Saturday, June 13, 2009


The Traescantias, also called Spiderworts or Snotweed (for the mucous-like sap) are scattered all around the gardens. Although we have bought many named varieties over the years, not all of the ones in the garden today are named because these hybridize so freely. They are bee or small insect pollinated and new seedlings just pop up all over the place. When I first started to grow them, I was told they were a shade plant, but I find they do much better in the sun, or at least half a day of sun. Most are about 15 inches tall and will rebloom if cut back after the first late spring/early summer bloom. Colors are white, blues of various shades, purples/fuchias and even a pink. They are easy to divide and transplant, though they will wilt and sulk for a few days after being moved. It is probably easiest to move them just as they're coming up in the spring while the foliage is still only a couple of inches tall.
This first one is Tradescantia cerinthoides 'Varietata'. I know it looks like a tender houseplant, but don't worry. Although it dies to the ground in the winter and doesn't come back from the roots, it self-seeds and comes true from seed, so once you have this one, it will pretty much always be there. You just need to weed out any stray all green ones because they will just take over. The flowers on this one are a bright, clear blue.

The next is 'Hawaiian Punch'. The picture here might not be the exact right color, but in person the color is just that of a glass of Hawaiian Punch - do they still make that??? I know I drank a lot of it when I was little.

This one is 'Concord Grape'. The flowers are pretty grape-juicy, but what I like most about this one is the foliage that is a deeper grey/green rather than the color of all of the other ones I grow.

'Litle Doll' has a full sized flower, but the plants are considerable shorter, probably not quite a foot tall.
'Sweet Kate' has a blue/purple flower (quite a bit more purple than the picture) but it's distinguishing characteristic is the gold foliage. It will occasionally revert to make a green eye or two, but just remove them. If you don't they will eventually take over the plan. We have this one growing in a dry space in full sun near daylilies, at the edge of a pond and in a semi-shaded garden and it does well in all three places.

'Bluestone' is a light, clear blue. We have other blues, names long since forgotten, but this one is probably the best.

'Bilberry Ice' grow at Lake Amanda and has made a huge clump over the years. This is another shorter one and has slightly darker foliage.

This last one is 'Osprey' and is a pure white with blue in the center. It grows in a number of places since it is one of my favorites.

If you haven't tried these, you should look for some. I don't think you'll probably find them at a big box store, but better gardening catalogs have plenty of choices. One word of caution. Many catalogs list Tradescantia 'Maiden's Blush' as hardy. It isn't. It is a lovely plant but is a tropical - zones 8-10. I grow it for it's wonderful green, white and pink foliage, but it needs to be a house plant that summers outside, not an outside plant. One way I can tell if a catalog is put out by a nursery that actually has someone who knows the plants as opposed to a nursery that just buys a bunch of stuff to sell is if they list Maiden's Blush as hardy to zone 6. If they do, I tend to have some suspicion about any other plants they list as far as the descriptions being accurate. I can't believe that they've been doing this for so many years and haven't corrected it. People must have demanded replacement plants or complained about it not coming back.
Sunny day so far. Lots to do.


GardenJoy4Me said...

Hi Jane .. they can be gorgeous plants .. and remarkably resiliant .. I mistakenly PULLED out a grouping and they STILL came back .. I guess they loved their home ? LOL

Tatyana said...

Such lovely blooms!