Content Detail

Spiderwort has interesting bluish-purple flowers that blossom above arching, grasslike leaves during the early daytime from late spring to midsummer. It can grow up to 3 feet tall, and is recommended for native gardens, rain gardens, near ponds, along streams, or in naturalized woodlands. This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region and current research.

  • Family (English) Spiderwort
  • Family (botanic) Commelinaceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Medium plant (12-24 inches), Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances clay soil, Occasional flooding
  • Season of interest late spring, early summer, midsummer
  • Flower color and fragrance Purple
  • Shape or form Arching, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate
  • Wildlife Butterflies, Insect pollinators

Size and method of spreading:

At maturity, spiderwort is between 1 ½ to 3 feet tall and spreads 1 to 1 ½ feet wide. It spreads by self-seeding. 

Native geographic location and habitat: (include C-value if appropriate)

The native range of spiderwort includes the Eastern and Central United States and California. C Value: 5.

Attracts birds or pollinators: 

Spiderwort attracts butterflies, bumblebees, halictine bees, honeybees, carpenter bees, and syrphid flies.

Leaf description:

The long, arching, narrow (linear) leaves of spiderwort taper to a pointed tip and have smooth edges. They are up to 1 foot long and 1 inch wide. The leaves are a bright, medium- yellow-green. They have parallel veins with a prominent central vein. Spiderwort leaves grow along the stem in an alternate arrangement. The bases of the leaves wrap around the stems (sheathing) and there are long white hairs that grow along the edges of the sheath. 

Flower description:

In bud, the flowers of spiderwort are enclosed by three green, hairy, leaflike structures (sepals). When they open, spiderwort flowers are bluish-purple and have three rounded petals. The flowers are 1 to 2 inches in diameter. In the center of the flowers are long purple structures (stamens) that have yellow tips (anthers) and are covered in long, spiderweb-like hairs (plumose). In the center of the stamens, barely visible, is a small, light-green structure (pistil). Each flower has a hairy (pubescent) stalk (pedicel) that is green to pinkish-purple in color, and the pedicels grow in an umbel-like formation on the terminal end of the stems. Spiderwort flowers tend to open in the morning and close in the heat of the afternoon. 

Fruit description:

The fruit of spiderwort splits into three parts when mature (capsule). Each of the three sections contain between three to six seeds. 

Plant Care:

If spiderwort is planted in full sun, supplemental watering may be necessary.  

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

The foliage of spiderwort is eaten by deer, rabbits, and wood tortoises. Spiderwort is not susceptible to disease.


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