Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Tradescantia Virginiana

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Position: Flourishes in full sun to partial shade.

Soil: Moist but well drained.

Flowering period: Late spring to early autumn.

Eventual Height: 60cm

Eventual Spread: indefinite

Hardiness: USDA Zone 4a-9b

Family: Commelinaceae

Tradescantia virginiana is a herbatious perennial with a grass-like tufted habit.  It has alternate, simple leaves with parallel venation and a centre groove held on tubular stems. The flowers are violet to purple, contrasted by yellow stamens, composed of three petals. Each flower will only open for a single day and will usually close before noon but overall the plant will stay in inflorescence for many months.

T. virginiana is native to eastern North America and commonly known as Spiderwort. It is also  botanically known as Ephemerum congestum, Tradescantia brevicaulis, Tradescantia congesta, Tradescantia rupestris
and Tradescantia speciosa. It has mainly been grown as a garden flower.

Tradescantia is named after John Tradescant (1608-1662) who served as gardener to Charles 1 of England, with virginiana being a reference to its native range.

Tradescantia virginiana (16/05/2011, Paris)

Tradescantia virginiana (16/05/2011, Paris)

The landscape architect may find this plant is useful as a long-blooming, low maintenance perennial tolerant shady locations. It also naturalises effectively and is suitable for ground-cover in woodland schemes.

The plant will prefer an acidic soil range so long as the soil is free draining.

Ecologically this plant will attract pollinating insects such as bees that will feed on its nectar.

Maintenance: this plant requires little to no care. Clumps of this plant may be divided in autumn to increase plant numbers.

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