Saturday, June 24, 2006

Spiderwort! A Beautiful, Easy to Grow Flowering Perennial that Attracts Butterflies and Other Pollinators

Realization Of The Day:
I love spiderwort. The cheerful flowers open up early in the morning, so they're often one of the first things I see when I step outside.

I highly recommend spiderwort for anyone who loves growing plants that require virtually no maintenance, flower for weeks, survive crazy weather fluctuations including extreme heat and cold, and can mysteriously pop up 100 feet from where originally planted. (I never did get around to moving those three extremely healthy clumps that appeared in one of the mini greenhouse raised beds in the garden, but the flowers are beautiful.)

My first spiderwort plants were given to me when I moved to my first Missouri farm back in 1995 by a 76-year-old gardening neighbor who dug them up from her garden. This is the best way to get plants because they're already acclimated to your growing conditions. The spiderwort I have now was dug up and brought with me when I moved to this farm in 2000.

Pollinators also love spiderwort, and planting some is a great way to attract them to your garden.

No plant is perfect, and there are a few things about spiderwort I should disclose. The first is that the plants are fairly tall and do tend to spread, often crowding and shading out surrounding plants. It would probably do best in a place of its own.

When I do get around to moving the plants out of the mini greenhouse bed, I plan to relocate them somewhere where nothing else will grow. I'm betting they'll do just fine.

The mature plants also have a tendency, at least in my garden, to fall over due to high winds and heavy thunderstorms—and possibly dog attack, though I haven't caught them in the act yet. 2011 update: dogs, donkeys, cats, and chickens have all been busted knocking down the spiderwort, and yet year after year it continues to spread and thrive.

And finally. . .

Pollinators and I aren't the only ones who love spiderwort.

Have you ever grown spiderwort? Any stories, fun facts, or growing tips to share?



  1. I also love spiderwort, but do have to be vigilant in my suburban yard or that would be all I had. It's not the most invasive plant I've ever planted...

  2. Thank you for this beautiful contribution. I love the funny photo with the greedy sheep.
    Do you know it this plant is edible ? It would be so nice in a salad... But maybe it's better in a garden...

  3. I love spiderwort, too! Mine has pink flowers, and was dug up and given to me by my mother. I have the same problem with romping kitties and a puppy squashing it, though.

  4. I must remember this plant. It would be perfect for a flower bed I have that has tall daisies. (Ok, I've written it down. Wish I could get some from someone like you did.)

  5. Love the butterfly pic. I wonder if spiderworth would survive in zone4?

  6. Hi Fancy Free,
    I'm thrilled that you love your kitchen garden so much--and even more thrilled that I inspired you to plant it. Thanks for letting me know.

    Hi Carol,
    Some days a garden just full of spiderwort might not be so bad. : )

    Hi Virginie,
    I only know that sheep can eat spiderwort stems and flowers without any problem--not sure about people.

    Hi Sugarcreekfarm,
    Oooh! Pink flowers! I bet those are gorgeous.

    Hi CA gardener,

    Hi Kalyn,
    I think spiderwort would probably look wonderful interspersed with tall daisies.

    Hi Signora B.,
    I bet it probably would be okay in Zone 4. Since I planted that spiderwort, we have had winter temperatures as low as 15 below zero F and summer temps above 100F, and as you can see, it's doing fine. I don't even water it in the summer. If it gets colder than that in your garden you could always cover the plants with a sheet or tarp or something.

  7. I have a variety of spiderwort that is purple and very lush! My home is over 100 years old and I hear that it has been here quite a while. It is crowded in with lots of orange daylilies and some bright pink peonies. Tangled and beautiful it is nice to wake up to in spring! I tried to keep it somewhat contained by a broken slate wall, but it continues to find a way around it and peeks out further every growing season!

  8. I live in SC. My spiderwort planted last year is dying now. It has just turned brown. I dont remember this happening to other spiderwort I have had. Do you think the hot sun would do that to it? or what would be your thoughts. It has lighter green leaves. thank you for your thoughts!

  9. Hey Anonymous in SC,
    Unfortunately I'm not sure what the problem is with your spiderwort. Mine gets sun all afternoon and evening and does fine. You might have a different, less heat tolerant variety - I really don't know if there are different varieties of spiderwort. Maybe there's a problem with the soil or it has some disease. Usually it's the other way around - nothing seems to kill it! : )

  10. i've had my spiderwort about 3 years,bought it as a mark down plant at lowes ,it came back the next year bigger and im in love with it .it is a fragile plant i but its pretty

  11. Just discovered your site as I looked for help on spiderwort...A WONDERFUL SURPISE ! THANKS for your time and effort in sharing your gift with "all of us" :) I WILL BE BACK to check out the chard, kale etc recipes. BLessings to you" farm girl" I take every opportunity to visit farming areas..sadly disappearing from our land.

  12. I found a clump of Spiderwort in my back yard when I moved here ten years ago. Not knowing what it was, I mowed it down. Seems like that was the best thing I could have done to it. The next Spring it popped up early and showed me it's beautiful blue flowers and I was thoroughly impressed. Since it sat out in the open in my large dog-yard. I let it go.

    At the end of the summer I mowed it all down again. And again the next Spring it came back thicker and hardier than ever.

    So, I've been doing that for eight or nine years now and have enjoyed great success with it. Since they are so easy to "maintain" I love them. And yes, my dogs loved them too. They would curl up in them and take a cool nap now and then, but heck it's their yard. I have other clumps starting here and there and those I don't want I simple mow over or move.

    Cut Spiderwort will bloom for days in a vase inside, drinking copious amounts of water. And when they're done, they usually have rooted. I haven't tried planting them, but I imagine it would work well.

    I love 'em.

  13. Love the flowers but are disappointing when they fall over

  14. not sure if i have spider wort or not, what do they look like before flower?

  15. We have 2 volunteer Spiderworts that I love. It came up next to our Shasta Daisy and it looks great. We live in the city with limited front yard space ~ 10' from sidewalk to door ~ This sits next to the sidewalk greeting everyone that walks by and helping to block the blueberry bush from traffic. I feel so lucky to have a pollinator support and butterfly catcher next to our blueberry bushes. They have survied our baking afternoon sun, huge downpours, and the heat wave we just had.How well do they do in an area that only gets late afternoon sun? Thanks for the great info.

  16. I planted it around my apple tree sapling instead of daffodils (to keep the grass back) and the tree took off and thrived.

  17. "Spiderworts are among the world's most sensitive-and certainly most attractive- devices for detecting nuclear radiation. The stamen hairs on a plant that has been exposed to low-level radiation change from blue to pink in proportion to the dose received. By counting under a microscope the number of cells in a hair that have so changed a scientist can index the severity of the radiation." quoted from North American Wildlife by Readers Digest 1982 I have had these beautiful and hopefully not useful, medicinal edible plants in my garden for the last 35 years. Just thought Sugarcreekfarm would like to know :)

  18. I love spiderworts too, and we have a profusion of them in our front yard. Problem is, our landlady calls them "weeds" and has her "gardener" rip every, lovely wild thing out of the yard every spring. I swear he comes through with a blow torch. Why some people fail to see beauty in wildflowers, as well as others, is beyond me. I read that spiderworts were introduced into Europe as ornamental plants in the 17th century, so they DO have a history of not being seen as "weeds".


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