En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

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


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.


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



More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Yellow-flowered Ipomopsis rubra - Standing Cypress
May 30, 2008 - We have several acres of we call native plant areas, maybe unmaintained areas or natural is a better description of these areas. As we were developing these areas we sown in several different wildflo...
view the full question and answer

Failure of TX bluebonnets to thrive
May 28, 2015 - We have had extraordinary luck with bluebonnets growing in our driveway of decomposed granite--until last year and this year. The bluebonnets seem to be drying up and wilting away. The ones in other a...
view the full question and answer

Salvia that needs dividing in Maryville MO
April 09, 2010 - I have some May Night salvia that is 3 years old. Last summer it split in the middle and spent a lot of the summer laid open. I'm wondering if it needs to be split or pruned in some way?
view the full question and answer

Fiber and dye plants at the Wildflower Center from Round Rock TX
May 24, 2012 - When I visited the Wildflower Center recently I noticed a garden labeled as containing fiber and dye plants, but the individual plants and their uses were not all labeled. I would be very interested ...
view the full question and answer

Looking for a supplier of Commelina erecta.
May 29, 2009 - I'm looking for a nursery that sells Commelina erecta?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center