiderworts look a bit unkempt, with those leaves sticking out at awkward angles from just below the terminal flower buds. Depending on my mood, I can find this charming or not.


Also, Spiderwort is an unfortunate common name, though it’s actually not as bad as it sounds. “Wort” is just a Middle English word for plant, and has nothing to do with warts. (Could a spider have tiny warts?) Some say the name comes from the leaves’ resemblance to spider legs, others that it comes from the silky threads made by the dried sap.

So what do you think? Are Spiderworts worth having in the garden?

59 Comments on “Are Spiderworts Worth It?”

  1. I like them. Nice color. They last a long time. They spread aggresively but are easy to take out, so they pop up in useful places. And there’s this — people who live near a nuclear power plant would do well to have some in their yard. Wikipedia: “when exposed to sources of ionizing radiation such as gamma rays, the cells mutate and change color to pink; they are one of the few tissues known to serve as an effective bioassay for ambient radiation levels.”

  2. I’m afraid I pulled mine out! A neighbour gave me them, so I felt a bit guilty, but as you say, they are very untidy and the flowers are gone by the time I get time in the garden… So, in my opinion, a waste of time!

  3. I like spiderworts–the blue is gorgeous and as others have said, they pop up in places where they are welcome.
    Amazing what you learn here: the first comment (Linc) and spiderworts and nuclear power plants!

  4. In my 15 by 75 patch of prairie they are exceptionally nice — I wouldn’t be without them. Grassy companions mollify their sprawly habit. But in a small garden??? There are probably better choices. Nuclear power plant info is very reassuring.

  5. I like them. I don’t know what variety I have, but I have one that’s native (volunteer) in the garden. It is lovely when it’s blooming. ‘Course I just realized I’m not a tidy gardener. (As is the gardener so is the garden!)

  6. I deem them worthy. I was delighted to see them survive their first planting last summer and provide their lovely blue flowers when almost everything else seemed to be lost in a sea of green. My backyard however is a small but sprawling wildlife habitat with a mind of its own.

  7. The common name once was Cow Slobber (break a stem to find out why), so Spiderwort is just fine with me. I am retired and love to watch the pollinators on it when drinking my coffee. After it blooms I cut back the untidy foliage and it send up new foliage for the rest of the summer.

  8. I never noticed the flowers were only open in the morning! I have never planted a spider wort but we have many…they are weeds here in Houston. Weeds I can live with in my messy cottage garden……and they have blue flowers, sigh!

  9. I made it a point to drink my morning tea in the garden specifically so I could get in some quality time with our blooming spiderwort. I have decided, based on no research at all, that the name refers to how the middle of the flower looks like a spider’s multiple eyes.

  10. What Lisa said, totally. I don’t have any here in my home garden because I think they prefer a little more sun, but they grow wild up at the cottage in Marquette County. I do like them. I could see adding them to a spot where you want them to fill in and choke out non-native invasives. The flowers are actually quite beautiful. They’re still open in the mid- to late morning on the days when I volunteer at the Arboretum. Definitely worthy.

  11. I have tried several times to become fonder of Tradescantia than I am (which is, on a scale of 1 to 10, about a 4.5 when in flower.) The closest I came was with ‘Bilberry Ice’ which is white, brushed lilac-pink; that one reached a 6 in flower. ‘Pink Chablis’ was pink with a white wavy edge, and probably the only one I seriously didn’t mind giving permanent garden room to. But still boring out of flower, LOL

  12. I love these flowers (I mostly have varieties of T. virginiana), which is good because they love to grow in my sandy soil. In my cool climate, they often stay open for most or all of the day and they bloom almost all summer long.

  13. I love the blue flowers I also have the pink flowers on my roadside is white ones also which I am going to get a start of to go with my other ones just cut them back and they will bloom again

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