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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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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)

 

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