En Español

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
5 ratings

Thursday - August 08, 2013

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Soils, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Soils for spiderwort from Round Rock TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have spiderworts growing naturally in our backyard. We put a large circle around them them with limestone rock (as our beds have) to make their own bed as they clumped in one area. What kind of soil should we use to build up the bed? Every website I have explored says something different.

ANSWER:

There are 16 members of the genus Tradescantia (spiderwort) native to North America, of which 10 are native to Texas. Seven of those are native to Central Texas, 2 specifically native to Williamson County. Each and every webpage we visited had this sentence on it:

"Tradescantia species will hybridize in just about any combination." Also, they are considered weeds by many farmers and gardeners. So, we don't know why we spent the time figuring out which spiderwort you might have in your garden, their needs all seem to be alike. And, each webpage had this information on it:

"Warning: All parts of this plant contain volatile oil that can cause severe skin inflammation, itching, and blistering on direct contact or if borne by sooty smoke. Washing thoroughly with soap or swabbing with alcohol immediately on exposure removes the oil irritant. The berries are poisonous if eaten."

We chose Tradescantia gigantea (Giant spiderwort) as a sample, because it is very showy and its webpage had more information on it. Here are the Growing Conditions specified:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Clay, Clay Loam Medium Loam, Sandy Loam, Sandy, All soils.
Conditions Comments: Tradescantia gigantea has a dainty, three-petal flower with slender, hairy stamens. The flower color can be an indicator of the PH of the soil. Acidic soils produce bluer flowers, while more alkaline soils create varying shades of pink and purple."

It looks to us as though these plants will grow anywhere in just about all soils and conditions. Perhaps you might consider an electrified fence instead of rocks around it. We don't believe you need to worry about it thriving.

 

From the Image Gallery


Giant spiderwort
Tradescantia gigantea

Giant spiderwort
Tradescantia gigantea

Giant spiderwort
Tradescantia gigantea

More Herbs/Forbs Questions

Container plants for part shade in Bee Cave TX
June 18, 2013 - Dear Mr Smarty Pants, I am looking for plants that will thrive on my covered porch in 3 tall planters. These are meant to help me block an unattractive view out my living room window, so they must...
view the full question and answer

What species of Aristolochia occur in Hidalgo County, TX?
August 06, 2009 - What species of Aristolochia or are in the Aristolochiaceae family occur in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, particularly Hidalgo Co., TX. Both Pipevine and Polydamas Swallowtail butterflies occur down h...
view the full question and answer

Care for an orchid
August 31, 2008 - I have another question. How do I care for an orchard. I have had it close to a year and it hasn't grown. How much water do they take.
view the full question and answer

Invasive thistles in wildflower field from Dripping Springs TX
February 17, 2014 - How to get rid of "native" thistles.. I have a large natural field that used to grow a variety of wildflowers, but in 2011 and 2012 it was taken over by thistles. I'm sure they are "native" Texas...
view the full question and answer

Trimming of turkscap
November 16, 2009 - I have a Mexican Turk's cap, it is in its second year of growth and is doing well. However, I feel a need to prune it? do I need to?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center