Garden Mystery: What is It?

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My husband is famous for digging up plants from around the public boatyard (no, it is not illegal) and depositing them in our garden. And we get surprises the next year: this is one of them. It's very pretty, but we have no clue what it is! Can someone help us out?
garden mystery what is it, flowers, gardening, My mystery flower
My mystery flower.
garden mystery what is it, flowers, gardening, My mystery flower
My mystery flower.
  27 answers
  • Rosi McCoy Rosi McCoy on Aug 02, 2013
    It sure is! Thanks so much.
  • Porta Verde Studio Porta Verde Studio on Aug 02, 2013
    It's spiderwort! I have the same one in my garden and it comes up every year with pretty purple flowers.
  • Yes,and keep an eye for seedlings. They can really get going.
  • Rosi McCoy Rosi McCoy on Aug 03, 2013
    Sensible Gardening, What do you mean by "they can really get going"? In a good or bad way?
  • Donna Steward Donna Steward on Aug 04, 2013
    My daughter planted this in her front garden 4 years ago. It spread all over killing many much wanted flowering plants. Be careful!
  • Laura Laura on Aug 04, 2013
    It is a spiderwort and if it is planted in the sun the flowers will bloom a deep purple and the leaves will become a lemon lime color its very pretty
  • NancyLee NancyLee on Aug 04, 2013
    Yes, it's spiderwort - beautiful blue! Here's a closeup of the one I planted last year - I moved to a new place - now it's in a pot and not liking it so much..........It has some value as a medicinal plant: the roots can be used as a laxative and to treat some kidney, stomach and "women's" conditions. Apply leaf poultice to stings and insect bites. Also very interesting: spiderwort has been shown to be an accurate instrument in detecting radiation and chemical pollution - the normally blue stamen hairs turn pink.
  • Gretchen Gretchen on Aug 04, 2013
    It will spread but it is easy to pull up if you don't want so many. It can fill a bed if you let it - which isn't a bad thing especially on a hill or near a road.
  • Teresa Kessler Teresa Kessler on Aug 04, 2013
    Yes it comes in many colors too...I have pinks,purples blue and a deep fushia.
  • Judith O Judith O on Aug 04, 2013
    The type of Spider Wort pictured does not spread but the clump will get larger over time. Then you can break it up into several plants like you would a Hosta. There is a smaller wild version with little blue flowers that spreads like crazy! www.glenviewgardeners.org
  • Anne Tighe Anne Tighe on Aug 04, 2013
    is your maroon/burgundy plant at the rear of the photo a beefsteak plant? Looks very similar to the young plants in early summer... I love them for contrast... They get nice and tall in the sun and their seeds sprout every year... So I stragically place the sprouts each spring.
  • Rosi McCoy Rosi McCoy on Aug 04, 2013
    Anne, I think it's a coleus. I had a couple of them in the garden a few years ago and unfortunately one of them went to seed before I got to it. They are going to town, but none of them are flowering or going to seed. I like the way they look in the back of the garden also.l
  • Glenna Kennedy Glenna Kennedy on Aug 04, 2013
    def spiderwort. I have several of them. They dont spread per se but do get quite large clumps which you can divide either spring or fall.
  • Rosi McCoy Rosi McCoy on Aug 04, 2013
    Thanks everyone for your help. I love how the people here on Hometalk are always ready to help with advice and ideas. We have a great community!!!
  • Judy Judy on Aug 04, 2013
    AKA Widow's Tears...I have some growing in my beds. When the clumps get too large I just divide them & share with friends.
  • Rosi McCoy Rosi McCoy on Aug 04, 2013
    OMG Judy, that is so funny, cause I almost bought Widow's Tears seeds this summer!!!
  • Patty A Patty A on Aug 04, 2013
    I have the same one, has been growing and blooming in part shade for years. Doesn't spread.
  • Faye Faye on Aug 05, 2013
    I have the same , it is called ( amethyest kiss spiderwort ). And they are just beautiful.
  • Judy Judy on Aug 05, 2013
    The friend who gave me mine called it Widow's Tears but she also gave me some "Bluebells" that turned out to be Bellflower so I'd be looking at the picture on the seed packet...lol
  • Rosi McCoy Rosi McCoy on Aug 05, 2013
    Judy, I did go back and look at the picture on the package. Yup, same thing!!! Just didn't realize that I had been looking at the same flowers a few months before.... Senior Moments.
  • Gretchen Gretchen on Aug 06, 2013
    If it doesn't spread then what in the world do I have? It looks just like this and I can't pull it out before it comes back someplace else. The flowers start out blue and change in color as they get older. So maybe it is something else? If it doesn't spread then I should be able to got rid of it. Would it grow back from a bit of root, if it was left in?
  • Rosi McCoy Rosi McCoy on Aug 06, 2013
    Good questions Gretchen. I am sure you will get your answers here!!
  • Glenna Kennedy Glenna Kennedy on Aug 06, 2013
    spiderwort will get quite big if not divided so may look like it is spreading There is more than one variety I think. I just dig the huge clumps up and break them into smaller clumps and replant.
  • Judy Judy on Aug 06, 2013
    Rosi, sometimes a picture is not worth 1,000 words I guess...lol @Gretchen, Spiderwort flowers only last 1 or 2 days. There should be a cluster of buds at the end of the stalk with only 1 or 2 opening each day & wilting in a day or two. If your blooms last longer than that & it spreads badly my guess is that you have something else. The picture here shows the bud cluster really well: http://www.ediblewildfood.com/spiderwort.aspx
  • Rosi, this is indeed a picture of a spiderwort. Spiderwort cultivars do self seed a lot if the conditons are right. They do not spread by runners but form a nice clump which can be divided if you wish. If you get lots of seedlings get them while they are young, an easy pull. Later on, not so easy. Sorry to take so long getting back to you:)
  • Candace Candace on Aug 14, 2013
    yep, spiderwort
  • Peg Peg on Aug 14, 2013
    Tradescantia/spiderwort. I have 4 different colors and look for more. This is one of the more common colors. There's a nice dark pink fuscia, dark purple and blue. The only thing I don't like about them is that they get ugly after flowering is done.