blue, pink, purple
February - August
0.2 - 1.0
Leaves narrow with parallel veins 4-6x longer than wide (all spiderworts). Feathery filaments (all spiderworts). Petals deliquescent (all spiderworts). 3 petals blue. No hairs. Blue green leaves.
Propagation of Tradescantia ohiensis by seed is easy and plants self-sow readily. Seeds may be collected from August to September by clipping the tops of plants and placing them in a bag to dry, then shaking to release seeds. Plants picked prematurely may be placed in a vase of water where capsules will mature. Store seeds in dry cold storage if they are not planted right away. Seeds benefit from cold/moist stratification at 33-38 degrees F for 120 days (Shirley 1994, Steffen 1997). The seeds are 1/8" long, gray, oval, and there are 144,000 seeds/lb. The recommended planting rate is 12 lbs/acre. Stem cuttings root easily when taken during the late spring or early summer.
Attracts bees and butterflies.
Found in open, sandy prairie, thickets and open woods in well-drained loam (will tolerate clay) with a pH of 6-7. It is found in wet-mesic to dry areas and can be an aggressive colonizer in rich soils from southern New England to Florida and west to Minnesota and Texas. Tradescantia ohiensis is the most common and widespread species in the United States where it is frequently cultivated and escapes to become naturalized. The young leaves, stems and flowers can be eaten raw. They have a mucilage quality much like okra. The common name "widow's tears" comes from the flowers which after one day "form a sticky jelly that will drop a tear when touched in the late afternoon" (Shirley 1994).
Moist meadows, prairies, thickets, roadsides, railroad right-of-ways, disturbed sites, sandy rocky soils, moist or dry woods.