Plant DetailShow Menu

Spiderwort Tradescantia subaspera

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
trad-es-KAN-tee-uh sub-AS-per-uh
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Tradescantia subaspera can be a perennial herb, houseplant or interiorscape plant.  The leaves are alternate and clasp at the base.  They are simple, long and grass-like.  Secondary stems and leaves can occasionally develop from the axils of the primary leaves.  The fuzzy leaves have prominent parallel veins, looking similar to the leaf of a corn stalk.

Growing in the wild, its natural habitats include deciduous woodlands and borders, along ravines, bases of bluffs and along shady streams.  Although spiderwort can be found growing in the wild in most states, Tradescantia subaspera will only be found in the eastern half of the US.

Its common name, Zigzag Spiderwort, come from the appearance of its stem. The stem makes slight direction changes at the leaf nodes in the half of the plant.  Wideleaf Spiderwort has wider leaves than most of those in this species.  

The flowers open in the morning, and close up in the afternoons.  During cloudy days, they may remain open for a longer time period.  

Its root system is a mass of fibrous roots.  Occasionally offsets are produced from the roots.  Although it can be grown in a variety of soils, a fertile, loamy soil is the preferred location.  

Does best when located in an area that does not have extended periods of sunshine.  Appreciates protection from hot, afternoon sun.   

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious diseases or pests.  Deer, box turtles and cottontail rabbits may eat the foliage.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Pollinator Garden- Partial Shade
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#poisonous#full sun tolerant#perennials#pink flowers#shade garden#herbaceous#summer flowers#herbaceous perennials#naturalizes#wildflower garden#naturalized area#partial shade tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#poisonous#full sun tolerant#perennials#pink flowers#shade garden#herbaceous#summer flowers#herbaceous perennials#naturalizes#wildflower garden#naturalized area#partial shade tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Tradescantia
    Species:
    subaspera
    Family:
    Commelinaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern United States
    Distribution:
    AL, AR, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MO, MS, NC, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA, WV
    Wildlife Value:
    Valuable plant for native bees.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Shade
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Perennial
    Poisonous
    Wildflower
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Clumping
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    After flowering, 3-chambered seed capsules are produced. Each contain several seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Umbel
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Saucer
    Flower Petals:
    2-3 rays/petals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Showy, 1", three petaled violet flowers with yellow stamens. Each petal is oval or broadly ovate. The smaller sepals are ovate and typically hairy. The flowers bloom for a period of time, however, only a few at a time. The flowers are typically smaller than other spiderworts.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The dark green leaves can reach a length of up to 12", while the width is typically 2". The shape of the leaves can vary somewhat, from linear-lanceolate to elliptic-lanceolate. The upper surface of the downward arching leaves is dark green and typically smooth. The lowers surface is a somewhat lighter green and also typically smooth. Both upper and lower surfaces can have minute hairs.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Zig Zags
    Stem Description:
    The central stem is a medium green and slightly tapered. It can be slightly hairy, or smooth.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Houseplants
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Native Garden
    Rock Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Specialized Bees
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Skin irritation with redness and itching, but of low risk.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Unidentified, possibly oxalate crystals.
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Leaves