Sun/shade: Full sun to part shade
Soil moisture: Dry to wet
Flowering period: June
Host plant for 3 caterpillar species
A ring of yellow anthers shines like a constellation in each of Ohio spiderwort’s bluish-purple flowers, bringing a hint of the night sky to the native garden in springtime. The unusual 3-petalled flowers remain open on cloudy days but close by early afternoon when the sun is out. Lacking in nectar, the plant is nevertheless quite attractive to pollinators, providing nutritious pollen to hover flies and bees both large and small. The Xerces Society lists Ohio spiderwort among plants having special value to bumble bees, which are known to be the plant’s primary pollinators.
An inhabitant of NE Ohio meadows, savannas, and forest edges, Ohio spiderwort has several qualities which make it especially valuable in the garden. Notable among these are the plant’s good drought tolerance, ability to grow in partial shade as well as full sun, and springtime bloom period. With flowers opening for 4-6 weeks in May and June, Ohio spiderwort works well in combination with wild indigo species, smooth penstemon, common yarrow, and black-eyed Susan. The plant’s ability to grow in dry soils makes it a good candidate for planting on tree lawns and in other moisture-deprived spaces where plant options are limited. Gardeners should be advised, though, that removal of the plant’s seeds may be necessary to prevent aggressive spreading. Growing to a height of 2-3 feet, Ohio spiderwort fits well into many garden scenarios, and its thin, grass-like foliage offers a nice visual contrast to that of broader leaved plants.
Photo by Joshua Mayer.