Tradescantia spathacea Sw.
Moses-in-the-cradle, Christ in the Cradle, Moses-in-a-basket, Oyster Plant, Boat Lily
Ephemerum bicolor, Ephemerum discolor, Rhoeo discolor, Rhoeo spathacea, Tradescantia discolor, Tradescantia odoratissima, Tradescantia versicolor
Tradescantia spathacea is a clump-forming plant that forms rosettes of narrow dark green leaves with purple undersides. It grows up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall. Leaves are stiffly-ascending, sword-shaped, and up to 12 inches (30 cm) long. Flowers are white, enclosed by long-lasting boat-shape purple bracts, and appear in axillary cymes throughout the year. They are followed by 3-celled capsules.
USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Growing Tradescantia is easy, and you will find the plants to be quite resilient. These plants typically grow in moist, well-drained, and acidic (pH 5 to 6) soil. Tradescantias do best in partial shade but will do equally well in sunny areas as long as the soil is kept moist.
You can grow Tradescantia indoors too as long as suitable conditions are given. Provide the plant with either a soilless mix or loam-based potting compost and keep it in bright filtered light. You should also pinch out the growing tips to encourage bushier growth.
Allow it to spend warm spring and summer days outdoors, if feasible. During its active growth, water moderately and apply a balanced liquid fertilizer every four weeks. Water sparingly in winter.
These plants like to be kept fairly moist, so water regularly, especially when growing them in containers. Cutting the plants back once flowering has ceased can often promote a second bloom and will help prevent re-seeding. Cut the stems back about 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) from the ground.
See more at How to Grow and Care for Tradescantia.
This species is native to Belize, Guatemala, and southern Mexico but widely cultivated as an ornamental and naturalized in parts of Florida, Texas, Hawaii, and various oceanic islands.
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