Tradescantia spathacea ‘Tricolor’

Common Name: “Moses-in-the-Cradle”; “Moses-in-a-Boat”; “Boat Lily”; “Oyster Plant”

Scientific Classification:
Order: Commelinales
Family: Commelinaceae
Genus: Tradescantia
Species: T. spathacea
Cultivar: ‘Tricolor’

Note: Synonymous with Rhoeo spathacea ‘Tricolor’.

Native To: Southern Mexico; Belize; Guatemala

Growing Specs:

  • Appearance: Prized for its gorgeous pink and green striped foliage with magenta undersides. Leaves are sword-shaped and grow up to 1″ wide and 5″ long. The overall plant will grow up to 15″ tall. Upright in growth but will form a trailing habit if left unpruned.
  • Flowering: Small, white flowers emerge throughout the year.
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to about 30 degrees F.

Care Requirements: Tradescantia spathacea ‘Tricolor’ is very drought-tolerant, but it prefers the soil to be relatively moist. Make sure it is watered regularly, especially in intense heat. Be sure to use a well-draining potting mix when container planting. It favors filtered bright light to part shade. Protect it from bright light or full sun.

Propagation: Easily propagated by stem cuttings or division. Cut below a node, and place the cutting in water; it will readily grow roots.

Toxicity: Tradescantia spathacea ‘Tricolor’ contains sap that is toxic to pets. Also causes minor skin irritation in humans. Check out my Pet Safety Guide for more information.

Xylem Rising’s Observations: This beauty is a rapid grower! It takes very well to being cut back and almost immediately results in new growth at the base. Check out my Trimming to Promote Growth post to see all the new growth I got when I gave this plant a little haircut.



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All photo rights belong to Cristie R. Kiley. Please ask permission before taking.

2 Comments on “Tradescantia spathacea ‘Tricolor’

  1. I just got clippings of this and had no idea what it was! I had been putting my grow light on it a few nights a week but from what I’m reading it sounds like it really doesn’t need it. It hasn’t been growing really but it hasn’t died. I’m gonna try your tips above and see if it gets better. Thank you!!


    • Awesome, girl! So good to see you here! Mine definitely looks a little funky because it probably wasn’t getting enough light before (redwood cabin problems), but it’s been growing great since I cut it back!


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