The Q&A Archives: House Plant Named Moses

Question: My great aunt had a house plant she said was called "Moses in the Bull Rushes". The plant in question is at least 30 years old now and I have a start off of it, but not the original plant. The original had green leaves (long) with reddish edge sand some flowers with little brown pods you could squeeze open (thus the name). My start has been the same for five years now. Few leaves, light green, just a trace of the red, no flowers or pods, seems to want to vine. What do you suggest to make this flourish and bloom?

Answer: Thirty years old?? Wow! That is an accomplishment in itself. This plant is botanically known as Rhoeo discolor 'vittata', I know it as "Moses in the Cradle". It is also known as a Boat Lily. Compare these ideal growing conditions against your conditions and make modifications as needed: needs average warmth in the winter, 50-55F minimum. It should be kept in bright light or semi shade, absolutely no direct sun in the summer. Soil should be kept moist in the months of April through August, reduce watering September through March. Leaves need to be misted frequently with a fine spray. Repot every year in the spring; bushy plants can be divided. Side shoots should be removed as well. "Moses" is extremely intolerant of drafts, hot or cold, so watch out for those. Fertilize only April through August with a general houseplant fertilizer according to package instructions. Following these cultural guidelines should help your plant to flourish and eventually bloom. Even under perfect conditions it does take "Moses" a good while to bloom and have the color variations.

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