Moses in the Cradle

Moses in the Cradle

Welcome to the world of houseplants, where greenery thrives indoors and brings joy to our living spaces. Among the plethora of beautiful indoor plants, one gem stands out – the Moses in the Cradle (Tradescantia spathacea).

Known for its vibrant colors and unique foliage, this tropical beauty has captured the hearts of plant enthusiasts worldwide.Also, here is a detailed article on how to propagate Moses in the Cradle

In this article, we will explore the fascinating world of Moses in the Cradle, its captivating history, natural habitat, and tips on how to care for this delightful plant to keep it flourishing indoors.Also, here is a detailed article on how to care for Moses in the Cradle

Plant Overview

FeatureDescription/Information
Botanical NameTradescantia spathacea
Common NameMoses in the Cradle, Boat Lily, Moses-in-a-Boat
Plant TypePerennial
Average Size12-18 inches tall and wide
Sunlight RequirementsBright indirect light; can tolerate some direct morning sunlight, but avoid harsh afternoon sun
Soil TypeWell-draining potting mix
Soil pH6.1 to 7.5 (Slightly acidic to slightly alkaline)
Bloom TimeRarely blooms indoors; if it does, it’s usually in the summer
Flower ColorWhite (flowers are small and not particularly showy; the plant is more appreciated for its colorful foliage)
FoliageGreen on the top with purple underneath; sword-shaped leaves
Watering NeedsAllow top of soil to dry out between waterings; do not let the plant sit in water
TemperaturePrefers temperatures between 60°F – 75°F (15°C – 24°C)
HumidityTolerant of average home humidity levels, but enjoys higher humidity
ToxicityToxic to pets (especially cats and dogs)
PropagationEasily propagated from stem cuttings or division

Plant Description

The Moses in the Cradle, also known as Boat Lily or Oyster Plant, is a member of the Commelinaceae family and originates from the lush tropical regions of Central and South America. Its botanical name, Tradescantia spathacea, pays tribute to the renowned English botanists and gardeners, John Tradescant the Elder and Younger.

Moses in the Cradle

This perennial houseplant is renowned for its sword-like, succulent leaves that feature striking colors of green, purple, and silver, creating a captivating visual appeal. The leaves form a rosette pattern, giving the appearance of a cradle, hence its delightful name, “Moses in the Cradle.”

In its natural habitat, Moses in the Cradle thrives in shady undergrowth, making it a great candidate for indoor cultivation. The plant’s resilience and adaptability to different conditions make it an excellent choice for both novice and experienced plant enthusiasts.

Growth Patterns:

Moses in the Cradle exhibits moderate growth, gradually forming clusters of upright, lance-shaped leaves. As the plant matures, it produces small, inconspicuous white flowers adorned with purple bracts, adding a touch of elegance to its already stunning appearance. These attractive blooms can persist throughout the year under optimal conditions, further enhancing the plant’s aesthetic value.


Identification of Plant

Moses in the Cradle, also known by its scientific name Tradescantia spathacea, is a visually striking houseplant that boasts a unique appearance. The plant forms a rosette of erect, lance-shaped leaves that are typically around 12 to 18 inches tall. The leaves are succulent and fleshy, featuring vibrant hues of green, purple, and silver, creating an eye-catching contrast. The name “Moses in the Cradle” is derived from the leaf arrangement that resembles a small cradle, adding to its charm.

While the foliage steals the spotlight, Moses in the Cradle also produces small, white flowers with purple bracts, which enhance the overall appeal of the plant. These flowers are modest and may not be the primary reason for cultivating this houseplant, but they certainly add a touch of elegance when in bloom.


Types and Varieties

There are several varieties of Tradescantia spathacea, each with its unique characteristics and attributes. Some of the popular varieties include:

  1. Tradescantia spathacea ‘Tricolor’: This variety stands out with its stunning tricolor leaves, featuring shades of green, pink, and cream. The foliage is adorned with pink stripes, making it a captivating addition to any indoor garden.
  2. Tradescantia spathacea ‘Vittata‘: ‘Vittata’ is known for its striking green and cream striped leaves. The creamy-white stripes run parallel to the leaf’s length, giving the plant an elegant appearance.
  3. Tradescantia spathacea ‘Sitara’s Gold‘: This variety boasts golden-yellow leaves with green edges. The bright foliage adds a touch of sunshine to any room, making it a popular choice among plant enthusiasts.
  4. Tradescantia spathacea ‘Dwarf‘: As the name suggests, this compact variety is smaller in size compared to other types, making it ideal for space-limited environments. It retains the signature rosette shape and colorful leaves, offering a beautiful miniature version of the standard Moses in the Cradle.
Moses in the Cradle

Facts about the Plant

  1. Air Purification: Apart from its aesthetic appeal, Moses in the Cradle contributes to indoor air purification by removing toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene from the air, enhancing the overall air quality.
  2. Medicinal Uses: Traditionally, some cultures have used parts of the Moses in the Cradle plant for medicinal purposes. It was believed to have healing properties for wounds, insect bites, and minor skin irritations.
  3. Invasive in Some Regions: While Moses in the Cradle is a beloved houseplant, it has become an invasive species in certain regions, particularly in Florida and other tropical areas. In these environments, it can quickly spread and compete with native plants.
  4. Propagation: Propagating Moses in the Cradle is relatively simple. It can be propagated through stem cuttings, which root easily in water or well-draining soil.
  5. Popular Feng Shui Plant: In Feng Shui, the Moses in the Cradle plant is considered auspicious, symbolizing growth, prosperity, and positive energy. Placing it in certain areas of the home is believed to attract good luck and prosperity.
  6. Suitable for Terrariums: Due to its compact size and ability to thrive in humid conditions, Moses in the Cradle is a popular choice for terrariums, adding a touch of greenery to these miniature indoor gardens.

Tips to Grow Moses in the Cradle

  1. Light: Place the plant in an area with bright, indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can scorch the delicate leaves. North or east-facing windows are generally ideal for providing the right amount of light.
  2. Soil and Potting: Use well-draining potting soil to prevent waterlogged roots. A mix of peat moss, perlite, and regular potting soil works well. Ensure the pot has drainage holes to prevent water accumulation.
  3. Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so it’s essential to strike a balance.
  4. Humidity: Moses in the Cradle thrives in humid conditions. If the air in your home is dry, consider using a humidifier or placing the pot on a tray with water and pebbles to increase humidity.
  5. Temperature: Maintain room temperatures between 65-80°F (18-27°C) for optimal growth. Protect the plant from cold drafts and sudden temperature fluctuations.
  6. Fertilizing: During the growing season (spring to fall), fertilize the plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks. Avoid fertilizing during the dormant winter months.
  7. Pruning: Regularly remove dead or yellowing leaves to promote new growth and maintain the plant’s appearance. You can also trim back leggy growth to encourage bushier growth.
  8. Propagation: Propagate Moses in the Cradle by taking stem cuttings. Place the cuttings in water or well-draining soil, and they should root within a few weeks.
  9. Re-potting: Repot the plant every 1-2 years, preferably in the spring. Use a slightly larger pot to accommodate its growing root system.
Moses in the Cradle

Major Problems

  1. Overwatering: Excessive watering can lead to root rot and cause the plant’s health to decline. To avoid this issue, always check the soil’s moisture level before watering and ensure proper drainage.
  2. Pests: Common indoor plant pests like spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs can infest Moses in the Cradle. Regularly inspect the plant and use natural or chemical remedies to control infestations.
  3. Cold Sensitivity: Moses in the Cradle is sensitive to cold temperatures, especially below 50°F (10°C). Protect the plant from drafts and avoid placing it near cold windows during winter.
  4. Yellowing Leaves: Yellow leaves may indicate overwatering or nutrient deficiencies. Adjust the watering frequency and consider fertilizing the plant if the leaves show signs of malnutrition.
  5. Root-bound: If the plant becomes root-bound (roots tightly packed in the pot), it may start showing stunted growth and decreased vitality. Repot the plant into a slightly larger container to allow room for root expansion.

Care and Maintenance

  1. Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but avoid overwatering. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Ensure proper drainage to prevent waterlogged roots.
  2. Light: Provide bright, indirect light to the plant. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can cause leaf burn. North or east-facing windows are ideal spots.
  3. Humidity: Moses in the Cradle thrives in high humidity. Use a humidifier or place the pot on a tray with water and pebbles to increase humidity levels.
  4. Temperature: Maintain room temperatures between 65-80°F (18-27°C). Protect the plant from cold drafts and sudden temperature fluctuations.
  5. Fertilizing: During the growing season (spring to fall), fertilize with a balanced liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks. Avoid fertilizing during the winter months.
  6. Pruning: Regularly remove dead or yellowing leaves to promote new growth and maintain appearance. Trim back leggy growth to encourage bushier growth.
  7. Propagation: Propagate through stem cuttings placed in water or well-draining soil. Rooting should occur within a few weeks.
Moses in the Cradle

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I water my Moses in the Cradle?

Water the plant when the top inch of soil feels dry. Usually, 1-2 times per week during the growing season and less frequently in winter.

Can I place my Moses in the Cradle in direct sunlight?

No, it prefers bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight may scorch its delicate leaves.

What type of soil should I use for planting?

Use well-draining potting soil, preferably a mix of peat moss, perlite, and regular potting soil.

How do I propagate Moses in the Cradle?

Propagate through stem cuttings. Place the cuttings in water or well-draining soil until they root.

Why are the leaves turning yellow?

Yellow leaves can indicate overwatering or nutrient deficiencies. Adjust watering and consider fertilizing.

Can I keep my Moses in the Cradle outdoors?

It’s best to keep it indoors, as it is sensitive to cold temperatures and does best in controlled indoor conditions.

About Christopher Evans

Hello, I'm Chris, the green-thumbed Founder of PotGardener.com. I'm passionate about bringing the beauty of nature indoors through houseplants and indoor gardening. Let's create healthier and more beautiful living spaces, one plant at a time!

View all posts by Christopher Evans →

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