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PlantFiles: Spiderwort, Virginia Spiderwort, Lady's Tears
Tradescantia x andersoniana 'Sweet Kate'

Family: Commelinaceae (ko-mel-ih-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Tradescantia (trad-es-KAN-tee-uh) (Info)
Species: x andersoniana (an-der-soh-nee-AH-na) (Info)
Cultivar: Sweet Kate
Additional cultivar information: (aka Blue and Gold, Blue & Gold)

10 vendors have this plant for sale.

19 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

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)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

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 rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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20 positives
2 neutrals
4 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive SecretMonkey On Jun 28, 2014, SecretMonkey from Salisbury, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

My Sweet Kate was planted in my zone 7a-7b garden about 5 years ago in a bright shady area under a canopy of ancient pecan and walnut trees, with some hostas. . There is a clump on each side of a walkway and they are lush and full and beautifully blooming. Many reviewers claim that this plant is invasive but that has not proven to be the case here at all. I wish it would multiply a bit so it can be devided and spread around. I think it would look lovely under some Crape Myrtles next to some Persian Shield

Negative coriaceous On Apr 16, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

An aggressive, high-maintenance perennial grown for its chartreuse foliage and its long season of bloom.

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 will respond well to cutting back with more stems and often 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 completely, as plants can regenerate from small bits of root.

To keep it looking acceptable, this plant requires more work than it's worth, in my opinion. The chartreuse foliage puts this cultivar ahead of most others, but I think this plant has been heavily promoted far beyond its garden value. It looks like the pictures only briefly, and looks a mess for most of the season. There are too many better garden plants to bother with this one.

Most cultivars are Tradescantia x andersonia, a group of complex hybrids developed from T. virginiana, T. ohioensis, and T. subaspera.

Positive strawberrywhip On May 24, 2013, strawberrywhip from tunbridge wells
United Kingdom wrote:

History of this plant... my lovely Mother in law, Hazel Stevens discovered this plant in her garden in Sevenoaks kent England... 32 Uplands Way Sevenoaks to be exact. She was a keen gardener and created a lovely garden. This plant was growing beneath apple tree in her garden, and she couldnt identify it,. She contacted Hillyers..a plant specialist who collected the specimen realised it was something unique. They offered to develop it, but she could name it..she named it Sweet kate after her blond haired daughter Katy Stevens..who lives in Bodiam kent to this day! She still has posters of this plant from Hillyers. Hazel was a modest gardener and gave up all rights to it in return for a donation to the Mcindoe Burns unit in East Grinstead who developed surgery for badly burned airman int he seond world war. Our children who live in brighton eaach have a Sweet kate in memory of their lovely Granny Hazel, who sadly died last year. Her last years she suffered from Alzheimers disease, but we were able to celebrate the wonderful gardener she was at her funeral, and will always remember her with her lovely Sweet kate. It gives her daughter Kate great comfort. Problem in the Uk is that the slugs love it!

Positive ilovedahlias On May 29, 2012, ilovedahlias from Wakefield, MA wrote:

I love this bright, colorful plant. It looks great among other plants with contrasting foliage, bright green and black. Lends a bit of a tropical feel. I have mine supported with a medium-sized ring, which is covered by the foliage. I like this surrounded by other plants to let the foliage mix and mingle a bit.

Positive themikesmom On May 24, 2012, themikesmom from Concord, NC wrote:

Closest to a true dark blue Spiderwort you can get!! their is a new variety called blueberry sundae which is a light baby blue but it only gets about 8 inches tall, where as sweet kate is nice and tall and has such a dark blue wonderful color with prolific blooms that open everyday!

Positive Eldine On May 20, 2011, Eldine from Wellsville, NY (Zone 4b) wrote:

Bought this last year and I love it. I've had other spiderworts and none have been too aggressive. This one has beautiful lime green foliage that really stands out! Last year it bloomed on and off all summer long. Update: I love this plant more every year- have purchased more of them and plan to split some next year and put it in even more places in my gardens.

Positive mkjones On Mar 28, 2011, mkjones from Aurora, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Love. It. Not a fan of chartreuse, but in a shaded area, this plant POPS! The bloom is huge too. Terrific lil' addition to the garden!!!

Neutral Amanda_K_M On Jun 2, 2010, Amanda_K_M from Virginia Beach, VA wrote:

I have five of these plants. I LOVE the color combination of the chartreuse leaves and the blue-purple flowers. However, three of my plants seem to be struggling. I think one of those three is probably beyond saving (it's very small, the leaves just flop and if you try to stand it upright, they come right off at the root.) And I have no idea what the difference is between the healthy and not healthy. There is about seven feet between one of my plants that's healthy and beautiful and the one that has one foot in the grave. They get the same sun, the same water, the same fertilizer. The other three plants are grouped together in another part of my garden and two are just really small and not thriving and one is out of control beautiful! The leaves on all of the plants look rather ragged, but the three sick plants have the worst looking leaves. Even though I can't figure this plant out, it's still one of my favorites. It's really beautiful when it's healthy.

Positive BJames1 On May 23, 2010, BJames1 from Elizabeth City, NC (Zone 8a) wrote:

At first, I didn't believe I would like 'Sweet Kate.' She is now an impressive and reliable performer in my garden. I don't think I would garden without her. The combination of the gold, grass-like foliage and the long display of large, blue flowers are very nice and unique! I love my 'Sweet Kate!'

Positive KandAGardens On May 23, 2010, KandAGardens from Bowie, MD wrote:

These flowers are my early morning joy and bloom spring to early fall. I haven't experienced the agressiveness others report, likely because of the hard clay in my area. I haven't tried cutting back, but am going to start doing that to get rid of some of the more dried out looking foliage.

Positive emily_n On May 19, 2009, emily_n from Williamston, MI wrote:

How I love this plant! The color is striking and the foliage provides a fantastic shape and color contrast with my palace purples. About half-way through the summer it can look brown-tipped and frizzled, but I find if you cut it back it will quickly regrow and set a second round of blooms through late summer/fall.

Negative jofka On May 18, 2009, jofka from Charlottesville, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Spiderwort has become the bane of my gardening existence. It was planted by the previous owners of our house, and I have no way of knowing if they were aware of what a thug it is. It is trying to take over every flower bed, and all the spaces in between. It seems to love the wet spring that we have been having and has grown to about three feet by May. I am a beginner gardener and usually love the really aggressive, carefree perennials, but our Spiderwort has grown so big, so fast, that it is shading out and killing off some of the other flowers that I have planted--Phlox, Daylily's, etc. I have spent the last two weeks trying to move them to a gully on the side of our house, where they can roam free. My whole body aches. They are huge, heavy masses, and it doesn't help that our soil is dense red clay. I have been trying to remove all of the roots as well, but I fear there is no way that I can get every single one. Someone else posted that if there is a root left behind, that it will grow a new plant. So I guess the battle continues...

Positive leelynne On Apr 27, 2009, leelynne from Dover, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

This is a beautiful plant. My mother-in-law gave me one of these 2 years ago but we had a bad winter (I had a tree fall down on it) and it didn't come back this year. I recently moved and asked her for another piece for my new gardens. Spiderwort is a must have for an early morning walk through the gardens!!!

Positive Simon321 On Feb 12, 2009, Simon321 from Bethlehem, PA wrote:

This is a beautiful plant - especially in the cool mornings of early summer and early fall. It burns out if it's in full sun in the heat of summer. I moved it to a partially sunny spot (late afternoon sun) and it is doing much better for more of the season.

Positive MisDestiny On Jun 17, 2008, MisDestiny from Hamilton, NJ (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant does great in my New Jersery garden. I think the hard freeze keeps it contained and rarely does it act 'weed like'. I will say, however, that early in the spring I find 'bird poop' plants popping up in weird places in the yard. I can tell it is spiderwort due to the foliage having a reddish tint early in the spring long before the flowers bloom. I just dig these volunteers up and put them in a pleasing place or better yet share them! Staking is a must to prevent flopping in the rain. I find the more sun the better; the plants in total shade give no flowers.

Positive ladychroe On Jun 26, 2007, ladychroe from Bridgewater, NJ wrote:

The one thing I'm surprised no one mentioned about this plant is that the flowers are beautiful in the early morning but are gone by the afternoon. I wish I had known that before I purchased 6 of them- I only seem to see the flowers on weekends since nobody's home during the day.

The color of the foliage is outstanding, though, especially in shade. A real punch of gold.

Positive wickerparker On May 11, 2007, wickerparker from Chicago, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

This is a great plant and not at all invasive for me (clay soil). It blooms all summer, the new blooms opening up in the morning and finishing by that afternoon; then new blooms open up again the next morning, and so on. Others have said that it brightens up a shady spot, but I've found that it needs quite a bit of sun to retain its bright yellow foliage color, which at its best is pretty incredible. In too much shade it's merely ordinary looking.

Positive broots On Oct 22, 2006, broots from Cochrane, ON (Zone 2b) wrote:

'Sweet Kate' has been growing here in zone 2b for three summers & doing great. As each stalk finishes blooming I just cut it off & a new one pops up in no time with that fresh spring time lime green colour. It will bloom right through until frost. It sure brightens up a bed that is in part shade.

Positive Gabrielle On Jun 2, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

Very bright foliage brightens up a somewhat shady area. The flowers are very blue; more so than what shows up in photos. Blue & gold just happens to be my son's school colors, too! Blooms May-November in my garden.

Negative sugarweed On Oct 28, 2004, sugarweed from Jacksonville & Okeechobee, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is one of the most invasive plants in my yard. the previous owner was not much of a gardner, and this is every where. It gets its name from its roots I think because it sure has a spreading spindly mass of them. You have to remove the root to get rid of them. Fortunately my yard is sand. THIS IS A WEED.
The flower on this plant is so small, maybe 1" at it's biggest. The Broadleaf grass look of the folage is nothing to write home about either. I am a fast and persistant foe of these. They reseed fast. If you dont have a green thumb go for it.
Please don't d-mail me for this. I got rid of all of this years ago.

Neutral Karenn On Jul 13, 2003, Karenn from Mount Prospect, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

Once the plant has flowered, cut back hard. You will get new, attractive foliage and frequently another bloom cycle. This plant is also much better behaved in really lousy clay soil (at least in zone 5). In moist clay, it can take full sun; in wonderful moist loam in part sun, you have the aggressiveness of a weed!

Negative pdkrones On Jul 12, 2003, pdkrones from Monroe, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

A friend has this plant all over her garden, but not invasively. The foliage seems to outstrip the flowers; her soil may be too good. I planted a couple of pots this year, and they failed. They were well drained, quite moist. I don't often have this problem. I doubt I will try again, unless I get someone to dig me a clump. We are zone 7.

Positive pollyn On Jul 11, 2003, pollyn from Utopia, TX wrote:

This plant is considered a weed in my area. A very pretty weed in my opinion. I grows everywhere.

Positive yangwenshya On Jul 11, 2003, yangwenshya wrote:

I planted spiderwort because of its color (I like blue purple). It is also very easy to grow. The flowers started in May and lasted till now. Now that the flowering session seems to come to an end and the plant is flopping and rather out of shape I wonder if I should cut it back. Can anyone tell me how much to cut back? Thanks.

Positive Zanymuse On Jun 10, 2003, Zanymuse from Scotia, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

The chartruce leaves and deep blue/purple flower compliment each other wonderfully and when set against darker green plants or burgandy foliages it seems to almost glow. It does require staking to prevent it from flopping over but is well worth this minor task.

Positive Terry On Feb 26, 2003, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

The flowers are more blue-violet than true blue, but still an interesting color combination of golden/chartreuse foliage and vibrant blue flowers.


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

, (2 reports)
Tuscumbia, Alabama
Paris, Arkansas
Clayton, California
Fairfield, California
Fortuna, California
Knights Landing, California
Middletown, California
Rough And Ready, California
San Jose, California
San Leandro, California
Denver, Colorado
Bristol, Connecticut
Laurel, Delaware
Jacksonville, Florida (2 reports)
Cordele, Georgia
Stone Mountain, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Dixon, Illinois
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Saint Joseph, Illinois
Washington, Illinois
Fishers, Indiana
Hobart, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Newburgh, Indiana
Peru, Indiana
Sherrill, Iowa
Sioux Center, Iowa
Amite, Louisiana
Bowie, Maryland
Columbia, Maryland
Lutherville Timonium, Maryland
Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Wakefield, Massachusetts
Worcester, Massachusetts
Commerce Township, Michigan
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Howell, Michigan
Pinconning, Michigan
South Lyon, Michigan
Williamston, Michigan
Marion, Mississippi
Jersey City, New Jersey
Trenton, New Jersey
Coram, New York
Wellsville, New York
Burlington, North Carolina
Concord, North Carolina
Elizabeth City, North Carolina (2 reports)
Elkin, North Carolina
Hamlet, North Carolina
Kannapolis, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Glouster, Ohio
Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Yukon, Oklahoma
Dallas, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Dover, Pennsylvania
Havertown, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
North Charleston, South Carolina
Okatie, South Carolina
Summerville, South Carolina (2 reports)
Swansea, South Carolina
Clarksville, Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
Rhome, Texas
Utopia, Texas
Cape Charles, Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia
Chesapeake, Virginia
Fredericksburg, Virginia
Leesburg, Virginia
Lexington, Virginia
Locust Dale, Virginia
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Kalama, Washington
Vancouver, Washington
Charleston, West Virginia
Neenah, Wisconsin

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