Native to North America (cultivar)
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Tradescantia ohiensisis ‘Mrs. Loewer’ is a perennial wildflower cultivar. Plants produce multi-stemmed clumps with narrow pointed blue-green leaves. In late spring, foliage is topped by small clusters of light blue florets. This unique wildflower thrives in sunny gardens with average soil.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: The parent species is native to Ontario, south to Maine and Florida and west to Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Tradescantia ohiensisis is a very adaptable species which is indigenous to Blackland prairies, sand prairies, sandy Black Oak and Bur Oak Savannas, thickets, edges of woods, moist meadows, limestone glades, disturbed ditches and right-of ways.
This cultivar was discovered by Larry Lowman (Nurseryman, Botanist and Fashion Icon) of Wynne, Arkansas. Lowman spied this spiderwort in the garden of Elizabeth Loewer in Goodwin, Arkansas. He recognized it as a unique dryland form of the native species. This cultivar is notable for its dark purple winter rosettes, long blooming period from summer until fall and its uniform light blue flowers.
Plants are hardy in USDA Zones 3-8.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Tradescantia ohiensisis ‘Mrs. Loewer’ grows in clumps 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 is up to 15” long and 1” across. Leaf bases wrap around the stems. The blades have parallel veins and tend to droop toward the tip.
From spring until fall plants bear small clusters of terminal 1” flowers. The blooms are soft pale blue with three rounded petals and bright yellow anthers supported by feathery violet filaments. The blooms are diurnal – 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 emerge from attractive deep purple winter rosettes to form 2-3’ tall clumps with a 1-2’ spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Tradescantia ohiensisis ‘Mrs. Loewer’ grows best in sunny or partly sunny sites. Plants tolerate light shade but may not bloom well.
This versatile wildflower prospers in moist or dry loamy, clay, gravelly, sandy acidic soils or average garden soil. Plants also tolerates alkaline soils, drought and performs well in hot dry sites.
This species is fairly pest resistant but is occasionally nibbled by deer and other herbivores.
In warm regions, this spiderwort may go dormant during the summer. It is wise to pair them with late blooming perennials that can fill in the gaps.
LANDSCAPE USES: Tradescantia ohiensisis ‘Mrs. Loewer’ is appropriate for Perennial Borders, Meadows or Rock Gardens. Small Groups or Masses of plants offer Attractive Foliage, Showy Flowers and provide Winter Interest. This cultivar is a useful component of Cottage Gardens, Low Maintenance Plantings and Wildlife Gardens.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Tradescantia ohiensisis ‘Mrs. Loewer’ mingles cheerfully with Aster pilosus, Chrysogonum virginianum, Iris cristata, Penstemon digitalis, Rudbeckia hirta and Schizachyrium scoparium.
Tradescantia ohiensisis could be substituted in some natural areas.
TRIVIA: Flowers are pollinated by native long-tongued bees especially bumblebees. Other bees, flies and butterflies visit the flowers as well. Deer, Rabbits, Box Turtles, and some livestock nibble the foliage.
The common name “Spiderwort” is possibly due to the fact that broken stems produce a thread-like viscous sap reminiscent of a spider web.