Tradescantia Sweet Kate
‘Sweet Kate’ is a compact, clump-forming, hybrid spiderwort that is noted for its unique yellow foliage. It typically grows to 12” tall. Three-petaled, purplish-blue flowers (to 1.5” diameter) accented by contrasting yellow stamens are borne in terminal clusters (umbels) atop stiff stems. Numerous flower buds form in each cluster, but individual flowers open up only a few at a time, each for only one day, blooming in succession from May into summer. Arching, iris-like, bright yellow leaves are folded lengthwise forming a groove. When the stems of spiderworts are cut, a viscous stem secretion is released which becomes thread-like and silky upon hardening (like a spider’s web), hence the common name. Genus name honors John Tradescant (1570-1638) and his son John Tradescant (1608-1662), botanists and successive gardeners to Charles I of England. Some nurseries are listing ‘Sweet Kate’ as being synonymous with T. ‘Blue and Gold’, however the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) currently lists them as separate cultivars. Andersoniana Group includes hybrids of T. virginiana, T. subaspera and T. ohiensis.