Friday, February 28, 2014

Flower Friday: Spiderwort makes a lovely garden addition

Spiderwort, like all species in the dayflower family, is ephemeral - its flowers stay open only one day. This perennial is a great addition to any landscape because it can bloom year-round in many parts of Florida. Spiderwort’s showy clusters of bluish-purple blooms are not only attractive, they are also edible. Try them fresh on a salad or candied for a sweet treat/ The stems and grass-like leaves are also edible (although the leaves are mucilaginous). 

Photos/Stacey Matrazzo
Four species of spiderwort are native to Florida, with Hairyflower spiderwort (T. hirsutiflora) growing in the Panhandle, and bluejacket or Ohio spiderwort (T. ohiensis) being the most common throughout North and Central Florida. Some varieties have a pinkish or whitish bloom.

Here's a bit of trivia: Did you know that the stamens in a Spiderwort flower can detect radiation? Low level exposure will turn the blue filament hairs on the stamen pink! 

Spiderwort (Tradescantia spp.)

Family: Dayflower (Commelinaceae)
Hardiness: North and Central Florida (Zones 8–9) (occasionally, they will survive in zone 10)
Soil: Prefers moist to wet soils.
Exposure: It does best in partial shade, but can survive in full sun, although it may require additional water.
Growth habit: Plants typically grow to a height of 2-3 feet and form clumps 1-2 feet in width.
Garden tips: To keep plants looking healthy, cut them back in late summer (or when they appear to stop blooming). They will bounce back in fall. Spiderwort spreads easily, but if kept under control, it can be used as a border plant. It is striking in mass when in bloom.

- Stacey Matrazzo

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