FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Tradescantia andersoniana 'Concord Grape' is a compact clumping perennial spiderwort cultivar. Plants are clothed in narrow pointed bluish-green leaves. In late spring, foliage is topped by clusters of grape colored flowers. This unique wildflower thrives in sunny gardens with moist to average soil.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: This cultivar is considered to be in the Andersoniana Group which are hybrids of Tradescantia virginiana, T. subaspera and T. ohiensis.
‘Concord Grape’ was selected by Dr. Kevin Vaughn, a Plant Physiologist, retired USDA Agricultural Researcher and Plant Breeder. Vaughn began crossing plants at age 9. He introduced many varieties of Sempervivum, Hosta and Iris before he began hybridizing Tradescantia spp.
‘Concord Grape’ was selected for its large flowers, interesting grapey bloom color, floriferous nature, bluish foliage and compact habit.
Plants are hardy in USDA Zones 4-9.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Tradescantia andersoniana 'Concord Grape' grows in low mounds that originate from thick fleshy roots and rhizomes.
Stems are green and smooth with alternate linear foliage. Each blade is entire with a pointed tip and a base that wraps around the stems. The blades have a steely blue-green color and parallel veins.
Through the summer, plants bear terminal clusters of deep grapy red-purple 1.5” flowers. The blooms have three rounded petals and bright yellow anthers supported by feathery violet filaments. The blooms are ephemeral – opening in the morning and closing during bright sunny afternoons.
After flowering, seed capsules mature splitting into 3 segments and releasing small brown seed.
Plants are 1’ tall with a 1-2’ spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Tradescantia andersoniana 'Concord Grape' grows best in sunny sites with moist acidic humusy soil. This cultivar tolerates part sun and part shade, average garden soil and wet boggy soil.
If flower clusters are deadheaded after all flowers are spent, plants will usually rebloom. Plants can also be cut to the ground in early summer after the first round of flowers to remove tattered leaves and stimulate late summer flowering.
‘Concord Grape’ is fairly pest resistant but is occasionally nibbled by slugs and by deer and other herbivores.
Plants tolerate some drought after establishment but foliage may brown if water is severely lacking.
Tradescantia spp. have a reputation as rampant re-seeders. This cultivar is reported to set fewer viable seed.
LANDSCAPE USES: Tradescantia andersoniana 'Concord Grape' will brighten a Shade Gardens or Rock Garden. Small Groups or Masses of plants offer Attractive Foliage and Showy Flowers. This cultivar is a useful for Cottage Gardens, Low Maintenance Plantings, Meadows, Perennial Borders, Rain Gardens, margins of Water Gardens and Wildlife Gardens.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Tradescantia andersoniana 'Concord Grape' mingles cheerfully with Asclepias incarnata, Eupatorium perfoliatum, Liatris spicata, Penstemon digitalis, Rudbeckia hirta and Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’.
Tradescantia x 'Sweet Kate' is another diminutive spiderwort cultivar that could be substituted in some garden situations.
TRIVIA: Flowers are pollinated by bumblebees. Other bees, flies and butterflies visit the flowers as well. Deer, Rabbits, Box Turtles, and some livestock nibble the foliage.
This hybrid is part of the Commelinaceae or Dayflower Family. The flowers of Tradescantia spp. open in the morning and close in the strong afternoon sun. On hot afternoons the flowers morph into a violet colored jelly.