Virginia Spiderwort, Lady's Tears

Tradescantia virginiana

Family: Commelinaceae (ko-mel-ih-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Tradescantia (trad-es-KAN-tee-uh) (Info)
Species: virginiana (vir-jin-ee-AN-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Ephemerum congestum
Synonym:Tradescantia brevicaulis
Synonym:Tradescantia congesta
Synonym:Tradescantia rupestris
Synonym:Tradescantia speciosa
View this plant in a garden



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


6-9 in. (15-22 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



Bloom Color:




White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall



Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


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

, (2 reports)

Dothan, Alabama

Robertsdale, Alabama

Juneau, Alaska

Little Rock, Arkansas

Carlotta, California

Huntington Beach, California

Lake Nacimiento, California

Lompoc, California

Merced, California (3 reports)

Denver, Colorado

Jewett City, Connecticut

Bartow, Florida

Clearwater, Florida

Daytona Beach, Florida

Gainesville, Florida

Hampton, Florida

Keystone Heights, Florida

Lakeland, Florida

Ocala, Florida (2 reports)

Winter Springs, Florida

Atlanta, Georgia

Brunswick, Georgia

Cordele, Georgia

Dallas, Georgia

Hawkinsville, Georgia

Hinesville, Georgia (2 reports)

Roswell, Georgia (2 reports)

Townsend, Georgia

Villa Rica, Georgia

Algonquin, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Godfrey, Illinois

Jacksonville, Illinois

Mount Prospect, Illinois

Winnetka, Illinois

Rensselaer, Indiana

Solsberry, Indiana

Yale, Iowa

Olathe, Kansas

Barbourville, Kentucky

Ewing, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Mc Dowell, Kentucky

Melbourne, Kentucky

Tompkinsville, Kentucky

Abita Springs, Louisiana

Bossier City, Louisiana

Broussard, Louisiana

Franklin, Louisiana

Slaughter, Louisiana

Cumberland, Maryland

Frederick, Maryland

Laurel, Maryland

Severn, Maryland

Westminster, Maryland

Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Foxboro, Massachusetts

Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts

Eastpointe, Michigan

Holland, Michigan

Marquette, Michigan

Mason, Michigan

Royal Oak, Michigan

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Byhalia, Mississippi

Carriere, Mississippi

Mathiston, Mississippi

Saucier, Mississippi

Waynesboro, Mississippi

Kimberling City, Missouri

Piedmont, Missouri

West Plains, Missouri

Weare, New Hampshire

Burlington, New Jersey

Jersey City, New Jersey

Millville, New Jersey

Neptune, New Jersey

Whitehouse Station, New Jersey

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Bronx, New York

Buffalo, New York

Himrod, New York

Lake Placid, New York

Nineveh, New York

Selden, New York

Clayton, North Carolina

Princeton, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Taylorsville, North Carolina

Fargo, North Dakota

Canton, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio (2 reports)

Dellroy, Ohio

Enid, Oklahoma

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Dallas, Oregon

Grants Pass, Oregon

Springfield, Oregon

Greensburg, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Bristol, Rhode Island

Charleston, South Carolina

Clover, South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina

Darlington, South Carolina

Florence, South Carolina

Prosperity, South Carolina

Rock Hill, South Carolina

Summerville, South Carolina (2 reports)

Wagener, South Carolina

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Lawrenceburg, Tennessee

Lenoir City, Tennessee

Middleton, Tennessee

Moscow, Tennessee

Smyrna, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Baytown, Texas

Beaumont, Texas

Belton, Texas

Colmesneil, Texas

Dallas, Texas

De Leon, Texas

Gladewater, Texas

Lampasas, Texas

Lufkin, Texas

Mont Belvieu, Texas

Paradise, Texas

West Dummerston, Vermont

Appomattox, Virginia

Blacksburg, Virginia

Cape Charles, Virginia

Leesburg, Virginia

Mc Lean, Virginia (2 reports)

Mechanicsville, Virginia

Reston, Virginia

Kalama, Washington

Spokane, Washington

Charleston, West Virginia

Onalaska, Wisconsin

Watertown, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Nov 21, 2015, RosinaBloom from Waihi
New Zealand (Zone 1) wrote:

Tradescantia virginiana was named in honour of a gardener to the King of England - John Tradescant. In 1637 his son brought a Spiderwot plant back to England from North America where it became a favorite.Virginiana indicates that it is from Virginia. The name 'wort' was generally given to a plant that was used for medicinal purposes. Another common name 'Cow Slobber' came from the appearance of the sap, and a drop of the jelly-like sap inspired 'Widow's Tears' as another common name.


On Jun 10, 2015, GrannyPeck from Reno, NV wrote:

My oh my... all these negative comments over a plant that is just trying to help its owner to live. Read my entire post and be amazed.... The leaves... especially the new shoots are EDIBLE and tasty to boot! Cook 'em up like asparagus or bamboo shoots.... yum... I add garlic and chives with a dash of lime when serving as a side dish... or chop into 1 inch pieces and toss in soups and stews, goulashs and meatloaf.... Whenever the plant begins to look a bit ratty I chop out enough for dinner or when the flowers quit for the season I chop the whole plant to the ground... cook 'em up and freeze 'em for dinners on cold snowy nights here in my 4a neck of the woods. Abundant food from spring 'till fall... why complain? Hollyhocks are 100% totally edible and can become invasive too... Try plant... read more


On May 18, 2015, Chillybean from Near Central, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:

This is my second variety of Spiderwort; the other being the more common Ohio species. Unlike the ohiensis, this one likes drier conditions, so is planted up near my prairie-to-be away from the field runoff that we get every spring and summer.

This seems to be a hardy little plant, already beginning to bloom after being put in the ground about a month and a half ago. I do not mind plants with a little "flop", so what's to maintain? It can tolerate sun and only needs a little water. Some plants do better when left alone and this appears to be one of them.


On Apr 21, 2015, Spendthrift from Bristol, RI wrote:

This plant came with the gardens when we bought our house. At first I enjoyed the cheerful blue flowers - the bloom period is long and abundant. Then I realized the tradescantia was encroaching on lots of other areas.
THEN my dog came down with a skin condition we thought was some horrible auto-immune disease and guess what - he's allergic to tradescantia. He rubs his face in the cool foliage in the heat of the summer. Go figure.
Eradicating this plant is the stuff of nightmares. It is twined around the roots of my iris and day-lilies and even digging those up last fall didn't clear everything. I'd like to keep the iris and lilies but I'm not sure I can do that AND get rid of tradescantia.
So I have to give tradescantia a big thumb's down for bad manners an... read more


On May 1, 2014, _emily_rose from Chattanooga , TN (Zone 7b) wrote:

I think Spiderworts are delightful. They come up in the shady spots in my lawn in the spring, and provide a nice bit of color. They do self sow, and I have nice groupings under a few of my large trees, where nothing but moss and ivy grow. They were a surprise when I moved in, but I am happy to have them, and to continue to let them naturalize.


On Apr 22, 2014, kmm44 from Dayton, OH wrote:

I love spiderworts! They are pretty and long blooming and mine have come back every year without becoming invasive. I originally had pink ones and then my son gave me some purple ones, dark and light. When they finish blooming in early summer the foliage does get ratty,so I cut them back. They don't bloom more than once a season.
I was surprised at so many negative ratings. I guess it depends on where you live. I live in Dayton OH, which is in zone 6A and also have them at my lake house in St. Marys OH which is kind of between 5A&B. They thrive in both places.


On Apr 8, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

An aggressive, high-maintenance perennial grown for its long season of bloom. It's a tough, adaptable plant that requires little to survive, but it takes a lot of attention for it to look good consistently.

Individual flowers last only a day, and while flowering goes on over a long season, the accumulating black deadheads make the inflorescence look ugly within a week. It isn't practical to deadhead each flower individually---you need to cut the stem to the ground. The plant responds well to cutting back with fresh foliage and sometimes more flowers.

The habit is leggy and sprawling. Plants need cutting back frequently.

This is a tough weedy plant that can spread aggressively by self-sowing. Resistant to glyphosate, and very difficult to dig out... read more


On Apr 7, 2014, annhelen from Townsend, GA wrote:

When I was a little girl, I painted with the juices from the blue and purple spiderwort (after the blossoms fold, squeeze) but it seems ever since I have been trying to get rid of them in my yard. Mixed feelings. They are quite pretty when young. When going to seed they are rank and homely. They are invasive and require a lot of chopping out if you want any other plants. They love to settle in at the roots of your just planted roses, etc., requiring tedious excavation. Love them by the roadsides, just not in my yard. We have purple, blue and rarely, white, growing wild all over SE GA.


On Apr 7, 2014, jazzy1okc from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

In OKC, this plant is a survivor and, considering the weather extremes and heavy red clay we have here, that is saying quite a lot. At a nursery where I once worked, it was planted outside the fence, between a hard packed, gravel driveway and the nursery itself, which was covered by heavy landscape fabric and railroad ties. Only occasionally did this beautiful blue bloomer receive a stray squirt of water from the hose during the hottest months of the year. If it began to look a little leggy, we just sheared it back with the weed eater. Nevertheless, it bloomed beautifully all season long. Planted in the right places, even the most stubbornly aggressive plants can be a great choice.


On May 2, 2011, croz from Paso Robles, CA wrote:

I have dry hot summers, cold sometimes frosty winters & I needed a plant for a north planter and wanted blue flowers and this is what they gave me. It is invasive and hard to get rid of. The flowers on mine are white, not blue, which is why I'd like to get rid of it. Is there something I can do to get blue flowers on it? With white flowers it looks more like a weed.


On Apr 10, 2010, plantladylin from (Zone 1) wrote:

Although this is one beautiful plant, during March and April (in my area) it sprouts up everywhere, in flower beds as well as all throughout the lawn. It is a beautiful sight to see around the neighborhood! We keep it in check by mowing the lawn but I'd prefer a native landscape, letting these and other wildflowers grow to their hearts content ... unfortunately my husband is one of those people who prefers a green expanse of lawn.


On Jun 17, 2009, Erutuon from Minneapolis, MN wrote:

This plant (or a related species) somehow found its way to my full-sun boulevard garden from a neighbor's yard. I let it stay because it had beautiful purple flowers.

Now it's formed two thick patches, one of which surrounds two clumps of Siberian iris (white and purple) and garden phlox.

To restrain it I deadhead it, and pull up any new shoots at the edge of the patch, but the deep and fleshy roots don't come up. Probably digging is the only way to whittle down its size.

My rating is neutral because it's invasive in full sun, but has showy flowers. It may be a good plant for part shade or difficult spots.

Changed to negative because even after I dig it out, the plant comes back in a summer and forms a mass of roots all through my... read more


On Mar 21, 2009, eatmyplants from Comanche county, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

A beautiful flower but yes, it's very invasive.


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

There are very few of these lovelies growing at the edge of our woods here, and I plan to clear the weeds around it so it will spread. It won't be invasive where it currently grows.


On Jul 3, 2007, chancealot from Severn, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

I bought this plant three years ago and in that short time it has spread throughout my lawn and all of my flower beds. I pull it up and it just keeps coming back.


On Mar 26, 2007, natrgrl from Abita Springs, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Six years ago my family moved about 45 minutes away from where we were living. Moving just that short distance was like moving to someplace very far because where we moved from there were many neighborhoods and all of the land had already been developed. Where we moved to was plenty of undeveloped land and many people have acres not small lots that they live on. Every day was a wonderful discovery. I remember the first flowers to pop up on our acre was on the little spiderwort plants we inherited with the house. I was so delighted and I thought they were wild. I have never seen these plants for sale. I discovered them though looking through a plant book and now know they were lovingly planted here very long ago. I also love the natural beauty they bring to my yard. What very forgiving pl... read more


On Feb 9, 2007, Bellisgirl from Spokane, WA wrote:

Ive had this plant for about five years. Ive had mixed success with it. Most years it does good, but some years it does not (especially when its droughty). It does best in partial shade, and moist soil with good drainage. Helps to trim it back after booming, since it tends to get weedy. Does have many babys shooting up around it. They are some-what hard to get rid of; I have to dig them up. I would reccomend this plant if you dont mind a bit of spreading. It has pritty jewel-toned purple flowers; the dark green spiky foliage adds good texture to my garden too.


On Jun 15, 2006, mizicepickle from Jacksonville, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

If you want a plant that is easy to move/remove, this one probably isn't it! If you want something that grows quickly and easily, requires next to no care once established, and makes you smile each time you see it--spiderwort may be just the thing.

When my husband and I purchased our home several years back, some spiderwort plants came with it. Wanting a more "formal" garden, I set out to remove this "simple" plant. To my surprise, that seemed only to strengthen it's resolve to remain a part of the garden. Every time I'd think I had it all gone, up would creep another plant...or two..or three!

In a moment of inspiration (or desperation?!), I decided to "work with it" instead of fighting it, to see what would happen. The reward for this kindness/act of surrend... read more


On Feb 14, 2006, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have this plant all in my lawn. It pops up in early spring. By the time the grass starts greening up, the spiderwort starts looking bad. So I just mow it down with the grass and every spring it keeps coming back. I have noticed here that they do prefer a little shade over full sun.


On Jan 16, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

I like to show people how the flowers turn to ink when they close up. I think I read somewhere that it was used as dye by the Native Americans. At dusk the flowers stand out so much that they seem to glow. They are low maintenance; just crop them back when they look ragged, and they will grow back fresh and new. However, they seed themselves way too freely. My information says it is hardy in zones 3-10. Blooms May-July in my garden.


On Nov 2, 2005, monstergardener from Weare, NH wrote:

This plant was in my garden 18 years ago when I bought the house--it has taken me this long to try to get rid of it, with no success. I live in NH, the plants get almost full sun during the summer and they still thrive-unfortunately. I find them to be very invasive. I thought I had dug them all out 2 years ago, but they are still here. Every phlox that I moved to new locations also has a new crop. I have thrown it in the full shade where I dump waste; it doesn't matter-it still lives. I left some in a wheel barrel full of water, in the shade for 4 wks and they were still alive-I gave them to my neighbor to fill her gully.


On Jun 20, 2005, RazzieGal from Ware, MA wrote:

I planted a very small spiderwort last year (late summer) and it starting growing very quickly, although it needed to be supported. After the horrendously cold winter we had here I thought I would lose several of my plants. Lo and behold, this guy is just marvelous this year. It has very thick, bamboo or corn-like stalks and needs no support. It has been flowering for several weeks and it looks like there is no end in sight for it. I will need to seperate it in the spring as it has, at least, quintupled in size and is starting to intrude on some other flowers although the nieghborhood cats like to sleep under it when it gets hot. My spiderwort is pale purple to white on the outer edges with streaks of graduating purple to the purple fuzzy inside. In the spring it gets midday to afte... read more


On May 21, 2005, sanity101 from Dublin, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

It grew imperssively in clay soil against the NW wall of our previous house, but since moving across town to a wooded lot with much loamier soil, and dapled deciduous shade, we've tried unsuccessfully to grow it in several locations. I honestly don't know what the difference is.


On May 10, 2005, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have HUNDREDS of Tradescantias as native plants growing wild in my garden. The blooms on T. virginiana and T. ohiensis are indistinquishable to me, so I wasn't sure which variety I have. As it turns out (from a post in the DG Plant ID Forum), close examination with a magnifying glass of the plants' sepals is required to determine if you have T. virginiana or T. ohiensis. If the sepals are "hairy," then it is T. virginiana; if glabrous (smooth), then it is T. ohienis. My plants' sepals are smooth, and T. ohiensis is the species reported as occurring most frequently in Florida, so I am labeling my plants as T. ohiensis.

Distinquishing between the two species probably matters only to the very curious or those of us with nothing better to do, but you may want to examine yo... read more


On May 9, 2005, TNPassiflora from Oliver Springs, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

Spiderwort grows wild in the wooded section of our land in Oliver Springs, TN. I also transplanted some to my wildflower garden & it has performed well. It is a very dainty and delicate-looking flower--but actually a strong survivor as long as planted in partial shade. It also grows in full sun along the "shores" of our large creek, where it has plenty of water, but tends to be a lot smaller and less colored than the same plant gowing in part shade.


On Jun 16, 2004, GreenAtHeart from Franklin Grove, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

I first met these plants in open fields at the edge of Chicago in the 1940's. They were introduced to me as "snot-noses" because of the oozing sap when picked. In more recent years I've dug them up where they were growing wild along a seldom used railroad track. They've always been easy to grow and mostly stayed put and "bloomed where they were planted".


On Apr 28, 2004, MDREAMS01 from Summerville, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I was given this plant by an elderly lady about 20 years ago and gave some to family and we all have in yards still. It is invasive but so pretty. It pops up all over and grands love to pick. My son has some that are about 3 feet tall. It has always come back in S.C. for us. The color does same to change from light to dark purple - Blue.


On Apr 2, 2004, sycrasy from Atlanta, GA wrote:

I have a sunken back yard in Atlanta proper. Spiderwort has taken over almost all of the heavy shade areas. It even pops up in shade lines of trees in the sunnier areas. Creates a complete stand that blocks all other plants (even wild violet!) and I have seen individual plants as tall as 3'. Majority are typical at 18-24". Have naturalized and covered approximately 400 square feet of my shade area. May be native, may have been planted about twenty to thirty years ago as there is a beautiful specimen Mahonia in my yard that is 11' tall by 8' wide.

Perhaps because the stands of spiderwort are so thick, I have not noticed any flopping or falling out in the hot humid summers. My soil is just about solid Piedmont clay with a hearty earthworn population that keeps it quite ... read more


On Mar 31, 2004, DawnRain from Bartow, FL wrote:

It grows and blooms year round in my Florida garden. Yes, it is invasive. Even knowing that I brought it here from a roadside find and have been selectively removing all but the darkest purples. The colors are noticably darker anyway in the cool of winter and lighter during summer. Very beautiful, very carefree except for removal where they are not wanted. I find control easy. Bloom stays open till the heat of day closes them. Cool cloudy days they may not close till very late.


On Mar 30, 2004, phillyjenn from Philadelphia, PA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I grew a variety I believe was called "Osprey" in Sequim, Washington. The cheery little flowers were not large or impressive, but they were a constant at my doorstep for as long as it was there. It bloomed from April through until the hard frosts finally knocked it down in the fall. I assumed it wouldn't be winter hardy in my mountainous zone 5 yard, but it returned the next spring with the crocus and graced us for another season.

It survived my toddler and his bigwheels, the lawnmower straying over it's crown, the love the cats had for it's neighbor, the catnip, and any other number of insults and didn't seem to mind. It just kept sending out happy little flowers, all season long.

The plant was indestructible, but I didn't have an issue with volunteers ... read more


On Jun 18, 2003, MYSTeryme from Waupaca, WI wrote:

I live in Wisconsin, and have found this plant in several areas on the edges of the woods on my property. I was intrigued by one of them (the largest and most noticeable bunch), so I moved it to a desirable area. I had no clue what they were until I found this site. The flowers are very dainty and delicate. They have been growing fine for me in both full sun and shady areas. Just when I think I have discovered them all, a new little group appears somewhere else!


On Jun 18, 2003, SunshineSue from Mississauga, ON (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have Spiderwort in my garden for the first time this year & am quite pleased with it. I'm in Southern Ontario in a zone 5 to 6 garden depending on varying micro-climates with-in my garden.


On Jun 18, 2003, smackr wrote:

Here in south Georgia, this plant is considered an invasive weed that is very hard to get rid of.The root system looks very much like a long-legged spider. If any piece of the root is left in the ground, it will form a new plant. Therefore, it is not easy to destroy.


On Jun 17, 2003, farmlady wrote:

I discovered a wild Spiderwort today while clearing brush. Lived here all my life, first I've noticed. Am in Blair Co. PA. Intend to dig up and plant in my perennial bed beside tree stump.


On Apr 28, 2003, beckykay from Godfrey, IL (Zone 6a) wrote:

This plant grows wild in central and southern Illinois. Mostly found in simishaded areas. Very nice in a woodland area. Thx. Beckykay


On Apr 22, 2003, auntgracie from Danielson, CT wrote:

In the area of Connecticut where I grew up, this plant popped up just about everywhere there was light to medium shade. It would bloom for most of the summer and I used to pick bouquets of it for my mother. I haven't noticed it in the area where I live now which is considered zone 3 to the colder portion of zone 4.


On Apr 20, 2003, Stonebec from Fort Worth, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:

I found spiderwort growing wild in my yard in Fort Worth, Tx when I moved in 10 years ago. I gathered it all up and tried to corral it. It sometimes escapes but I like the way it goes on and on for weeks while other flowers are not up yet. It is a good cut flower as long as water is changed frequently. It needs no care except maybe staking. Dies completely back to let later plants have their glory. I have 6 or 7 colors around my yard and the bees and butterflies are regular visitors.


On Aug 30, 2002, debi_z from Springfield, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

i have mine in dappled sunlight,mostly is doing fine, having grown and produced blossoms the first year transplanted. Still gets floppy and needs to be cut back.


On Jun 1, 2001, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Purple flowers open for a day, with many opening over a 4-6 week period during the mid-summer season.

In warm climates, plants decline after bloom in summer heat. Cut back then and they usually reappear with new fall foliage and often bloom; in the north, cut back as well after flowering to keep plants from flopping and becoming straggly, and likewise they will return with fall growth and often bloom; divide every 2-3 years to rejuvenate

Native to much of the U.S., the common name's origin, 'Spiderwort' could have arisen because sap from the broken stem forms spider web-like filaments. The angular leaf arrangement, suggesting a squatting spider, suggests another possible origin for the name.