Most of the hybrid spiderworts in the marketplace were developed using eastern species that prefer some shade and a moist soil. Tradescantia 'Tough Love' represents a new direction in spiderwort breeding, as it was developed from two Great Plains species that are naturally found in full sun to light shade on barren, dry, rocky, clay to sandy soils. Try 'Tough Love' in a challenging dry site and see how it performs for you. While best on well-drained sites, we have found it also tolerates wet clay soil. The 1-inch-wide, vivid reddish-purple flowers are borne in great profusion in May and early June, literally covering the centers of the plants. Like all spiderworts, each flower lasts but a day. Plants can repeat bloom through late August. Unlike many spiderworts, 'Tough Love' tends to remain evergreen through the summer months, except in exceptionally hot and dry summers, where the foliage may disappear in late July or early August, to be replaced by September with new growth.
This plant is clump-forming, with short but broad daylily-like, leathery foliage. Two-year-old plants from divisions were 11 inches tall by 16 inches wide at peak bloom, making this one of the more compact selections in the marketplace. This plant is easy to propagate by divisions in early spring or autumn. Grow it in full sun in the rock garden, the well-drained perennial border, or on drier sites such as berms and slopes. It has performed well for us in pure sand and on a clay soil. Plants are compact and dense enough that they rarely need dividing. Maintenance consists only of an annual clean-up of any old foliage that has died.
Developed by Dr. Jim Ault at the Chicago Botanic Garden from a cross made in 2006 between an open-pollinated hybrid seedling of Tradescantia tharpii and Tradescantia occidentalis.
USDA Zones 4 to 8.
If you are interested in becoming a licensed propagator and grower of this selection, contact the program manager at .