Controlling Tropical Spiderwort – Learn About Invasive Tropical Spiderwort Management

Controlling Tropical Spiderwort – Learn About Invasive Tropical Spiderwort Management

By: Tonya Barnett, (Author of FRESHCUTKY)

For many home gardeners and commercial growers, learning to quickly identify invasive and problematic weeds is essential to maintaining healthy crops. Non-native noxious weeds can be especially troublesome, as they are known to spread and overtake plantings quite quickly. One such weed, called invasive tropical spiderwort, has become a common problem for growers throughout much of the southern United States.

What Are Tropical Spiderwort Plants?

Tropical spiderwort (Commelina Benghalensis) is native to the tropical regions of Asia. Also known as Bengal dayflower, tropical spiderwort weeds are difficult to control due to their ability to spread. Within a short growing season, invasive tropical spiderwort is able to spread through rhizomes, as well as by rooting into the soil from stem segments. Tropical spiderwort plants are also unique in that they are able to produce seeds via flowers which develop both normally and below ground. Without treatment, these plants can multiply and overtake small gardens and portions of fields.

Controlling Tropical Spiderwort

When it comes to controlling tropical spiderwort, there are some options to regain control of your growing space. For those with small gardens, manual control of tropical spiderwort weeds is possible. This should be done by removing the weeds as soon as they emerge from the soil. Not only will this make removing the plant much easier, but it will also ensure that it does not have the opportunity to multiply. Removing mature spiderwort plants may be exceptionally difficult due to their ability to spread under the soil.

The implementation of dense plantings may also help control the presence of tropical spiderwort plants. When plant spacing is diminished, quick growing crops are better able to shade the soil. Without sunlight, tropical spiderwort plants may struggle to establish themselves within the planting.

Tropical spiderwort weeds in larger plantings may prove more difficult to control. In these cases, manual control is often not a realistic option. Commercial growers may have some success with the use of pre-emergent and/or herbicide applications. When choosing to implement these techniques, it will be imperative that growers read and follow the manufacturer’s label closely and carefully. This will ensure that the product is applied safely and properly.

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How to Grow Spiderwort

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Spiderwort is a spring-blooming plant with long, strappy leaves and blue-purple buds. Native to North America, South America, and Central America, it's a beloved addition to any garden thanks to its easy care and weeks-long bloom period. Spiderwort is characterized by a messy, grass-like form (its leaves can grow up to two feet in height each season) punctuated with quarter-sized flowers that last only one day. Luckily, each plant produces many buds throughout spring and into early summer. When cracked open, the stem of the spiderwort secrets a white, sticky substance that becomes thread-like and silky once hardened (similar to a spider's web), thus coining its unusual common name.

Botanical name Tradescantia
Common name Spiderwort, widow's tears
Plant type Herbaceous perennial
Mature size 6 in.–2 ft. tall, 1–1.5 ft. wide
Sun exposure Partial shade
Soil type Moist but well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom time Spring, Summer
Flower color Blue, purple, pink
Hardiness zones 4–7 (USDA)
Native Area North America, Central America, South America
Toxicity Non-toxic

Gorgeous Terrarium Plants

Here are the plants you can choose to create a great look for your terrarium:

1. Watermelon Peperomia

This is one of my favorite plants for a terrarium. It has leaves which look identical to a watermelon rind. If you’re creating a terrarium to use as a decorative item, this plant will add some pizzazz to your design for sure.

It’s also an excellent choice for a terrarium because it only grows to be eight inches tall. This plant enjoys a moist environment as well.

2. Starfish Plant

The starfish plant is another favorite of mine. I love unique plants and having them included in a terrarium adds a great deal of glamour.

This plant is unique because it’s shaped like a starfish. It grows to be only six inches tall, which makes it ideal for a terrarium. Also, the leaves will become a lighter or darker green based on how much sunlight they receive.

3. Polka Dot Plant

Polka Dot plants are fun plants to include in a terrarium. As the name suggests, the leaves on the plant look polka-dotted. The leaves can come in different colored varieties, such as pink, red, and silver.

This plant prefers indirect sunlight and moist conditions. However, you’ll need to prune the plant to keep it from growing too large for your terrarium.

4. Pollyanna Vine

I loved the book and movie, Pollyanna. Such a great family classic. This plant is as classic as the movie. Another name for the Pollyanna Vine is Baby’s Tears. It’s a short green plant which makes it perfect for terrariums.

This plant prefers constant moisture and desires plenty of sunlight. If you’re familiar with this plant, you’ve probably heard what a nightmare it can be when planted out in the open. It will try to take over wherever it grows. When grown in a terrarium you don’t have to worry about this.

5. Silver Nerve Plant

This plant is a gorgeous, simple plant great for a terrarium. It has a lace-like pattern consisting of green, burgundy, and white colors.

The plant only grows to be about a foot tall and prefers a humid environment with moist conditions. All of this put together makes this plant ideal for most closed-top terrariums.

6. Pothos

If you’re concerned you’ll have a difficult time growing a plant in your terrarium because you miss the ‘green thumb gene’ in your family, this plant is for you.

It’s easy to grow and care for. Be sure to place the plant in indirect sunlight, don’t overwater it, and prune it to keep the plant from outgrowing your terrarium container.

7. Creeping Fig

This plant is a fun option to add to your terrarium. It has heart-shaped leaves and is a climber, making it a great choice for a more substantial terrarium.

You could train the vine to climb objects inside your terrarium for a fun look. This plant prefers indirect sunlight, though. Which means you should be sure it stays in a window around your home.

8. Croton

This plant would be a fantastic addition to any terrarium. The leaves are bright colored, dazzling to the eye, and have a glossy finish which adds plenty of charm.

However, these plants desire light. Keep this in mind when deciding where to place your terrarium. Crotons are a great option for open terrariums since they don’t need quite as much moisture as some other plant varieties.

9. Friendship Plant

The Friendship Plant is a great variety for your terrarium as well. It only grows to be about a foot tall. It’s a typical terrarium plant meaning it prefers damp (or tropical) conditions.

However, this plant prefers shade. You’ll need to consider this when designing your terrarium to make sure you include like-minded plants in your design.

10. Spiderwort

This particular type of plant has been growing in one person’s closed-bottle terrarium for 53 years! The garden has only been watered one time in all of those years.

If it can grow for this gardener, it can grow for you. The plant is simple in design as it’s made up of long green shoots. Clearly, the plant doesn’t require much to find success with it.

11. African Violet

I’m a huge fan of African Violets but haven’t had much luck with them since I have cats. My cats like to eat any plant I bring in the house, and African Violets don’t want to have their leaves wet.

However, this makes them a great candidate for a terrarium because it can provide their desired moist soil, the plants can draw water through their roots, and they only grow to be about six inches tall. In return, you get beautiful plants with brightly colored leaves.

12. Victoria Fern

When I think of a terrarium, a Victoria Fern is one of the first plants I consider. They add beautiful color because their leaves have different shades of green.

Also, their jagged leaves add texture to the look of the terrarium as well. Since these plants prefer a tropical environment, a terrarium is a great fit for it.

13. Moss

If you’d like to have a simple terrarium, consider adding different varieties of moss to your terrarium. You can add rocks as a means to decorate it.

Having different varieties of moss adds color to your terrarium, and it’s easy to care for too. Moss looks like you have little shrubs growing in your terrarium, but you could also use it as a base for larger plants.

14. Pilea

This plant is excellent for producing beautiful green colors and providing different textures to the look of your terrarium.

However, give the plant some light. If you don’t give it enough, the shade will drive it to sprawl out to seek additional sunlight.

15. Strawberry Begonia

This plant variety is a great choice for a terrarium. It only grows to be around eight inches tall. As the name suggests, it produces red shoots which will also create flowers.

However, even when the flowers aren’t in bloom, this plant variety is still a great addition to your terrarium because the shoots add a splash of color.

16. Calathea

Calathea is a good choice for a terrarium because it enjoys a tropical environment with plenty of moisture and humidity.

It can be planted directly into the soil and will be satisfied with indirect sunlight. Calathea provides color to your terrarium with its green, white, and pink leaves too.

17. Variegated Spider Fern

Ferns are a common choice for many people designing their terrarium. They like damp conditions and plenty of humidity as well.

But they go well with other varieties of plants considering their design is simple. They have simple and shiny green leaves which add a subtle look to your design.

18. Aquamarine

This plant has a simple design with small, rounded leaves. It can be used as a cover plant in the base of your terrarium.

Aquamarine is such an excellent fit for a terrarium because it grows to be a foot tall, likes humidity, and can get along with having less sunlight than many plants.

19. Golden Club Moss

Golden Club Moss is an exceptional option for your terrarium because it grows to be only six inches tall. This plant will stretch out, though.

For this reason, it’s important to prune the plant back regularly to ensure it won’t take over or outgrow your terrarium. This is a simple plant to fit into most terrarium designs since it’s made up of lighter green leaves.

20. Prayer Plant

This is a neat plant to have in your terrarium. The Prayer Plant prefers a warmer climate and indirect sunlight.

But what’s fascinating is this plant gets its name because at night the leaves will fold up like a person closes their hands to pray. If it isn’t getting enough sunlight, you’ll know because the leaves will remain closed.

21. Cactus

Many people don’t consider a cactus to be a good fit for a terrarium. If you’re going to have an open terrarium, it’s a great fit.

Its climate preference is dry. This equates to less care on your behalf, but lots of unique design and texture provided by these plants.

22. Venus Flytrap

Most people think of these plants as scary, carnivorous plants. In their natural environment, they do eat plenty of flies.

However, you don’t feed them flies to include them in your terrarium. Only plant them in sand, moss, and give them plenty of full sun. They’ll be happy plants in your terrarium.

23. Air Plant

I saved the best for last, in my opinion. These plants require no soil. If you want to have a cool, modern terrarium, you should include these.

Instead of needing soil, you place them in a glass container, and they lap up everything they need through their unique leaves.

Well, you now have 23 different options for plants which could do well in many terrarium designs with various climates.

Hopefully, this has inspired you to create a gorgeous terrarium and add a different natural decoration to your home.

If the temperatures in your area do not frequently fall below freezing, you can transplant spiderwort in fall. Wait until the season's growth is over and most of the spiderwort has died back. In cold climates, it is a bad idea to transplant spiderwort in the fall. Without an established root system, the spiderwort can't stand up to the freeze-and-thaw cycles. It probably won't survive the winter in its new spot.

The best time of day to transplant spiderwort is late in the afternoon, once the sun is waning. If you can, wait for the first of a few days of cloudy, drizzly weather. Newly transplanted spiderwort needs two to three days to establish itself before it can fare well under direct sunlight. If you can't avoid transplanting during a few days of harsh weather, erect a shade over the plants during the hottest part of the day for the next 72 hours. A wicker chair or plant shade will work wonders.

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