Photo of Tradescantia virginiana

Tradescantia virginiana

Spider Lily

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Clump forming perennial with grass-like leaves and small purple flowers that are attractive to bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators.

See Details Below


Spider Lily is a hardy, low maintenance, clump forming herbaceous perennial with grass-like leaves and small purple flowers that resemble irises. Flower stalks support numerous buds. Each bud opens and blooms for only one day, but sucessional blooming occurs for 1-2 months from late spring to early summer. Each flower has three purple petals that form a triangular shape, providing background to brightly contrasting yellow-tipped stamen. Prefers partial sun but tolerates full sun and dappled shade. Prefers well-drained moist soil but tolerates wet soil conditions for short periods. It grows best in fertile loamy soil but tolerates sandy and gravelly soil conditions, as well as clay. Prefers slightly acidic soils but tolerates mild alkalinity. By mid-summer when the flowers have ceased blooming the foliage will fall over. Situate among later blooming perennials that will fill-in such as Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) and Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). Deer, livestock, and rabbits may feed on its foliage. Excellent choice for a rain garden, wildlife garden or meadow.

Wildlife Value: Bumblebees are frequent visitors to the unscented purple flowers. Little Carpenter bees, Halictine bees and pollinating flies also visit the flowers. Hummingbirds may also visit the flowers occasionally. 

Plant Details:

Other Common Names: Virginia Spiderwort

Plant Type: Flower, Perennial

New Jersey Native: Yes

Bloom Times: Late Spring to Early Summer

Bloom Colors: Purple

Deer Resistance: None

Attracts Pollinators and Wildlife: Bees and Other Pollinators, Butterflies, Hummingbirds

Salt Tolerance: Unknown

Hardiness Zone: 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b

Physiographic Region: All Regions in NJ

Soil Characteristics

Soil Type: Loam, Organic, Sandy, Clay

Soil Moisture: Dry, Moist, Wet

Soil pH: Slightly Acidic, Neutral, Slightly Alkaline

Light Needs of Plant

Optimal Light: Partial Sun

Light Range: Full Sun, Partial Shade, Shade

Water Needs of Plant

Soil Moisture: Dry, Moist, Wet

Drought Tolerance: Medium

Size and Growth Rate

Height: 1 - 3 ft

Spread: 1 - 2 ft

Growth Rate: Fast