Spiderwort – a pretty little native plant – is starting to bloom profusely as we transition from winter to spring. Since it is an early season bloomer, Spiderwort is attractive to a variety of bees, and some butterflies, who are starting to emerge from their winter doldrums in search of nectar and pollen. If you are looking to add some/more Northeast Florida Native Plants to your yard, this bluey-purply spiderwort is a good one to consider.
Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) is a clump-forming, upright perennial that starts blooming profusely in the spring and blooms off and on throughout the year. The one-inch flowers, which lasts for only one day, have three petals that come in shades of blue and violet. The flowers open in the morning and close by mid-afternoon. Full sun is best, but it will grow in part shade under a tree canopy. Spiderwort is tolerant to soil types from slightly moist to sand but is not tolerant of salt water or spray. It is moderately drought tolerant.
All parts of the plant are edible. The leaves and flowers are good in salads. People add the leaves to soup and stews. The stems can be braised like asparagus.
Medicinal uses include using the roots as a laxative, and the leaves to make tea for a variety of ailments. A salve made from the leaves can be applied to stings and insect bites.
Spiderwort will tend to sprout in your lawn and garden all year. It can easily be relocated to form nice clumps in your garden and even used as a border along a walkway. Some people can experience a mild irritation from the sap and leaves so use caution when handling the plant.
Some people see Spiderwort as a weed but it is an important native plant to have in pollinator gardens. A one-sheet summary pdf is attached to this blog post [if it can be – I have to email the webmaster] and for more information from our mentors at the University of Florida please check out à https://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/plant-directory/tradescantia-ohiensis/
Fun Fact: areas north of us can find pink spiderwort – as is referenced by the Master Gardeners in Virginia: à https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/tradescantia-virginiana/
This article was written by Walter Bryant, Master Gardener Volunteer, where he is a vigilant Tree Steward. Walter is also active with the Florida Native Plant Society *** link and the FNGLA.(The Florida Nursery Growers Landscapers Association.) *** link.