Tradescantia, Spiderwort, Virginia Spiderwort, Lady's Tears 'Sweet Kate'

Tradescantia x andersoniana

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)
View this plant in a garden



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade




Foliage Color:



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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone



Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

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

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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


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

, (2 reports)

Tuscumbia, Alabama

Paris, Arkansas

Clayton, California

Fairfield, California

Fortuna, California

Fremont, California

Knights Landing, California

Middletown, California

Rough And Ready, California

San Jose, California

San Leandro, California

Denver, Colorado

Bristol, Connecticut

Old Greenwich, Connecticut

Laurel, Delaware

Jacksonville, Florida (2 reports)

Cordele, Georgia

Stone Mountain, Georgia

Carbondale, Illinois

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

Springfield, 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

Graham, North Carolina

Hamlet, North Carolina

Kannapolis, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Cincinnati, Ohio

Glouster, Ohio

Bartlesville, Oklahoma

Yukon, Oklahoma

Dallas, Oregon

Mount Hood Parkdale, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Dover, Pennsylvania

Havertown, Pennsylvania

Mc Keesport, 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

South Pomfret, Vermont

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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 1, 2017, jannygrace from Port Angeles, WA wrote:

I live in the Pacific NW and Sweet Kate grows well. I can't address the invasiveness because I have it in a pot. I did not know about the cutting back until recently so I will see if it will bloom again this summer and fall.


On Jul 4, 2016, kabona from Springfield, NJ wrote:

Inherited this plant on my property: east coast flood plain, rich sandy loam. During its first bloom in late spring, it is robust and beautiful, with a rage of flower colors from plant to plant. After those blooms are done, it quickly becomes a rotten mess. It self-seeds with abandon, and each year I have new clumps of it in surprising places. I cut them back, but the time of regrowth and rebloom is too short to be worth the trouble.


On Jul 4, 2016, bigredbird from Coleman, FL wrote:

I was surprised to find people wanting to propagate this weed. I have been battling with this weed nearly twenty years.
Be very careful with this one, as once established it is nearly impossible to get rid of.


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

This plant is definitely NOT invasive. 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 divided and spread around. I think it would look lovely under some Crape Myrtles next to some Persian Shield.
Update: May 2018- My Sweet Kate has stayed in nice neat clumps and has never strayed.Its very versatile, blooms are a gorgeous violet that goes well with my bleeding hearts, and adds a spot of brightness to part shade areas, and does just as... read more


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 accepta... read more


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 ... read more


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.


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!


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.


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!!!


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 rag... read more


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!'


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.


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.


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 den... read more


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!!!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


On Oct 28, 2004, sugarweed from Taylor Creek, FL (Zone 10a) 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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.