Six on Saturday

Today, I thought I would introduce my collection of Tradescantia virginiana species and Tradescantia Andersoniana Group hybrids. This is something I have been working on for twelve months or so with Plant Heritage, the national plant conservation charity.

Tradescantias, or Spiderworts as they are commonly known in their native United States, were named by Carl Linnaeus to honour the English explorer and plant collector John Tradescant the Elder and his son, John Tradescant the Younger who discovered the species and many hybrids in the late 16th and early 17th century.

They are members of the family Commelinaceae, after Commelina meaning dayflower, and have clusters of several flower buds which open progressively each day over several weeks in June and early July. The flowers come in a variety of colours from white through various shades of blue, purple and pink to almost dark red.

They are very promiscuous and have spawned dozens of natural hybrids which were collected, named and brought together into a group by the American botanist Edgar Anderson in the 1920’s and 30’s and now referred to as the Andersoniana Group.

I currently have 37 different hybrids and species growing in 20 litre pots sunk up to their rim in my old raised fruit and vegetable beds. This contains root spread, makes spot watering and feeding easier and less wasteful, enables me to move them around to change the display and to lift and divide each plant when the time comes.

The beds and pots are mulched with 50mm of Strulch mineralised chopped straw to reduce germination of weed seeds and to deter slugs and snails who see Tradescantias as gourmet food. So far, it is working well and there is no damage and no weeds and I am pleased that it stays put and doesn’t blow around.

I have added a couple of Alstroemerias and Agapanthus in the corners to add some complementary colours and texture.

I hope to bring more news and pictures of the project as it progresses, the problems I am having sourcing plants from Europe after Brexit, and the virtually impossible task of importing from the USA where they apparently grow like weeds!

Have a great weekend

David

5 thoughts on “Six on Saturday

  1. What an interesting project! As you say, some people over here think they’re very weedy, and the leaves can look pretty ugly after flowering, but I do like them. Is your goal to hybridize new strains/varieties? Where are you growing tomatoes now that the raised beds are full of spiderwort?

  2. Your pot solution is very interesting. I’ve always wanted to concentrate mine (which here in Tennessee are pretty much weeds as much as wildflowers) into a particular corner and make them ornamental. I shall try to remember your solution next spring when they pop up again before the grasses overtake them. Thanks!

  3. They are attractive plant but we have found them a bit of a nuisance in the garden with so many seedlings appearing all round the place.

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