Spiderworts and Bear’s Breeches Take Long Road to Maturity

My Spiderwort finally got the spider look this summer.

My Spiderworts finally got the spider look this summer.

These Bear Breeches blooms lasted for three months.

These Bear Breeches blooms looked great for three months.

Raising plants can take patience. Sometimes they mature right as you’re about to give up. Other times, divorce is a better option before killing them.

My Spiderworts and Bear’s Breeches (or Oyster Plant) finally hit their stride this summer. The formal names are Tradescantia virginiana and Acanthus mollis. They’re invasive, common around Puget Sound, and sometimes considered weeds. I like their form and flowers, and am diligent enough to control them.My tennis buddy David Kipnis gave them to me six years ago. At the time, I was starting a garden from scratch, and luckily had friends with mature gardens who gave me plants.

Spiderworts – This grows in clumps with blue flowers that show in shade and close in sun. They’ll let you know when they need water. My Spiderworts flowered year one, but lacked form. This year, leaves branched out so they looked like spider legs. They flowered from May to August, but the cool spider look lasted about a month before they dried out. They’re spot has the right light but is too dry, as a nearby Japanese maple robs moisture. This year’s wet spring put the spider in the worts.

Bear's Breeches sport large leaves and long flowers.

Bear’s Breeches sport large leaves and long flowers.

Bear’s Breeches – I finally found the right spot last fall when I moved it next to the house. There’s enough space for the huge leaves and long flowers, and it thrives in the brief afternoon sun. The Breeches stayed green throughout last winter, and I was rewarded with two striking blooms for the first time starting in May. I cropped off dried blooms and mature leaves yesterday, which should transfer energy to three emerging leaves. Bear’s Breeches grow off of any piece of root, so when you move them, you have to dig out every last root. This plant now resides in limited space surround by concrete, so it shouldn’t take over.

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