How to grow and take care of Spiderwort

Know in one minute about Spiderwort

  • Spiderwort plant is a beautiful, house plant that can grow indoor as well as outdoor.
  • This plant is clump-forming, tall, has lance-shaped leaves which resemble the spider’s bowed legs.
  • It contains beautiful flowers that open in the sunshine and close in the evening.
  • Spiderwort plant grows well in moist soil with full sun to partial shade.
  • This plant requires regular watering and pruning to form a compact shape.
  • Fertilize the plant about once a month to obtain the best growth.
  • Easy to propagate using stem cuttings, by seed or root division method.

Introduction

Spiderwort (genus Tradescantia) is a beautiful garden plant that is very popular indoors as well as outdoors. This plant belongs to the family Commelinaceae in which approximately 75 different herbaceous perennial plants are present.

This plant produces blue, purple, pink, and whitish flowers depending on the species and varieties that appear regularly.  These plants contain several bioactive compounds like anthocyanins which have anticancer, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-diabetic activities (1).

Origin

Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean 

Common name

Virginia Spiderwort, Spider Lily, wandering Jew plant, striped wandering Jew, inch plant, widow’s tears

Botanical description 

Spiderwort is a clump-forming ground cover plant that spreads along the ground with soft, hairless stems and leaves. 

Plant Type

Herbaceous perennial 

Flower

They produce flowers in cluster form which contains numerous flower buds. The spiderwort flowers are white, purple, pink, blue, and three-petaled. The flower contains yellow stamens and can make several seeds.

These flowers are slightly fragrant and attract butterflies. 

Bloom time

Flowers bloom from spring to summer (May to July), open in a day (morning hours), and last only one day.  After continuing blooming for up to four to six weeks, the petals wilt and turn to a jelly-like fluid. 

Leaves

The leaves are dark-green with narrow to pointed tips that are shiny, and waxy. These plant leaves grow upward, bend over at the middle, and then downward which look like the spider’s bowed legs. 

Height

Spiderwort can grow up to 1- 3 feet tall and spread 1.00 to 1.50 feet. 

Fruit and Seeds

Fruit is a light-green rounded capsule, surrounded by three green bracts and containing dark gray seeds that mature 2-3 weeks (2)

How to propagate Spiderwort

This plant can be propagated through root division, cuttings, or seed. Spiderwort spreads quickly through underground roots which can be removed and make a new plant.

1. Propagation by seed

Sow the spiderwort seeds in early spring or late fall on soil and they will germinate in about 3-4 weeks. Once the seedlings are large enough to handle prick them out.  After that grow them into individual pots or outdoors. 

2. Propagation by stem cutting

The fleshy stems of this plant are very easy to propagate because they form roots at any node that is on the surface. To do so, choose the stem that is usually about two to three inches long with at least some internodes. Strip off the lower leaves and place them in a container with potting soil until roots develop (few weeks). This type of propagation will easily develop roots in summer or fall.

How to take care of Spiderwort

Common problems with this plant are invasive growth which gives its unattractive look so proper care is important.

Light

Spiderwort plants require full sun (few hours) to partial shade and also grow well in bright indirect light. 

Soil

These plants do best in well-drained humus-rich soil l to avoid root rot. 

Water

Spiderwort requires water when the top few inches of soil are dry and reduce watering in the fall and winter. 

Temperature and Humidity

The ideal temperatures required for healthy growth is 65°F-75°F (18°C- 24°C).  Spiderworts plants grow well in warm and humid conditions, and can also regulate humidity levels by the humidifier. 

Fertilizer

Fertilize about once a month with a water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season.

Pruning

Prune the spiderwort plants necessary to maintain their size because it is an aggressively growing plant and grows more quickly. To encourage branching and keep them bushy,  pinch out the growing tips. 

The Spiderwort, a spring-blooming plant is considered to be easy to care for and grow wildflower plants (2).

Q&A

1. Spiderwort when to cut back?

Spiderwort should be cut back to a few inches (6 to 12-inches) when the first flowering season ends in midsummer. This helps to rejuvenate spiderwort and promote a second bloom in late summer to fall. Moreover, it also prevents the plant from self-sowing and becoming weedy. 

2. How to grow spiderwort?

Spiderwort is a self-seeds plant and grows everywhere in the ground. It is also growing by root division and through stem cuttings.

3. How to care for spiderwort?

Spiderwort grows best in well-drained soil with full sun to full shade. This plant needs plenty of water, warm and humid conditions to grow well. Cutting the plants back once flowering has ceased helps to maintain their size, bloom again, and prevent re-seeding.

4. Where to buy spiderwort plants?

The spiderwort plant is popular due to its colorful flowers and unusual leaves. This plant is often available in a local or online plant nursery.

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