Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Moses-in-a-Basket, Boatlily, Oyster Plant
Tradescantia spathacea 'Vittata'

Family: Commelinaceae (ko-mel-ih-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Tradescantia (trad-es-KAN-tee-uh) (Info)
Species: spathacea (spath-ay-SEE-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Vittata

10 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)
15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

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)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Blooms all year

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From leaf cuttings
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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to view:

By kniphofia
Thumbnail #1 of Tradescantia spathacea by kniphofia

By kniphofia
Thumbnail #2 of Tradescantia spathacea by kniphofia

By hmbgerl
Thumbnail #3 of Tradescantia spathacea by hmbgerl


1 positive
1 neutral
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative can2grow On Oct 12, 2010, can2grow from Valparaiso, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant is listed on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant List as a Category I exotic invasive plant.

Neutral hmbgerl On Feb 21, 2010, hmbgerl from Folsom, CA wrote:

Grew well even in hot Folsom, CA summer (9b). It was in a section of the garden that received shade by early afternoon and it was slightly shaded by another plant's palm-like foliage. Purple foliage is beautiful and adds low-height contrast to gardens.

It did not make it through the winter rain because it became over watered. Other surrounding plants were fine which means it seems to be more sensitive to over-watering than other plants.

Positive triciart On Jun 23, 2007, triciart from Oceanport, NJ wrote:

I just returned from the local (New Jersey) plant shop where I learned the name of this plant. I was given a small plant which contained one stem with several green/purple-on-reverse leaves on top, and no name tag, by a friend last year (April 2006). As usual, I almost killed the plant watering either too often or too seldom. A leaf would fall off and I never knew if it was too much water or too little. It sat on a windowsill facing east and received sunlight in the morning. It lost several leaves and was starting to look like a palm tree.

After purchasing several African Violets and starting to pay more attention to watering and feeding with African Violet fertilizer, my Moses in the cradle started sending out new plants from the base of the old stem. Now it is really full and looks quite beautiful.

I would like to propagate this plant and I'm wondering if I can cut off these new shoots from the bottom of the original stem and just plant them in new potting soil. Will they take root I wonder. If anyone knows the answer please either post a note here or email me.

Meanwhile I'll enjoy my plant with its second life.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Anniston, Alabama
Apopka, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Vero Beach, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Mount Vernon, Illinois
Oceanport, New Jersey

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