General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Partial or Dappled Shade
Partial Shade to Full Shade
Full Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 9a -6.7 °C (20 °F) to -3.9 °C (25 °F)
Plant Height: 6 to 12 inches
Plant Spread: 12 to 24 inches
Leaves: Unusual foliage color
Other: Dark green with purple reverse.
Fruit: Other: Small, 3 celled capsules.
Fruiting Time: Year Round
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: White
Other: White, sometimes with a bluish blush to the petals.
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Other: Off and on throughout the year.
Underground structures: Rhizome
Suitable Locations: Houseplant
Uses: Groundcover
Will Naturalize
Resistances: Humidity tolerant
Toxicity: Other: Plant sap may cause contact dermatitis (itching, stinging) and ingesting the plant can cause severe pain and burning of the mouth and throat.
Propagation: Other methods: Cuttings: Stem
Containers: Suitable in 1 gallon
Needs excellent drainage in pots
Miscellaneous: Tolerates poor soil

Common names
  • Oyster Plant
  • Moses in the Cradle
  • Moses-in-a-Basket
  • Boatlily
Botanical names
  • Accepted: Tradescantia spathacea
  • Synonym: Rhoeo spathacea

Photo Gallery
Location: My garden
Date: 2020-07-05
Common name: Moses in the Cradle".  Cuttings root easily.
Location: Conservatory, Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Ann Arbor
Date: 2018-01-28
Commelinaceae:  Tradescantia spathacea - The intricate blooms rew

Date: 2013-12-04
Location: Tampa, Florida
Date: 9-19-2021
My oyster plant’s bloom!
Location: Opp, AL  Z8b
Date: 2022-11-04
leaf reverse - so purple!
Location: Port Orange, Florida
Date: 2018-07-04
Location: Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida
Date: 2022-02-18
a group planted in a small foundational space along a motel build

Date: 2018-10-14
Location: Opp, AL  Z8b
Date: 2022-04-26
Location: Opp, AL  Z8b
Date: 2017-03-17
Location: Opp, AL  Z8b
Date: 2023-01-16
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Date: 2020-01-16
Tradescantia spathacea (boat lily, oyster plant, rhoeo)
Location: Tampa, Florida
Date: July 21, 2021
Beautiful foliage from my neighbors cuttings
Location: Tampa, Florida
Date: July 20, 2021
Blooms are like small purple oysters
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date: 2014-12-11
Location: Opp, AL  Z8b
Date: 2022-08-05
Location: all photos from my garden
Date: 2015-07-18
Location: Cypress Gardens, Florida
Location: Opp, AL  Z8b
Date: 2022-12-27
Location: Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center - Apollo Beach, Florida
Location: Cypress Gardens, Florida

Date: 2014-02-09
Location: NYBG 
Date: June 14 22
Location: Opp, AL  Z8b
Date: 2022-08-20
Location: Opp, AL  Z8b
Date: 2021-04-30

Date: 2021-09-26

Date: 2021-09-26
Photo by sedumzz
Location: Opp, AL  Z8b
Date: 2023-01-16
Photo by WendyEhoff
Location: Cypress Gardens, Florida
Location: north central Texas
Date: 2015-06-01
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date: 2014-12-11

Date: 2014-02-09

Date: 2014-02-09
Location: Opp, AL  Z8b
Date: 2022-09-11
Location: At My Home (Living Room Window Sill) 
Date: April 10 2019
Photo by WendyEhoff
Location: Daytona Beach, Florida
Date: 2017-11-17
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date: 2014-12-11
Growing in the cracks of an old wall.

Date: 2017-10-25

Date: 2014-02-09
Location: Mobot, St L. (Missouri Botanical Garden)
Date: 2017-08-09
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  • Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Mar 15, 2022 9:00 AM concerning plant:
    I have called what I viewed as being a nice, occasional houseplant for decades as Moses-in-the Cradle with the scientific name of Rhoeo spathacea. Down in southern Florida it is grown as an outdoor groundcover plant. The name of Moses-in-the-Cradle comes from its tiny white flowers which lie deep within boat-shaped petal-like leaves or bracts, like a baby in a cradle. The showy part of the plant is the 8 to 15 inch long, stiff, sword-like leaves which have purple and green topsides and purple undersides. It does best inside a building with indirect bright light and outside in part shade and moist soil both places. It is native to southern Mexico and Central America.
Plant Events from our members
Chillybean On August 29, 2015 Obtained plant
Bought at Wal Mart; we'll see how this goes.
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