Tradescantia spathacea


Tradescantia spathacea (Moses-in-the-cradle)

Tradescantia spathacea (Moses-in-the-cradle) is a clump-forming, evergreen perennial that grows as a up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall rosette…

Oyster Plant Care Summary

  • Scientific Name:Tradescantia spathacea
  • Common Name: Oyster Plant, Moses in the cradle, Rhoeo, Boat Lily
  • Light Requirements: Bright, indirect light. Will tolerate lower light but foliage coloration will be less vibrant.
  • Watering: Water thoroughly once the top inch of soil has dried out. Reasonably drought tolerant.
  • Soil: Rich well-draining soils are best. Equal parts potting mix, compost and perlite works well.
  • Temperature: 65°F (18°C) and 86°F (30°C).
  • Fertilizer: Low fertilizer requirements. Monthly during the growing season with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. I use this one.
  • Humidity: Moderate to high humidity to provide good oyster plant care. >40% ideally.
  • Pruning: Low pruning requirements. Remove dead foliage and prune as required to maintain shape.
  • Propagation: The mother plant will produce babies attached to side shoots. Remove and repot when about 4 inches tall.
  • Re-Potting: Only really needs repotted if outgrowing existing container.
  • Diseases and Pests: Fairly resistant to pests. Scale, mealybugs, spider mites and whitefly are sometimes seen, but easily treated. Overwatering will cause root rot.
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic to humans and pets.
  • Where To Buy:Buy an Oyster Plant online at Etsy (I buy most of my houseplants from Etsy).

Tradescantia spathacea ‘Tricolor’

Tradescantia, Moses-in-a-Basket, Boatlily, Oyster Plant, Golden Rhoeo 'Sitara Gold'


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Gardeners' Notes:

On Apr 24, 2016, sunkissed from Winter Springs, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I found this recently at my local nursery, loved the beauty of the colorful foliage. The nursery had them in full sun and there was a bit of leaf burn on the tips, other than that the plant looks healthy. I'm thankful for the comments on here because I was all set to put this in an irrigated sunny spot. After research I find this plant doesn't like too much water and won't be happy in rainy climates with lots of rain. I thought about taking it back, but it only cost four dollars and the beautiful foliage is worth a try. I did pot it in a clay pot and have it in a spot where it will get early morning and late evening sun, under tree canopy to take up some of the rain. Since it is potted and when we get into our heavy rain season, I'll move it under the canopy. Also this one has been reporte. read more d to not be as cold hardy or invasive as the purple Rhoeo is. Most reports say it is a house plant. I don't do houseplants.

On Nov 23, 2013, BayAreaTropics from Hayward, CA wrote:

My first try with this marginal plant. I bought it reduced in price since it wasn't liking the nursery care I suppose in late summer. The leaves had burnt,wilty tips. I put it in a plastic pot for bulbs-- about 8",maybe 10". Its reviving,but slow and we are almost into winter. From the other members comments,I would guess this to be the most tender of the Rhoeo's. And would only be reliable in a 10b zone.

To me, it resembles some of those very expensive Broms. If its adapted to your climate,a very attractive plant.

On Apr 3, 2013, krisbmn from International Falls, MN wrote:

I have a moses in the cradle as a house plant..It keeps growing very tall..I have it tied to a dowel to keep it from falling over..Is it okay to cut/pinch it down..

On Apr 28, 2009, trackinsand from mid central, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

a colorful addition to the "oyster plant family". this species will die to the ground in winter in central florida but usually comes back. it is not as hardy as T. pallida, Purple Queen though.

i plan on keeping this one in a pot and moving to the garage during frosts. i believe it needs a bit of shade in the afternoon. the leaf tips on these were burned when i bought them. the nursery had them in full sun on black plastic.

this one died out when we had an unusually cold winter. i planned on protection for it and did cover it but i lost it. it seemed never to be very happy anyhow so it's not a great loss. difficult plant, at least for me.

Tradescantia Spathacea

Currently this indoor plant is integrated into the genus Tradescantia , because previously considered the genus Rhoeo as different. It is native to Central America.

It is also known by the vulgar names of inmate or purple maguey. It is a poisonous plant by ingestion.

They are perennial and herbaceous plants with decorative concave and erect leaves that arise in rosette of the short stem and are green in the beam and purple in the back. The flowers have no ornamental interest and are white or bluish and seem half hidden at the base of the leaves.

It is used as an indoor or greenhouse plant If the weather allows it, they constitute a good covering element.

Tradescantia Spathacea

The Rhoeo needs a bright exposure but without direct sun, an average temperature of about 20 ºC and a high humidity (spray frequently if the environment is dry).

The soil should be rich and moist with some garden soil.

Watering enough so that the earth is always somewhat wet but never waterlogged in winter reduce the risks.

Although you do not need pruning you can remove old leaves or give a small pruning to compact it.

Feed biweekly with mineral fertilizer during spring and summer.

It is a plant quite resistant to pests as long as the humidity does not go down a lot. We also have to monitor the risks so as not to overdo it and mushrooms appear.

They multiply from seeds or, more advisable, by lateral cuttings.

Tradescantia Spathacea

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

Tradescantia spathacea

Tradescantia spathacea, the boatlily [2] or Moses-in-the-cradle, is a herb in the Commelinaceae family first described in 1788. It is native to Belize, Guatemala, and southern Mexico (Chiapas, Tabasco, and the Yucatán Peninsula) but widely cultivated as an ornamental and naturalized in parts of Florida, Texas, Hawaii, and various oceanic islands. [3] [4] [5]

    • Ephemerum bicolorMoench
    • Rhoeo discolor(L'Hér.) Hance
    • Rhoeo spathacea(Sw.) Stearn
    • Rhoeo spathacea f. concolor(Baker) Stehlé
    • Rhoeo spathacea f. variegata(Hook.) Stehlé
    • Tradescantia discolorL'Hér.
    • Tradescantia discolor var. concolorBaker
    • Tradescantia discolor var. variegataHook.
    • Tradescantia versicolorSalisb.

Tradescantia spathacea has fleshy rhizomes and rosettes of waxy lance-shaped leaves. Leaves are dark to metallic green above, with glossy purple underneath. These will reach up to 0.30 m (1 ft) long by 76 mm (3 in) wide. They are very attractive foliage plants that will reach 0.30 m (1 ft) tall. They are hardy in USDA zones 9-12 and are also grown as ornamental houseplants.

Tradescantia spathacea has naturalized in Florida and Louisiana and is listed as a Category II invasive exotic species by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council. "This means Invasive exotics that have increased in abundance or frequency but have not yet altered Florida plant communities to the extent shown by Category I species. These species may become ranked Category I if ecological damage is demonstrated." [6]

  1. ^"Tradescantia spathacea Sw". Plants of the World Online. Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 2017 . Retrieved 27 September 2020 .
  2. ^
  3. "Tradescantia spathacea". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA . Retrieved 14 December 2015 .
  4. ^Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  5. ^Biota of North America Program 2013 county distribution map
  6. ^ Hunt, D. R. 1994. 257. Commelinaceae. 6: 157–173. In G. Davidse, M. Sousa Sánchez & A.O. Chater (eds.) Flora Mesoamericana. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D. F.
  7. ^
  8. Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (2017). "Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council's 2017 List of Invasive Plant Species" (PDF) . Retrieved 14 March 2019 .

This Commelinales-related article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.

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