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Green Speak

Horticulture topics from gardens to lawns and then some.
Ohio Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) in my garden.
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Ohio Spiderwort in the Garden


Observation is part of the fun of gardening. Waking up in the morning, I let out my dog Murphy, and walk through my yard studying the intricacies and habits of the plants in my landscape. A morning dew is helpful to spot spider webbing or allow the tiny hairs on a flower petal to shine in the rising sun.

Walking through the garden in the early morning is just as good as drinking a cup coffee, although coffee certainly makes the experience better. If a neighbor were to peek over the fence, they would see both dog and human with our faces buried deep in plants.

One of my favorite plants to visit in the morning is Ohio spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis). The long, linear leaves offset the texture of the adjacent massing of purple coneflower, creating a nice focal point in the garden. Ohio spiderwort will only reward morning gardeners with blooms, as the flowers tend to close by noon. On cool, cloudy days, the flowers remain open a bit longer.

The flower is one of my favorites and is often the subject of my camera. In person, the flowers are a fashionable light-violet to bluish-purple offset by six bright yellow anthers. It is challenging to capture the actual color of the flowers with a camera. Many of my photos of Ohio spiderwort show the flowers to be bright blue to sky blue. I have found on very sunny days the exposure yields bright blues in my photographs. On cloudy days, pictures tend to keep to the true colors of the flower. However, I do enjoy the photos of the striking blue the camera lens picks up.

In my yard, Ohio spiderwort is in full sun, but the plant can also tolerate partial shade. The plant is very adaptable to soil conditions. The flowers will yield seed, which after four years in of having this plant in my garden, have not been a problem. In my observation, the primary way for this plant to spread is an occasional side-shoot from its thick fleshy root system.

In addition to the plant itself, the other delightful observations come from the insects that visit the flowers in the morning. I very commonly see bumblebees visiting Ohio spiderwort, as the plant's primary pollinators. Syrphid flies are also often found on Ohio spiderwort, though they feed on stray pollen grains and are not considered viable pollinators.

Ohio spiderwort makes for a great morning pick-me-up. Consider including this beautiful native in your landscape.


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