Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Prairie Spiderwort, Western Spiderwort
Tradescantia occidentalis

Family: Commelinaceae (ko-mel-ih-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Tradescantia (trad-es-KAN-tee-uh) (Info)
Species: occidentalis (ok-sih-den-TAY-liss) (Info)

Synonym:Tradescantia occidentalis var. scopulorum
Synonym:Tradescantia scopulorum

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

25 members have or want this plant for trade.


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Medium Blue
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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There are a total of 14 photos.
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5 positives
2 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive jaug On Aug 6, 2013, jaug from Harbeck-Fruitdale, OR wrote:

I've had spiderwort in my flower beds for over 10 years & other than needing to occasionally divide the clumps I've had no problem with it becoming invasive. Our property is shady & they tend to fall over around the sides, leaving a bare space in the middle but I solved that problem by enclosing the whole clump with a piece of old fencing cut to about a foot high. I cut the plants back in the fall & anchor the fencing ring with tent stakes. In the spring the plant grows up through the gaps in the fencing & you can't even see it. Mine blooms deep purple & the lady who gave it to me originally called it "Widow's Tears" because of the way the buds droop around the cluster.

Positive scotjute On Jun 17, 2013, scotjute from Moody, TX wrote:

The plant grows here in moister areas. It tends to die back by mid-summer as the heat intensifies.

Negative DameAnneWorthit On Mar 21, 2011, DameAnneWorthit from Lake Park, GA wrote:

When I lived in northern Michigan, I acquired a plant of Tradescantia occidentalis, coddled it, babied it and was thrilled when my little Spiderwort made it through the winter and bloomed next spring.

Fast forward 20 years, to south Georgia, and I cannot get rid of this obnoxious p.o.s. weed! Digging: the roots go clear to Australia. Cutting: comes back stronger than ever. Weed killers: yes they kill the one they hit, but four more spring up elsewhere. (This must be where some of the mythological creatures came from!)

If you value your lawn, flowerbeds, veggie gardens, DO NOT put this plant in your yard unless you are in a climate that freezes for four months a year!

Neutral LaGardener70601 On Mar 25, 2009, LaGardener70601 from Lake Charles, LA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant is native to most parts of Louisiana. It grows wild in most yards of my town. I've seen purple, blue, pink, and white flowers on these 'weeds'. I've tried to dig up and save the pink flowered ones, but the next year the flowers came back purple. Maybe the color differences are due to environment instead of the plant itself. It makes large roots that survive year round in south LA. It also spreads from seed, which makes it pretty invasive. It blooms profusely in the spring and dies off in the heat of the summer, to return the next spring.

Positive KyWoods On Jul 26, 2007, KyWoods from Melbourne, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

I thought this was the one I had here, but then I saw the one labeled "Virginiana", so that may be it, since I don't live in the west...I'm confused, as they look alike to me.

Neutral aalbrecht On Aug 26, 2006, aalbrecht from Barrington, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

It spreads when it is happy and the leaves seem to get floppy in mid to late summer. I find that it does very well after cutting it down to the ground in early August. I get all new leaves and some blooms... which looks much nicer than the floppy leaves. I don't recommend it for a more formal styled garden though as it looks kind of messy.

Positive SudieGoodman On Apr 2, 2005, SudieGoodman from Broaddus, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Sudie Goodman, Zone 8b, Broaddus, Southeast TX
I am thankful this lovely, blue plant is growing on my property.
It is disease, insect, and drought proof, oh yes, no fungi problems.

I have no problem with it getting out of bounds by mowing regularily.

Negative northgrass On Mar 2, 2005, northgrass from West Chazy, NY (Zone 4b) wrote:

I have found that although tradescantias do blooms all season long, the leaves often look messy destroying the beauty of the flowers. I also found them to be highly invasive, once planted in the flower beds, they are almost impossible to remove. It will even more in in a moist location. Very hardy.

Positive wordsilk7 On Oct 3, 2004, wordsilk7 from Norwalk, CT (Zone 7a) wrote:

Planted more than twenty years ago, these plants come back year after year. Some of ours grow in full shade and are just as lovely as the ones growing in partial shade.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Birmingham, Alabama
Scottsdale, Arizona
Simi Valley, California
Ventura, California
Norwalk, Connecticut
Clearwater, Florida
Barrington, Illinois
Highwood, Illinois
Madison, Illinois
Westville, Illinois
Melbourne, Kentucky
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Skowhegan, Maine
Detroit, Michigan
Eastpointe, Michigan
Meridian, Mississippi
Florissant, Missouri
Rogersville, Missouri
Greenfield, New Hampshire
Munsonville, New Hampshire
Nashua, New Hampshire
Bloomfield, New Jersey
Dunkirk, New York
Wilderville, Oregon
Sweetwater, Tennessee
Arlington, Texas
Belton, Texas
Broaddus, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Granbury, Texas
Hondo, Texas
Linden, Texas
Livingston, Texas
Moody, Texas
Perrin, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (3 reports)
Dammeron Valley, Utah
Mathews, Virginia
Hartland, Wisconsin
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Menasha, Wisconsin
Muscoda, Wisconsin

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