Sweet Kate is a variety of Tradescantia, or the common spiderwort. The plant has long, 12-inch tall foliage that is grasslike but wide. Sweet Kate's leaves are yellow instead of the usual green foliage of other spiderwort varieties. The plant bears three lobed purple flowers with bright yellow stamen. Each flower only opens for a day, but there is a constant supply of replacements from May through summer.
Sweet Kate can grow in full or part sun. The plant requires moist soil or supplemental irrigation. The soil for Sweet Kate should be slightly acidic for the best performance from the plant. You can add sulphur to your soil to increase the acidity and improve the plant's health. Tradescantia should be planted in a humus-rich soil, enriched with compost, leaf litter or other organic amendments. Sweet Kate's yellow foliage will achieve best colour in a full sun location.
Sweet Kate is a water-loving plant. It should not be allowed to dry out and can actually live in a slightly boggy soil. Spiderwort requires no special care and is not troubled by disease. It is a favourite snack of slugs and snails and significant foliage damage can occur. As the plant ages, the foliage will fall over, but this is easy to tie in, or simply remove the foliage and the plant will grow more. The plant can be cut all the way back in fall and will come back more compact and beautiful in the spring.
Tradescantia doesn't make a good cut flower but attracts pollinators in the garden. Each flower's short bloom time of only one day means there are a lot of spent blooms. Cut off the old flowers to encourage more buds to form. If you are vigilant about deadheading, the plant may bloom well into fall. When you cut the stems, the plant releases a substance that is threadlike as it hardens and dries. This is the source of the name spiderwort.
Sweet Kate plants have a clumping habit and are perennial. The clump will spread as the plant ages and can easily outgrow the space in which you have planted it. Spiderwort is easy to propagate through division and it is even good for the plant to be divided every three years. Simply dig out a chunk of Sweet Kate and transplant or dig out the entire plant and cut apart the root system into pieces. Sweet Kate can also be planted from seed.
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