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

Panels for greenhouse in Austin
January 09, 2008 - I am building a greenhouse for my plants here in Austin and and will be using PVC panels for the roof. Which would be better for starting and growing plants the clear or the white panels?
view the full question and answer

Will blue eyed grass grow under black walnut trees?
January 18, 2016 - Will blue eyed grass grow under black walnut trees? I know the Siberian Iris is tolerant but the scientific names are not the same yet everything I read indicates that blue eyed grass is not in the g...
view the full question and answer

Why Did Gaillardia and Aquilegia Changed Color?
June 26, 2013 - Both a Gaillardia pulchella and two red columbines bloomed normally last summer, but this summer the Gaillardia's petals are all yellow and one columbine is white and the other is yellow. What caused...
view the full question and answer

Can Crataegus viridian be grown in Houston, TX?
June 21, 2015 - I am looking to plant Crataegus viridis (species or cultivar "Winter King") at a location in full sun in Houston. Many places I've found online say that it is hearty through Zone 9, but others have...
view the full question and answer

Need native grasses to re-introduce on land in Live Oak County, Texas.
July 21, 2009 - How do I find out what type of grass is native and how to reintroduce it (once we get some rain)? The area is southern Live Oak County approx 10 miles north of Orange Grove TX, about 2 miles from Lak...
view the full question and answer

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