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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Friday - April 10, 2009

From: Cicero, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Herbs/Forbs
Title: Getting Tradescantia (spiderwort) to stand up straight in Indiana
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Is there a way to keep Tradescantia plants on a thicker base so as not to fall over? Mine are spreading like wild fire, but most fall over and look like weeds.

ANSWER:

We found two members of the genus Tradescantia native to Indiana in our Native Plant Database: Tradescantia bracteata (longbract spiderwort) and Tradescantia ohiensis (bluejacket). That doesn't necessarily mean those are the species you have in your garden, they are just good examples to look at. We really couldn't find an answer to your question. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, they grow profusely, but I do notice they seem usually to be in a situation where there are rocks to lean against. We have a lot of rocks on the grounds of the Center! Both of the above species are mentioned as having "stout" stems or "upright" stems. About the only suggestion we can make is paying attention to their cultural requirements. They do not require much water, and they do like shade. Their flowers open in the morning and close as the day goes on, so perhaps they are drooping over in protest against too much sunlight. Once they have ceased blooming in the summer, they can be cut back severely, and other plants, perhaps annuals, can be interspersed to keep the area attractive. Since they are perennials, they will come back and, of course, spread. In some places, they are considered invasive, so you do need to be conscious of where they are going. 


Tradescantia bracteata

Tradescantia bracteata

Tradescantia ohiensis

Tradescantia ohiensis

 

 

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