Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Monday - March 14, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Transplanting Spiderwort in Austin
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I have a big patch of spiderwort that has popped up in the middle of my front lawn. Will it survive being dug up and moved to the garden?

ANSWER:

Spiderwort is quite happy around Travis County.  There are six different varieties that grow here and they hybridize quite readily.  So when I discuss Tradescantia (spiderwort) it applies pretty much to all of them!  I will put a list of the local natives at the bottom.

Yes, don’t worry, they will survive. Spiderwort is extremely hardy and forgiving. Just be sure to dig up as much of the roots as possible   Be warned that they will spread, and unless the root systems are removed totally, they will come up in your lawn again and elsewhere in your garden.

            

Tradescantia gigantea                Tradescantia gigantea

       
          It is one of Mr Smarty Plant’s favorite plants as it is one of the first to appear in the winter time, and starts putting out flowers in February or March. It also has a lovely light fragrance, reminiscent of violets when they are grown en masse. Butterflies and bees like the flowers.

 

Their leaves are edible and taste like spinach; just be sure they have no chemicals or fertilizers on them if you want to consume them. This blog from the Florida Native Plant Society has a great description of this aspect of Tradescantia.  When I was searching for references for this I also found a most amusing YouTube video of Tradescantia preparation!

 

  If you are interested in which specific Tradescantia is coming up in your lawn you can search for "Spiderwort" in the Plant Database.  That shows 17 varieties are native in the US. Natives that thrive in Travis County include:  Tradescantia edwardsiana (Plateau spiderwort)Tradescantia gigantea (Giant spiderwort)Tradescantia humilis (Texas spiderwort)Tradescantia occidentalis (Prairie spiderwort)Tradescantia ohiensis (Bluejacket),  or Tradescantia pedicellata (Edwards plateau spiderwort)

 

More Propagation Questions

Can two species of Muhlenbergia be cross-pollinated from Portal AZ
July 17, 2012 - Will Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Big Muhly) cross-pollinate with Muhlenbergia porteri (Bush Muhly)? I am attempting to restore the grasslands on my private property to a pre-1900 state. Bush Muhly was a...
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of rain lilies in Aledo, TX
August 24, 2008 - How do I get rain lilies to stop growing in my yard?
view the full question and answer

Native bulbs for the northeastern U. S.
November 23, 2007 - What native bulbs could we plant in the Northeast? Can they only be planted in the fall as Dutch bulbs are?
view the full question and answer

Landscape services in Austin
February 21, 2011 - I just bought a property in Austin with a terrific outdoor space. However, I came to find that the previous owner added jasmine and many other invasive species. I'd like to rid the entire space of th...
view the full question and answer

Plants for church gardens in Ft. Worth TX
November 07, 2013 - Second attempt. Our church has many gardens in Fort Worth, TX. There are gardens for blue,red,yellow,white,purple,orange,pink,mixed,community garden,roses, and more. I am interested in the la...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.